Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Cameron Tea
Region: Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan
Type: Black Tea
Oxidation level: Fully oxidised
Taste: Strong and refreshing flavour.
Terroir: Sun Moon Lake is located at altitude of 700m, surrounded with mountains and lakes with remarkable environment and typical climate for growing black teas. Heavy moist and stable yearly average temperature make the tea trees grow thick and rich tea leaves which produce carmine and perfectly clear liquor.
Learn more about this tea here.
I know I’ve mentioned this more than once, but I LOVE the teas from Cameron Tea. They are the very best that Taiwan has to offer. And this Sun Moon Lake Formosa Black tea is no exception.
You might recall that I previously reviewed the competition grade of this tea back in July. Since it’s been a while that I’ve tried the competition grade, when comparing the two grades, my opinions will be based off what I can recall with the help of that review and my tasting notes.
The leaves look very similar to the competition grade tea: they are long and chocolate-y brown in color. The leaves are whole and have been rolled into slender, curly forms. They slowly unfurl to release their flavor.
Also similar to the competition grade: the dry leaf had very little discernible aroma. Mere hints of earthy tones. The brewed tea has more fragrance, it smells warm and earthy with notes of spice. It’s a sweeter smell, and in the aforementioned review I suggested notes of molasses. I’m getting that with this tea as well.
I used my Breville One Touch to brew this tea. Because the leaves are so large and curly, they’re difficult to measure or scoop out with the bamboo scoop into any type of measurable tool. I don’t weigh my teas and since I don’t utilize a scale, it’s difficult to tell you how much tea I put into the basket of the tea maker, so I’ll just say that I put three pinches of tea into the basket. Then I looked at it and it looked like it should be enough tea. Sorry for my less than precise measuring method but I am very adamant when it comes to tools for my tea. The less tools, the better, in my opinion, because tea is meant to be a simple pleasure and I feel like the more gadgetry used to make the tea – the less simple it becomes.
I brewed this tea at a slightly lower temperature than I would normally steep a black tea. I guess I found myself feeling that this tea needed a little less heat – I was worried that these beautiful leaves might find boiling water to be too hot a bath for them. So I went with 195°F and steeped the tea for 3 minutes.
The result is an absolute delight to sip. Sweet! It’s smooth and there is no astringency. No bitterness. Just smooth, sweet molasses-y goodness. It tastes as though I thinned some molasses rather than brewed some tea! Maybe added a couple of warm, gentle spices to accent the delicious, deep flavor of the sweet molasses with hints of caramel.
Beneath these sweet flavors, there’s a savory “earthy” note that has notes of chocolate and leather. I infused this tea a second time and I found that the second infusion was a little less sweet and I discovered more complexity as a result. I picked up on layers of fruit and as I continued to sip, I started to notice a dry astringency toward the tail. This astringency is quite soft and for those of you who are sensitive to that dry feeling that the astringency delivers, I think you’ll find this tea to be quite acceptable as the astringency is barely there.
It’s a very smooth and delightful tea to drink. This isn’t the kind of black tea I’d want as my first cup of the day because it doesn’t have that “shake me awake” kind of quality that I want in that first cup. Instead, this is the kind of tea that you want to brew when you want to sit and reflect. As I sit here on a chilly afternoon, I realize what an autumnal taste it has – the molasses, the spice … even the stone fruit notes … remind me of the early days of autumn when the weather becomes crisper. When the late summer harvests deliver those delicious stone fruit to enjoy in warm cobblers and the weather is just cool enough that those warm desserts are the perfect comforting thing.
A really delightful tea.