I don’t know what kind of wizardry went into making this cultivar, but it’s a super interesting tea for sure. Ruby 18 was developed at the Taiwan Research and Extension Station that is run by the government of Taiwan. This tea has a very distinct flavor profile which is unlike any other tea I have had.
I ordered a sample of this tea called Ruby Black from Harney and Sons. I used my tiny gaiwan for this session as I didn’t want to use all of the tea that I had in the sample pack. I used 2.5 grams of leaf in a 60 ml gaiwan with water at 205F and infusions of 10 + 5. I went for a total of 7 infusions.
The dry leaf in the warm gaiwan had an aroma of fruity candy and slight smokiness. The wet leaf aroma after a brief rinse was that of fruity candy and mint. Interesting.
For the first infusion, there was a flavor of fruity candy right off the bat. I don’t know that I’ve ever had a tea taste like candy before, so this is a good start. It was slightly astringent with a quick hit of bitterness. Texture was medium to think and it had a nice sweet finish. The second infusion was similar with the main note being of fruit candy.
For the third infusion on, I lowered the water temp to 200F. The third infusion had a note of sweet fruity candy at the start and quickly turned into a strong flavor of mint. It finished with a minty sensation covering my entire mouth. Very interesting. The fourth infusion was mostly a fruity candy note with the mint gone.
The fifth through seventh infusions all had a note of fruity candy with a slight minty note on the finish. The mint was very strong in the third infusion but it was just fleeting in every other infusion. I really enjoyed the mint flavor and I kept looking for it, but I couldn’t find it.
The price on this tea is $22.50 for 2 oz. (56 g). If you use a 100ml gaiwan and use 5 grams per session that is $2.05 per session. 8 infusions per session comes to $.26 per cup. That is just starting to get into the pricey edge territory for me. But this is a very unique tea and I think it was a high quality tea so yes it’s worth that price.
So, what is this sorcery that makes a tea taste like fruity candy and mint? I don’t know about that, but I do know that it is a strange and wonderful kind of tea that I really enjoyed drinking. I hope you can enjoy some as well if you haven’t yet. Now I wonder what else has come from the Taiwan Research Station. I think there’s a little something called #21….. One day I will have that one too. Until then, Cheers!