Our friend Mr. Lin makes our Sun Moon Lake tea along with our several Tung Ting oolongs and Tung Ting black tea. Sun Moon Lake black tea has a long history on Taiwan, (having been developed during the Japanese occupations) and it has been the only black tea produced in Taiwan at various times over the years , but today young tea makers such as Mr. Lin are changing that.
Taiwanese black teas are quite rare and expensive, and they are worth every penny, as the flavor is unique and exquisite and cannot be replicated anywhere else on earth, and they are definitely teas that aer on every tea enthusiast’s life-list of teas to taste as much as is possible. They re-steep nicely, so that brings the price down by at least two-thirds, which makes them actually quite competitive in price with other rare teas.
Sun Moon Lake tea has long, sturdy, twisted leaves, unlike the generally-more-familiar Taiwanese semiball-rolled style leaf (as exemplified by famous teas such as Tung Ting oolong and Tung Ting black tea). It has a delicate, woodsy flavor that suggests sweet osmanthus, cinnamon, candied orange marmalade and a tiny hint of old-fashioned garden mint in the background. Some even pick up a hint of camphor or wintergreen on occasion, but most times one needs to be really searching to find those unusual and elusive flavor components!
In the region surrounding Sun Moon Lake in central Taiwan, black tea was developed for export by the Japanese during their occupation of Taiwan in the years preceding and during WWII. In 1925 the Japanese tea research center imported tea seeds from Assam, India, with the intent of cultivating tea bushes for the production of black tea for export.
The Japanese succeeded in establishing these tea bushes in Yuchi Township, and later, after the departure of the Japanese from Taiwan, the Taiwan Tea Research Institute continued the research into suitable tea bush cultivars for the production of black tea.
The resulting cultivar was a cross between indigenous Taiwan tea cultivars (Taiche) and the tea bushes established by the Japanese in 1925. The resulting tea bushes were named Ruby Red or No. 18, which are used to this day to manufacture Sun Moon Lake’s black tea.
Other tea bush cultivars have been planted since, but we prefer the character of tea made from older tea bushes that have developed roots well into the ground. Our Sun Moon Lake Black tea is one of those cultivars, plucked from large-leaf tea bushes that are descendants of the original plants, and the leaf is carefully plucked by hand.
Mr. Lin believes that this tea is delicious when it is just made but that it matures and gets better with age. We love mellow, rested and aged tea, so on his word we purchased a quantity to last a few years and see how it develops. In all our years of working together he has never steered us wrong, so we are suggesting that you trust his expertise as well!!
Want to know more?