Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Fong Mong Tea Shop, Sun Moon Lake Black Tea

Fong Mong Tea Shop is a seller of high quality Taiwan Formosa teas, specializing in oolongs (though today’s review is a black tea). Recently, they offered for a limited time to send samples to reviewers. I grabbed at the chance to try their tea. On the Everyday Tea Blog, I tend to concentrate on teas I consider to be frugal choices. That means I look for the best quality for the money. That generally means teas that are priced at $2-5/oz or roughly $6-14 for 100g (3.5oz). Fong Mong teas are higher, running $30 for 100g. Now before you let that scare you away consider that with multiple steeps and using 3g/cup that brings the cost to a reasonable $0.30/cup.

This is the first sample I grabbed out of box. It is also my first black tea from Taiwan, at least that I am aware. I want to mention the packaging. The samples are vacuum packed in very heavy silver pouches. Once cut open, the first thing I notice is an oxygen absorber in the pouch. That’s different. The tea type is listed on the label but there are no steeping instructions. I had to go online to locate this information from their web store.

The leaf is dark and thick. The smell is similar to a Yunnan Dian Hong but more wine like. Kind of like a chocolate wine would smell. Very nice. I brewed for 3 minutes with just below boiling water in my French Press. The resulting liquor is a beautiful clear dark caramel. Fong Mong calls the color carmine, which is a vivid red. Scent is the same as the dry leaf.

With the first sip the sensation was instantly caramel, then grapes, and then Yunnan black. There is a healthy dose of malt in the smell and in the taste. While I don’t detect it in the scent, I noticed the cooling sensation of mint in mid sip and can taste it on my breath. This tea has a natural sweetness to it that tastes like honey on the lips. Strangely, considering the sweetness, it seems slightly drying like a red wine. There is not even a hint of bitterness in this cup. This is so good.

I find I have been programmed by years of English breakfast teas to expect a black tea to taste strong with a heavy bite that verges on and often surpasses bitterness. Not even close to what you’ll get from this tea. The China blacks and now this from Taiwan have shown me I have been missing an entire delicious side of black tea. This is excellent. I know reviews often read like propaganda written by an advertisement department, but this tea really is as amazingly good as it sounds. I am honored to have experienced it.

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