Friday, October 9, 2015

Sanne Tea, Taiwan No. 18

Sanne Tea Description:
Sun Moon Lake is Taiwan’s main base for the cultivation of No.18, a black tea strain, also called Hong Yu (Ruby), only grown in Taiwan. In 1999, No.18 was created by hybridizing Taiwanese wild mountain tea trees with Burma Assam tea trees, and grown in the special climate of Yuchih Township, where Sun Moon Lake is located. The trial planting was so successful that No.18 became the signature tea of the lake area.

Similar to Assam tea and Ceylon tea, No. 18, when brewed, has a bright red color and strong, rich flavor with refreshing pungent notes. The tea also has a natural cinnamon and mint fragrance, a feature of the Taiwanese wild tea strain. This distinctive tea is the perfect combination of Indian and Taiwanese Black teas.

Sample provided by Sanne Tea

My Review:
One of the dangers of tea blogging is the amount of teas in the collection at any given time. Occasionally, one ends up at the back of a box in the bottom of the stack of boxes and gets overlooked. That happened with this one. When I stumbled upon it I had to wonder how could this happen, especially when it is clearly labeled as coming from Sun Moon Lake. There are certain growing regions that almost guarantee I am going to be moved. Sun Moon Lake is one of them.

Normally when I  think of Taiwan tea I think oolong, but Taiwan also produces some excellent black teas.

This 5g sample came in a resealable pouch. The front is simple and clean. The back list quite a bit of information, that as I have recently learned, has all been handwritten with a brush pen. Sanne Tea goes above and beyond in this regard. You can expand the picture to get a more complete idea of what information is included. One that I appreciate in particular is the leaf to water amounts.

OK, let's prepare some tea...

First comes the sniff test. Wow. It's mainly cocoa and malt. It kind of has a baked aroma. It is not really brownies. Maybe sweet potato mixed with the cocoa and malt. There is another element that reminds me of almost a Darjeeling like grape. To Amanda of Rambling Butterfly Thoughts this note was more of a sassafras with menthol. However your brain and experience translates it, I think we can all agree it smells amazing.

The leaf is eerily gorgeous. Maybe it just strikes me this way as we just set out some Halloween decorations, but the long slender twists of leaf look kind spider leg like. ha. Seriously though, the leaf is very dark. The picture doesn't do it justice as it was hard to photograph.

I used the entire 5g sample per directions in 205 F water and steeped for a short 60 seconds. The result is a classic hearty ruby red brew. Again today my picture isn't catching the essence of the mug. Here it looks more orangey/brown. It is a far deeper and more beautiful color in person.

The taste is similar to the dry scent. It is a mix of honey, cocoa, malt, and sort of sweet potato, though the sweet potato is not as obvious as in some Chinese Dian Hong teas. The sip builds to a solid peak. I hesitate to call it bite. Despite the varietal being a mix of assam and wild Taiwanese trees, this does not have the strong bite of an assam, rather it is more a presence that asserts itself gently but with some authority. I can still taste and smell what to me is a muscatel type note as well.

The second cup was steeped for 90 seconds. The now cinnamon brown leaf smells much more of sweet honey. The brew color is even a deeper red. The taste also seems sweeter and in some ways more mellow. It feels thick and syrupy on the lips.

I am also getting an interesting sense of candy. Like cinnamon candy without the burn. While it is light and fleeting, I experienced the sensation a few times before deciding to comment. Underneath the honey, cocoa, and cinnamon, I am still lightly catching the leafy grape notes.

This is a delicious and complex tea.  

The label lists this as capable of 5 steeps. From previous experience with this type tea, I fully believe it, however, this is as far as I have time to devote today. Let me add, as a reviewer, I often have to suspend my own preferences and try to understand what the tea is meant to be and how well it achieves it. I love it when I review a tea that 'fits' my personal tastes. This is one such tea. I don't have to work at understanding it. I can simply get lost in the wonderful experience from first sniff to last drop. Much love for this one Sanne Tea!  

You can find Sanne Tea Taiwan No. 18 here.

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