Today I tried the Formosa Ruby 18 Black tea from Mastersteas.com. They sent me several black teas to try and review for my blog, but I got so busy that I never got around to this until now. I was excited to be trying for the first time a tea I normally wouldn’t have bought—new tasting experiences are always fun for me.
From the website:
A very fine version of the Ruby 18, otherwise known as Red Jade, it is intense with surprising licorice notes. The long, dark leggy leaves, contain some lovely buds. The licorice cup also has a cooling menthol effect. There are notes of spice, a hint of caramel, and a whisper of toasted vanilla bean. The dry finish completes what is a very interesting, dynamic experience. In a word, excellent.
Ruby #18 is a unique cultivar from Taiwan, and a relatively new invention, only surfacing in the late twentieth century after over fifty years of research. A cross between a wild Formosa tea plant and an Assam from Burma, it was developed specifically with the intent to make phenomenal black tea.
This tea contains a high level of caffeine | Steep at 212° for 2-3 minutes.
This was definitely one of the more unusual black teas I’ve ever tried, and I found I really liked it. The leaves are long and beautiful, so I used an airy 1 tablespoon in 500 mL of water at 212°F for 3 minutes.
When drinking it plain, I found it a very light and soothing cup of afternoon tea. It was not as strong as my English Breakfast black tea, but not as light as a green tea, and with none of the grassy flavors of an Oolong tea. I don’t always taste the flavors described for teas, but in this case I definitely tasted the licorice, which gave it a very nice, dry finish. Even when I oversteeped the second cup, it was not bitter at all. It went very well with my blueberry bagel, although I think it would go well with any type of sweets or snacks.
I also tried it with a little milk and honey, and that’s where it got really interesting. The licorice and spice flavor suddenly was enhanced, which made it an unusual flavor for a black tea. I found I enjoyed it a lot, and ended up getting a slice of a pumpkin roll from the fridge to pair with it. The tea tasted great paired with the spicy pumpkin roll.
Overall, it was an unusual but delicious cup of tea. It would go well with anything if it were plain, but with milk and honey I could only see it pairing well with other spiced sweets, for my personal preference. For people who enjoy black tea without milk and sugar, this is definitely a complex cup of tea that is great for afternoon snacking.