Splendid Table talks about and tastes Ruby 18, the gold-medal-winning black tea from Taiwan. Also called Sun Lake Moon Tea, it brews slightly sweet, but extremely smooth and rich. Red Jade (aka TTES #18) or Ruby #18 is a cross between the Assam tea plant and the native Taiwan Chin Shin cultivar.
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During Japanese colonial times, the government set out to encourage the proliferation and popularity of the native wild tea plants. After 50 years of research, Red Jade (aka TTES #18) was introduced by the Tea Research and Extension Station in 1999.
Initial availability of Ruby 18, as its known today, was disseminated through local farmers. Demand for the tea rapidly expanded due to its bold flavors of cinnamon and fresh mint, favorites among the Taiwanese and throughout the region.
Considered a wild native plant to the central mountain range of Taiwan, Ruby 18 has seen lush and wide distribution, predominantly dwelling in the 900 to 1800 meter range, above sea level. A hotbed of growth lie in the southern, eastern and central regions of Taiwan. This would include the cities of Pingtung, Taitung County and Nantou, among others.
The first known documentation of Ruby 18, was in 1717 during the Ching Dynasty’s rule. It wasn’t for another 7 years, until the tea was mentioned again in writing. It’s amazing to know the history of this native wild tea and the fact that it has been around for over 300 years is outstanding.
Ruby 18 is a gold medal winning black tea. It is a hybrid of the Assam tea plant and the Taiwan Chin Shin cultivar. It took 40 years in the making in Taiwan to properly develop this strain. Ruby 18 steeps very smooth and rich, with a touch of sweetness.
Taiwan’s Ruby 18 Tea, over 40 years in the making has finally reached the US for retail sales.