Totem Tea Ruby 18 Taiwanese Black
Country of Origin: Taiwan
Leaf Appearance: black, long and wiry
Ingredients: black tea
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 200 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber
This has been a year filled with lots of Taiwanese oolongs for me but I was really excited to give this black tea offering from +Totem Tea a try. They’re a fairly new outfit based in Portland, OR and I’ved really been enjoying what they have to offer.
Ruby #18 is a hybrid variety that was created by crossing Assamica plants with wild Qing Xin. I always say that it is the ani-black tea, perfect for those who might be biased against black tea due to negative past experiences.
The taste was wonderfully complex. Notes of cocao and dark cherry morphed into a honey-like sweetness with an almost piney quality. The finish had just a hint of cooling mint. These are not flavors that you’ll find in most black teas. Although there was some astringency, it never bordered on bitter or unpleasant. I truly lost track of how many infusions I did but I can tell you that these leaves had some real staying power.
Once they fully unfurled, the leaves were positively gigantic. Many of them were as wide as my gaiwan lid. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate anything, big and beautiful leaves always make my inner tea nerd giddy. I still have one more session left and I think I’m going to experiment a bit. I’d love to try bowl brewing or grandpa styling this one.