If I had to pick just one tea, to drink for the rest of my life, this would be it. To me, this tea is perfect. I brew 2.5 g in a large mug of boiling water for four minutes. The leaf is large and unfurls to be even larger! They call it an oolong, but it seems more like a black tea to me. It must be a very heavily oxidized oolong. And yet, it completely lacks astringency. It’s caramelly, malty, aromatic, with notes of raisin (not really grape to my senses), and with a strong sugary aftertaste. The sensation of sweetness without sweetener. The tea is grown and made in the Sun Moon Lake area of Nantou County in Taiwan. This cultivar, TTES #18, is fairly famous, not just in Taiwan. Teapedia describes it as “Hong Yu (Ruby), cross between Taiwanese wild tea tree (B-607) and a Burmese assamica (B-729).” It is also known as “Red Jade”, but that may refer to fully oxidized black (red) forms of it. The dominant flavor is what I would call characteristically “Assamic”, since it is the taste that I discern in all teas descended from the lineage. But in this case, it is as if the flavor had been distilled and refined and concentrated into this leaf with all the flavors I dislike removed. No tannin, no fishiness, no seaweedy brine, no compost. I don’t know why “brandy“ is in the name because I don’t taste it in this tea. Maybe the color?
I believe a big part of this tea’s excellence comes from the terroir as well as the skill of the teamasters involved. Because another very similar tea (also sold by Tealyra) is called Black Beauty #8, which also comes from the Sun Moon Lake region. But Teapedia describes TTES #8 as “a assamica varietal from Jaipur (India, Assam)”. So a completely different cultivar, with very similar flavors. It is my second-favorite. The TTES is a formal research station, so their pedigree designations are authoritative.
So, yes, Brandy Oolong Ruby 18 is, in my estimation, outstanding. Please also find other tea notes listed for this tea under the company’s prior name, Tealux. This is also among the more expensive tea I’ve had, at $8/25g since I get only one pleasing steeping out of it, thus it rivals good pu’ers, on a per-cup basis. But it handily beats all of them in flavor and aroma! YMMV.
Flavors: Caramel, Malt, Raisins, Stonefruit, Sugarcane, Tea