Highly oxidized for a white tea, this was reminiscent of a sun-dried black or aged white tea. This leaves me wondering if the majority of white teas sold as aged are in fact younger than claimed and processed in a similar manner to this tea. Regardless, this is still an enjoyable tea as a fan of the Ruby 18 cultivar.
Western cups had been my default method solely for the ease of a caffeine kick in the morning. I found the tea rather underwhelming prepared that way. Wanting to see what the tea was hiding, I prepared the remaining few sessions gongfu, which is what allowed this tea to shine.
The dry leaf had a subdued aroma of prunes and hay. Warming the leaf brought the prune forward while exhibiting undertones of custard and autumn leaf along with the hay. Wet leaf aroma definitely smelled like a sun-dried black with a stewed vegetables aroma. Nevermind that, it had no influence on the aroma or taste of the tea.
With the first cup, the aroma exhibited candy-like tangy and fruity notes along with hay. Notable were melon, lemon and black cherry. The main taste was similar to watermelon rind, later with with more of the autumn leaf character coming out along with blood orange. Black cherry and dried fruits highlighted the sharper notes while a cotton candy or honey-like sweetness softened those; eucalyptus and menthol rounded out the back. The finish shifted from cherry and cotton candy in the first few steeps into something generally tangy. The mouthfeel remained light to medium and as smooth as a tangy tea can allow. It was actually somewhat syrupy when brewed western style. The longevity of the leaf displays greater length with gongfu.
Overall, a pleasurable, highly oxidized Ruby 18 white that fares much better prepared gongfu. It is not a flavor-bomb like other Ruby 18 white, black and oolong I have tried. Having had several examples of this cultivar processed as white tea, I can say my preferences lean toward much lower oxidation.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Blood Orange, Candy, Cherry, Cotton Candy, Dried Fruit, Eucalyptus, Hay, Honey, Hot Hay, Melon, Menthol, Prune, Tangy, Watermelon