Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Formosa Bonita

I recently had the great honor of tasting a rare and organic Taiwanese hong cha (紅茶) (red tea, aka black tea) made from the Jin Xuen (金萱) cultivar, and imported by the amazing Josephine Pan.

Josephine said the tea was produced in the Summer of 2010 in Nantou county. The locals call it simply "Mr. Chen's Organic Red Tea," but Josephine, at least for now, calls it Formosa Bonita.

Que Bonita!

I brewed this tea in a small gaiwan ~1/3 full of dry leaf. I used boiling water and started with a one minute infusion. Gradually increasing to 7 minutes for my 5th and final infusion.

It smells as good as it looks.

I really love this tea. It is bold and aromatic with a round, smooth mouth-feel. My tasting notes include caramel, malt, Assam black tea, toasted almonds, and chicory. The aroma under the gaiwan lid is sweeter and fruitier with a hint of cherry cider.

Josephine told me that the farmer is sold-out of this batch and that she only has a little bit left... so I bought myself a kilogram. I'd happily sell some (at $8 US per ounce) if anybody else wants to try it. Just email me at blackdragontea@gmail.com


Anonymous said...

Enjoy the Sun Moon Lake hong cha.

Evan said...

Looks delicious. I've been very impressed by the Taiwanese black teas that I've come across, and I'm sure this one would be no different.

Alex Zorach said...

I think the leaves of this tea look beautiful. Your description of its aroma also sounds wonderful.

Josephine said...

I thought you describe this tea far better than I could....it is a great tea and we love it, "Formosa, the beautiful" (Formosa Bonita).

Jon Gee said...

Wonderful tea Brett!! Thank you for the sample...lovely lovely aroma matches this tea's floral flavors and rich smoothness. Bonita!

Israel said...

I enjoyed this tea a great deal. The leaves, both dry and spent, are visually exquisite. I had just enough to experiment with a series of brewing styles. I brewed it “breakfast style” (few leaves, one long infusion, [horrors] cream) in a big Japanese clay pot to fine effect. I also used a warmed-up gaiwan, but I got best results with short infusions and a small yixing pot.

When the dry leaves were dumped into the steaming mouth of the small pot, a thick scent of malted barley with a delicate floral background wafted up.

The first infusion was 40 seconds and I got malted barley, honey, cacao and roasted mesquite meal. The evaporating scent on the drained cup was black honey and magnolia.

2: 1 minute, heavy roasted barley, fruit in the throat

3: 80 seconds, barley, honey, a drying in the mouth, slight tingle

4: 100 seconds, sweet, dark honey

5: 2 minutes, slight bitter honey

The tea was spent by the 6th infusion, but I took it 7 and got honey water.

A recommended tea for hong cha lovers. A treat.

Thanks, Brett.