Today I am looking at a tea from a brand new company, freshly opened today, Origins Tea, specializing in Taiwanese goodness. I love Taiwanese tea, this is no secret, nor is it a secret how I am obsessed with Hongcha (aka black tea) from Taiwan, and my favorite is Red Jade. That tea of many names (Ruby #18, Sun Moon Lake Black, Hong Yu...) and many interpretations of peculiar flavor notes. I have said it the many times I have looked at this type of tea, it is by far the most uniquely varied while still being easily identifiable as 'Red Jade' tea I have run into, with some having notes of menthol, or tomatoes, or cinnamon, or cloves, or sassafras...it just keeps going. So let us see how this one differs from others I have tried! Sticking my nose into the long and lovely leaves, seriously these are some big leaves, there are notes of stewed plums, dried cherries, sassafras, tomato, a brisk woodiness, and cocoa. There are also notes of plumeria and orange blossom, making this the only floral Red Jade I have experienced, the aroma actually reminds me a little of an Oriental Beauty, but black and with definite notes of Red Jade, it is peculiar and smells delicious!
Into my gaiwan the tea goes, I decided to use my serpentinite gaiwan because fancy teas deserve a solid stone gaiwan! The leaves, now soaked and steeped, have a malty, tomato, sassafrass front notes with a slightly brisk woody note, dried cherries, cocoa, and a touch of plumeria at the finish. The aroma of wet leaves is surprisingly sweet, not cloying, but fruity and nectar like. The liquid is very rich! Notes of cocoa, sassafras, strong honey drizzled plums and cherries, and a lingering flowery note of plumeria. It is so sweet and smells very good, my mouth was watering while sniffing it!
So, when I took a sip of this tea, I was talking with Ben about...something...don't remember what, but it is safe to say that the conversation was immediately ended by my wild flailing and inarticulate squealing. This tea from the first sip blew my mind, it is so sweet and so intense! Starting with notes of apricots and sassafras, plumeria and chocolate. Then it moves to persimmons, menthol, and cloves with a finish of cherries and menthol that lasts long into the aftertaste. One thing I find very enjoyable about this tea is the cooling sensation in the finish, it is not as intense as some young Shengs can be (like drinking icy hot) it is a soothing coolness, like having just sipped a cup of water, and I do love my cooling teas.
Somehow the second steep manages to be even more intense in both aroma and taste! The fruity notes in the aroma have increased, along with the sassafras, it takes on a real dessert quality that I find very appealing. Oh man, that taste, it is almost beyond words good! Taking the familiar sassafras, clove, sweet potato, teaberry, tomato, and cherry notes of a Red Jade and blending them with orange blossom, plums, plumeria, persimmon, and apricot jam which reminds me of an OB or Gui Fei Oolong. It is the sweetest Red Jade I have ever experienced, and the aftertaste of teaberry and apricot lingers forever, it was such an intense experience. I was nice and shared some with Ben and he could only handle a small cup since in his words 'this is a treat that needs savoring, it is too intense to drink more than a little' which is the first time I have ever heard him do this. More for me, though!
The packaging said I could get seven steeps out of this tea, and you can bet that I did, seven solid steeps and two that were faded but I didn't care because I wanted every bit of this tea's amazing flavor I could get. I don't say this lightly, but of all the Red Jades I have had (read: a lot) this one is my new favorite. I adored how it had easy to identify as Red Jade notes but also had this wonderfully intense floral and fruity sweetness that made it incredibly unique. I cannot sing this tea's praises enough, it was love at first sip!
This tea was sent for review purposes by the company.