Review: Sun Moon Lake Hong Yue Black Tea

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Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!" Almost like hot chocolate, without the guilt. Those who like a naturally sweet, creamy black tea would be hard pressed to find something better. Highly recommended. "
Sophie’s Teaview: 9.6/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 8.2/10, Jamie gave it 8/10, Katie gave it 8.6/10
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Also called “Ruby Red”, this black tea has caused a bit of a sensation in the tea world. Issued from a new varietal, this rare Taiwanese tea has only recently become available to foreign markets. This particular offering is organic and grown near Sun Moon Lake, Taiwan’s major black tea production area. The loosely twisted leaves are long and spidery. Their dark purplish-brown hue reminds me of highly roasted oolongs. Taking a sniff, their aroma is mild, sweet and malty, similar to Chinese black teas.

Although this is a black tea, I decided to treat it rather daintily. I infused a heaping teaspoonful of leaves in water heated to 185 degrees Fahrenheit for 2 minutes. This definitely paid off! The steeped cup bears a rich coppery brown hue with a delectable hot chocolate scent. The taste is amazingly just as good! The cup is sweet, smooth, and chocolatey, with creamy mouth feel. A touch of toasted bread notes makes the sweetness more intense. There is also a faint coniferous undertone present - I'm guessing this is what T-Oolong describes as minty, that adds more depth to the cup. All in all, it's delicious!

Following a 3 minute-long steep, my second cup was maybe not quite as amazing as the first, but still impressive. Malt, cream and buttered toast notes combine together, making for a sweet and savoury brew. At the same time, something that reminded me of fresh coriander brought a weirdly tasty dimension to the cup.

After a 4 minute steep, my third brew comes across as a conventional bagged black tea. The taste is brisk and malty but a bit flat, especially compared to the two previous cups. Interestingly, there is a little astringency to it but no bitterness. I wouldn't bother with a third steep again.

While it's immediately gratifying and quite flavourful, this remains a rather delicate black tea. I wouldn't add any milk or sweetener to it for fear of obscuring some of its subtleties. If I wasn't so sensitive to caffeine, this is all I would drink, all day everyday. It's almost like hot chocolate, without the guilt. Seriously, those who like a naturally sweet, creamy black tea would be hard pressed to find something better. Highly recommended.

— To purchase Sun Moon Lake Hong Yue Black Tea, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

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