For driftwood I've selected only the best black teas including Red Jade (Hong Yu) from Taiwan which I, and many others, consider to be one of the finest teas currently available from anywhere on earth.
From a country whose climate and terroir are renowned for producing some of the world's finest oolongs, Red Jade is proof - if proof were needed - that Taiwan can equally produce a black tea that is easily comparable to the finest black teas being produced anywhere else in the world.
Many Taiwanese teas remind me of the shift between the old and new world wine producers. The new world producers, the ones who adopted technology such as temperature controlled fermentation, and tried modern varieties of grape, are the same ones who're leading the way for the wine industry at the moment.
I believe similar can be seen with many of Taiwan's tea farmers, and the Tea Research and Extension Station (TRES), an organisation dedicated to the science and development of tea in Taiwan.
Red Jade (Hong Yu) comes from a variety called TTES No.18 developed by TRES in the 90's. Combining an Assamica strain of Camellia Sinensis from Burma, with a local strain of wild tea, TTES No.18 or Red Jade was found to flourish in the Taiwanese countryside and when oxidised and finished produces a fantastic black tea with superb depth of flavour.
Wild soft fruits. Plums & figs with notes of raison, cinnamon and a light menthol finish.
Our Red Jade comes from a farm close to Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County. These beautiful, hand rolled, long twisted leaves brew to produce a rich tea, filled with deep fruity notes - for me it's reminiscent of Christmas cake - while you can also find a dark maltiness, subtle hints of spices that all combine with a fresh, almost minty finish. Despite being a full bodied brew, Red Jade remains smooth with little hint of astringency or bitterness.
I genuinely believe this to be one of the most exciting black teas available at the moment and I'm delighted that we're able to stock it.
I perhaps shouldn't mention this however, I occasionally add milk to this as a guilty pleasure. I never recommend adding milk to tea however, Red Jade is big and bold enough not to be destroyed by the addition of milk. Like I say, it really is a guilty pleasure!
Longer & Less - for a typical European style of brewing Red Jade I recommend:
1 flat tbsp (3g) of loose leaf tea per person into a pot of freshly boiled water. Infuse for around 2 minutes. For subsequent infusions increase the time by 1 minute each round.
Can be infused 2-3 times this way.
Shorter & More - for a more traditional Asian (Gong Fu) style of brewing Red Jade I recommend:
1 heaped tbsp (7g) of loose leaf tea with around 150ml of freshly boiled water. Infuse for around 30 seconds. For subsequent infusions increase the time by 10-15 seconds each round.
This FTGFOP1 Muscatel Darjeeling comes from the Sourenee Estate in India's Mirik Valley. While there are perhaps many better known estates we could buy from, for me, Sourenee consistently produces teas I actually want to drink. This particular second flush Darjeeling truly provides a great example of what a fine Muscatel Darjeeling should taste like.