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Many unique varietals were created to suit Taiwan. "Ruby Red," or Taiwan Cultivar No. 18 is a hybrid of the large-leaf trees from Myanmar and wild indigenous Taiwanese trees. The artificial crossing was accomplished at the Yuchih Branch of the Tea Research and Extension Station in the 1950s, and had the experiment number of 40-58, so the local farmers also called the hybrid “40-58” (or sometimes just “58”). It was not until 1999 that the “40-58” hybrid passed the cultivar nomenclature review and was officially named “Taiwan Cultivar No. 18.” The common name “Ruby Red” was chosen through an open selection process, involving many Taiwanese tea lovers, in 2003.
Ruby Red has one of the most distinct flavors of any tea on earth, which is what caught the experimenters’ attention in the first place. Though this cultivar was developed as part of the ongoing research to create varietals that have higher yields and are more pest-resistant, Ruby Red was quickly recognized to be delicious, with a very unique flavor. Ruby Red is a cultivar born, grown and promoted mostly for its exceptional flavor. And when you drink it, you will see why. Repeating that it tastes like no other tea again and again still won’t prepare you for that first sip! Ruby Red tastes of cinnamon and wintergreen or mint, in some ratio, depending on who you ask and which Ruby Red they are drinking. It unfolds in a complexity that few red teas are capable of.