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Red Rhyme is arguably Taiwan’s only gongfu red tea. It is called “Hong Yun (紅韻 in Chinese)". Gongfu red tea is not named after the brewing method used to prepare it. The reason such red tea is called “gongfu red tea” is because it is produced from high-grade tea and with much more attention to production and skill. Traditionally, most places where gongfu red tea is made would reserve the buds for green tea and the lower grades (second flushes, larger leaves, etc.) for red tea. Gongfu red tea, on the other hand, is made of first flush bud sets and therefore represents the highest-grade, most valuable tea the farm produces. Hong Yun is made from a cultivar called Taiwan 21, which was developed near Sun Moon Lake at the Tea Research and Extension Station. Hong Yun is a cultivar, which is a manmade varietal, and is a more recent development. It is a cross of delicate varietals of Qimen small-leaf teas from Anhui with Indian varietals that are more hearty and robust. It was produced to create a more aromatic and pungent tea that could be processed into finer, higher quality red tea. All of this means that it requires also a bit more skill and patience to entice the best out of the leaves. Hong Yun flushes within a week’s time, which is longer than most varietals in Taiwan, which makes it labor-intensive to harvest and produce, especially since it must be picked by hand and a more careful selection of bud sets must be made. Its delicacy and higher cost of harvest also means that it must be processed with much more care that most other red teas in central Taiwan. For that reason, few farmers are willing to cultivate Hong Yun despite its wonderful flavor and aroma, since it is more costly to do so and must be sold at higher prices. Hong Yun is very sweet and responds to gongfu brewing. It tastes of Asian pears with hints of citrus and sometimes peaches when you brew it just right. It is rich and delicious. Our Hong Yun comes from an ecological garden and is grown, harvested and processed with lots of love, which translates to a rich and powerful cup of tea—the kind you can’t put down because there is always one more whiff of delicate charm to be had.