T-18 Black Tea From Taiwan
Created by the Black Tea Experimentation Center in Taiwan, T-18 is a hybrid produced from a tea tree from Burma (Myanmar) called Ashamu and a wild tea tree from southern Taiwan. After 40 years of research and observation, T-18 stood out from other similar hybrids because of its superior sensorial characteristics, and so it was finally launched on the market in 1999.
Today it can be found mainly in the region around Sun Moon Lake (the largest natural lake in Taiwan), as well as on the east coast of the districts of Hualien and Taitung. This tea plant produces a whole-leaf black tea of unrivaled flavor. The liquid is rounded, full bodied, smooth and slightly minty, with generously fruity notes of prune and raisin. Intended primarily for the local market, only minimal quantities are produced, which partly explains the high price of this tea. However, its originality and growing popularity bode well for increased production that should lead to more reasonable pricing.
The Processing of T-18
After withering for 16 to 22 hours, T-18 needs four periods of mechanical rolling lasting 30 minutes each. The tea will then be oxidized for two hours in a room where a temperature of 77°F (25°C) and a level of humidity of approximately 95 percent will be maintained as consistently as possible. Two stages of drying will follow, lasting 30 minutes each at a temperature of around 2I0°F (I00°C). Lastly, the tea will be sorted, most often mechanically. The finest batches will sometimes be sorted with tweezers to prevent hands from transferring undesirable aromas to the leaves.