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Ruby 18, the Half-Breed Gem
Known for its unique flavor profile and aroma, Ruby 18 (紅玉18), or red jade tea, is a Taiwanese tea developed by the Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station. Started in 1962 and finally completed in 1999, the tea plant cultivar, TTES No. 18 is a cross between the father plant, an indigenous Taiwanese tea bush named B-607, and the mother, Burmese varietal bush B-729. Yes, tea trees have genders too. Since it took 50 years to develop, this precious hybrid deserves a precious name - Ruby, for its reddish hue when brewed.
Earliest Ruby 18 was created and cultivated in Sun Moon Lake regions of Taiwan, where our Ruby 18 is currently grown by the Wu family farm at 900-1000 meter elevation. Now run by the 4th generation, Master Wu Anxiang continues his family legacy and the mission of non toxic farming by using pomelo or orange peel as a natural pesticide to deter harmful pests. His Ruby 18 rely on abundance of sun exposure and the island heat. During the hot summer months of May to July, the tea plants absorb the most nutrition in order to endure the hot and humid weather. By August, the leaves are fully grown at their prime, making his August harvest the best Ruby 18 of the year.
After the mature leaves are picked and thoroughly sorted by hand, they are gently withered, rolled, oxidized, and dried. The resulting tea is refreshing and delightful with notes of sweet milk and hinoki cypress. Its rich and full-bodied texture is smooth and creamy, revealing ever more complex flavors in each subsequent steeping. Since its natural sweetness is already prominent, our Ruby 18 is often enjoyed as it is, without milk or sugar. Wu family’s belief in harmony with nature and respecting the environment granted them generations of knowledge and skills to create high quality teas.