May 2024 – Gourmet Loose Leaf Tea Subscription | Curious Tea

Welcome to the May 2024 edition of the Curious Tea subscription! This month our spotlight is on fresh 2024 harvest teas from Taiwan. Here’s a closer look at the four exciting new teas that we are sharing with our subscribers this month.

The lighter side of the selection this month features a classic Green Heart Oolong from the famous Alishan terroir that delivers fresh floral flavours. The second light tea is a white tea that is crafted from the Red Jade cultivar to produce a complex liquor with intriguing and unusual notes.

For the dark side of the selection we have another tea crafted from the Red Jade cultivar, this time made though the complex GABA tea processing to create a smooth and unique flavour. Finally the last tea to be featured is a black tea crafted from the newly introduced Qi Yun cultivar that delivers a finely balanced flavour profile.

This month’s teas
Light boxes Red Jade White Discovery boxes
Mixed boxes Alishan Green Heart Oolong
Red Jade GABA
Dark boxes Qi Yun Hong Cha

Our Discovery subscription boxes contain 10g taster pouches of all of the above mentioned teas. If you are a subscriber you will benefit from a 10% discount on all teas from our tea shop!

Let’s get into further detail on these teas featured in our May tea subscription boxes.

Alishan Green Heart Oolong

Alishan Green Heart Oolong

Alishan Green Heart Oolong (阿里山青心烏龍) is a lovely floral oolong from the famous Alishan tea growing area of Taiwan. Made from the Qing Xin (青心), or Green Heart cultivar, it has a bright character that is both floral and creamy. This particular batch is from the 13 April 2024 crop.

Green Heart or Qing Xin (青心) refers to the cultivar used for this Alishan Green Heart Oolong. Some consider it to be most likely the same as Ruan Zhi (軟枝 ‘Soft Stem’) plant that was brought from Fujian to Taiwan by the Japanese. Over time this cultivar has developed into what is now recognised as Qing Xin. Typically it has green, floral notes with subtle hints of mountain flowers, sometimes described as orchid. There is also a characterful sweetness and creaminess, reminiscent of buttered green beans.

Chiayi County Map, Taiwan

This high mountain Alishan Green Heart Oolong is grown at an altitude of 1,200-1,250 metres close to the famous Alishan National Scenic Area. It consists of rather large leaves and is approximately 15-20% oxidised. Unlike our Alishan Competition Qing Xin Oolong, it has not been baked. This results in a flavour that has more prominent floral notes while sacrificing a little of the complexity of baked teas.

This Alishan Green Heart Oolong has tightly rolled leaves that produce a very bright, light golden liquor with great clarity and a floral, creamy aroma. The fresh taste is predominantly floral, with clean and bright flavours that are buttery and verdant. The aftertaste is smooth, long-lasting, with a buttery edge and a touch of tanginess. Even though this tea has not undergone any baking, there are some very subtle baked notes present on the aftertaste. The taste further develops with subsequent infusions. Overall this is a delightfully floral and verdant tea that makes us think of a fresh summer’s breeze over alpine meadows.

It is best brewed at 90°C for 3 minutes according to your taste and should be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each brew if desired.

You can also buy this Alishan Green Heart Oolong in our online shop.

Red Jade White

Taiwan Nantou Province Hong Yu TRES 18 Red Jade White Tea

Red Jade White (紅玉白茶) is a rare Taiwanese white tea handcrafted from the Hong Yu TRES #18 cultivar. Expertly withered and very lightly naturally oxidised it produces a light cup that is supremely complex. This tea is grown to organic standards in Mingjian Township of Nantou Province by Mr. Yu and was picked on 20 March 2024.

Nantou County, Taiwan

Red Jade White tea is produced from a Hong Yu TRES #18 cultivar that is usually reserved for black tea, like our Red Jade GABA or Yuchi Red Jade. Hong Yu translates as Red Jade or Ruby, hence the name chosen for this tea. The Hong Yu cultivar was developed in Taiwan in a recent attempt to reinvigorate black tea production in the country. It was developed from an Assamica strain from Burma and the local wild tea from Taiwan.

The Hong Yu cultivar has a unique flavour profile that is very distinctive; it produces complex black teas with a smooth savoury character and pronounced menthol and eucalyptus notes that make for a pleasantly medicinal edge. This Red Jade White tea draws on the characteristics of the cultivar, producing a complex liquor with interesting flavour references to the black counterparts of this white tea.

The twisted leaves of this Red Jade Taiwanese White tea are dark in appearance. The produced cup is light, pale yellow in colour with woody and eucalyptus aromatics. The taste is particularly smooth and light. The sweetly spicy profile has floral and creamy notes. The flavours start on the woody, spicy eucalyptus and menthol side, developing into lightly floral notes and exotic fruit flavours. There are some pleasantly mineral top notes that complete the intriguing taste profile. This is a supremely crafted tea with a wide complexity of flavours.

Red Jade White tea is best brewed at 80°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste and should be brewed multiple times to savour the flavours of each infusion.

You can buy this Red Jade White tea in our online shop.

Red Jade GABA

Taiwanese Red Jade Ruby GABA Black Tea

An unusual black tea from Taiwan, Red Jade GABA (紅玉佳葉龍), also known as Ruby GABA. This tea is made from Hong Yu TRES No. 18 cultivar. Hong Yu translates as Red Jade or Ruby, hence the name for this tea. GABA tea is also known as Jia Ye Long in Chinese (佳葉龍). This batch is from 8 March 2024 harvest.

The Red Jade cultivar was developed in Taiwan very recently in an attempt to reinvigorate black tea production of the country. This cultivar was developed from an Assamica strain from Burma and the local wild tea from Taiwan. By the way, the Taiwanese Wild Shan Cha is available to buy in our online shop, where you can also read more about that unique strain of Camellia. Wild Shan Cha compares interestingly to the new Red Jade cultivar. They both exhibit similar qualities, however the teas made with the new Red Jade cultivar have a unique eucalyptus and mint edge to them. But if you try them side by side you can definitely see the ancestral relationship between them. Our Yuchi Red Jade is also crafted from the Hong Yu cultivar.

Our Red Jade GABA black tea is organically grown around Mingjian Township of Nantou County. After plucking and rolling, this tea undergoes oxidation in an oxygen deprived environment. This is the unique process that is employed to achieve all GABA teas. The tea is placed into large tanks. Oxygen is then flushed out with nitrogen and the tea is left to oxidise. As the environment is oxygen deprived, the oxidation process happens very slowly. This results in a much larger amount of GABA molecules being present in the finished tea.

Red Jade GABA black tea comes in tightly rolled oolong-style leaves, producing a medium strength liquor with a scent of raisins and currants. The taste is crisp and very mellow, which is the result of the slow oxidation process. The flavours prevalent are of sweet raisins and tart dried fruits. The flavours linger in your mouth and there is a definite minty aftertaste detectable that is a characteristic quality of this tea. Although the flavours do linger, the finish is very clean without any tannins or astringency. A very interesting and unusual tea – definitely worth taking time to enjoy this one!

This tea is best brewed with water at 90°C for 3-5 minutes and can be brewed multiple times. Red Jade GABA is absolutely delicious cold so make sure to try this as an iced tea!

You can also buy this Red Jade GABA black tea in our online shop.

Qi Yun Hong Cha

Blog - Qi Yun Hong Cha

Qi Yun Hong Cha (祁韻紅茶) is a top grade experimental black tea, carefully handcrafted from early summer smaller leaves and neat tips. It is made from the brand new Qi Yun (祁韻) TRES #23 cultivar that was first officially unveiled only in 2018. Qi Yun Hong Cha is grown to organic standards around Mingjian Township of Nantou County by Mr Yu and was picked and processed entirely by hand on 8 March 2024. In the same year, Mr Yu also made an early spring Qi Yun GABA Oolong version from the same plants.

The Qi Yun cultivar was introduced by the Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station in 2018. The cultivar originated from seeds of Qimen (Keemun) plants brought to Taiwan from Anhui Province of China by professor Ryo Yamamoto in 1938 and planted at the Yuchi research station. The most outstanding plants from the section were selected in 2001 and comparison testing was carried out against the Qing Xin cultivar in 2015-2017. The cultivar was officially named and unveiled as Qi Yun TRES #23 in September 2018 and positioned specifically for black tea making. Essentially this is a small leaf descendant cultivar of Qimen plants and has similar characteristics. The plants have strong growth potential, as well as strong disease and drought resistance. Teas made from these plants tend to have pronounced aroma and sweetness. Mr Yu has experimented making different types of tea from the plants, including green, lightly oxidised oolong, GABA and black. He found that at this point the plants are most suited to GABA oolong and black tea production.

The ancestry of the plants is apparent to anyone familiar with good quality Qimen teas of Anhui Province. The fruity citrus flavours dominate, there is less maltiness but a more pronounced mineral aspect. The further development in Taiwan plus the difference in terroir bring a light mi xiang honey aspect as well as savouriness and richness associated with more assamica based Taiwanese teas like TRES #8 AssamicaTRES #18 Hong Yu and TRES #21 Hong Yun. The resulting cultivar does produce very interesting results, however given the small amount of it currently planted, it remains a rarity. This is further compounded by the fact that each tea is unique and the farmers have to do many experiments to find the best methods of producing new teas like this one.

This Qi Yun Hong Cha consists of neat, wiry leaves with a larger amount of golden tips, something not commonly found in Taiwanese black teas. The neat leaves consist solely of smaller leaves and tips that have been carefully hand processed to retain their shape. It produces a dark amber aromatic liquor with a mineral scent. The soft and mellow taste starts on sweet and tangy fruity notes reminiscent of fruity tobacco and salted plums. There is distinct mineral aspect present from the outset. The flavours in the middle bring out some welcome mi xiang honey notes. These then become more savoury and more similar to classic Taiwanese black teas. This tea finally delivers a lasting aftertaste with a savoury and mineral flavour. It is a complex tea that delivers quite exciting and slightly more unusual flavours – an intriguing further development for the Taiwanese black tea industry.

It is best brewed at 90°C for 2-3 minutes according to your taste and should be brewed multiple times, increasing steeping time with each brew if desired. For best results we definitely recommend brewing gongfu style.

You can also buy this Qi Yun Hong Cha black tea in our online shop.

We really do hope that you enjoy this tea selection and are looking forward to the selection in our June boxes, which will be a China spring special! For the light side of the selection we will be featuring a Ding Gu Da Fang green tea that is similar to Dragon Well green and a lovely complex Bai Ya white tea from Yunnan Province. For the darker side of the selection we opted for a complex Huang Zhi Xiang Dan Cong from Guangdong Province and a high grade ‘Golden Needle’ Keemun from Anhui Province.

If reading this has made you curious about our teas, but you don’t yet subscribe to a monthly tea selection, you can sign up for our tea boxes in just a few clicks. We ship worldwide from London, UK.

We always love to hear from you, so if you have any questions, suggestions or just want to chat about tea, email us at, via our Facebook page or via Twitter.

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