Four Seasons Black Pearl (四季春黑珠紅茶) is a light and fruity black tea from Mingjian Township in Nantou County of Taiwan. Made from a cultivar normally used for making a light and floral Four Seasons Oolong, this tea is following the modern trend for development of new and exciting black teas in Taiwan. It was grown and plucked from the same plants that are used to make our own Four Seasons Oolong in October 2020.
This tea is named after the cultivar that is used to make it, Si Ji Chun (四季春), or Four Seasons Spring, as well as the shape of the finished tea, which resembles small black pearls. The leaves that are plucked from Si Ji Chun plants have a fresh and light flowery ‘spring-like’ aroma year round, hence it is referred to as Four Seasons Spring. This floral cultivar has become very popular in Taiwan, where it first appeared in the 1980’s. Recently it has also been extensively planted in other countries, such as Thailand and Vietnam. It favours low altitude conditions, produces a flavoursome tea and is rather hardy and easy growing while providing farmers with a consistent crop throughout the whole year. It is easy to see why this cultivar is popular with the farmers!
Unlike our classic lightly oxidised Four Seasons Oolong, this tea undergoes heavy oxidation at around 90%. This means that it falls into a category of black teas that tread a fine line between an oolong and a light black tea. It is always difficult to classify such teas and to decide whether they should be included in black or oolong tea categories. However, based on the flavours of this tea, we felt that it can be just about pushed into the ‘black’ tea category. Of course the most correct classification would be just Hong Cha (紅茶) or Red Tea as is used in China and Taiwan.
This Four Seasons Black Pearl has tightly rolled dark leaves that unfurl when brewed. It is very light for a black tea, with no bitterness, astringency or dryness. The character is very smooth and quite light, with slightly thin crisp flavours. There are floral notes, notes of fruits such as raisins and plums as well a lightly spiced edge. The finish is clean and pleasant with a tart and lightly mineral taste.
We suggest brewing at 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste. It can be brewed around 3 times depending on your preference.