San Xia Ming Qian Hong Cha (三峽明前紅茶) is a premium grade early spring black tea from Sanxia District of New Taipei City in northern Taiwan. It is carefully handpicked and processed from the leaves of the Qing Xin Gan Zi varietal to create an attractive, smooth flavour. It produces a complex savoury flavour with a lasting lightly tannic and spicy aftertaste. Grown at an altitude of between 300m and 600m, it was harvested and processed on 8 March 2023. This is a black tea version of our San Xia Ming Qian Bi Luo Chun green tea.
While a lot of the red/black tea (Hong Cha) from Taiwan tends to have a more robust flavour due to the use of cultivars descended from assamica plants, this tea utilises the Qing Xin Gan Zi cultivar that is normally reserved for oolong production. Hence the trademark Taiwanese black tea taste that is evident in teas like our Yuchi Assamica and Yuchi Red Jade is not present in this particular Hong Cha. While there is still an aspect that is familiar, such as a light savoury edge, the overall flavour really is a wholly different experience.
The teas from Sanxia District are largely outliers from other Taiwanese teas in terms of picking standard and production. Unlike many other regions of Taiwan that have distinct harvest seasons and where the leaves are harvested with stalks, utilising the top 2-4 leaves and the bud, the harvest in Sanxia occurs when the leaves are picked every 10-14 days. Only the top leaves and buds are harvested, so the leaves are picked without stalk, in a style that is more common with the Mainland Chinese standard of picking. Furthermore, this tea comes from a small cooperative factory of Mr Lee. They work with about 200 very small scale growers in the area who sell their tea leaves to the factory. Depending on the quality and characteristics of each harvest the factory then decides on the best tea to make from each harvest, varying between styles such as Bi Luo Chun or Long Jing for green tea, various types of oolong or by making this Hong Cha.
This San Xia Ming Qian Hong Cha consists of neat dark twisted leaves that are quite tippy. It produces an aromatic liquor with a malty and savoury scent. The dark liquor has good clarity, featuring a savoury profile. The mouthwatering juicy taste has sweet, yet savoury, fruity and stony notes that remind of pomegranate molasses and tomato vine. The clean aftertaste has a pleasant touch of tannins with a lasting peppery and spicy taste. Overall, it is a balanced and milder taste when compared to other Taiwanese Hong Cha, more reminiscent of a top grade Chinese black from Fujian or Anhui.
This tea is best brewed with water at 90°C for 3 minutes and the leaves can be brewed 3+ times. For best results brew gongfu style.