Ying Xiang Hong Cha (迎香紅茶) is a black tea crafted from a newly introduced Ying Xiang cultivar. It has a characteristic profile of complex savoury and fruity flavours and a lightly tannic aftertaste. Grown at Zhu Shan Township (竹山, Bamboo Mountain) of Nantou Province at an elevation of around 400m. The leaves of this batch were handpicked in July 2020.
This tea is crafted from a Ying Xiang TRES #20 cultivar that was introduced very recently by the Taiwan Tea Research and Extension Station. This cultivar resulted from years of research and development and is a cross of an unknown plant #2022 (most likely a Qing Xin cultivar) and a Jin Xuan TRES #12 cultivar. It was first released in 2004 and initially intended for production of Bao Zhong teas in northern Taiwan. However it was central Taiwan where TRES #20 cultivar started gaining attention, particularly in Nantou Province. The higher altitude growers have noticed a particularly pronounced aroma from the leaves of this new cultivar, hence giving it the Ying Xiang name, which can be translated as ‘Welcome Scent’ or ‘Inviting Aroma’.
As this cultivar is still so new, the growers are still refining the growing and production methods for Ying Xiang teas. Many are producing lightly oxidised oolongs, with some good results especially from higher elevation gardens. Others, like in the case of this tea from Mr Chen, opted for a more creative approach by producing black teas. Certainly we find that this is a good choice as the resulting tea has that typical Taiwanese savoury black tea profile while having a more aromatic liquor with much smoother flavours. While we do class this as a black tea in the western style, it is known as Hong Cha according to Chinese classification. This is due to ‘black tea’ in China and Taiwan being normally referred to as hong cha (红茶 / 紅茶), or red tea.
When tasting this Ying Xiang Hong Cha, the ancestry of the plants of the new cultivar translate very well into balanced and smooth characteristics. The aromatic aspect is present throughout and the Jin Xuan side of the cultivar adds sophisticated velvety smoothness to the taste. The savoury profile is in common with other Taiwanese black teas, but it is not as overpowering. It is toned down by the more aromatic floral and fruity flavours and slightly earthy notes of bread and root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes. There are dark herbaceous notes on the finish and a lingering aftertaste with complex but not overwhelming tannins. This is an exciting brand new tea and we can’t wait to see what other new varieties will be produced from it in the near future!
It is best to brew this Ying Xiang Hong Cha black tea for 3-4 minutes in 90c temperature, reusing the leaves multiple times. For best results, we suggest gong fu brewing.