Leaf Type: Black Hand-plucked Sun Moon Lake Black Tea Loose leaves
Where to Buy: Fong Mong Tea on eBay
Sun Moon Lake black tea can be declared “Red Treasure” in central Taiwan. Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County is surrounded with mountains and lakes with remarkable environment and typical climate. Heavy moist and stable yearly average temperature make the tea trees grow thick and rich tea leaves which produce carmine and perfectly clear liquor. Its unique sweet aroma and strong mint taste make it truly unforgettable. It is also the best ingredient to make “bubble tea” (the most famous Taiwanese tea drink on earth).
I was thrilled that Fong Mong Tea was offering some samplers a while back.
They provided a sampler pack that would allow two steeping sessions gongfu style.
I love it when a company includes enough in a sample to have more than one session. It allows for a learning curve if needed and for trying different steeping methods if one prefers.
I had the first session soon after I received the sample and now I am enjoying the second session.
I had been saving the rest of my sample for a day I needed a really relaxing and unique tea. A morning when I didn’t have to rush around, and didn’t want to. Today is that day.
Upon the initial sip my first thought was “is this a black tea?” well of course I knew it was but the flavor profile was so green. Fresh, vegetal, brothy, like juicy fresh from the garden green beans. I was slightly taken aback, although the flavor was absolutely delicious it was not what I was expecting. This prompted me to check my tasting notes from my first sampling of this tea! Indeed I also had felt the same way three months earlier when first trying Sun Moon Lake by Fong Mong.
I continued to sip and picked up mushroom notes, tree bark, and a hint of spice that caused a tingling sparkly sensation on the tongue. Ahhh, now the dark notes are beginning to show themselves lending to the black tea profile.
More of the black tea notes began to ring out loud and clear with a slight malt flavor, a milk chocolate flavor, and an oak moss flavor, however those light lilting green vegetal flavors never totally faded!
This is a very meditative tea. As a black tea I am not sure I would want this as my first cup in the morning as I tend to need far more of a punch in the face tea to wake up, however this is my second tea for today and its helping me ease into my afternoon beautifully. Its relaxing, assisting me in focusing on tasks I need to complete, and helping my creative juices to begin to flow gently, calmly, and with ease.
Now I have an admission to make. I used a lower water temperature than suggested. The reason why is quite simply that I was impatient and did not want to heat my water up. My Zojirushi water heater was already at 175 from the night before, and I just went ahead and used that temp for this tea. Granted I was taking a risk with this precious sample, being that one more session was all that was remaining. I have no regrets. This is obviously a forgiving tea, and of course it was not going to get burnt by over heated water but I have also not lost any flavors either. This tastes exactly as I remember it and matches my previous tasting notes perfectly. If nothing else perhaps steeping at this lower temperature will prolong my session allowing for even more steeps than I would normally have got. I am on my third steep now and it is ever bit as good as the first and I plan to keep on steeping until it stops giving.
I am surprised, actually shocked that this is not already holding a place in my permanent stash, but I am so happy that I had some left over as a reminder to place an order with Fong Mong Tea today!
In my previous tasting notes I said that this tea was like a soup created in the kitchen of a culinary master, one that needed to be allowed to simmer for a long time to allow the true flavors to develop. A broth that needed to age like a fine wine. This tea speaks to you as if it is knowing of secrets held within old trees, running streams that have spread gossip from one watering hole to the next and the memories of vegetation along the way. Sun Moon Lake is one that needs to be allowed to take you on a journey to unknown territories, allowed to tell you its stories. This is a slow, easy sipper tea, again not my preference for morning when I really need to suck a tea down in light speed to get “my fix”. This tea is one to be savored and appreciated.