2020 Awesome 8
The August tea of the month is Awesome 8. Also known as Assam 8 this is a rare cultivar that has deep roots in Taiwan’s tea history. I first fell in love with the cultivar in the spring of 2016 adventuring around the central growing region of Taiwan. In the heart of Nantou Province lies Sun Moon Lake. A picturesque growing region and home to one of the most important research centers in Taiwan. I came to find out that it was there in the Yu Chi TRES station that TRESS #8 was first produced.
TRES is an acronym for Taiwan Research & Extension Station. TRES was founded in 1903 and was originally called Tea Manufacture Experiment Station. It’s primary mission was to establish Taiwan’s distinct place in the global tea market by developing, patenting, and releasing unique tea cultivars. TRES also acts as an education hub educating each new generation of tea producers. Finally, the TRES stations also act as repositories of different rare tea cultivars from around the world.
At the turn of the century the plan was to make Taiwan a major player in the global black tea market. The Japanese imported black cultivars from Assam for production on the lush and fertile soils of Taiwan. It was these early cultivars that the Taiwanese began cross breeding looking for exceptional and strong new Taiwanese cultivars. It was was given the number 8 because was the 8th new cultivar produced by TRES.
Awesome 8 really wears its Assam heritage on its sleeve. I can’t help but think this is the most approachable tasting tea for the “western plate” of any of our teas. It for sure stands apart as a crisper, brighter, cleaner and far more refined version of more classical style breakfast teas. It can really hold up to milk or any food pairing.
Notes of apricot fruit leather, soft rose petals, deep malts.
Taylor Drye, Mad Monk Tea
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