Sun Moon Lake Black Tea stands as a testament to the heritage and dedication to those who have contributed to Taiwan’s vibrant tea culture. Among the many teas originating from this picturesque region, Sun Moon Lake Black Tea holds a special place. It has captivated tea enthusiasts worldwide with its unique flavors and centuries-old traditions.

In this exploration of Sun Moon Lake Tea, we embark on a journey to uncover the stories behind them. This blog post covers all you need to know about Sun Moon Lake Tea. From the history to the flavor, brewing recommendations and where to buy. Moreover, we’ll delve into other varieties that coexist in this region, adding layers to the narrative of Sun Moon Lake tea.

History Of Sun Moon Lake Tea

Origins of Sun Moon Lake Black Tea


Sun Moon Lake Black Tea traces its origins back to the early 20th century, during the late Japanese colonial period. In 1925, Japanese settlers introduced Assam tea varieties from India to different regions in Taiwan for experimental cultivation. The unique climate and topography around Sun Moon Lake were discovered to be remarkably similar to tea-growing regions in India. This discovery laid the foundation for the cultivation of Assam black tea in the region. It also marked the birth of Taiwan’s renowned Sun Moon Lake Tea.

Historical Significance in Taiwan’s Tea Culture


The historical significance of Sun Moon Lake Black Tea in Taiwan’s tea culture is intertwined with the efforts of individuals like Kojiro Shinpei, a Japanese agricultural expert. In the 1930s, Shinpei established the Red Tea Experimental Substation in Yuchi Township, Sun Moon Lake. The station played a pivotal role in cultivating Assam tea varieties. Often referred to as the “Father of Taiwan Black Tea,” Shinpei’s contributions had a lasting impact on the development of the local tea industry.

During the Japanese colonial era, Taiwan’s tea industry experienced a shift in focus from traditional tea consumption to export-oriented cultivation. The establishment of tea research institutes and experimentation with different tea varieties marked the beginning of Taiwan’s red tea journey.

Evolution of Tea Production in the Region

Source: National Museum of Taiwan History

The 1940s to the 1960s marked the golden age of Taiwan’s black tea industry. With large-scale cultivation and export, Taiwanese black tea, gained international recognition. Best known among them are regions like Yuchi (Sun Moon Lake) and Hsinchu. However, global competition and the rise of other tea-producing countries led to a decline in Taiwan’s tea exports.

The resurgence of Sun Moon Lake Black Tea began in 1999. This is the year of official registration of the cultivar known as Red Jade (Tai Cha No. 18). The post-921 earthquake era saw a renewed focus on the local tea industry. Sun Moon Lake Tea experienced a revival, gaining popularity both domestically and internationally.

The historical journey of Sun Moon Lake Black Tea reflects not only the evolution of tea production techniques but also the resilience and adaptability of Taiwan’s tea culture. As Sun Moon Lake Tea continues to flourish, it remains a symbol of Taiwan’s rich tea heritage and the dedication of those who contributed to its development.

Cultivation and Processing

Tea Plant Varieties Used

Sun Moon Lake Black Tea is primarily crafted from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis tea plant, specifically the unique Taiwanese tea cultivar known as Taiwan No. 18 or Red Jade (紅玉, hóng yù). This cultivar is an indigenous variety developed in Taiwan and is revered for its exceptional flavor profile, which includes natural notes of cinnamon and mint.

Growing Conditions of Sun Moon Lake Tea

The Sun Moon Lake region, situated in the central part of Taiwan, provides an ideal environment for cultivating high-quality tea. The terroir of this region, characterized by its misty climate, ample rainfall, and rich soil, contributes to the distinctive characteristics of Sun Moon Lake Tea. The combination of altitude, climate, and soil composition plays a crucial role in developing the unique flavors and aromas associated with this tea.

Harvesting and Processing Techniques

  1. Harvesting: The timing of tea leaf harvesting significantly influences the flavor and aroma of Sun Moon Lake Tea. Typically, the leaves are plucked when they have reached a certain level of maturity. The expertise of tea farmers in determining the optimal harvesting time contributes to the tea’s overall quality.
  2. Withering: After harvesting, the leaves undergo a withering process, during which they lose moisture. This step is crucial for enhancing the flavor profile of the tea. Traditionally, withering took place naturally in open air, but modern methods may involve controlled indoor conditions to achieve specific results.
  3. Oxidation/Fermentation: Sun Moon Lake Black Tea is a fully oxidized or fermented tea. The leaves are bruised or crushed to initiate oxidation, a process where the enzymes in the tea leaves interact with oxygen, leading to chemical changes that result in the characteristic dark color and robust flavor of black tea.
  4. Fixation: To halt the oxidation process, the leaves are subjected to high temperatures in a process known as fixation. This step ensures the tea attains the desired level of oxidation, locking in the distinct flavors and preventing further enzymatic activity.
  5. Rolling and Drying: The oxidized leaves are rolled to shape and further develop flavor. This is followed by drying, which stabilizes the tea for storage and consumption.

Traditional vs. Modern Methods

While traditional methods involve manual labor and natural withering in open air, modern techniques incorporate machinery and controlled environments for withering, oxidation, and drying. The choice between traditional and modern methods often depends on the desired characteristics of the final product. Some tea artisans may combine both approaches, employing traditional methods to maintain the authenticity of the tea while utilizing modern techniques for efficiency and consistency. The careful balance between tradition and innovation contributes to the diversity of Sun Moon Lake Tea offerings in the market.

What is so Special about Sun Moon Lake Black Tea?


Flavor Profile

  1. Aroma: Sun Moon Lake Black Tea, particularly the renowned ‘Tai Cha No.18 – Red Jade Black Tea,’ is celebrated for its captivating aroma. The tea emanates natural notes of refreshing peppermint and warm cinnamon. The fragrance is elegantly infused with floral and fruity undertones, creating a delightful and sophisticated bouquet. The tea’s aroma is known to be one of its distinguishing features, enticing tea enthusiasts with its unique blend.
  2. Taste Notes The taste profile of Red Jade Black Tea is a harmonious blend of distinctive flavors. As you sip this tea, you’ll experience a medium-intensity convergence of flavors, marked by a subtle sweetness and delicate refinement. The tea leaves leave a lingering and satisfying aftertaste, creating a well-rounded and nuanced palate. The infusion of peppermint lends a cool, refreshing note, contributing to the overall complexity of the taste. Some famous tea shops in Beitou night market uses Sun Moon Lake Tea for their production!



  1. Leaf Characteristics: The leaves of Red Jade Black Tea are distinctive, presenting themselves in long, wiry strips. The appearance is elegant and showcases the craftsmanship involved in the tea-making process. The leaves, carefully oxidized and processed, carry a rich aroma that foreshadows the tea’s flavor profile.
  2. Liquor Color: When brewed, Sun Moon Lake Black Tea yields a vibrant and luminous liquor with a captivating red hue. The liquor is clear and bright, showcasing the tea’s purity and quality. The deep red color is not only visually appealing but also an indicator of the rich and robust taste that awaits the tea drinker.

Sun Moon Lake Tea Varieties and Blends

Taiwan Tea No. 18 (Ruby/Red Jade/Hong Yu) 紅玉


Taiwan Tea No. 18, also known as Ruby (紅玉), is a distinguished variant resulting from the crossbreeding of Taiwan mountain tea and Burma large leaf tea by the Tea Research and Extension Station. Its vibrant red infusion showcases a subtle blend of mint and cinnamon aromas, accompanied by a rich and mellow taste. Recognized for its high polyphenol content and full fermentation, this tea transforms into a complex blend of theaflavins and thearubigins. Experts have praised it as “Taiwan Red” and “Taiwanese Fragrance,” making it a unique and representative variety in the world of red teas. This is the most classic and renowned variety of Sun Moon Lake Tea.

Taiwan Tea No. 18 (Early Shoots) 初蕊


This variety is a special version of the classic Ruby tea. Capturing the essence of spring, Taiwan Tea No. 18 Early Shoots is harvested from the first tender shoots of the Taiwan Tea No. 18 plants after the winter chill. It offers a subtle sugarcane fragrance with a delightful sweetness, devoid of bitterness or astringency. The delicate flavor profile makes it a captivating choice for those seeking the essence of spring in their cup.

Taiwan Tea No. 21 (Hong Yun/Amber) 紅韻


Taiwan Tea No. 21, also known as Hong Yun (Amber), is the result of crossing China’s Qi Men tea with India’s Kyang large leaf tea. Officially named in 2008, this variant presents a bright orange-red liquor with notes of pomelo flower honey and ripe fruits. Note that its name Hong Yun is very similar to the classic No.18 Hong Yu, but they are different teas. The taste of No.21 is rich and delightful, leaving a lingering fragrance on the palate. With its intricate blend of aromas and flavors, Taiwan Tea No. 21 has become a distinctive choice among red teas.

Taiwan Tea No.8 Assam Black Tea 阿薩姆


Introduced in 1936, Assam Black Tea played a significant role in establishing the red tea industry around Sun Moon Lake. Originally brought from India, the Assam tea variety yields a deep red infusion with a robust, malty aroma. Apart from being enjoyed on its own, it serves as an excellent base for milk tea, transforming the liquor into a rich amber hue with a harmonious blend of tea and milk flavors.

Indigenous Tea/Mountain Tea (Cang Ya/Amethyst) 藏芽/紫芽山茶


Representing the native Taiwan mountain tea, Indigenous Tea (Cang Ya/Amethyst) has grown in the wild around Sun Moon Lake for centuries. These tea trees, having endured the challenges of nature, produce leaves infused with the energy of the land. The golden-red infusion emanates a wild and fragrant aroma, accompanied by a sweet and smooth taste. While its rarity places it among the top-tier red teas, the Taiwan Indigenous Tea truly captures the essence of the region’s unique terroir.

Honey Fragrance Tea 蜜香


When it comes to the most distinctive tea flavors in Taiwan, the mention of “honey fragrance” is inevitable. This is not a specific tea variety, but a special characteristic that some tea might have. Many tea gardens in Taiwan produce teas with a honey-like aroma, offering a remarkably sweet taste. Among the most renowned are Oriental Beauty Tea and Honey Fragrance Black Tea from Eastern Taiwan (Taitung, Hualien), and the uniqueness lies not in any added ingredients but in the presence of a tiny green leafhopper known as “著涎” (zhuo xian).

When a tea garden minimizes human interference, such as the use of pesticides and fertilizers, allowing the ecosystem to develop naturally, it forms a habitat for various organisms. During the summer and autumn, the small green leafhopper appears. These leafhoppers enjoy feeding on tea leaves, and when the leaves are bitten, they secrete a unique compound called “2,6-dimethyl-3,7-octadiene-2,6-diol.” This substance attracts the natural predator of the leafhopper, the white-spotted wax spider.

Tea leaves processed from those bitten by the leafhopper carry a natural sweetness and a honey-like flavor upon consumption. However, the zhuoxian process leads to a decrease in tea leaf yield, resulting in increased production costs. Generally, the more intense the zhuoxian, the higher the price of the tea leaves.

Honey Fragrance Black Tea can be made from various tea varieties, including large leaf oolong, Qing Xin oolong, Taiwan Tea No. 12 (Jin Xuan), Taiwan Tea No. 13, and Qing Xin Gan Zi. The key factor in producing various Honey Fragrance Black Teas is the presence and intensity of 著涎. With different origins and varieties, the taste of Honey Fragrance Black Tea also varies slightly, offering a diverse and unique tea experience.

Sun Moon Lake Tea Brewing Recommendations

Traditional Hot Brew


For a traditional hot brew, the recommended tea-to-water ratio is 1 gram of tea leaves to 100ml of water, allowing for personal adjustments based on taste preferences.

  • Place approximately 6 grams of Sun Moon Lake tea leaves into a glass teapot.
  • Pour in around 300 ml of hot water. Water Temperature is recommended to be around 85-90°C (185-194°F) for best results.
  • Let it steep for 50 seconds to 1 minute.
  • After filtering out the tea leaves, the tea is ready to be enjoyed.
  • This process can be repeated 2-3 times, adjusting the steeping time with each infusion to suit individual tastes.

Iced Black Tea


For a refreshing iced tea, three different methods are suggested, each offering a unique flavor profile.

  1. The Rapid Cooling Method involves following the hot brewing instructions but with half the water (or double the tea leaves). Once the tea color has dissolved, immediately add ice to rapidly cool, preserving the tea’s aroma and taste.
  2. The Cold Brew Method entails placing 10 grams of Sun Moon Lake tea leaves (or 2 tea bags) into 1000cc of cold water, letting it sit for 4 hours before removing the leaves and refrigerating the tea.
  3. The Large Pot Brewing Method involves boiling 1500cc of water, adding approximately 10g of Sun Moon Lake tea, cooling, removing the leaves, and refrigerating the tea for an iced treat. These methods offer a versatile range of options for enjoying the exquisite flavors of Sun Moon Lake black tea in various ways.

Sun Moon Lake Milk Tea


Some tea vendors make sun moon lake milk tea powders for those who are a little lazier. However, for the best results, we recommend making your own by combining Sun moon lake tea with milk.

To craft the perfect Sun Moon Lake Milk Tea, begin by prioritizing a robust black tea infusion. Place the tea bags into a mug, pour in 200ml of boiling water, and let it steep for a generous 10 minutes. It’s crucial to brew the black tea slightly stronger than usual, enhancing the overall flavor and enriching the aromatic profile. After the steeping period, remove the Red Jade tea bags and introduce ice to cool the tea to your desired temperature.

For the creamy component for your Sun Moon Lake milk tea, it is recommended to opt for whole milk to impart a rich and indulgent taste. However, any milk as well as powdered or condensed alternatives should work too. Pour 200 ml of milk into the brewed Red Jade tea, ensuring a harmonious blend. Stir the mixture thoroughly, achieving a balanced combination of tea and milk. The typical tea-to-milk ratio is around 2:1, but those favoring a more intense milky flavor can adjust the ratio to 1:1. Whether adding the milk before or after the tea, both methods work well—experiment to find your preference.

Since milk inherently carries sweetness, there’s no need to add extra sugar. However, for those with a sweet tooth, consider incorporating honey or black sugar for an extra layer of sweetness and depth to your Sun Moon Lake Milk Tea. Enjoy this refreshing and indulgent beverage with your personalized touch!

Health Benefits

Antioxidant Properties

Sun Moon Lake Black Tea, like many black teas, is rich in antioxidants, particularly polyphenols and catechins. These compounds play a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals in the body, helping to reduce oxidative stress. The presence of these antioxidants in Sun Moon Lake Black Tea contributes to its potential health-promoting effects. Obviously, your Sun Moon Lake Milk Tea will have the same effect as it uses the same leaves.

Caffeine Content and Effect

How much caffeine does Sun Moon Lake Black Tea contain? It contains a moderate amount of caffeine. The caffeine content per is approximately 20-30 mg per 100g. However, different varieties and products might vary slightly, so check the package of your tea for more information. This moderate caffeine content makes it a suitable choice for those seeking a gentle energy boost without the potential side effects associated with higher caffeine levels, such as jitteriness or insomnia. It provides a natural and balanced source of stimulation, making it an ideal beverage for enhancing mental alertness and focus during the day.

Buying Sun Moon Lake Black Tea

Where to Buy Authentic Taiwanese Tea?

Unfortunately, despite the fame of Sun Moon Lake Tea, it is important to exercise caution when purchasing online, as there is a possibility of encountering fraudulent sellers or scams. Due to its popularity, Sun Moon Lake Black Tea may be targeted by unscrupulous online retailers, making it essential for consumers to verify the authenticity and reputation of sellers before making a purchase. Authentic Sun Moon Lake Black Tea can be found at various reputable sources that prioritize quality and authenticity. We will list a a couple noteworthy establishments down below.

Tips for Selecting High-Quality Tea

When selecting Sun Moon Lake Black Tea, there are a few key tips to ensure you get a high-quality product. Look for teas that have well-twisted, intact leaves, as this indicates careful processing. The color of the dry leaves should be dark and uniform, with a rich aroma. High-quality Sun Moon Lake Black Tea often boasts a vibrant reddish infusion, signaling a well-oxidized and carefully crafted tea. Exercise common sense and avoid products that seem like too good of a deal. But do not worry if you are not a tea expert, if you purchase from the following places, it is unlikely that you get low quality products.

Visiting Sun Moon Lake

The best way to purchase and experience sun moon lake black tea is to actually visit the place. We have a whole post on what to do in Sun Moon Lake, including the best water activities and what to eat at sun moon lake! Here are a couple establishments for the best tea experience:

Sun Moon Lake Black Tea House 日月潭紅茶館

📍No. 441, Yuchi St, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan (maps) | 8:30-17:00


As the home of the renowned Sun Moon Lake Black Tea, Yuchi Township has faced challenges in recent years, and the Yuchi Township Farmers Association aims to revitalize the region. With an investment of over NT$140 million and nearly eight years of effort, the Sun Moon Lake Black Tea House serves as a vital hub for promoting black tea, showcasing the unique aroma of Sun Moon Lake black tea.

Officially opened on December 2023, this establishment not only markets local tea culture and production but also sells agricultural specialties from local farmers. Beyond a tea processing plant, the Black Tea House is a tea tourism destination, featuring a gift shop, tea bar, tea restaurant, and a DIY experience classroom. The multifunctional space aims to elevate Yuchi Township’s black tea onto the global stage, offering visitors an authentic and educational experience in the heart of Taiwan’s tea country. At the tea house you will have plenty of opportunity to try out and purchase your favorite tea. They are guaranteed to be authentic and also supports the local farmers directly.

Yuchi Farmers Association Supermarket 魚池農會超市

📍B1, No. 441, Yuchi St, Yuchi Township, Nantou County, Taiwan (maps) | 8:00-17:00


For those looking to further support local farmers, the Yuchi Township Farmers Association Supermarket is an excellent place. Right beside Sun Moon Lake Black Tea House is the Yuchi Farmers Association. Head over to the basement floor 1 and you will arrive at their supermarket. The association collaborates with tea growers to bring their produce directly to consumers, ensuring a direct and authentic link between tea plantations and buyers. This might also be a place to discover some lower budget and high value options.

Hohocha 喝喝茶

📍B1, No. 443-36, Yuchi St, Yuchi Township (maps) | 09:00-17:20 | Closed on Tues, Wed | Website


Hohocha 喝喝茶 is an exquisite Japanese-style building nestled in lush greenery. This privately owned tea factory is located right across Sun Moon Lake Black Tea House. The alluring aroma of tea welcomes travelers, inviting them to explore the first-floor “Tourism Tea Factory,” a transparent production line offering detailed explanations of the eight tea processing procedures. The factory holds prestigious certifications, including ISO22000 and the Five-Star Tea Factory from the Council of Agriculture. On the first floor, indulge in aromatic hand-shaken black tea and red tea eggs, satisfying your palate.

Ascend to the second floor, where the “Product Sales Area” features light snacks and souvenirs. Here, guests can enjoy Italian-style ice cream while witnessing the tea-making process through a transparent skylight, creating a romantic ambiance surrounded by mountains. The second floor also offers an exclusive “Red Tea Crust Pizza,” available for DIY pizza-making experiences. The third floor, dedicated to the “Tea Tasting Experience Area,” immerses visitors in a Zen-inspired lifestyle with solid wood furnishings, glass lamps, and activities like tea appreciation, kneading, mixing, sealing, and serving. Each floor provides a unique glimpse into the world of Taiwanese black tea, blending tradition with modern hospitality.

🎫 Adult Ticket: NTD$80/person (includes a $20 voucher and a complimentary tea-serving experience). (Reservation required for activity courses 3-7 days in advance.)

Mayor Liao Black Tea Story Museum 廖鄉長紅茶故事館

📍maps | 09:00-18:00 | Website

Mayor Liao Black Tea Story Museum, situated alongside Route 21 in Yuchi Township, Nantou County, is an essential stop for those traveling to and from Sun Moon Lake. Established in 2012, the museum features an elegant exterior in a classical European style and welcomes visitors with complimentary tastings of Taiwan Tea No. 18 (Ruby Red Tea), Assam Black Tea, and floral teas based on black tea. The first floor of the museum showcases various tea-processing machinery, inherited by Mayor Liao from his father’s tea leaf business in 1958. This includes leaf screening machines, rolling machines, cutting machines, and drying equipment.

On the second floor, informative displays detail the main varieties of red tea in Yuchi Township, the process of harvesting and producing red tea, and the historical evolution of red tea cultivation from the Japanese colonial period to the present day. If timed right, visitors may witness the actual production process during the red tea harvest season. The museum also houses a retail area on the first floor where visitors can purchase red tea, floral teas, and distinctive red tea products such as red tea nougat, red tea sun cakes, or red tea dried tofu. Liao Mayor Black Tea Story Museum is an excellent destination for those interested in learning about and savoring the rich heritage of red tea.

Taoyuan International Airport


Whether for yourself, family and friends or colleagues, it’s never too late to get some Taiwanese tea at the end of your trip! While waiting for your flight at the Taoyuan International Airport, we recommend you explore the duty-free shops, which often carry a selection of premium Taiwanese teas, including Sun Moon Lake Black Tea. The tea sold in the airport are guaranteed to be authentic. However, it might not be as affordable as purchasing right from factories or stores in Sun Moon Lake. Nevertheless, this offers a convenient option for those looking to purchase this exquisite tea before or after their journey. Similarly, common souvenir shops in the mall or major transportation hub might be great places to shop for Sun Moon Lake Black Tea or even Sun Moon Lake Milk Tea!

Online Retailers

If you are unable to visit Sun Moon Lake yourself, many online retailers offer authentic Sun Moon Lake Tea. Although most of the online stores are in mandarin, you can easily turn on the google translation feature or ask your hotel or host for help. When purchasing, use you common sense for online shopping. Avoid sketchy looking websites and dirt cheap products.


  • The official website of Yuchi Farmers Association has offers free shipping to any 7-11 location for more than NT$499, checkout their website here.
  • TenRen’s Tea, a renowned tea company and bubble tea chain might also sell Sun Moon Lake Black Tea and Sun Moon Lake Milk Tea in their stores. They have stores all over Taiwan!
  • It is also possible to buy premade or pre-bottled tea in regular Taiwanese tea shops or convenience store. Look for the mandarin character 日月潭 which means Sun Moon Lake and black tea (紅茶).

At this point, you probably have already gotten more than enough information about Sun Moon Lake Tea, and in particular their amazing Black Tea. We highly encourage you to try some out in Sun Moon Lake or other tea shops, then decide which tea is the right one for you. They make wonderful souvenirs for yourself and your family, friends, colleagues and more. Not to mention, Japanese people serve these to their emperors back in the days! We hope you enjoyed the post and the wonderful Sun Moon Lake Tea!