I compared with tea side by side with the original Ruby 18 Fong Mong Tea offers. I used a gaiwan method. As this is a black tea, I opted for fewer, longer steeps. I used 2g of leaves per 60ml of water. I used water just at a boil, with a first steep of 20 seconds, preparing both the original Ruby 18 and it’s GABA counterpart at the same time.
My first sip was of the original, and it was just as I remembered it, albeit a little more potent this time for tasting purposes. The original is complex: malty, rich, with camphor, menthol, cinnamon earthiness and slightly fruity. It is also astringent, a truly delightful experience.
Now what about this GABA variety? At first impression, it seemed very similar. Perhaps the flavours are a bit more potent in this one. I sipped again. My mouth began feeling that familiar drying sensation as I tried to tease out the nuances of this variety. It is a bit different. But it is still entirely a Ruby 18.
The note in Ruby 18 that always strikes me most is that strong camphor and menthol. The warming cinnamon is there too. I feel like this GABA one has more intensity to it and a bit more natural sweetness. It’s quite soothing and the mouthfeel again is rich and smooth, I think I find it a little more astringent than the original Ruby 18. There’s a minty freshness in here to complement the rest of the bouquet.
I feel like the most noticeable difference to me (someone who really enjoys tea, but not an expert) is that the GABA version seems more sweet and potent, and the aftertaste lingers a bit longer than the original Ruby 18. These are, of course, my personal opinion and a subjective observation. I thoroughly enjoy both.
Both of these teas are beautiful and of high quality. After a long suffocating steep, both were still very enjoyable and I could not tell you any distinct flaw in them. They are simply great teas. Overall I feel the GABA tea is a bit sweeter in a cinnamon and mint kind of way. Both teas retained a lot of flavour and strength even into this fourth steeping, and could have been pushed further. Due to the sweetness and enjoying the relaxing GABA effects, if I had to choose between the two, I’d choose the GABA version.
Flavors: Camphor, Caramel, Cinnamon, Malt, Menthol, Mint