Da Hong Pao


$ 13.00




Da Hong Pao

Da Hong Pao, or Big Red Robe, is one of the two wulong (aka oolong) teas found on the list of China’s Ten Most Famous Teas. As with most of these teas, the name and origin is shrouded in legend and the mists of time. Some say a Ming Dynasty nobleman, maybe even an emperor, sent his royal red robes to shade the tea bushes after the tea’s amazing healing qualities saved his mother’s life. Da Hong Pao was propagated from those original tea trees that are now a protected tourist attraction inside the protected area.

This tea is harvested and crafted on Cindy's family lands on Wu Yi Shan, located at an elevation of 300-500m. Their tea is considered to be the highest grade of yan cha, or rock tea, since it is grown on the “zheng yan”, or rocky soils unique to this region and within the protected area. The tea trees here are also allowed to grow naturally in spacious groves instead of carefully planted estate-style. The trees can be up to 100 years old. Plucked meticulously by hand, the Chen Family uses traditional methods to maintain quality standards and produce stellar teas. The Da Hong Pao cultivars and style of processing are highly imitated outside of the protected area and are designated “half-rock teas” or “river bank teas”3, depending on if they are grown just outside the protected area or well outside it.

Provenance:

  • Origin: Wuyishan Rock Tea Village, Fujian, China
  • Grower/Teamaster: Zhou Shi Wu & Cindy Chen
  • Harvest Date: May 2016
  • Cultivar: Qi Dan and Bei Dou
  • Cultivation: Natural (Organic, no cert.) This garden is within the area strictly protected by the government, so absolutely no chemicals or pesticides are used.
  • Plucking Standard: top three to five leaves after bud has opened
  • Processing Notes:  the tea is picked early in the morning after the dew has evaporated from the tea leaves. The leaves are withered briefly in the sun to remove excess moisture, before they are rolled and oxidized and roasted 3-4 times. This is a traditional high-fired version of Da Hong Pao
  • Nickname: Big Red Robe (大红袍 or 大紅袍)
  • History/Pedigree: Da Hong Pao and the other three famous Wu Yi wulongs from the original bushes can be collectively referred to as Si Da Ming Cong, or Four Great Bushes. And this is Zheng Yan Da Hong Pao, meaning it is grown within the Wu Yi protected area, making it the rarest and most highly sought after.

Brewing Suggestions1:

  • Water: 195-205˚F filtered water
  • Tea: 2g per 4oz of water (about a level 1 TB2)
  • Steep:
    • Western: 1-2 minutes with 2-4 additional steepings. Or you can do more of a “western” steep of 3-5 minutes with less additional steepings.
    • Eastern/Gong fu: Start with a quick 10s steep and then increase steep time by 50% until you reach 60s steeped out (10s, 15s, 22s, 30s,45s, 60s,…

Tasting Notes:

Roasted fruit, savory notes, and that unique and highly sought after mineral rocky note. This last note gives yan cha its name and is referred to literally as “rock rhyme”.

 

1 Brewing suggestions are just that. Try it as suggested, and then experiment. In this case I suggest first experimenting with the length and number of steepings. You could also experiment with the quantity of tea per oz of water. For temperature, 195˚ gives a sweeter, smoother profile while 205˚ is more complex and stronger. Some tea drinkers like to use slightly hotter and longer times for each subsequent steeping.

2 Weighing your tea is always the best way to control your dosage. I provide approximate volume measures for convenience but they can be problematic due to the variance in tea leaf shape and size. It’s best to use the single appropriate volume measure for the tea, i.e., don’t try to measure 1.5TB using two spoons meant to measure 1 TB and a ½ TB. Use an actual 1.5 TB measuring spoon. Yes, they make them! I like the oblong ones to handle longer leaf styles.

3 tea: a users guide / by Tony Gebely; copyright 2016 Eggs and Toast Media LLC

 


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