Da Hong Pao

The monomyth of Da Hong Pao—in every version the original, panacean, imperially-blessed progenitor of glorious rock tea—tends to overshadow the tea itself. This treatment, produced from the respectable Qi Dan cultivar, may similarly seem to be dominated by its typically intense roasting, but let the brusque charcoal scent dissipate, and a surprisingly complex and protean soup emerges. Backed by a molasses sweetness, umami, fruity, and liquor-like aromas lilt into the nose, but the real alchemy is in the aftertaste: floral peach appears from nowhere, occasionally followed by a hint of coconut. It's a tea that rewards even a little patience very quickly.
  • ORIGIN:  Dashuikeng, Wuyishan, Fujian, China
  • MEANING:  Big Red Robe (da hong pao)
  • CULTIVAR:  Qi Dan
  • HARVEST TIME:  3 May, 2020
  • ROASTING:  Thrice: 15 July, 10 September, 15 December 2020
  • TASTE:  Charcoal, peach, molasses
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Preparation

IN THE TEAPOT
  • Quantity: 6g / 500ml
  • Water temperature: 90°C
  • Infusion time: 5 min
GONGFU CHA METHOD
  • Quantity: 3g / 100ml
  • Water temperature: 90°C
  • 4 infusions: 30, 45, 45, 60 sec

For best results in gongfu cha, brew in the traditional gaiwan or in a Yixing teapot. Too high water temperature would burn the leaves, resulting in bitter taste.

Additional Information

Authentic Wuyi Yan Cha is produced in the Mount Wuyi region, a UNESCO natural heritage site. The dramatic gorges of the Nine Bend River are surrounded by a largely intact subtropical forest and smooth cliffs of black-brownish rocks. The tea plants grow in narrow valleys next to the cliffs in a mineral-rich soil.

Tea leaves have been processed here for at least a thousand years. From the 11th to 16th centuries, when Oolong tea was yet to be invented, there was an imperial tea farm on the mountains, producing green tea for the imperial court. Oolong production was boosted in the 17th century thanks to the great export demand from Europe. At that time, Wuyi was known in England as “Bohea,” and the tea imported from this region was labeled black tea. Note that black tea, as we know it today, was created centuries later.
Today Wuyi Yan Cha is one of the most valued teas in China. Because it has become a status symbol, many wealthy Chinese are willing to pay a fortune for it without even knowing how a proper Wuyi Yan Cha should taste. The result has been prices inflating to unjustified levels and quality often sacrificed for quantity.
Unique to the Wuyi Yan Cha is a mineral savor coming from the soil and the surrounding cliffs. Being the oolong with the highest fire finish, fresh Yan Cha may as a result be strong and pungent. Sharpness and too-prominent astringency subside upon ageing. Premium high-fire Yan Cha tastes better after a few years of storage. Use a Yixing teapot to soften the tea, should it be too astringent for your palate.
The overall taste profile is rich, complex, and deep. Depending on cultivar and environment, the mineral-roasted flavor is refined by floral, fruity, nutty, or woody accents.