Da Hong Pao Bei Dou (大紅袍北斗) Big Red Robe is a famous Wu Yi Rock oolong from Fujian Province in China. This Pure Bei Dou version is made utilising solely the leaves of the Bei Dou cultivar plants that are descendant from the original mother bushes. Grown at Fo Guo Yan (佛国岩) in the core Zheng Yan area of Wu Yi Shan, it produces a classic rock rhyme (yan yun 岩韵) taste, resulting in a complex and balanced flavour. This particular lot was harvested in late April 2023.
Wu Yi Shan has three main areas of tea production. The main core area is known as Zheng Yan (正岩), while the two peripheral areas are known as Ban Yan (半岩) and Zhou Cha (洲茶). This lot comes from tea plants grown at Fo Guo Yan (佛国岩) – literally Buddha Country Cliff – in the core Zhen Yan area of Wi Yi Shan National Reserve Area.
This is one of the two Da Hong Pao teas from the core Zheng Yan area that we source, the other being made from the Qi Dan cultivar. Both of these are single cultivar teas. The difference between Qi Dan and Bei Dou is subtle and your perception will vary based on water used, brewing technique and brewing parameters. In our side by side testing, the Qi Dan version resulted in a sweeter and fruitier flavour while the Bei Dou produced a zestier liquor with a lightly more pronounced mineral and roasted aspect. If you are looking for a blended Da Hong Pao, we have two versions from Ban Yan, located just outside the core area: fine grade Classic Da Hong Pao & superfine grade Special Da Hong Pao.
This Da Hong Pao Bei Dou is made purely from the leaves of Bei Dou cultivar plants. Bei Dou translates as Big Dipper or the Plough (constellation) – depending on which part of the world you are from. This plant was selected from the original mother bushes by Mr. Yao Yue Ming, a process that he started in the 1950’s. So this cultivar is a further development of the Qi Dan plants, whereby Mr. Yao has created a new descendant plant that entered commercial planting in the 1980’s. Specifically this is Bei Dou Yi Hao (No. 1) cultivar, meaning this is the first generation plants. The vast majority of Da Hong Pao on the market would be the blended variety. While the blended versions have their own merits, the pure Qi Dan and Bei Dou versions represent plants that are as close to the mother plants as possible. As such, many argue that these provide the most authentic Da Hong Pao experience available. Of course an expertly made blended version may be much better than a pure Qi Dan or Bei Dou version and vice versa.
Our Qi Dan Da Hong Pao comes in neat medium oxidised leaves that have a floral roasted aroma. The liquor is aromatic, with a lightly mineral, roasted aromas. The mineral profile comes with a complex taste that is tangy and floral with notes of tropical fruits and orange zest. This tea has a medium roast level, allowing the floral and fruity notes to really shine through. The aftertaste remains on the mineral side, with a lasting hui gan mouthfeel.
We suggest brewing parameters of 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste, brewing 3 or more times. For best results we definitely recommend gong fu style brewing.