Da Hong Pao (大紅袍) Big Red Robe is a famous Wuyi Rock oolong from Fujian Province in China. This ‘Classic’ version is a fine grade tea that has a typical roasted character and a mineral profile with comforting floral and savoury notes. This is a half-rock tea from Banyan, located just outside of the Wuyi Shan National Reserve area. This particular lot is a blend of Wuyi cultivars that was harvested and processed in late April 2021.
This is a ‘Classic’ version of our Big Red Robe oolong and in our case refers to a ‘fine’ grade (Gaoji 高级) tea. We also stock a ‘Special’ version of Big Red Robe oolong, which is a ‘superfine’ grade (Teji 特级) also from Banyan. If you are looking for Da Hong Pao from the core Zhengyan area, please have a look at our pure Qi Dan and pure Bei Dou versions.
The Da Hong Pao name can refer both to a style of tea as well as a tea made from a specific cultivar. When referred to a style of tea, this is a reference to a blended tea that must nevertheless represent the classic character and flavour famously found in Wuyi Rock teas. The blend is normally made up of leaves from Rou Gui and Shui Xian plants with optional addition of other cultivars (Qi Dan, Bei Dou, Que She) to further improve the aromatic aspect of the blend. If the name is used to refer to a specific tea, this means that the reference is made to a tea made exclusively from the leaves of either the Qi Dan or Bei Dou cultivar plants. The vast majority of Da Hong Pao on the market will be a blended tea and the choice between a pure single cultivar or a blended tea is one of taste depending on quality, processing and personal taste preference.
Da Hong Pao oolong is amongst the most popular and recognised Wuyi Rock teas. These are also sometime referred to by their English name ‘Bohea’. As historically the term Bohea was used to apply to lower grades of tea, the preferred term for teas coming out of this terroir is Wuyi tea or Wuyi Rock (Wuyi Shan) tea. Wuyi teas are grown on rocky mountainsides where the soil is high in mineral content and the growth of the tea trees is much slower. This terroir results in a distinctive ‘rock’ taste that is prized amongst tea lovers for the characteristic profile that is stony and mineral in taste but features a long lasting sweet aftertaste.
Wuyi Shan has three main areas of tea production. The main core area is known as Zhengyan (正岩), while the two peripheral areas are known as Banyan (半岩) and Zhoucha (洲茶). This lot comes from tea plants grown on the periphery of Wuyi Shan in Banyan, rather than in the core production area. The teas from Banyan (sometimes Danyan) are also known as half-rock teas and they closely match the quality of the core area Zhengyan teas. They represent a great combination of value and tradition; they utilise the correct cultivars and processing as well as a terroir that is closely matched to the core production area while still providing excellent value.
Our Da Hong Pao ‘Classic’ Big Red Robe from Banyan has a balanced Wuyi Rock character with a good degree of the classic mineral ‘Rock’ taste. While our ‘Special’ version is definitely a bit more complex and refined, this ‘Classic’ version offers a great insight into a famous, classic Da Hong Pao flavour. The dark twisted leaves have a distinctive roasted aroma. They produce a dark amber liquor with a comforting roasted aroma. We always find that this tea is best after about 6-12 months rest from production date to allow the flavour to mellow and balance. The taste of this Da Hong Pao is brisk, mineral, with soothing roasted flavours. There are lightly sweet, floral notes, a touch of maltiness and a nice savoury and lightly metallic edge on the aftertaste. We also detect the slightest hint of tobacco on the very top notes!
We suggest brewing parameters of 90°C for 3-4 minutes according to your taste, brewing 3 or more times.
This Da Hong Pao Big Red Robe oolong tea was first featured in our June 2019 Curious Tea Subscription Boxes.