Da Hong Pao, also referred to as (“Big Red Robe”), is one of 5 known main varieties of Wuyi Yan Cha (Wuyi “Rock“) Oolong teas as well as the most prominent and popular representative of this group. Legend goes that at the times of the Ming dynasty the mother of a Chinese emperor once recovered from a severe illness thanks to drinking Da Hong Pao tea, this causing the emperor to have the 5 tea bushes, from which the tea came, adorned with imperial “big red robes.
Said 5 tea bushes, 4 of which are still in place and growing at their original site today, in fact appear to be the only known representatives of their kind at that time, so that the few hundred grams annually yielded from them were reserved for the imperial court in the old times, while being traded at sheer fantastic prices in more recent times. It was only in the 1980s that an initiative of engaged agricultural scientists managed to cultivate genetically identical tea plants from cuttings of these plants and thereby finally make Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea available and affordable for tea lovers worldwide. Today, the so-produced “children and descendants” from those 5 original Da Hong Pao tea plants are grown both around the original site and in some adjacent areas of the Wuyi Mountains with comparable soil and other conditions.
Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea can be roasted and fermented to different degrees, though a medium to high roast and fermentation are common, as is the processing in the loose leaf (non-rolled) form. The picking standard for high quality Da Hong Pao such as our Imperial Grade Banyan Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea is the „2+1“ standard, i.e. only the young buds with their most upper 2 leaves respectively are harvested and processed.
The taste of Wuyi rock Oolong teas in general and Da Hong Pao Oolong tea in particular is characterized by a unique mineral aroma, which is often claimed to be due to the particular, rich in minerals soil of the Wuyi mountains. This is accompanied by a roast/smoke note created by the typical style of manually roasting the freshly picked and withered tea leaves over charcoal fire, as well as a pronounced sweetness, complemented and sort of relativized by a specific floral component.
Da Hong Pao Oolong – dry and wet leaves and infused
Our Imperial Grade Banyan Da Hong Pao Oolong, a Da Hong Pao Oolong tea of typical medium-to-high roast and fermentation, that had emerged as the clear cost-benefit favourite from our degustations of a range of Da Hong Pao Oolong teas both from the original and adjacent sites, unites all those taste characteristics to a round, full-bodied, but nevertheless pleasantly balanced whole entity, offering the demanding lover of classic Chinese teas not only a qualified representative of its kind (whether rock Oolong teas in general or Da Hong Pao Oolong tea in particular, but also a true delectation of a very special and highly delicious Oolong tea. The dried, tight bar-shaped loose tea leaves are of dark, grey-brown to black color and delight with a soft scent of ripe fruit that already hints at this tea’s deep, distinct sweetness.
For a first infusion, pour 350ml of 90°C hot water over 3-5 grams of Banyan Imperial Grade Da Hong Pao Oolong tea and infuse for 1.5 to 2 minutes. For each further infusion, add ca. 30 seconds to the infusion time. This way, Imperial Grade Banyan Da Hong Pao Oolong will produce a good range of full value infusions, surprising with ever newly patterned taste profiles around the basic note.