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Wuyi Golden Water Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea
Without any doubt, “Da Hong Pao” Oolong is one of the biggest names in the world of Chinesese Oolong Teas. Legends are trailing the origin of “Big Red Robe”, cloaking the corresponding tea plant variety in a veil of mystery. However, by far not all that is offered under the name of Da Hong Pao is actually “the real thing”. Much rather, pretty much anything is offered as “Da Hong Pao”, from teas yielded from other varieties to low-grade picking and processing standards and deviating geographical origin. This is why Wuyi Golden Water Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea is the result of our years-long search for the original in true artisan quality.
The tea bushes producing the leaves for our organic-certified Wuyi Golden Water Da Hong Pao Oolong Tee are grown from the seed in a natural way. The relevant area is at an altitude of nearly 1400 meters, in the “Zhengshan” area of Fujian’s “Wuyi Mountain (“Wuyishan”). At this, “Zhengshan” means as much as “original mountain” and stands for the core origin area of Wuyi rock oolong teas. Only here, the Da Hong Pao tea plant variety grows in its genuine form. And only here, the combination of rich volcanic soil, ages-old rock, and nearly 1000 years of oolong tea processing tradition provide the foundation for a true Da Hong Pao Oolong tea.
The Producer – Wuyi Mountain Farmers Collective
The agricultural grassroots collective makes a living from cultivating characteristic Wuyi oolong and black teas, among others. At this, the village’s families share the profits coming from this. A truly “fair trade”, of which the village’s 50 inhabitants equally benefit. Apart from this, the community also engages in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables around their pastoral mountain village.
The teas of the Wuyi Mountain Farmers Collective are among the best coming out of Wuyishan. However, the collective’s specialty are its wild collcections. These draw on the surrounding wild and semi-wild areals, where tea trees are still embeddedin their natural habitat. Then, tea processing looks back on a long tradition in the little village. And thereof results the experience, without that artisan teas such as our Wuyi Golden Water Da Hong Pao Oolong would not exist.
Picking and Processing
Of course, the picking of our Wuyi Golden Water Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea takes place in the traditional way, all by hand. At this, only the most upper (youngest) leaves at the end of teach branch are picked. For the processing of Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea, a relatively high degree of oxidation and medium level of roasting is characteristic. The latter takes place over a 24 hours period, at ever changing temperatures.
Further, our Wuyi Golden Water owes its highly individual taste to its specific natural environment. The same is characterized by rugged rocks of volcanic origin, jade-green rivers and abundant bamboo and pine forests. To this adds the daily morning fog, cloaking the peaks in a mystic aura. And thanks to a rare case of harmony between nature and human creation, all this comes together in Wuyi Golden Water Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea.
Rock Tea Garden in Wuyishan, northern Fujian, China
The Tea – Taste and Appearance
The large, elongate, open-rolled leaf is of greenish, dark-brown color, with edges tending towards reddish. At this, the dry leaf material’s intensive fragrance provides a rare reflection of this tea’s likewise intensive, complex taste. Accordingly, the clear, deep amber infusion impresses with a distinctive taste that is unique even among Wuyi rock oolong teas. Soft, round mouthfeel… A basket full of the most various types of dry fruit. Then the characteristic mineral note of Wuyi rock teas… And a whiff of leather, nearly comparable to a well-ripened Pu Erh tea, but with a floral freshness that the latter is missing. What’s more, full-bodied, no smoke… instead much spiciness, and overwhelming sweetness… A perfect composition by mother nature, the the greatest of all composers.
For a first infusion, poor 200ml water of a temperature of 90°C over 3 grams of Wuyi Golden Water Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea. In order to let this tea’s full taste spectrum unfold, let infuse for 2 minutes. Then, slightly increase steeping periods for each subsequent infusion (plus ca. 1/2 minute per steep). In the resulting series of infusions, the sweetness remains constant, while the mineral character increases and the floral note declines.
Wuyi Mountain, in the north of China’s Fujian province, has been the venue of legends and mythical tales. This could well be due to the fog, cloaking Wuyinshan’s higher altitudes virtually all year through. While this fog greatly benefits the quality of tea, Wuyi Mountain’s volcanic origin is responsible for its soils particularly good fertility.
Wuyi Mountain has a reputation for its teas ever since China’s “Golden Era of Tea”, during the times of Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 AD). Back then already, Wuyi teas were considered as particularly precious. Therefore, people used to wrap them in leaf gold and apply a dragon / phoenix motif thereon. In those times, Wuyi tea was a precious tribute to the Chinese emperor, too. As the story goes, the emperor himself valued Wuyi tea so high that he even refused to share it with his closest officials.
Wuyishan’s “River of 9 Benches”
Da Hong Pao (“Big Red Robe”) Oolong Tea
Da Hong Pao Motherbushes in Wuyishan, nothern Fujian
At some point back then, the 5 Da Hong Pao mother bushes must indeed have been the only ones of their kind. Accordingly, the few hundred grams of their annual yield were reserved exclusively for the emperor’s court. 4 of these motherbushes still exist today, in their original location, where visitors from all around the world come to admire them on a daily basis. And just like many hundred years ago, the little tea they yield scores incredible prices. Only during the 1950’s, dedicated efforts succeeded to grow genetically identical tea plants from cutoffs of the mother bushes. This way, Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea finally became accessible – and affordable – for tea lovers everywhere in the world.
However, it soon became clear that original Da Hong Pao only comes from original Wuyi soil. Actually, this applies to all Wuyi rock Oolong teas. So, no Da Hong Pao growing anywhere outside the Wuyi region will still taste like Da Hong Pao. Even in Wuyishan itself, several areas correspond to different degrees of genuineness of Da Hong Pao. These are the “zhengshan” (original mountain), the “banyan” (immediate surrounding) and the “waishan” (greater Wuyi region) areas.