With my home town of Leicester being snowed under it’s put many things on hold, including a new blog post. I have had a sample of Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) since Christmas time from Canton Tea Club but have not yet tried it. Oolongs vary so widely in taste that I feel I have to build myself up in order to drink any. Will it be Spinachy? Vegetal? Floral? Sweet? Dry? Nutty? Roasted? A lot of the time it’s a surprise as to what comes out in the taste but with Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) I know before hand what I will get as it’s not a new tea to me. Floral teas are either a hit or a miss with me as they come with that dreaded dry somewhat perfumey taste and this tea is an example of one that has both. Still I do enjoy this tea but I need to be in the right frame of mine to truly enjoy it.
This sample of Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) is from the Wuyi mountain area on the borders of Jiangxi and Fujian provinces in China. Production of this tea has remain unchanged in many years and is considered to be one of the most popular Oolongs in the world to date.
The quality of this sample is very nice overall with no stems or sticks to bulk it up. The leaves are dark brown with half having light brown tips, they are also curled and quite long and thin in shape. The characteristics are mostly down to the production, with this particular tea being highly oxidized and re roasted before being left to mature for years under specific conditions.
In turn it gives Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) smoky yet floral and sweet characteristics that set it aside from many other Oolongs and teas in general. Plus this brews into the most wonderful orange colour that fills you with warmth whilst drinking.
The tea whilst raw smells like musky autumn leaves with notable floral and sweet highlights.
Once the tea has been washed by a 2 second gaiwan infusion it smells much stronger. Almost like roasted flowers and fermented fruit.
Using my gaiwan I will be adding 6g of tea and starting my steeps with 20 second infusions before increasing by adding an extra 10 seconds per subsequent steep. Water is at 95°C.
Steep One – 20 seconds
Orange brown in appearance with a very roasted nutty smell. Floral on the pallet with a hint of sweetness and a little dry. Despite being roasty there is a lightness there which restores balance between strength and freshness. It reminds me of cooked pecans.
Steep Two – 30 seconds
Golden brown in colour (a touch darker than previously). Smoky baked bread aroma and taste with more pecan/chestnut nuttiness but now with more sweetness. Also a little rice like.
Steep Three – 40 seconds
My favourite steep so far. It’s mellow and roasted with more smokiness and a lot more nuttiness.. Definitely roasted chestnuts in flavour with similarities to malted fruit cake.
Steep Four – 50 seconds
Colour has weakened to a light golden brown. Subtle now in taste and much more floral, so much so there is a slight dry perfumey tinge to it.
Steep Five – 60 seconds
My last steep. Only hints of bread and nuts now with no sweetness to speak of.
Overall this tea had roasted charm, sweetness, floralness, nuttiness, dryness, smoothness, freshness and fruitiness. At it’s best it mimicked a malted fruit cake/loaf which I find agreeable with this snowy weather.
This specific brand is different to my previous experiences of Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) in that this was limited in it’s floral and sweet peaks. Instead it was much heavily roasted and dryer than what I am used to. It’s something that I would recommend trying to those who have yet to sample it’s delight. I give an overall rating of 8/10.