1. Introduction of Da Hong Pao
Da Hong Pao, also known as the Big Red Robe, is an Oolong tea with a pleasant unique taste and attractive fruity aroma that has thrived in the fertile soils of the Wuyi Mountains in Fujian Province of China for centuries. This Wuyi rock oolong tea has been listed as one of TOP TEN specialty teas and No. 1 Wuyi Oolong teas in China.
The origin of the name “Da Hong Pao”
There are two legendary stories that try to explain how the name “Da Hong Pao” came about. Most tea consumers do find this one more believable.
In 1385 BC, during the Ming Dynasty, one certified student went to Beijing to get examined for a higher degree. Just past Wuyishan, he felt sick. He had a stomachache. There was a monk passing by and he saw him. The monk brewed his treasured tea for him and after a while, his stomachache had been completely cured.
Later on, the certified student became the champion in the national exam and went to express his gratitude to the monk. He asked the monk the origin of his treasured tea. He then went to that place, undressed his red robe and hanged it around the tea trees. Da Hong Pao’s History
Afterwards, the champion went back to the capital of Ming Dynasty where he worked in the government department. The empress fell ill and countless doctors came to treat her but to no avail. The Champion offered his treasured tea to the empress. She recovered soon after drinking several cups.
To show his gratitude, the emperor sent the Champion with the emperor’s red robe to cover the six mother tea trees. The emperor further declared the six tea trees as tribute teas. And that is how the Da Hong Pao name became widely known.
2. Da Hong Pao’s Cultivars
Out of the numerous tea trees that existed in the Ming Dynasty, only 6 mother trees have survived in Jiu Long Ke, located in Wuyi Shan city. In 2006, the Wuyishan Government prohibited the picking of leaves from the trees to protect the 6 mother trees from extinction. From the 6 mother trees, three different cultivars have been developed. They are Bei Dou, Qi Dan, and Que She separately.
Therefore, the Da Hong Pao tea varieties available in the market today are products of ingenuity and cloning. They are of two categories
(1). Pure Da Hong Pao– which is made from the cuttings of the cultivars from the mother trees
(2). Blended Da Hong Pao（also called commodity Da Hong Pao tea) – Created by local tea farmers using Rou Gui, Shui Xian,
Qi Lan, together with 2 or 3 other local cultivars to taste like pure Da Hong Pao.
The authenticity of pure Da Hong Pao can still be enjoyed in the blended Da Hong Pao variety by tea drinkers living on a tight budget since the teas are grown in conditions similar to those in Wuyi Mountains. Also, great skills and precision are employed when making them.
They are stored under safe conditions and packaged securely to maximize freshness. In addition, due to the roasting and baking that they undergo during processing, they can last up to 3 years. Quality no longer has to be costly. All you need to do is visit your local tea store or make an order online.
It does not always mean that the Commodity Da Hong Pao, in terms of quality and aroma, is not as good as pure Da Hong Pao. Sometimes, the well-blended commodity Da Hong Pao can be much better than pure Da Hong Pao for the same price.
Whichever type of tea you drink, you are guaranteed to receive an unforgettable experience that gets better with each sip. The wonders of these teas shouldn’t be rumors to you. It is almost available everywhere. Big red robe tea is the type of tea that can be drunk at any time of the day even without sweeteners. Da Hoong Pao Tea’s Tasty
3. Da Hong Pao Wuyi Oolong Making Process
3 – 4 half-matured tea leaves are the picking-standard.
Picking time: Normally 9-11am or 2-5pm in the afternoon.
Only picked on a sunny day; no picking on rainy days because the finished tea from the rainy-day tea leaves has more bitterness and a water taste.
Only skillful tea pickers can pluck the Da Hong Pao tea leaves quickly. Normally one skillful tea picker can only pick 30-50kg of fresh Da Hong Pao leaves for 10 days. 5kg of fresh leaves to be 1kg of Maocha; 2kg of Maocha to be 1kg of finished Da Hong Pao Wuyi rock Oolong tea. To be more correct, the ration is: 10kg of fresh tea leaves to be 1kg of finished Wuyi rock Oolong tea.
The main purpose of this crucial process is to get rid of too much moisture that may be present in the Da Hong Pao tea leaves. It also allows oxidation of a regulated level to occur. There are several methods that can be used to successfully wither the leaves.
First, Shai Qing (sun withering) can be used, whereby the leaves are neatly spread out under the sun and allowed to dry for a few hours. This allows them to become softer. Normally, the Shai Qing time is around 80-100 minutes. The leaves are turned by hand after every 30 minutes.
Afterward, Cooling(Liang Qing) is practiced enabling the leaves to lose water uniformly indoor. An important point to note is that leaves have to be placed separately for maximum water loss. Liang Qing time is around 30-60minutes. Depending on the leaf type and the weather condition, both the processes take approximately 3 hours.
- Zuo Qing (combination of shaking & cooling inside the drum)
This process can be done traditionally by shaking the leaves manually in a bamboo basket or a bamboo drum. Zuo Qing by hand is normally adopted at the rare & high-quality Oolong tea(all kinds of Chinese Oolong teas).
Zuo Qing plays a huge role in the flavor and aroma of finished tea. Tea farmers take about 8-12 hours staying up all night to carry out this Zuo Qing process. It allows better oxidation and combines elements from the stems to the leaves thus minimizing bitterness of the Big Red Robe tea creating the unique fruity aroma of the Da Hong Pao tea. That is why producing Oolong tea is much more work-intensive and tiring than the other types of tea, such as green, black or white tea.
- Killing the enzyme (Sha Qing)
As the name hints, this process stops the enzyme that causes tea leaves oxidation. An electric stainless steel drum is used to kill the enzymes for 15 minutes at a constant temperature of 220-240 degrees Celsius.
It is also referred to as the forming process. Here, the leaves are rolled & shaped by machine roller for about 5-10 minutes. This process ensures that more tea juice is drawn to the surface of the tea leaves.
- First baking
Here the tea leaves are baked using charcoal heat. It is done for 40-50 minutes at a temperature of 100-110 degrees Celsius. This helps in preventing fermentation and hindering the growth of molds on the leaves. It also removes any taste of grass from the tea. From the first-baking, around 85% of water moisture inside the tea leaves are lost. After the first-baking, we call the tea Maocha.
- Pick out the stems
Tea stems and old tea leaves are picked out by hand before the final-baking to ensure that the final tea has a good appearance.
Final-baking is extremely important for the Da Hong Pao tea taste & aroma. The baking time completely depends on the experience, plus the quality of tea leaves. If baked well, the tea aroma becomes intense, the liquid tea becomes mellow and most importantly, the finished tea can be well-preserved for 2-3 years without re-baking.
- Finished tea
It is easy to confuse the finished product with black tea due to its dark appearance, but the open-leaf appearance is one main feature that distinguishes it. It is highly oxidized and packed in air-tight packages under sanitary conditions. They are then distributed to various markets to be sold.
4. Da Hong Pao Roasting Level
Based on the roasting level, there are three main types: light-roasted, medium-roasted, and high-roasted.
For the light-roasted Da Hong Pao, its aroma is quite high, but its liquid tea is not as thick as the medium or the high roasted. Also, the light-roasted Da Hong Pao can’t be kept for too long before its aroma & taste change.
Medium-roasted and high-roasted Da Hong Pao are the two traditional roasting levels. Their liquid tea is quite thick and mellow, while the aroma is mixed in the liquid hence lingering aroma & sweetness in the whole palate.
For Da Hong Pao addicts, they would always choose the medium or the high roasted Oolong, as their palate requires very thick taste.
5. How to Judge the Quality of Da Hong Pao Via Professional Chinese Traditional Oolong Tea Tasting Way
In Chinese professional Da Hong Pao tasting, the following are the requirements:
- Amount of tea: 5g
- Three120ml Gaiwan
- Three 150ml bowls
- Three porcelain spoon
- First brewing: 2minutes
- Second brewing: 3 minutes
- Third brewing: 5 minutes.
At each brewing stage, smelling the lid to judge the aroma is required, while the tea is still steeping. Then smell the aroma first, then taste the Da Hong Pao liquid.
For the three brewing stages, aroma consistency, astringency, bitterness, sweetness, thickness, and mellowness of each brewed liquid tea are required to set the score.
To professionally judge the quality of the Da Hong Pao tea, the following are the standard Chinese Oolong tea tasting scores in percentages:
|Scored item||Dry Leaves Appearance 30||Taste & Aroma||Total Score|
|Shape||Color of dry leaves||Aroma||Color of liquid||Taste||Infused tea leaves|
6. Da Hong Pao Wuyi Oolong’s Health Benefits
The Da Hong Pao Oolong tea is ideal for weight loss & detox. Having a cup of it frequently improves your metabolism rate. In addition, drinking Da Hong Pao tea boosts digestion, enabling your stomach to remove fats and other waste from your system. If you’re working out, the tea caffeine in this glorious tea will give you the strength to successfully shed off that extra weight.
7. How to Brew Da Hong Pao Correctly
Da Hong Pao tea is the type of tea that you have to brew appropriately if you wish to experience its royal magic. It is not referred to as the king of teas for nothing. It has the potential of taking your senses to a whole new level. There are various methods of prepare it. Whichever you choose to employ, at the end of the day you will have the same inviting and delicious soup in your cup sitting put, waiting for you to take it. Da Hong Pao brewing is straight-forward and quite enjoyable. Here are the various brewing methods as well as the corresponding temperatures to be adhered to:
- Chinese Gaiwan brewing method
- Warm-up the tea vessel (by hot water)
- Put dry Da Hong Pao tea leaves inside the Gaiwan
- Shake the Gaiwan (while still hot), and smell the dry leaves’ aroma and the aroma lingering in the lid.
- Pour 100 degrees Celsius hot water to the Gaiwan
- First infusion for 5-6 second, and pour out the liquid tea
- Sip the liquid tea and enjoy the smooth mellow taste mixed with high floral and fruity aroma
- Smell the tea aroma lingering in the cup. If the aroma lingers for a longer time, it means that the quality of the tea is better.
- Re-brew; for each re-brew, the steeping time can be 2-3 seconds longer. But really, it depends on your palate taste.
- Western brewing method
This method is commonly used in the western countries. You will require water, a porcelain vessel, Da Hong Pao tea leaves and a tasting cup. First, moisten the inner part of the cup and porcelain vessel by pouring hot water into them up to the halfway mark. Then, slightly tilt each of them and shake them gently to ensure that the entire inner parts get moist.
When this is achieved, pour out the water. Take a teaspoon of Da Hong Pao tea leaves and pour it into the vessel with boiled water having a temperature of about 95 degrees Celsius or 203 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover using the lid and allow it to steep for 2-3 minutes. For the second infusion, allow it to steep for 3 minutes. The steeping time completely depends on your own palate taste.
But if you have your own Gongfu teaware set, you are highly recommended to use the Chinese Gaiwan brewing method. You will discover that it is a completely new experience; taste and aroma will be completely different for even the same Da Hong Pao tea you drink every day in a big porcelain pot.
8. How to Store Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea
The Chinese Da Hong Pao tea is best enjoyed when fresh. Therefore, it should be stored in a clean, cool and dry place. It should also be preserved in air-tight containers which have little or no exposure to direct sunlight or warmth. Vacuum package is the best way to store it.http://www.jkteashop.com/da-hong-pao-p-251.html
Written by Jennifer.Jiang