My tasting notes: Da Hong Pao
No matter how much I try to convince myself otherwise, we’re still in the dead of winter. January has brought a lot of rain and grey, overcast skies to San Francisco and I cannot deny the intoxicating allure of bold, charcoal roasted teas. I let my imagination run wild and I picture myself in a forest of tall, majestic redwoods (that’s what we have around here), sitting by the fire and clutching a warm tea cup filled with fragrant Da Hong Pao.
Da Hong Pao, also known as Big Red Robe, comes from the Wuyi Mountains in China and is defined as yancha, or rock / cliff tea. It’s one of the most prized oolongs and has a higher oxidation level with extensive charcoal roasting. I got mine from Italy (yes, hard to believe but true!). When I visited my home town for Christmas, one of my best friends, Chiara, remembered she had had this tea sitting around for a while (in a sealed, unopened pouch) and she gave it to me. I was over the moon with joy. The information on the packaging was only written in Chinese (except for the name of the tea, luckily!). Unfortunately, nobody knows what vintage it is.
Tea Name: Da Hong Pao, Big Red Robe
Origin: Wuyi Mountains, Fujian province, China
Ingredients: oolong tea
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Leaves/Water Ratio: 4 gr to 5 oz (150 ml)
Water Temperature: 200 F / 93 C
Steep Time: rinse, 45 seconds, 1 minute, 1:10, 1:30, 2, ...
dry leaves: large leaves, 1 ½ inches long (3,5-4 cm), loosely rolled lengthwise, very dark black
wet leaves: very dark black with faint reddish hues
liquor: dark brick color
dry leaves: intense aroma, notes of roasted cocoa nibs and shelled, raw hazelnuts
wet leaves: sweet and roasty
liquor: notes of charcoal
liquor: sweet and mineral with a deeply roasted and mineral finish, hints of roasted cocoa nibs
MOUTHFEEL: full bodied, almost sirupy
FOOD PAIRING: gorgonzola blue cheese or Teleeka, a bloomy-rinded soft-ripened cheese made from a blend of goat, sheep and cow milk in Tomales, California. The flavor profile of this award winning cheese is buttery, gooey, creamy and rich with earthy afternotes.
OVERALL IMPRESSION: bold flavors here, but overall a very balanced tea
If you are curious about Da Hong Pao, here is some further reading:
Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned.