Xiamen Tea Import and Export Co Ltd produces and exports large quantities of tea especially oolong to many parts of the world. One of its brands - Sea Dyke is a popular brand whose tea can be found in many tea shops and even supermarkets worldwide. The better quality tea are packed and sold in tins and the economical teas are sold in paper boxes.
One of the famous 'Sea Dyke' oolong is this Da Hong Pao tea (tin spelled it as Ta-Hung-Pao). This is a popular oolong varietal. Quality Da Hong Pao tea can command very high prices. The best quality Da Hong Pao tea that are harvested every year are sold at more than US$2000 for 50 grams.
The story behind this tea was that a high ranking China official was sick when he was visiting one of the Xiamen provinces. He was tended to and was given this tea to drink while he was recovering from his illness. When the officer was cured, he took out his royal red robe and 'wore' it on the tea plants, something like a royal honor....thus the name Da Hong Pao which means big red robe.
Da Hong Pao tea is primarily grown in the Wuyi region of Fujian China. Tea grown in this region are also famously called yan cha or rock tea to reflect the geographical terrain in the tea growing region there; rocky and mountainous.
This 2003 tin of Da Hong Pao is from this region. It is interesting to note that later versions of this tea does not have the 'Wu-I' word printed on the tin. I believed the higher costs of Wuyi tea had prevented 'Sea Dyke' from selling Da Hong Pao tea from this region. My guess is that present production of this tea are a blend of oolong tea from other Fujian provinces.
Back to this tea. I enjoy the nice wood aroma and the mild salivating sensations after drinking a cup of this tea. I was told to drink this tea strong or concentrated and to use small teapots and teacups. I agree to this 'small scale' brew as the aroma does linger in the mouth for some time even though I had consumed only a mouthful of tea.
I would like to thank my good friend Su from Malaysia, who came all the way to Singapore to give me this tin of very old oolong.
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