Da Hong Pao (big red robe) tea is the popular oolong tea produced in Wuyi in Fujian province. According to the book “Chinese Tea” by Liu Tong, the author explains that Da Hong Pao, “whose production is highly delicate, especially the technique of ‘shaking green’. After the fresh leaves are picked, they have to be sunned and slightly adjusted. Then they are thinly spread out on a dustpan and shaken with hands. The edges of the leaves rub with each other, and are oxidized by air after the edges break, so they will turn red.”
Da Hong Pao (DHP) tea, translated as big red robe tea has a story behind its name. Supposedly, a high ranking official was sick in Wuyi and was cured after drinking this tea. The official then placed his royal red robe on the tea tree as a grateful gesture…..thus red robe tea.
Unlike tie guan yin or Taiwan oolong whose leaves are curled and twisted into a small ball, DHP leaves are relatively straight. The aroma is floral and sweet smelling. The one I purchased is labeled “guo xiang” (translates as floral fruity fragrance), a sub-category of DHP. It is a mid price range DHP tea that cost me US$28 for 100gms. The scent of the tea is really pleasant and seems to linger on for a long time in the teacup even when emptied. The taste is very pleasant, refreshing and very drinkable. A brew can give you about 5-6 good infusions. Brewing hints - The tea dealer that introduced this tea to me had used a 100ml teapot and filled 3/4 of the teapot with DHP before brewing. The best storage method is to keep the DHP in an airtight odourless container and refrigerate it if possible.
It's just amazing how these fine teas are made. The key is to shake those leaves in a tray. And it's all done by hand. That's what you pay a premium price for--the labor-intensive hand-made perfection.
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