Da Hong Pao has a good name and an interesting story. The original (mother trees) are under protection by the Chinese Government. Whatever we call Da Hong Pao today is not what it is used to be. So what it is?
So, two cultivars were made out of cuttings from the mother Da Hong Pao trees. These are Qi Dan, Bei Dou. This tea had a high cost (more than 1000 USD for 500 g), but luckily, I was offered to taste it. The reason for its high price is to do with where it comes from which is the centre of Wuyi nature reserve and not its surroundings.
In the market, there are other products sold under the name Da Hong Pao which are blends made from different cultivars. While there is no conclusion by an authority concerning the standards of Da Hong Pao so each manufacturing may use their own blending method. It is common to blend at least three types of yancha to make Da Hong Pao.
I found this interesting article comparing Qi Dan Da Hong Pao with the blended version. What I thought about this tea was that it reminded me of Rou Gui. It was, however, very smooth and mellow. Yes, aromatic and mineral taste. Actually, I minerals do not have an odour, but Chinese use minerality (yanyun – mineral aftertaste) to describe the yancha experience. While I appreciate this excellent tea, I felt I am nowhere near to tell the nuances that make this tea distinct from rou gui, which is much more affordable. Training one’s palate is a long term job, and I am hoping that if I achieve that level one day, I would be in a position to afford these fantastic teas. Until then, I will keep sourcing teas cultivated sustainably and processed by skilful masters.
Thank you, @Chayungu01 for this treat.
Origin: Wuyi Shan, Fujian Harvest time: 2020
Leaf colour: Dark brown with reddish edges Liquor colour: Yellow (turned darker in subsequent steepings)
Tea Aroma: Floral, woody and spicy
Tea Taste: Floral and cinnamon with a long yanyun
Steeping: Place 6 g of this tea in a gaiwan or teapot and add hot water around 95°C. After rinsing the leaves, you can steep for 20 seconds and add 10 second to each consecutive steeping. You can multi-steep this tea about 6 or 7 times.
Shelf life: Up to two or three years