Country of Origin: China
Leaf Appearance: small and dark
Steep time: 30 seconds
Water Temperature: 210 degrees
Preparation Method: porcelain gaiwan
Liquor: dark amber
Over the years I’ve seen a lot of tea companies come and go so it is always nice to see one that is still going strong. Little Red Cup Tea Co. and I go way back. I’ve been writing about their teas here on the blog since 2012! I first came across their offerings on a flash sale site. Remember when that was a huge thing?
I was super excited when a sample of their Da Hong Pao mysteriously showed up in my mailbox. Surprise tea is the best kind of tea! The interesting thing about this tea is that it hails from Hubei Province rather than Fujian. I don’t think I’ve ever tried this style of tea from there before.
Purists might say that this tea should have another name but in truth, there are no rules and regulations for this kind of thing. I’m ok with it because they are upfront about the origin of the tea. Their commitment to organic and fair trade tea is likely what led them so far afield.
The dry leaf was small and dark with the signature twisted appearance of a Wuyi style oolong. There were a few stems here and there but otherwise, the leaves had a fairly clean and unbroken appearance. The aroma was earthy and sweet with fruity undertones. Beneath the bright light of my photography tent, I was able to see that the oxidation was not quite even. Some leaves were significantly darker than others.
I brewed 7g of this tea with a porcelain gaiwan. This is definitely my go-to method for this style of tea because they tend to not last for as many infusions as other oolong varieties do. Concentrating the aromas helps me get the most robust, flavorful cup possible. Unpopular opinion: while it can be fun to count infusions, this aspect of tea drinking is often overemphasized. The number of brews is not indicative of quality.
This Da Hong Pao oolong brewed up a dark amber color. The taste was smooth and sweet with hardly any astringency. Hints of caramelized sugar faded into a surprisingly floral finish. I would call it vegetal at all but there was definitely a misty, mossy note. Later infusions brought a mineral quality and subtle smokiness. It wasn’t quite the yan yun of a Wuyi version of this tea but it was still very enjoyable.
I was really able to see the color difference between the leaves once they unfurled in my gaiwan. Some of them looked positively green. The lighter oxidation is part of what lends this tea its mellow character. An oolong like this one is a great alternative to breakfast blends to start the day. It’s a bit milder and can be enjoyed without milk and sugar but still gives the right amount of oomph. I believe that I’ll take what’s left of my sample the office. Sipping this would certainly save the day on a stressful morning.
Have you ever tried this Da Hong Pao Oolong? Let me know about it in the comments below!