Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tea Tasting Saturday #29 - Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe)

The sample tin of this tea was so lightweight when I picked it up, I was briefly worried that I had received an empty tin by mistake! Mercifully, that wasn't the case, and I had another quite tasty tea experience.

Category: Oolong Tea

Purveyor: Harney and Sons

Dry leaf appearance: Extra long, mostly dark (green-black dark) leaves. I don't always get a distinct scent from the dry leaf, but this one had a very vanilla/camarel/sweet thing going on.

Wet leaf appearance: Dark, whole leaves scattered with bits of brown, resembling cooked spinach.

Steeping temperature and time: 1 teaspoon of tea, 205 degrees, 3 minutes.

Scent: The steeped tea's scent reminded me of some of those earlier toasted/roasted Japanese greens.

Color: Deep amber (even though my photo turned out lighter than that).

Flavor: This tea was very tasty and struck me as quite different from, and stronger than, the other oolongs. It had a nice mouth feel and only the tiniest bit of astringency afterward. The tea had a nearly sweet and almost nutty taste that made me think of fall. (Or maybe it's just the hot, sticky Georgia weather that has me longing for fall!)

Additional notes: "Fans of the smoky Chinese black tea Lapsang Souchong or the charcoal-tinged Chinese green tea Gunpowder will find much to love in Da Hong Pao," says Michael Harney. Now I don't care for Lapsang Souchong myself, but I still enjoyed this tea. Indispensable as always, the Harney book also has a nice account of the myth behind the tea's name.

Next week's tea: Formosa Oolong


  1. Your opening line brings up an interesting point, Angela. Weight versus volume has always puzzled me with tea. Tell us more about the many ounces in that sample? Yet, if you would fill that tin with, say, Gunpowder, there would be scads of tea.

    Due to the differences, I have never figured out whether to buy by weight or volume...some teas for 4 ounces take a big box, or 2 sacks...others like the Gunpowder, again as an example, packed tight take less space per weight. (Therefore, a spoon of Gunpowder would in theory contain more actual tea than a spoon of Da Hong Pao (Big Red Robe). Only the good Lord knows how one would measure brick tea!

  2. I have not found an oolong tea I don't love.

  3. Da Hong Pao sounds like a nice oolong to try, as long as the smokey flavor is not obtrusive. I think that the slight sweetness would be good.

    Great review and photos.

  4. Gwendol, this sample's tin contained a half-ounce of tea, according to the Harney web site. But if you look at the bag it came in inside the tin, it was filled as full as the one-ounce samples. Good point about weight versus volume -- I'll have to explore that some week when I'm not on a major mag deadline (as this week!) and can really investigate which teas are lightest and heaviest. That will be fun to research!

  5. Regardless of volume, one is supposed to, in theory, use 2.2g of tea per 8 oz. of water. This is generally around 1 tsp. of tea.


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