The quality of this sample is very nice overall with no stems or sticks to bulk it up. The leaves are dark brown with half having light brown tips, they are also curled and quite long and thin in shape. The characteristics are mostly down to the production, with this particular tea being highly oxidized and re roasted before being left to mature for years under specific conditions.
In turn it gives Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) smoky yet floral and sweet characteristics that set it aside from many other Oolongs and teas in general. Plus this brews into the most wonderful orange colour that fills you with warmth whilst drinking.
The tea whilst raw smells like musky autumn leaves with notable floral and sweet highlights.
Once the tea has been washed by a 2 second gaiwan infusion it smells much stronger. Almost like roasted flowers and fermented fruit.
Using my gaiwan I will be adding 6g of tea and starting my steeps with 20 second infusions before increasing by adding an extra 10 seconds per subsequent steep. Water is at 95°C.
Steep One – 20 seconds
Orange brown in appearance with a very roasted nutty smell. Floral on the pallet with a hint of sweetness and a little dry. Despite being roasty there is a lightness there which restores balance between strength and freshness. It reminds me of cooked pecans.
Steep Two – 30 seconds
Golden brown in colour (a touch darker than previously). Smoky baked bread aroma and taste with more pecan/chestnut nuttiness but now with more sweetness. Also a little rice like.
Steep Three – 40 seconds
My favourite steep so far. It’s mellow and roasted with more smokiness and a lot more nuttiness.. Definitely roasted chestnuts in flavour with similarities to malted fruit cake.
Steep Four – 50 seconds
Colour has weakened to a light golden brown. Subtle now in taste and much more floral, so much so there is a slight dry perfumey tinge to it.
Steep Five – 60 seconds
My last steep. Only hints of bread and nuts now with no sweetness to speak of.
Overall this tea had roasted charm, sweetness, floralness, nuttiness, dryness, smoothness, freshness and fruitiness. At it’s best it mimicked a malted fruit cake/loaf which I find agreeable with this snowy weather.
Very different to the Teavivre Da Hong Po I had last night.
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