Still haven’t written a proper tasting note on this one, and I’m halfway through the package. I haven’t done a formal tasting, therefore. This tea has wonderful fruity, spicy, earthy notes, takes well to my relatively dilute but today quite careless brewing—light almost fruity/floral infusions followed by oversteeped ones that need a bit of dilution to bring them back from the brink of too strong, without being actually bitter. I don’t have any other wuyi yanchas handy to compare this one to, but I’ll certainly include it in my next order, and do a more formal tasting at that time.
Xiao Hong Pao - 2011 Spring Wu Yi Oolong Tea
Varietal: Xiao Hong Pao
Harvest: Spring, 2011
Growing Region: Wuyi Shan Scenic Area, Fujian Province
10g Sample Available
Xiao Hong Pao (小红袍, English: Little Red Robe) is a tea varietal which is known as one of the many Ming Cong (名丛, English: Famous Bush) that originally come from the Wuyi tea growing region of NW Fujian Province. Contrary to the common story that keeps getting re-told in Western tea circles, Xiao Hong Pao is actually its own separate varietal, not “Da Hong Pao” varietal plants that are a certain number of generations away from the original DHP bushes. It is entirely possible that some tea wholesalers misleadingly (either intentionally or unintentionally because of lack of knowledge) market some blend of several different Wuyi cultivars as “Xiao Hong Pao,” but this just creates huge amounts of confusion with small tea sellers and consumers alike. According to our supplier, this Xiao Hong Pao was produced from Xiao Hong Pao cultivar tea plants only.
Appearance, Flavor & Aroma:
This tea’s dry leaves are the long and twisting shape and dark red-brown color characteristic of most Wu Yi Yan Cha. It was traditionally roasted over charcoal for 10-12 hours, resulting in a moderately roasted finished tea (neither green nor dark). The fragrance of the dry leaves is mild but toasty.
When infused, this tea produces a clear, moderately thick liquor with an aroma of toasted barley or another toasted sweet grain. The flavor of early infusions is toasty with elements of roasted nuts and an intriguing element of bitterness in the finish, and later infusions show more of a mellow and clean flavor with hints of dried flowers and some of the toasted nuttiness. The aftertaste is long-lasting, mineral-rich and sweet, and this batch makes my mouth water like crazy between infusions. This is an unusual and intriguing Wuyi varietal, and I’m pleased to offer it for the first time this year.
We strongly suggest Gong Fu style preparation with this tea. Rather than sticking to a specific weight of tea leaves to water volume measure, we recommend simply filling your gaiwan or Yixing style teapot 1/3 to 1/2 full of dry tea leaves, use water just under a boil and a series of short steepings. If you prefer to use a weight to volume measure, try starting with 8 grams of leaf in a 150 ml gaiwan or teapot.
For Western-style steeping, start with 2-3 grams of leaf (it’s hard to give a volume measure in teaspoons because of the large leaf style) per cup. Use water under a boil (195 degrees F), and steep for 3-5 minutes. Adjust the amount of leaf, steeping time, and water temperature used according to your preference.
I also highly recommend either using aroma cups with this tea or at least remembering to smell the lid of the gaiwan or your empty drinking cup. The aroma that lingers on the surface of the ceramic surface is amazing and well worth savoring.