Da Hong Pao Hand Crafted

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Oolong Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Thomas Smith
Average preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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3 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I just let myself down really hard with this tea. I've had such wonderful experiences with it in the recent past, but totally flubbed it this time. That's what I get for following my usual methods...” Read full tasting note
    ThomasSmith 93 tasting notes
  • “I've only had Da Hong Pao one other time from a tea house in Seattle. I don't recall liking it too much then but I thought I'd give it another shot since the first time it wasn't brewed in my...” Read full tasting note
    TippyChad 6 tasting notes

From Tillerman Tea

One of the four famous Yancha Oolong cultivars, Da Hong Pao translates into “Scarlet Robe.” During the Ming dynasty, an emperor was on his southern expedition when his stomach started to ache after a meal. The Imperial physicians had no remedy but a local farmer brought him some tea. The tea immediately cleansed his system and made the emperor feel better. When shown the few bushes that grew high on the cliff side, the emperor took off a minister’s scarlet robe and draped it over the bushes, signifying their stature. Our tea is descended from these first generation bushes and has been carefully hand crafted to preserve the floral aromatics and sweet tastes. The mid-firing produces a light nutty flavor that balances perfectly with the florals, while long lingering aftertastes of fruit follow. This is one of the most complex and well balanced oolongs from the Wuyi Mountains

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3 Tasting Notes

93 tasting notes

I just let myself down really hard with this tea. I’ve had such wonderful experiences with it in the recent past, but totally flubbed it this time. That’s what I get for following my usual methods while using 2/3 the amount of leaf concentration I normally would.
Still a very nice tea, just not nearly as exciting and more astringent than it ought to be. First brew was downright insipid and the first sets the stage for those to follow. I feel like I should dump and start again, but at $14 per 25g I don’t think so…

I used 6g with 130ml water in a barely-seasoned zhu ni clay rong tian style yixing teapot. This pot pours in 10 seconds, so contact time on each steep should be considered accordingly. Started with 87 degree water for the 10 second contact rinse and first infusion. Infusions progressed with time-temp: 30sec-87C, 35sec-86C, 35sec-85C, 45sec-83C, 55sec-81C, 10min55sec-96C… Liked the third infusion best, followed by the absurdly long one.

Dry fragrance is “DaHongPaoish”… A sort of herbal-woody, caramelized pie crust, toasty-roasted nut quality with old cardamom husk+rhubarb spiciness, a grape+nectarine skin not-quite-fruit phenolic note and dried apricot “ripe” quality. I get this note in some coffee and chocolate sometimes and I just think of it as “Da Hong Pao-like” as a base reference note. Compared to others, this one is lighter and not as edgy in the roastiness as some almost-medicinal ones I’ve had and loved. Leaves look dark umber brown with a gray reflection and some accents of brick red and very dark green-brown. Wet leaves are forest green with deep dark green folds and some yellow and reddish brown accents. Wet leaf aroma is somewhat tannic, like wet oak leaves. Liquor is yellow-orange and has a honey and dry wheat aroma. A touch of egg and canola oil in the aroma.

I definitely screwed up brewing this time. Shoulda gone longer or hotter or used more leaf… or not rinsed and kept the variables the same. Also, the water had been boiled once before.
Wussy shade of what Da Hong Pao is about. Some charcoal, tannic leaf, underripe peach, and celery flavor. Imbalance with the astringency that grips the back of the mouth. Poor body. With the ten minute infusion, I get a lot more body and aroma/flavor I expect, but the expression is thrown off and the aroma has been driven off relative to the flavor. Good example of how the aroma can be removed at a different rate in comparison to the taste elements. This is sad, I normally love this tea (as in, the same bag in my cupboard, not just the fact that I love DHP – I like roastier ones better).


190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec

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6 tasting notes

I’ve only had Da Hong Pao one other time from a tea house in Seattle. I don’t recall liking it too much then but I thought I’d give it another shot since the first time it wasn’t brewed in my preferred gong fu method. Also, I’ve heard so many good things about this tea I knew there was something I was missing. I’m brewing this tea in a small Gaiwan in the traditional gong fu style. The first infusion is 30 sec at 87 degrees C. The second and third were 12 sec long. The fourth infusion was about 30 sec and the fifth was 45 sec long. On appearance this tea looks to me like it has been aged or has a loose Pu-erh likeness. It smells deeply roasted like a campfire with charcoal. The leaves are very dark brown, almost black and when they are wet they show highlights of color from yellow to green. The taste is smooth with no hints of astringency. I detect caramelized sugar, with chocolate and coffee undertones. It also has a very nice echo that I can taste even between infusions.

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Thomas Smith

How’d you come across Tillerman Tea all the way over in Ohio?

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