I have had over 10 versions of this from different companies. Verdant tea offers the best Big Red Robe I have ever had. The first two steeps are amazing. I can get about 4-6 infusions.
“Made a cup of this to take to work and just sipping it now :D such a great oolong :D” Read full tasting note
“After reading Geoffreys response to Amy about the amount of tea one should use in a Gaiwan I figured I would take his advice. So I used more leaf than I normally do and the result was...” Read full tasting note
“As you can see I got my package from Verdant so you can expect some more reviews from me in the next few days as I am babbling away due to caffeine overload. :) I fear this tea may have...” Read full tasting note
“I enjoyed this quite a lot! I actually just did my first side-by-side(-by-side) tasting of the same tea from different vendors with some Red Robes I have in my cupboard. So I’m going to try...” Read full tasting note
It took Verdant Tea 4 months of sampling to find a Big Red Robe unique and delicious enough to really justify importing. This incredible tea from the rocky cliffs of Wuyi mountain offers a side of Big Red Robe that most people have never seen. Usually all you get is caramel, chocolate and floral notes. This goes far beyond. In early steepings, there is an intriguing sensation on the tongue, almost like the metallic vibrations of a bronze cast bell, or the idea of fast moving water flowing over slate. As the tea opens up, there is a perfectly synthesized note of orange and elderberry that dominates, and lingers in the back of the throat. In middle steepings, the elderberry orange flavor splits into fruity wine grape notes, hibiscus-infused dark chocolate, and molasses cookies with crystalized Thai ginger. In late steepings, the thick beany and malty flavor of Laoshan green comes through, combined with the lilac sweetness of Tieguanyin. One of our favorite aspects of this tea is that it was expertly roasted in a way that lets so much complexity come through the caramel notes of any darker oolong. If you are interested in oolongs, or seek a very comforting yet engaging tea, give this a try for a new perspective.
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This is a solid oolong. I received a sample in my last VT order. While I’ve learned that I generally dislike Wuyi mountain oolong, I went ahead and gave it a try.
First steep: 1min
Second steep: 1min 15sec
Third steep: 1min 30sec
Fourth steep: 3min
It opens with a sweet, nutty, kettle corn flavor that I identify with roasted TGY or Alishan. It’s a bit like toasted rice. There is a light mineral taste and a clean freshness that makes me think of river stones. The reason most Wuyi oolongs turn me off is the overbearing mineral/metallic taste I’ve found in every one that I’ve tried. Rather than being a dominant flavor, here it acts as a subtle middle note. It supports the equally mellow flavor of wood—it reminds me of tree bark. The finish is creamy vanilla and soybean, and it leaves the lingering taste of honeysuckle flowers on my tongue. The second steep has stronger notes of roasted nuts and light woodsmoke. By the third steep the heavier, roasted flavors, minerals, and nuts have receded. It leaves a floral and refreshing liquid that bears faint memories of rice and pine. The finish is clean, though traces of vanilla bean and honey remain. In the last steep there are notes of stone fruit and a playful, tangy, citrus-like tone. Again the finish is clean and it leaves a cooling sensation in the back of the throat. Powdered sugar and crushed flowers follow, but the cooling sensation lingers. Overall this was a very pleasant surprise. Not at all what I expected, and the first time that I’ve sincerely enjoyed a straight oolong in a very long time.
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Nutty, Pine, Powdered sugar, Roasted, Smoke, Soybean, Stonefruits, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Vanilla, Wood
This is marvelous. It’s hard to describe the aroma of a Da Hong Pao. There’s just something very right and very tea about it. Taking a whiff of the dry tea instantly takes me back to my childhood, those times when I was curious about my family’s tea collection and would open the canisters to see (and sniff) what was inside. This one also reminds me of a summer trip to Fujian, and taking a raft down the river by Wuyi Mountain. Some of the most incredibly blue skies I’d ever seen that side of the world. (Yes, I actually went there! But I was too young to appreciate the tea culture as much, and was more interested in finding the supposedly 30 different kinds of cicadas on the mountain that all made different noises.)
The flavor profile of this is roasty, with a touch of caramel and a lingering sweetness. There’s a honey citrus zest to it that reminds me a bit of a Mi Lan Xiang Dancong, as well as a more meaty fruit sweetness like longan fruit. I’m sure this one will stand up to further exploration. Thanks to beelicious for the sample! I also have another sample from a Verdant order last year in an unopened pouch. Maybe it’s from a different harvest, and it would be interesting to compare the two.
Short, short steeps in my gaiwan, about a third full of leaves.
First steep: roasty notes, mineral notes, rock sugar notes, but all very mild. Smells a bit salty.
Much sweeter scent in the aroma cup this steep. The minerality and rock sugar notes have purified.
Third steep: roasty and salty again, with a sweet aftertaste. Not sure I really want to continue with this tea. It’s not rocking my world.
Flavors: Mineral, Roasted
I’m enjoying infusion after infusion of this tea today, after listening to the third episode of Laszlo Montgomery’s History of Tea podcast (was tipped off to that by ifjuly, and it’s utterly fantastic…), which is going into incredible detail on the history of tea in China.
So, listening to that, while sipping this, is an absolute pleasure. :)
It’s fruity finish, led into by it’s chocolatey first note, I find to be so lovely.
This is one of those teas I just always want to go back to.
And then today, I was intrigued to try my other Verdant sample. I have a box of DHP from my boss at the clinic, and I know that (like most roasted oolongs) it’s not my usual preference. They’re growing on me, certainly, and I think I’m getting better at identifying the more nuanced flavours, but I’d still always rather have a green oolong.
That said, on my second most recent visit to the clinic, the only oolong I had access to was the same style of DHP that he gave me. I made myself some up and, though it still probably wasn’t my tea of choice, it was good and it made me curious about the one from Verdant.
So, today, I finally conceded to that curiosity and gave it a go. I used my lovely Yixing Gaiwan (the inside is glazed, though) from Butiki and used half of the Verdant sample sachet – that felt about right as this particular DHP (as the photo shows) is quite loose and the Gaiwan was around 1/3 full by that point. I’d guess it had a limit of no more than 120 ml, but 100 ml was probably all I used.
Anyway, after doing all of the prerequisite heating of Gaiwan, pitcher and cups, I gave the tea a rinse and left it to sit for a minute or two whilst my Mum helped me do some interview prep. Then, during the course of the various practice questions we drilled, I started to make and drink this tea.
The first infusion must have been for no more than 10 seconds. And that was certainly enough for me!! The infusion was caramel coloured and certainly very tasty – and, if I’m honest, much nicer than the other DHP I made. I think that was massively aided by brewing method and more exact quantities of everything, though. This tea was smooth, roasty and definitely had those “classic” caramel/dark-toffee notes. And to Verdant’s credit, I actually do get the tingly-metal-and-mineral note that they try to describe. I didn’t read their blurb for this tea, beforehand (just the Brewing guidance), as I feel it usually biases me, but on retrospective reading, I could definitely get that idea!
Later infusions were longer and milder. The caramel flavour did build up over the first few steeps, though, as the roastiness subsided. It was definitely a smoother drink and all of the infusions were quite sweet, which I did enjoy and appreciate.
I’m still not 100% sure dark-roasted oolongs are for me. I know that this is the classic way to prepare most fine oolongs and it’s the most traditional, etc, but I’m just so enamoured by the greener ones that I’m becoming biased against anything else :P For those who like DHPs, this one seemed like a really good quality product. I certainly couldn’t offer any objective fault. The leaves looked really lovely in my Gaiwan – full, beautiful leaves. They had a really charming mix of dark-purple and dark-green, too.
So yeah… Roasty oolong lovers – give it a go!
(PS: I’m also finally confident enough about the number of such oolongs I’ve tried that I’m gonna offer a score for this. It did seem like a really high quality product and I could see no real reason to not offer it a pretty high, within my usual parameters. I may revise it, as I gain more experience, but it certainly seems fair for now!)
Flavors: Caramel, Metallic, Mineral
Whenever I spot the package of this tea sitting on my shelf, I find myself humming “Wuyi Mountain Big Red Robe do-dah do-dah. Wuyi Mountain Big Red Robe ho-de-do-dah-day.” With apologize to those of you who will not be able to get that tune out of your head for the rest of the day, I have to say that this is a tea worth singing about. I did three 30s steeps at 205°. The leaves smelled like roasted chestnuts and the reddish liquor was likewise nutty with a light vanilla or gentle caramel thing going on. The second steep smelled even nuttier. All around goodness. Tra-la.
Flavors: Caramel, Chestnut, Vanilla
Thank you for the mystery tea Verdant. I didn’t look on here to see what it was before I opened it and when I did I figured it was a straight black tea. Oolongs and greens teas are the only ones I seem to like plain so I’m glad this is an oolong. It’s smooth and has a nice almost ginseng after taste to it. Somewhat vegetal but honestly I don’t know the correct words to describe oolongs. They truly have their own flavor.