Big Red Robe - Premium Grade Light Roast

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Oolong Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by Nathaniel Gruber
Average preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 oz / 236 ml

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7 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I forgot I had this sample until I went digging around in my stash the other day – anyway thanks for this one Garret! I don’t believe I’ve ever had a light roast red robe before so I was eager to...” Read full tasting note
  • “This Big Red Robe is on the lighter side of roasted flavour, and while it is delicious, I think I prefer a heavier roast. This is a very good tea if you don’t like a heavy dark roast. Even though I...” Read full tasting note
  • “Just to be clear my package reads: Big Red Robe Supreme Grade Light Roast Oolong Tea, the title for this tea on here says Premium grade. I apologize if I am posting this in the wrong place, but...” Read full tasting note
  • “[Edit: Garret, the owner of Mandala Tea, has looked into the questions I raised in this tasting note. His supplier has assured him that the tea is indeed from the Da Hong Pao bush, but...” Read full tasting note

From Mandala Tea

Big Red Robe is an open leaf, or twisted, oolong tea. It is typically more heavily oxidized which make the leaves look darker brown in color in their dried form, but this variety is less oxidized and slightly lighter in color. It still has the smooth, full-bodied cup of tea, yet has a fresher, greener aroma and flavor to it. There is a smooth sweetness and subtle floral quality to it, different from the Fancy Grade Dark Roast. Plus, with a higher grade leaf you will get more infusions out of the tea.

Known in China as Da Hong Pao, it is one of the most famous oolongs in their country. The tea bush is grown in the Wu Yi Mountain area which is very rocky. Over centuries, developing methods to grow tea bushes in such difficult conditions has created a specialized style of oolong tea (“rock tea”) that is highly revered and sought after around the world.

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7 Tasting Notes

2816 tasting notes

I forgot I had this sample until I went digging around in my stash the other day – anyway thanks for this one Garret!

I don’t believe I’ve ever had a light roast red robe before so I was eager to try this one out this morning. I used my xiying teapot that I have reserved especially for wuyi oolongs. This is how you know you have fully entered the realm of tea nerd-dom! lol.

My first two steeps of this were very light. I only used a pinch of tea but the teapot is pretty small, about 6 oz. After a quick rinse, My first two steeps were around 30 seconds. I got a very light yellow colored infusion. The flavor of the tea reminds me of peaches, with a light mineral quality and just a tinge of roastyness from the charcoal. It is very delicate compared to the darker roasted red robes (or da hong pao).

Steep #3. I have noticed now that the wet leaves smell absolutely incredible, like roasted fruit. I decided to go for a steep of 1 minute. The infusion is still very light but the longer steep seems to have brought out a sweeter, thicker flavor in the tea. Compared to the photo on Mandala’s website my tea liquor is still fairly light and does have a bit more of a floral quality than a darker red robe. Still not sure I used enough leaf.

Steep #4 – 3 minutes. This is my favorite infusion so far. More fruit notes coming up in the tea. Lots of minerality in this one which seems a bit earthy and almost sparkling.

This is a really nice tea, I think I may prefer the darker red robes, or maybe that is just what I am used to? I will definitely use more leaf the next time I try the experiment. This was neat, I’m glad I got to expand my horizons a bit. :)

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec

I’ve never tasted peach notes with Da Hong Pao, but mine were darker roasted. OK, seriously…….another tea to go on my Mandala list!

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286 tasting notes

This Big Red Robe is on the lighter side of roasted flavour, and while it is delicious, I think I prefer a heavier roast. This is a very good tea if you don’t like a heavy dark roast.

Even though I prefer a heavier roast, I am appreciating this tea for it’s lighter notes. It brews to a dark golden colour. The taste is light and a bit mineral, with a floral and fruity hint in the aftertaste.

I’m on the third steep and I’m sure I can get a few more steeps out of the leaves.

Thank you Dexter3657 for providing me with a sample of this tea.


Memo to self – scribbles prefers darker roasts oolongs (I have the dark roast of this specific tea – I haven’t tried it, but once I do…..)

Terri HarpLady

I haven’t tried the light roast, but I’m with scribbles. The Dark roast version of this is awesome. :)


I might have a sample of the dark, but if not am definitely going to order it.


If not let me know and I can send you some – try before you buy.


Thank you!!

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1040 tasting notes

Just to be clear my package reads: Big Red Robe Supreme Grade Light Roast Oolong Tea, the title for this tea on here says Premium grade. I apologize if I am posting this in the wrong place, but seemed close enough to me.

I am often in awe when I read other steepster reviews that include detailed tasting notes of each steep, and the subtle changes in flavor that occur between the different steeps of a tea. I am no where near educated enough, have a refined palate enough, nor have the vocabulary to be able to provide one of those reviews. I have come to the realization that I am as much about “how a tea makes me feel” as I am about “how it tastes”.

I’ve been exploring the world of oolongs lately and have tried a few of them. Some of them are “green” – I think grassy (some say floral – I don’t get that) and maybe a bit veggie ish. Others are “dark” and are more toasty, nutty, with some being almost metalic (?). I’ve decided that I like the “dark” ones better.

I’m currently drinking my third steep of this tea and the leaves are not completely unfurled yet. I don’t think I have time to give this tea the number of steeps that it deserves. :(( This is the best example of a “dark” oolong that I’ve tried. There is no doubt in my mind that this is a quality tea. I just don’t think it’s dark enough. This almost seems like it’a halfway between a green and a dark. Maybe that’s the “light roast” part of it? Like I said I’m not experienced enough to know if that’s a fair assessment, but that’s how I feel. It’s not “grassy or veggy ish” it’s more roasty and nutty, but light and delicate. It’s smooth and soothing, gentle and pleasing. This is for sure one of the best oolongs that I’ve drank, I just wish it were a bit more…. Bit more what? Woody? Not sure… I really like this, I just think maybe I didn’t choose wisely for my tastes (yeah like I know what my tastes are), I’ve ordered the fancy grade dark roast version of this. :)) Maybe that will be my PERFECT oolong, but until then, I am quite happy with this, and will certainly enjoy the package that I have.

As always, thank you Mandala for providing me with an excellent tea to spend my evening with.


Learning to navigate the oolong ocean is tricky, and if I had to do it again…I’d order sample sizes of lots of different oolongs to find my way. The roastiest strong fire almost tastes charcoal…and truth is, some oolongs taste like buttered flowers. Loads of adventure!


Bonnie, that’s totally my plan re:oolongs. Order a whole bunch and drink in succession, more or less. The question for me is — or for you, really — will I know if the difference I’m tasting is the oolong or the flavour? Maybe I should drink straight ones then…


hi! Thanks for writing down your thoughts on this, my friend! Yes… this leaf is a less oxidized leaf, which will lean toward the greener flavors rather than the roastier qualities of the dark DHP, and as you steep it, you definitely see the green in the leaf, unlike the more oxidized “dark roast”. Can’t wait for you to try the dark. Sounds like it’ll be right up your alley, eh?!


I would absolutely drink straight oolongs. I have a few blends that have oolong in them ie…Earl of Anxi from Verdant, but no “flavored” oolongs. In my opinion, you would never ever flavor a fine oolong, only an inferior quality oolong.


You’ll get an allelujah from me on that, Bonnie! Straight, pure leaf, no fluff, no fillers!


But butiki has such yummy flavours for oolong!


She uses natural fruit or flavors which makes a difference and Stacy uses good quality oolong but not premium. There would be a clash of flavors masking the peach or other flavors she’s adding. Blending requires a cooperative base.

High Adventure

Verdant’s Early Spring Tieguanyin is super floral! Have you tried it?


I have the autumn Tieguanyin but haven’t tried it yet. So many teas so little time….


The main thing is not to worry so much about what “tastes” are in it but to enjoy it the way it is intended to be.. It taste good!

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39 tasting notes

[Edit: Garret, the owner of Mandala Tea, has looked into the questions I raised in this tasting note. His supplier has assured him that the tea is indeed from the Da Hong Pao bush, but light-roasted in a style that is similar to the one typically used for Dan Cong oolongs. This clarifies the similarity I mention experiencing between this Da Hong Pao and Mi Lan Dan Cong. See the attached comments for additional detail.]

This came as a sample with my order from Mandala. I was excited to try it as my yixing teapot is dedicated to Big Red Robe. I had waited until a couple of my tea friends were over, and we brewed this up as the fourth or fifth tea of the evening. As it happens we had just finished drinking a lackluster Mi Lan Dan Cong (Honey Fragrance Phoenix Mountain Oolong), and when the first infusion of this Big Red Robe was brewed up the most peculiar thing happened… One of my tea friends tasted it and exclaimed, “This tea tastes like it actually is what that Mi Lan Dan Cong was trying to be.”

I then tasted it myself. What!? Wait a minute, I thought, what is this? This tea, labelled and sold as a “light roast” Da Hong Pao, bore an uncanny resemblance to Mi Lan Dan Cong in its flavor, in its fragrance, and in the look of the leaves (when we compared the samples side by side). Could it have been a miscommunication? If we hadn’t just tried another Mi Lan Dan Cong immediately beforehand, I might never have noticed.

If it really is a Mi Lan Dan Cong, rather than a Da Hong Pao, I think it’s a pretty good quality one. This was unambiguously better than the Mi Lan Dan Cong oolong I tried from Asha, and also another Mi Lan Dan Cong oolong my friends brought over to try. The sample I tried from Goldfish Tea still wins out over this one, but I’d definitely be happy to drink this tea from Mandala any time. It’s really nice!

But now, let me leave a qualification on this…. If the tea in question really is a “Light Roast” Big Red Robe, I’m kind of perplexed. The leaves are smaller, the characteristic smoky/roasted flavor at the beginning is absent, and it’s just far from what one would generally expect from Big Red Robe. The only kinship this tea has with Big Red Robe that I can draw on is a fruitiness in it’s profile that bears some resemblance to the fruit notes in a Qilan Big Red Robe I’ve tried, which was the best example of this kind of tea I’ve ever tried. This tea from Mandala and that Qilan Big Red Robe aren’t in the same league at all, but it’s the only reference point for similarity I can draw. It makes much more sense to me that Mandala’s “Light Roast” Big Red Robe is actually a pretty good Mi Lan Dan Cong.

Anyway… maybe this will be cleared up at some point. Good tea, but made for some curious head scratching. [Addendum: In light of the insight that this tea is indeed Da Hong Pao, I am interested in trying it again and re-assessing it with that knowledge at some point.]

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec

Wow, that does sound odd… The annoying thing is that there is no way to really be entirely certain. If I were you, I would be tempted to get another sample later just to check. :)


Just put in an email to my source for this tea and will post the second I hear back from them. I will quote some of your post, Geoffrey, and see what he has to say. I’ve worked with this man for 5 or 6 years now and his English is great so he should be able to help us figure out your question!!!


Great! We were really surprised by the whole thing. I’m super curious to get the straight story from your source on this one. Whatever this tea really is, I think it’s quite nice! Thanks again, Garret.


OK! Heard back from the cat who supplies me with the tea. It is indeed Da Hong Pao bush. The lighter roast done on this tea is a similar process to Mi Lan Dan Cong, but the leaves and varietal still resemble that of Da Hong Pao.
So there you have it. And now that my mouth is watering from thinking about it, I am going to brew some up for a little private session. Salud!!


Cool. Thanks for the insight, Garret! When I have a moment, I’ll edit my tasting note with clarification on this. Cheers!

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336 tasting notes

I’m a huge fan of darker oolongs as I like the toasty flavor. This one, however, feels, much greener and lighter. I quite like it because it’s full-bodied and has smooth sweetness to it. Next time I’ll try the darker version.
Every time I visit Mandala Tea or Butiki or other smaller vendor websites I have all this new vision for their brands. And yes, in my imagination it all looks fantastic, I just can’t help myself :)


YOu gotta tell me more about the new vision, especially since we have just opened our new shop in this new city! I’d love to hear your ideas, my friend!!! I am sipping the light roast DHP right now! The dark roast is awesome and you will mos def have to try it!


Garret, will send you a private message shortly.

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98 tasting notes

This is also backlogging…from a couple of weeks ago.
My first Big Red Robe, and a free sample that Garret so kindly included in the box with my new yixing teapot. (It’s beautiful, by the way! I haven’t decided what to dedicate it to yet, but I’m thinking an oolong of some sort.) This is a perfect tea morning…
Anyway, I’m figuring out gongfu style, so I decided to try that too. Steeped 1.5 tsp in a little 4 oz ceramic cup that I just got from an artist friend, rinsed the leaves for about 10 sec, poured out the water, holding the leaves back with a fork (because I’m classy). I started the 1st steeping below with 30 sec, about 205 degree water, and added about 10 sec each steep.
1st steeping: I’m getting a mineral-y quality here…very smooth, with a hint of metallic texture.
2nd steeping: Mmm. Wow. This is sweet and smooth, and I taste something that I can only describe as caramel. This is delicious…can’t wait for the next steeping.
I’m not ready to rate it yet, but I’ll try it again to familiarize myself with it better so I can accurately rate it. Very nice!

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123 tasting notes

This is my first time trying a Da Hong Pao. When I first sipped it I thought “wood”, but on second thought it’s more like roasted grains. I’ve steeped this three times now, each infusion much like the one before and a bit one-note (NB: I bought this tea nearly 10 months ago, so age might be catching up with it). I do like the fact that it tastes toasty rather than charred, unlike many other roasted oolongs I’ve had. Not amazing, but very smooth & drinkable.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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