I will definitely have to restock this, as it is a delicious roasty wuyi oolong, with yummy chocolatey maltiness, very rich & fruity.
“Another Sipdown! I will definitely have to restock this, as it is a delicious roasty wuyi oolong, with yummy chocolatey maltiness, very rich & fruity.” Read full tasting note
“Thanks to Claire for this Sample Tea! It’s a beautiful Spring-like morning…one of those throw open the window beginnings that lift the spirit. I rummaged past my boots and the ever-ready close-toe...” Read full tasting note
“SIPDOWN! So i’m “pretty” sure this is the version that Terri sent me, though there are a few version so she’d better correct me if this WASN’T the version she sent me because OMG I LOVE THIS. ...” Read full tasting note
“I LOVE Mandala tea, and this one is no exception. I haven’t been drinking a lot of oolong lately, they have been pushed aside by my new love of blacks. I need to let this one back in. This is...” Read full tasting note
Big Red Robe is an open leaf, or twisted, oolong tea. It is more heavily oxidized which make the leaves look darker brown in color in their dried form. It produces a smooth, malty, full-bodied cup of tea. Hints of chocolate with an overall rich and roasty flavor.
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. Try some today!
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Thanks to Claire for this Sample Tea!
It’s a beautiful Spring-like morning…one of those throw open the window beginnings that lift the spirit. I rummaged past my boots and the ever-ready close-toe shoes of Winter to find ‘SANDALS’!
It’s inspiring to make tea in a Gaiwan on such a day.
I’ve become obsessed with warming my Gaiwan with boiling water, dumping the water out…then putting the tea leaves in to sit with the lid on for a minute.
What comes from this one step of preparation is tea seduction. It is what leads to wanting the tea so much that you can hardly contain yourself.
The next step was actual steeping which was short.
When I smelled the scent of the leaves they were fruity and sweet, but soon changed to the aroma of light curry. Going back to check the scent later, I could still smell the curry resting in the leaves.
The flavor was roasted freestone peach with the tang of guava membrillo. (Another way to discribe it would be the taste of peach leather and plum if you’re not familiar with membrillo?)
Sweet and tangy, luscious and smooth with a dripping honey quality to it.
Ah, the color in my glass cup. I had almost forgotten.
Polished brass flickering in candle-light. It reminded me of looking into a stream on a bright Summer day with the sun reflecting back glints and sparkles of gold.
This was a worthy tea, a Big Red Robe without the cinder taste that some dark roasts have. No burned flavor or smoke, just smooth stone-fruit and juice.
SIPDOWN! So i’m “pretty” sure this is the version that Terri sent me, though there are a few version so she’d better correct me if this WASN’T the version she sent me because OMG I LOVE THIS. Yeah… that’s right. In contrast to the verdant oolong from this morning, i could drink this all day…and sort of have. I really like the fruity cocoa of this one. Seriously! yum!
I LOVE Mandala tea, and this one is no exception. I haven’t been drinking a lot of oolong lately, they have been pushed aside by my new love of blacks.
I need to let this one back in. This is everything I think an oolong should be. It rich, roasty (without being too smokey), smooth and woody. IMHO This is everything I love about dark oolongs. I’m not getting any of the metallic taste that some have. I’m just going to stop buying oolongs, drink what I have then just restock this as my PERFECT oolong.
As always, thanks Garret for providing such amazing teas.
Dexter3657 was generous enough to send me a sample of this tea – Thank You!! I am grateful that I was sent enough of the sample to try this again with different steeping parameters.
I got distracted and let the tea infuse longer than it should have, but it was still a very enjoyable tea. Smooth and roasty, with a lingering taste that reminds me of tobacco. Despite the long infusions, the tea was very tasty.
Inspired by the “Mistakes you made with tea” discussion, after duly noting that most of distinguished participants confessed to oversteeping as the biggest mistake, I resolved to steep shorter and first experiment with what looks like a decent tea.
Oh, short steep – but 30 seconds?!! Seriously? Do I trust Garret enough? OK, he is a fellow runner, he can’t be too bad…:)
I would not dare to assign any rating numbers to anything I am so unfamiliar with – but – pleased to say – it does taste good! The package says “roasty, and full-bodied” – maybe next steeps will taste that to me, after Garret allows at least a 2-minute steep… the first I perceive as more jasminy.
30 seconds? Who would have thought?
brewed this up right before taking the kids over to my MIL house….baby John’s first photo shoot…
I had visions of watching him coo at the cameras while I sipped on tea…much like my 4 years old did when she was a baby….
Not the case.
It went cold before I could sip…..
Well, from the cold sip….I could tell enough that it would be worth trying to steep it another time because it can’t be wretched….
This tea is impressive – its a doppleganger, bringing forth many familiar tastes and combining them into something quite enjoyable. The first few infusions taste like a certain Laoshan Black… hmmmm… So much so that I did a double take to make sure I had put the right tea in my gaiwan. Yep! Not to be overshadowed by the aforementioned steepster juggernaut, this tea can certainly hold its own. The primary flavor is “Roasty” but there is something else there… a fruity/nutty note reminiscent of an assam… and there is a subtle background of roasted florals and buttery grain to remind you of its former, greener oolong days.
Initially I was quite surprised at this oolong. It is quite dark and the flavor profile really falls closer to the true black tea spectrum in my mind. This is not a bad thing, just not what I had expected from an oolong. This tea is capable of multiple infusions, trading the strong roasted taste to more subtle autumn fruits towards the later infusions.
Quite enjoyable in the Gaiwan. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to experience a dark roasted oolong. My only criticism here would be a relatively thin mouthfeel… while hard to put into words, compared to similar tasting teas, this one is lacking a bit in texture.
I’m looking forward to trying the lighter roasted version of this next and will probably end up ordering more of whichever one I like best. So far, the Dark Roast does not disappoint!
Used my Yixing for roasty Oolongs for this one. Has a very roasted flavor. This flavor is dominant. The third steeping started bringing some cream notes.
Nice wake you up in the morning tea. Coffee lovers would really enjoy this tea.
Thanks Terri H for this sample!!!!
This is a luxurious tea, that would pair well with a bubble bath, or sitting by a fireplace reading a book.
I brewed this in my ruyao 100ml gaiwan, with 5 grams which was plenty as this tea is packed with flavor! I have brewed this with both 208 F and lower temperatures (180) and have leafed it as high as 8g per 100ml. I find that making it the way I did this time (5g/100ml/180F) brings out the best qualities of the tea.
Mandala’s Big Red Robe is pretty steady throughout steeps, and doesn’t really change it up much besides fading to a gentler taste at the end of the session. However, this doesn’t take points away from it. This is a tea for easygoing sessions, a stroll along a beach instead of a roller coaster ride.
The sweet honey fruit taste, like peach juice and spices (cinnamon? clove?) is luxurious with a thick feeling coating my tongue on each sip. The flavor lasts quite long after each sip, lingering a while before fading to ready you for the next sip. The sweetness is strong with a spicy quality to it, and has a warming quality as well. The nose carries on the sweetness almost pushing it, being a little edgy in the sweetness, before relaxing back again.
Not a very complex tea (that is, tea which has a flavor that changes steep by steep), but not every tea needs to be. Mandala’s Big Red Robe holds its own against more complex teas with its rich texture, spicy sweet taste, and long lingering aroma. A tea for relaxation, contemplation, and unwinding after a long day.
EDIT: After watching Mei Leaf’s video on Da Hong Pao on youtube, who recommends brewing da hong pao at high heat I brewed this again at 6g/100ml/208F which brought out some different qualities. Very chocolatey, brown sugar, cooked fruit like cherries when you make jam, very juicy, still has that lingering aroma, and a taste that washes back and coats the tongue after each sip, a little bit of astringency but very very light, some charcoal smell on the gaiwan lid, forefront taste is mineral like stone or concrete (this was subtle brewing at a lighter temperature so I didn’t notice it especially compared to the very strong taste on the nose). Over all this fits with the description of a very high quality da hong pao as described by Don at Mei Leaf.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Mineral, Peach