Big Red Robe Fancy Grade Dark Roast

Tea type
Oolong Tea
Autumn Leaf Pile, Dates, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Sweet, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Fruity, Malt, Roast Nuts, Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Mineral, Peach, Caramel, Chocolate, Nutty, Grass, Spicy, Espresso
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Loose Leaf
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Edit tea info Last updated by Cameron B.
Average preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 15 sec 6 g 8 oz / 238 ml

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From Mandala Tea

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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36 Tasting Notes

3294 tasting notes

Another Sipdown!
I will definitely have to restock this, as it is a delicious roasty wuyi oolong, with yummy chocolatey maltiness, very rich & fruity.


I love this. :))

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676 tasting notes

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.


Loved the mental images I got from reading about your morning, Bonnie ~ Sandals ready for spring strolling!


Your stories make me wish I had a tea set – table and all. Some day.

I have been thinking about trying a small teacup and using the saucer as a lid. I don’t know if this would give the same effect as a gaiwan and really I’m not sure how much I would gain over my single serve press method. I just really like the idea and art of it.


Well, you know that David Duckler has a video of how to use a teacup as a gaiwan on his website or maybe it’s the verdant youtube. Anyway…no need to run out and buy a gaiwan! The gaiwan I use cost $10 and my most expensive one $18 (but I buy in shop so no shipping).


I am looking but I don’t see the video. Point me in the right direction.


KS you can find it easy on facebook looking down a bit at improvisational gonfu with cups and saucers (which I like better than what’s on Verdant TV). Cup, saucer as lid and voila. (I should make a video! called the grandma’s guide to tea since if I can do it my way…well…you get the message. Poke that Puer, steep them leaves!)

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13570 tasting notes

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!




Onto the shopping list, this goes!


sooo many teas at mandala to drink….try…buy!

Terri HarpLady

Yup! This IS the one, & it is awesome! I love those roasty Wuyi oolongs!

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1040 tasting notes

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.


awwwww yeahhhhh!!! So very happy to read this, my friend! I started buying from this supplier about 3 years ago after the last one fizzled out. This guy continues to set me up with great Rock style wulongs, cleanly grown with no pesticides!! He has consistently supplied me with this top-notch tea.


AND there is a consistent supply of it. That is great news – this is my PERFECT oolong. The search ends……


Some of the Mandala teas sound amazing! Gui Fei is my favourite oolong to date. No matter how many others I try, I always come back to that one.


Courtney – Mandala’s Milk Oolong it stunning, and their colored species it so floral it’s almost unbelievable. I’m more of a dark oolong type, but can totally appreciate how good those two green ones are. I may never buy pu’erh or oolong from any other supplier. Mandala teas just “speak to me” somehow, and Garret and his team have fantastic customer service.


Oo, thanks for reminding me that I wanted this in my next order.

Terri HarpLady

Yeah, baby, this is a wonderful one. I love me some roasty wuyi!


Dexter – I don’t know what causes that metallic taste in oolongs, but I know what you mean, and I find it really off-putting. It’s kind of like astringency, but not, and it really ruins in. Sometimes I wonder if it’s age-related, or a consequence of broken leaf.

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286 tasting notes

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.

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5 tasting notes

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?


I have been stalking this tea on his site. Do you get a cocoa or chocolate aroma from the dry leaves or from the tea? Keep drinking and keep me tooted! :)


LOL!! I typed “keep me posted.” Really. Stupid autocorrect!


YAY!!! You are doing it! It’s been the best of winters to run here in the midwest! I haven’t missed a run – a bunch of us even got together in the worst blizzard this year and did 6 miles. It was wonderful :)

When I am sipping tea, there are plenty of times when I begin with only a 15 or 20 second steep after the rinse. Maybe someday, we will get to sip tea together. After a nice long run, that is :) Wishing you joy in NY, my friend!!


@ashmanra – now that you mentioned it – a dark chocolate whisper is somewhere in the tea. I could not dectect it in leaves, but I am just training my senses to even register experiences subtler than Assam (or Cabernet Sauvignon for that matter).


@ Garret – LOL – yes, I remember days when I used to love jumping out of the snowplow’s way, in my standard-issue “Public Works” reflective vest so the guys would not yell at me! This winter, in my old age, I focused on days with clearer weather. I am already kicking myself!
On another note – I absolutely adore those mini Touchas . I could order more of the same or – what should I try as the logical next step in ripe Pu’er? I was kind of thinking Yiwu Sheng Pu’er 50g Mini-Brick 2006? Or something that is bolder and more pronounced in taste than its cousins?
I’ll appreciate your advice. Thanks!


Just back from an amazing winter run…. seriously needed to blow off some steam as we are all working hard to get this new tea shop open in the new city! Gorgeous run… you ever have those runs where you just want to keep going? That was tonight…

If you are into the tuochas, you have been drinking the ripe style pu’er. I love the yiwu bricks (I brought them back during a trip in 2008)… there are only 3 or 4 left now – they are a green style pu’er. If you are going to head into the green style pu’er, I would suggest starting with a really accessible green pu’er like the 2008 silver buds cake we had pressed. You can always just try the one ounce option… great tea… can’t mess it up :) Sheng pu’er is quite a different animal from ripe tea. I love them both, but they are quite different from one another.

If you want to pursue more in the ripe tea category l like the mini-tuochas, there are many to try. The Phatty Cake is extremely popular for us. And today, I was drinking the Year of the DRagon cake I had pressed last year and am quite excited about where that tea is headed as it ages… I really recommend opting for one ounce options of several teas and seeing what grabs your fancy… and even if you stick with ripe tea, I can definitely recommend trying the silver buds cake from 2008. There are only 13 or so of the cakes left so try an ounce (or a cake) before they are gone.

And as always, let me know if I can help in any way. I’m happy to help… and not just because it’s my business :) Long may you run!


Thanks a million, Garret! I could have emailed you @ Mandala, but figured more people might find this informative and helpful if they stumble upon your advice. I’ll do my homework over the weekend.
Congratulations on the New Tea Shop in the New City! Yey!That calls for a serious celebration with your best merchandise.

Where I am, I pronounced it officially the end of winter (despite 30 degrees and a howling wind – whatever…) and had trouble extricating myself from the car after a drive after a run. But that’s good pain, right? What’s more, I am profoundly salivating over Hoka Bondi…
Thanks again, talk to you soon. Happy trails/roads!

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147 tasting notes

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….

tea fail.

Terri HarpLady

Oh yeah, if you like a roasty tea, this one is delicious!

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22 tasting notes

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!


Sounds good to me. I love red robes. :)

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257 tasting notes

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!!!!

Flavors: Espresso

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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3708 tasting notes

Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Wednesday, February 17th: Random Acts of Kindness Day Tea #2
Courtesy of Kawaii433 a while ago!  Thanks very much!  I’ve been neglecting this one a bit because I’m not usually seeing the specialness of a roasted tea, but this one isn’t too bad.  There is a hint of green under the deep red leaves and the brew is fairly light orange.  The roast isn’t too bad, but also tastes like a hint of stevia which obviously isn’t there.  Maybe I’m just now making this connection that roasted teas taste like stevia to me.  The second steep is much the same, light roast flavor which I like, starchy, maybe hints of squash.  Not oversteeped at all at three minutes. The third steep is also great but I can never notice nuance after the roasted notes. But the roast is light, so I like! I definitely wouldn’t consider this “dark roast”.
Steep #1  // 2 teaspoons for full mug // 30 minutes after boiling  // 2 minute steep
Steep #2  // 28 minutes after boiling //  3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 4 min

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