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Oolong Tea

Da Hong Pao “Big Red Robe” (Lightly Baked)

Since its beginning, Da Hong Pao, “Big Red Robe” has always been one of China’s most revered teas and the King of Wuyi Rock Oolong Teas.  As a class, the Wuyi Rock teas are always ranked among China’s Ten Most Famous Teas.  Da Hong Pao originated in the Wuyi Shan area of the Northwest Fujian Province, the “Tea Varietals Kingdom” and cradle of the world’s oolong teas and home of the world famous Lapsang Souchong black tea.

A popular fable exists about the Da Hong Pao. It starts with a scholar that was travelling through the Wuyi Shan area while he is on his way to Beijing to take the imperial examinations. During his travels he became sick with an upset stomach and severe cold. The monks of Tian Xin Temple took the scholar to their temple and gave him a tea that was grown on Jiu Long Ke Cliff.  

After drinking the tea, the scholar made a quick recovery, becoming sane and clear-headed, as well.  He thanked the Tian Xin Temple monks and went on to Beijing for his examinations.  He did so well on the exams that he won the “Number One Scholar” title.  

Soon thereafter, he went back to the temple to thank the monks for their kind help and the monks gave him some of the Jiu Long Ke Cliff tea as gift.  Later, he happened to hear that the Empress was very sick and had an upset stomach that nobody knew how to treat. In hopes of helping the Empress, he told the Emperor about his experience in Wuyi Shan and about the Jiu Long Ke Cliff Tea and gave the Emperor some of the tea for his wife. After the Empress drank the tea she got well. 

The Emperor was so pleased by the tea that he ordered the scholar to return to the Tian Xin Temple and give honor to the tea in his name.  The scholar returned to Wuyi Shan and honored the tea by covering the tea plants on the Jiu Long Ke Cliff with a red robe he was given by the Emperor. When the Red Robe was removed from the tea plants they were magically shining in red color and as legend has it this is how Da Hong Pao or Big Red Robe Tea got its name.

Another amusing legend of Da Hong Pao’s origin tells of how the monks used monkeys to climb the steep Jiu Long Ke Cliff to pick tea leaves that they could not otherwise reach. The monks would dress the monkeys in red vests and gave them fruit as a reward to pick the tea leaves from the steep cliff. It is said that the tea got its name Big Red Robe or Da Hong Pao because of the red vests the monkeys wore .  

Actually, neither of the two legends is considered very persuasive by tea experts. Da Hong Pao is a relatively new cultivar among the Wuyi Rock Teas, having a relatively short history of only around 350 years.  Most scholars believe that the six Da Hong Pao mother trees on Jiu Long Ke Cliff actually obtained their name Big Red Robe or Da Hong Pao from their unique reddish edge and emerald green center caused by the partial oxidation of the leaves. The edge is accentuated when the leaves are steeped. Although the legends and health functions of Da Hong Pao have often been exaggerated by a demonstrative people’s adoration for the tea, Da Hong Pao and the Wuyi Shan area’s long knowledgeable tea production history undeniably makes Da Hong Pao an exquisite, expertly crafted tea well deserving of its title “The King of Wuyi Rock Oolong Teas.”   

The venerated six Da Hong Pao (or Big Red Robe) mother trees known by the Wuyi Shan people as the “State Treasury” produce less than 500g of tea each year. In 2005, twenty grams of the tea was auctioned for 208,000 Yuan. Needless to say, the local government has protected these precious trees throughout their history. Anyone can visit the six mother trees at Jiu Long Ke Cliff for a nominal entrance fee.  

Tea horticultural experts put substantial time and energy into transplanting the Big Red Robe mother trees and finally got success in nonsexual cultivation in the 1980s.  Subsequent to this success, Da Hong Pao’s commercial tea production became large scale.   In 2006, in order to preserve this “Living Heritage” the Wuyi Shan government prohibited any more plucking of the leaves from the six mother trees. 

During the tea’s comparatively short history, it has won many extols.  During the Qing Dynasty, Emperor and tea connoisseur Qian Long gave high praise to the tea in the poem “Winter Night Tea Drinking.”  In 1999, Da Hong Pao won Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands favor when she traveled Wuyi Shan.  With its title “The King of Wuyi Rock Oolong Teas” and its revered history, Da Hong Pao’s popularity continues to grow worldwide.

Wuyi Mountain is located at the northwest Fujian Province. The Wuyi Mountains have a Danxia mountain or redstone cliff like topography.  The climate is a mild, humid, subtropical, monsoon climate providing a drizzly spring, a humid summer, a cool autumn and a moist winter.  The area experiences moderate winter temperatures that are not too cold and temperate summer temperatures that are not too hot. The average annual temperature is 64˚F or 17.6˚C, yet the temperatures vary significantly between day and night. The abundant annual rainfall averages between 59 and 83 inches a year. Wuyi Shan has moderate sunlight and averages more than 120 misty days a year. The misty, cloudy Wuyi Shan area has many clear and clean rivulets, streams and rivers.The fertile soil is composed of shale and gravel that is rich in minerals and microelements. Our tea grows at an average elevation is 2,130 feet above sea level. This is an ideal environment for cultivating the famous Wuyi Rock Teas.

We hope that you will enjoy sipping our World Tea Championship Wuyi Rock treasure.  Once you have tried one of our Wuyi Rock teas you will want to try them all
Please try our other Rock teas such as our lightly baked Da Hong Pao, Wuyi Rou Gui, Wuyi Shui Xian or Wuyi Qi Zhong—all with unique delightful aromas and flavors.