Thursday, September 27, 2018

Review: The Little Red Cup Tea Da Hong Pao

If you enjoy Chinese oolongs, chances are you've had a few versions of Da Hong Pao. A tea that should be high-quality, it can actually vary greatly in quality and flavor depending on the source. I've had everything from the insipid to the truly inspiring.

Today's review is a Da Hong Pao from the little red cup tea co. This tea is mountain grown in Enshi Prefecture, in southwestern Hubei Province. I usually think of Da Hong Pao coming from Fujian, and I'm curious to learn more about the location of these tea trees. I didn't have time to gather more information before this review, so I will either update this post or create a new one once I find out more. But let's discuss the leaves at hand...

This Da Hong Pao is very aromatic. The dry leaves are sweet, fruity, and quite tempting. This tea brews up a deep dark amber color. Lovely to look at, and feels very appropriate for the fall weather that's lurking just around the corner.

The brewed tea echos the fruitiness of the dry leaves, with the addition of strong mineral notes. It brings to mind an autumn hike near a waterfall. There is a lingering hint of spice that helps nurture those fall weather feelings. There is a touch of astringency to the tea, reminding me of plum skin. The hint of astringency doesn't actually lead to a bitter brew, which is quite nice. It's very smooth. I was heavy handed with the leaf and steep time, and everything was still quite well balanced.

This tea is nice and hearty, a good choice for the late morning or early afternoon. The mineral notes mellow out the brew just a touch, so I wouldn't have it first thing since I like a punchy morning tea. I prepared this tea in a gaiwan, one that is quite thick to retain the water's heat. This would also work well in a small teapot. It would be lovely to cozy up with a few steeps of this tea on a chilly day.

According to the little red cup website, finding this tea was quite a challenge which makes me even more curious to learn about the source:
It has taken us nearly ten years since we began our search for a great Da Hong Pao that is both organic and Fair Trade to get to the point where we can add this special oolong to our offerings.

I did an interview with the little red cup founder Martin Connelly back in 2015, be sure to check out our conversation to learn more about the company. Thank you to the little red cup tea co. for this sample! To learn more about this tea, you can visit the little red cup website.

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