Da Hong Pao (Da Hong Pao) is a very rare tea that has a unique orchid aroma and a long sweet aftertaste. It is grown in China in the northwest of Fujian province, in the Wuyishan mountains, where it is quite difficult to collect tea. According to the class, it is referred to oolongs (read more about oolongs here). Teas such as Da Hong Pao are also called "cliff" or "rock" because the tea bushes grow high on the cliffs. At the end of the article, you will find an interesting video about the production of Oolong cliff teas.
The best Da Hong Pao tea leaves come from mother tea bushes that have a history of thousands of years. In the Wuyishan mountain range on the steep Jiulongyu cliff, there are only 6 mother bushes left, which are considered a rare treasure. Due to the rarity and superior quality of tea, Da Hong Pao is considered the "King of Tea". It is also widely known as the most expensive tea.
In 2006, the Wuyishan Municipal Government insured these 6 mother bushes for 100 million yuan. In the same year, the government of Wuyishan City decided to prohibit anyone from picking tea from mother tea bushes in private. The annual harvest of tea is small and depends on the amount of rainfall. Even in the best years, the tea harvest is only a few hundred grams.
One of the last batches of Da Hong Pao collected and made from mother trees was collected at the Palace Museum in Beijing. 20 grams of this tea was sold in 2005 for 208000 yuan, which is the highest auction record for tea.
Most of the Da Hong Pao teas on the market today are derived from artificial breeding of this tea through asexual production that has retained the characteristics of Da Hong Pao. The price for such tea is much lower than Da Hong Pao from the mother bush.
Origin of the name tea
The name of the tea is translated from Chinese 大红袍 as "Big Red Robe". According to one of the legends, tea got its name due to the fact that a long time ago it was used to treat the illness of the emperor. After his recovery, the emperor ordered red robes to be donated to tea bushes as a token of gratitude for his healing. The red robe was considered at that time a high honor.
It is also said that the name "Da Hong Pao" comes from the purple-red color of young tea tree buds during the Qingming season (one of the 24 seasons of the lunar calendar). Ancient people tamed local monkeys to collect tea. Because the monkeys are more interested in the red buds than the green leaves, they could pick Da Hong Pao correctly. In addition, to distinguish tamed individuals, the monkeys wore red clothes. Therefore, the tea collected by the monkeys began to be called the "red mantle".
Fan Fuhai, director of the Chinese tea company Fanfu Dayuan, claims that it was not like that:
“It’s just that only fairly rich and educated people drank such tea. They saw that the edges of the leaves of this tea were reddened. This is its peculiarity, because it is fermented only along the edge, unlike red tea, in which the leaf is completely red. It turned out as if the leaf is dressed in a red mantle. And then, this is a very tasty and refined tea, worthy only of high officials, who then wore red robes. Hence the name."
Benefit for health
Da Hong Pao tea leaves contain caffeine, theophylline, polyphenols and flavonoids. For these and other reasons, tea is considered to be beneficial to health. Drinking Da Hong Pao can reduce fatigue and improve blood circulation in the body, and also helps with edema by quickly removing fluid from the body. Tea helps relieve coughs and reduce phlegm.
The elements contained in Da Hong Pao also reduce the content of alcohol and nicotine in the blood. In addition, it has a cosmetic effect. Regular consumption of Da Hong Pao is good for the skin and helps to lose weight.
Dry Da Hong Pao is in the form of tightly tied ropes or slightly twisted green-brown stripes. After brewing, the tea becomes orange-yellow, bright and transparent.
Da Hong Pao can keep its taste for nine brews. With subsequent brewing, the taste, color and aroma of tea change: at first it is saturated, with an element of astringency, then lighter, fruity shades appear in it.
The traditional way to brew Da Hong Pao is to use a teapot made of purple clay and water at 100 °C. Purified water is considered the best choice for brewing Da Hong Pao. After boiling, water should be used immediately for brewing tea. Boiling water for a long time or storing it for a long time after boiling will affect the taste of Da Hong Pao. Some find that the third and fourth brews taste the best.
Interesting Facts About Da Hong Pao Tea
- During the Qing Dynasty, Da Hong Pao tea often won first place in local tea trading competitions and won the title of "King of Tea". The locals had to worship Da Hong Pao using animals, flowers and fruits before picking the tea leaves each year.
- During the time of the Republic of China, a pound (0,45 kg) of Da Hong Pao could buy 5000 pounds (2268 kg) of rice or 10 buffaloes.
- After the formation of the People's Republic of China, the procedure for making Da Hong Pao was especially strict. Each worker who collected and brewed tea underwent a political check. After checking and confirming the quality, Da Hong Pao was sent to Beijing and received by Mao Zedong.
- When US President Richard Nixon visited China in 1972, Mao Zedong gave him 200 grams of Da Hong Pao, which represented peace and friendship between China and the United States of America.