So now we’re back to oolongs for awhile. This is a tea I have been looking forward to reviewing. I love Wuyi rock oolongs, and Da Hong Pao, in particular, is one of my favorite teas of all time. In my opinion, this one is a stellar example of a fine Da Hong Pao.
I brewed this tea gongfu style. Following a quick rinse, I steeped approximately 6 grams of loose tea leaves in 4 ounces of 190 F water for 5 seconds. I followed this infusion with 10 additional infusions, with an increase of 3 seconds per infusion. Steep times for them were as follows: 5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 23, 26, 29, 32, and 35 seconds. Note that I rotated the leaves in the gaiwan after the fifth infusion.
On the initial infusion, the liquor showed a brilliant golden amber in the cup. I immediately detected the unmistakable aromas of wood, char, minerals, wet stones, mild spice, and stone fruits that I immediately associate with Wuyi oolongs. In the mouth, I discovered rich notes of mild cinnamon, wet stones, moss, wood, char, burnt sugar, brown butter, minerals, apricot, golden raisin, nectarine, and yellow plum. There was also something of a subtle creaminess that balanced some of the minerality. Subsequent infusions saw the butter, spice, and stone fruit aromas strengthen. On these infusions, I noticed the emergence of slight cardamom, anise, and black peppercorn notes, as well as an intriguing and unexpected white grape note on the finish. Infusions 5-7 saw the mineral, butter, sugar, char, spice, and stone fruit aromas and flavors become more balanced. The touch of white grape on the finish remained, accompanied by stronger presences of stone, minerals, and wood, as well as a slight vegetal taste. The later infusions saw the complex aromas and flavors slowly fade, leaving fleeting impressions of wood, wet stones, mild spices, char, and minerals underscored by a touch of vegetal flavor.
This tea is a rich, deep, and incredibly complex beauty. It really rewards a lengthy session and demands one’s full attention to understand and appreciate its finer qualities. I’m not sure if I would recommend this as a starter Da Hong Pao, but I would have no problem recommending this to established fans of Da Hong Pao and other Wuyi rock oolongs.
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Black Pepper, Burnt Sugar, Butter, Cardamom, Char, Cinnamon, Cream, Fruity, Mineral, Moss, Plum, Raisins, Vegetal, Wet Rocks, White Grapes, Wood