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Big Red Robe

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A tea with a rather intriguing story…

No oolong collection is complete without Big Red Robe or 'Da Hong Pao': one of the most famous teas in China, and for good reason. The tea harks from the Wuyi Mountains of Fujian Province where the four original tea bushes were reputed to have been wrapped in imperial scarlet robes as a mark of honour - reportedly because the tea had saved the life of the Emperor's ailing mother, although the stories tend to be as numerous as variations of the tea itself.

Classic Big Red Robe has a deeply roasted taste with notes of cocoa and a wisp of forest woodsmoke; some even say it has an espresso-like quality. The very best varieties of Big Red Robe are distinguished by the surprising mineral taste which heightens and add complexity to the roasted notes, a taste which defines the exceptional 'rock oolongs' of the Wuyi mountains. Our Big Red Robe has a distinct hit of that mineral freshness, with a fragrant floral quality and a mellow tones of plum and apricot.

The skilled process of partial oxidation brings forth those warm rich notes whilst keeping the freshness more commonly associated with green tea. In the particular case of Big Red Robe once the handpicked leaves are withered and tumbled to start the oxidation process they are baked in small batches, originally over charcoal fires, to arrest the oxidation process and create those deep roasted notes. There are few tea artisans outside China who have mastered the technique to perfect pitch: it's all about creating that balance of deep, roasted tones and mineral freshness. You'll find this exceptionally high quality Big Red Robe fits the bill perfectly, with a layered flavour which makes it ideal for a pairing with food.

  • Tea Type

    Oolong Tea

  • Origin


  • Taste Profile

    Fruity, Refreshing, Sweet

  • Tastes like

    Full bodied, with roasted cocoa notes and a mineral freshness

  • Food pairing

    A heavy cheese in a ploughman's lunch

  • When to drink

    Dark oolongs are ideal for early evening

Brew the perfect cup

Add one teaspoon (around 2g) of loose leaf tea per cup and always use freshly drawn and boiled water. Allow to brew for 3-5 minutes according to taste. Best enjoyed without milk.

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The Chinese invented paper, gunpowder and the compass. But their finest innovation has to be tea, reputedly first discovered by the emperor Shen Nong in 2737 BCE. Originally prepared as a medicinal brew, tea became a drink in its own right during the Han Dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE), and today China produces thousands of different varieties ranging from black, green and white tea to oolong, puerh and yellow tea. If you’re looking for a bit of teatime reading take a look at Lu Yu’s ‘Tea Classic’: first written in 780 CE, it covers everything from cultivation methods to tea etiquette…

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According to hearsay the tea caused a bit of a diplomatic issue when Nixon visited China in 1972. Not realizing the cultural importance of Da Hong Pao from one of the six original tea trees in the Wuyi Mountains, Nixon was reportedly rather disappointed when Chairman Mao presented him with 200g of the tea as a diplomatic gift – a quantity which amounted to half the tea's annual harvest. We've numbered this tea 200 as a mark of its status in international relations…

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