The year is coming to an end and in between all the festivities, I wanted to do another tea session. I’m always surprised by how fast the weeks fly by so I sometimes forget to write an article every week. I still have a box full of samples from iTeaworld and I picked their Dahongpao for today’s tea session.
Dahongpao is the most famous rock oolong from the Wuyi mountains and the name means ‘big red robe’. The story goes that a scholar was passing through the Wuyi mountains and fell ill. Some monks brewed tea and that saved the scholar’s life.
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The scholar was wearing a red robe and this is where the name comes from. Keep in mind that this is a simplified version and the real story is definitely worth reading as this tea area has a rich history and has been producing tea for centuries. If you want to read more about this tea and its rich history, iTeaworld published a blog post with several videos. You can read it here.
Rock oolong is characterized by ‘rock rhyme’, which is a sensation you get in the throat while drinking this tea. From what I remember, this is because of the soil in which this tea is growing as it grows between rocks and on mountain slopes.
- Water around 90 degrees C
- 3.5g for an 80ml porcelain gaiwan
It mostly consists of twisted medium-sized leaves that have a uniform dark brown color. Some leaves also have a bordeaux hue. The aroma is insanely sweet with intense notes of burnt sugar, caramel, and even a touch of grapefruit.
Infusion 1 (15 sec): while brewing this tea, an intense and warming aroma fills the room. This feels like the perfect tea to drink on the final day of the year. I feel some traces of the roast, but it blends in nicely with a fruity edge. The finish sticks to my throat and I’m experiencing the ‘rock rhyme’, which I don’t get in every yancha I drink.
Infusion 2 (15 sec): it feels smooth from the start with a warming sugar sweetness flowing through the infusion. It also sticks to my throat again. The aftertaste is also worth mentioning as it’s full-bodied and stays around for quite a while. The rock rhyme is one of the most intense I have ever experienced.
Infusion 3 (17 sec): no big changes. It feels warming with a sugarcane sweetness right from the start. Once the aftertaste starts, I get traces of burned breadcrumbs like you can smell in a bakery after they’ve just baked bread. After a couple of minutes, this changes into something with a touch of vanilla. Didn’t expect this one! It feels smooth.
Infusion 4 (20 sec): I boiled fresh water because It had cooled off too much to do a proper infusion. The flavors feel similar, but I’m getting some fresher edges towards the end. However, the finish and aftertaste are as sweet and warming as before. It tickles my throat if that makes sense.
Infusion 5 (25 sec): I decided to smell the lid of the gaiwan and was surprised by a peach aroma with a touch of vanilla. I’m getting the same flavors, but the infusion itself is not as intense anymore. The aftertaste is still as sweet as before and the rock rhyme is still noticeable in my throat.
Infusion 6 (35 sec): I increased the length by 10 seconds for the final infusion. The sugar cane sweetness is not as intense anymore and I feel it has become more floral. The undertone is still sweet, but a floral freshness is at the surface of this infusion. This infusion feels more like spring, while the previous infusions felt more like a cold day in winter when you’re sitting in front of the fireplace.
Infusion 7 (45 sec): after the previous infusion, I just had to do another one to see if the floral notes were still present. The flavor profile has indeed shifted a bit from a warming sweetness to a fresher floral flavor profile.
This dahongpao was the perfect tea to end the year with. The aroma of burned sugar and bread crumbs filled the whole room while brewing this tea and the flavors themselves changed a lot during the session.
The tea session started with flavors that felt as if I was sitting in front of a fireplace on a cold and snowy winter evening. I got burnt sugar with a hint of the roast. The final two infusions felt more like spring when nature is waking up again after a long and cold winter.
Drinking this tea felt like a journey and I’m happy I picked this one to drink on the final day of 2023.