Friday, June 19, 2015

Cha Ceremony: Da Hong Pao, A Tea Review

I am having a painting dilemma, I have a pile of miniatures on my desk, I have plenty of paint and decent brushes, I have the mood to paint...what I do not have is the ability or inspiration. It is strange, I pick up a model, even on I have started, and I just can't think of anything creative to do with it, and when I do paint it just looks kinda cruddy. Clearly what I need is to just play Minecraft, and hopefully Ben will have the Xbox put back together this evening, yay! Sadly I had to give up on playing it on my computer, it is just too crappy, but one day I might have access to a decent computer and can play! Even though it is behind the PC and has a limited map, I still enjoy it on the 360.

Today it is time for some Yancha! So do the happy Yancha dance! Da Hong Pao from Cha Ceremony is the tea for today, good ol' Big Red Robe, possibly the most well known of the Wuyi Rock Oolongs, named because the Emperor really liked this stuff and dressed the original bushes in fancy red robes. Or the tea saved his mom and as a thank you he en-robe-ified the bushes, or maybe it was his wife. Regardless of which legend you choose, this tea is legendary, the original bushes still grow on the mountains, but the tea that we mere mortals drink are cuttings grown on the mountain gardens. The aroma of this Da Hong Pao is pretty robust, blending sweet and woody notes in a potent combination. First off is a strong note of fruity tobacco, cherry and cherry wood with molasses and strong char bring up the middle. Towards there end is the aroma of chocolate and char, giving it an almost burnt chocolate aroma, like if you are making smores and some melted chocolate falls on the fire.

Into the Yancha pot the twisty leaves go! The aroma of the now soaked leaves has a strong char presence, lots of different levels of char, from burnt wood to a touch of smoke, burnt chocolate and grilled fruit, and a finish of pipe tobacco. The liquid is rather sweet, with notes of brown sugar, cocoa, tobacco, and a slight fruity finish. A contrast with the intensity of the leaves, the liquid is more mellow.

The first steeping is intense! Holy crap that is one intense Da Hong Pao, I can see how it cured some ancient royal if the original was anything like this. It starts with tobacco with a slightly fruity edge to it and a nice note of charred wood, this moves to woodiness and cocoa, with a fantastic finish of sassafras. This might be the most intense first steep of a DHP ever.

Onward to the second steep! The aroma of this one's liquid is a blend of intense char and cocoa, with a nice woody undertone and finish of cherry. This steep's taste, I notice, is not as sweet as the first, which is funny since the first was not overwhelmingly sweet to begin with. It is intensely woody and filled with the notes of both burnt wood and char, as the initial char fades there is tobacco and cocoa (think dark chocolate over the sweet stuff) and a nice wet slate finish. The aftertaste is where the only sweetness is, molasses lingers for a while.

Time now for the final steep, the aroma is a bit sweet, with a gentle stewed stone fruit note blended with tobacco and char. The taste of this steep can be very easily summed up as the first steep again but much diminished. The char taste has faded in intensity, but the slight molasses sweetness is more prominent, again with a finish of sassafras. Really like that sassafras note, it makes it unique!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great! I just had a Da Hong Pao with breakfast after reading it. I've ran across the idea that aging reduces the char effect, and have tried several aged Wuyi Yanchas recently, in addition to this type. It's hard to separate the effect of aging from the other variation in characteristics though; would be easier if comparing similar teas from different years together. At least it goes well enough with the wood, cherry, tobacco / leather, and other flavors.