Marlboro packaging but hopefully no tobacco taste
I ordered this tea from the popular China based Ebay shop, Dragon Teahouse. They ship quickly and are generally cost effective compared to western shops. Their 大红袍 da hong pao or Big Red Robe selection is priced and sold in 100g and 500g offerings at different quality levels much like their other teas. You can get 100grams for either about £10 or £18 depending on the grade. Something caught my eye though.
They also sell a branded da hong pao by a company called Wuyi Star that is, rather oddly, packaged in what looks like a packet of cigarettes! This tea costs a whopping £8 per advertised 18 grams (postage included) and it turns out that they are in fact only 16 gram boxes with two 8 gram foil sachets inside. This struck me as rather costly but an interesting purchase. I have some average da hong pao as well as some good stuff, how would this 'top grade' compare?
I warmed my yancha pot, emptied it and then poured the leaf inside. The warm clay heated and lightly steamed the leaves giving me a chance to catch a most wonderful aroma of chocolate transforming to dark brambles. This is good and I haven't even brewed it yet.
I decided to not rinse but fill the pot so the froth is displaced as I close the lid. A short 15 second infusion and the dark tea is poured into my glass jug. I just miss my chance to smell the pot after pouring so I go on to drink the tea. The flavours don't overpower me but I can't say it's bland, it's more like the dark cocoa hints are there to be discovered and I am surprised to have an almost instant huigan and some energetic feelings around the sides of my tongue.
Round two! The pot smells very aromatic before I add the water but somehow isn't very powerful after the infusion. I poke my nose further into the pot to pick up the interesting aromas on display, I catch a couple including grapefruit and a very hot steamed conk. The thick and potent soup tastes a little dark and a bit bitter, I'll back off the heat of the water next time around. There are hints of those dark bramble fruits underneath.
It's not quite what I was expecting but I'm enjoying the session.
I'm a little worried that the 8 gram 'serving' is a little too much for my small pot and this is causing the tea to be overly steeped. Time to adjust my brewing, quicker and a little cooler. This is the problem of having a pre determined packet of tea. Perhaps next time I should empty both 8 gram packets into a suitable container so I can brew three 5.3 gram amounts. I don't have a suitable pot.. hmmm...
Boil the water, wait for it to cool a little, in it goes, count to ten and pour... I'm about to drink when the sweet caramel aroma of the soup distracts me then I notice how much I am feeling the tea in my head. I'm going through infusions of this tea fast... slow down cowboy!
What should I conclude about this tea? The smell of the dry leaf in the warm pot was fantastic as was the aroma of the soup. The aroma of the emptied pot didn't have that interesting transition but the tea itself was potent and like a dark chocolate, hints of fruit tones with a sweet smelling soup. It's gone right to my head too! If I compare it to Jing Tea UK's premium da hong pao I believe that it only surpassed that tea in it's aroma but the taste was just a little too dark cocoa for my liking. Somehow I'm left a little short of my expectation.