Da Hong Pao Tea: The Brew Worth Its Weight in Gold

da hong pao tea

Over the last few years, da hong pao tea has spent some time in the limelight. It is most well-known for the exorbitant amounts of money that people are willing to spend on several teaspoons of the tea leaves. But, what is all the fuss about this tea?

Why does cost so much and is it really worth the money? The history of this tea is an old and fascinating one. So, if you want to gain insight into just what it is that makes it so special, then this is the post for you. Let’s do some digging!

What is Da Hong Pao Tea?


First things first, what category does this tea fall under?


Da hong pao tea falls under a type of oolong tea that is known as wuyi. These teas can be found in the Wuyi area of the Fujian province. Unlike most teas, these are grown in rocky and craggy areas, earning their title as Yancha or oolong rock teas.


Now, there are several types of Yancha, but da hong pao has gained the most amount of popularity. This has partially to do with the many mythologies surrounding the tea. One of the most prevalent, though, is that the tea from a group of da hong pao trees was used to cure the mother of an Emperor.


Filled with gratitude, the Emperor sent a big red cloth to cover the trees so that they could survive the frost of winter. This is how the tea has earned its title. When translated, da hong pao means big red robe

Chinese Tea displayed on wooden bowl

The Types of Da Hong Pao Tea


What most people aren't aware of is the fact that there are actually several types of da hong pao tea. This tea is typically referred to with a great deal of reference. However, many don’t realize that there is the Original da hong pao tea and the more readily available versions.


This type of tea can fall under three categorizations – Zhengyan (A1, A2, A3) Banyan (B1, B2, B3) and Zhouyan tea (C1, C2, C3). The classification is based on the tea trees’ growing environment and the resulting quality.


As such, Zhengyan boasts the best quality. The tea trees tea grow in Wuyishan Scenic Area along the Jiuqu River at high altitude. The gravel in the soil here creates good ventilation and a more acidic environment.


The Banyan trees offer up the second-best quality. It is planted around the same area as Zhengyan trees. However, the Banyan trees are planted in clay-like soil with a higher acidity. The lowest on the rung is the Zhouyan tea. Here, the alluvial soil is full of calcium.

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Why is Da Hong Pao Tea So Expensive?


You will have probably heard that da hong pao is one of the most expensive teas around. A single gram can sell for over $1,200. This means that making a pot of da hong pao can cost as much as 10,000! This means that this tea is worth more than 30 times its weight in goal.


So, how has it earned this status? What makes this tea so coveted? Well, this would have to do with the fact that access to this tea is temporary. See, the original da hong pao comes from a cutting of a single group of mother trees. However, there are very few of these trees left.


And, these trees have seen their last harvest. There is a good chance that they will never make tea again. This means as the years pass  by, these teas will become even more unique and rare. In turn, this will cause the price to rise sharply.

white pink and yellow ceramic mug and saucer

Affordable Versions of Da Hong Pao


If you aren't a millionaire and still want to try da hong pao, you still can. This is because there are some affordable options available to you. However, you should be aware that these don’t really hold a candle to the original version.


Also, for good tea, you will still have to pay a higher price than for other kinds of tea. This will ensure that you can try higher quality da hong pao teas that aren't plucked from the originals. Nevertheless, there are plenty of knock-off versions around. Thus, you do have to be careful when making your purchase.

What Does Big Red Robe Tea Taste Like?


It should be noted that the modern versions of the da hong pao tea actually taste different to the original tea. A long time ago, the tea was more heavily oxidized than it is now. The teas aren't dry roasted as much either.


As a result, the flavor of the modern tea is lighter and gentler.  Tea enthusiasts will also realize that the tea has a notable floral aroma and taste. All in all, the resulting notes are quite pleasant, particularly for those who don’t appreciate the most robust flavors of black tea or the vegetal notes of green tea.

Brewing Da Hong Pao Tea

What is particularly interesting about the da hong pao tea is the resilience of the flavor. Despite having delicate floral notes, this tea holds up incredibly well to being steeped numerous times. What's more, you can also do so in very hot water and note that the tea will continue to hold its aroma and flavor. In this way, it is quite a bit like black tea.


When brewing da hong pao tea, you will need to steep the teas for a longer period of time as well. Probably 1 to 3 minutes. It is only after this period that you will be able to truly appreciate the nuances of this tea.


As you can see, this is a rather fascinating tea with an unusual history. And, as the stock of da hong pao tea lessens, the legend of this tea is fated to grow!

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Dheena Sadik

Dr. Dheena Sadik

Consultant Nutritionist and Dietician

Author Bio

Dr. Dheena Sadik is a consultant Nutritionist and Dietician. She has over a decade of experience in the health and fitness industry. However, her love for tea began long before she understood the health benefits of tea. Growing up in Sri Lanka, Dheena had the privilege of being surrounded by the world-famous Ceylon tea. This is what got her started on her exploration of the various types of tea. She has now extensively tasted and examined teas from all over the world.

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