Yunnan Sourcing's Description
This is a Da Hong Pao varietal grown in the Wu Yi Mountains (Fujian Province) and harvested in May 2010. It was kept in large clay jars and then roasted each year to dry it out. The result is a darkish roasted tea with a red-orange tea soup and strong sweet aroma.
If there is a single perfect tea for warming up after shoveling a driveway full of snow in sub-freezing temps, I think it must be Da Hong Pao. By now you've had to have noticed my love for Wuyi oolongs, and by my standards, there is none better than a good roasty DHP.
Dry leaf - As soon as I open the bag, I'm met with a potent roasty aroma. This tea has been roasted yearly since it was picked and dried, so that's not surprising as it probably needs a bit of time to mellow out yet. The leaves range from a dark brown to flat black.
Brewing parameters - 212F, 10s first, +8s after
Tasting notes - Roasty, sweet, carob, cocoa, mineral, nutty
Mmmmm, just smelling this tea starts to warm you up. The roastiness is front and center, but isn't overpowering. Instead, it brings out notes of carob, cocoa and just a hint of roasted nuts. The aroma fills the room with its roasty sweetness. The broth brews out to a dark amber hue, as expected from a Da Hong Pao.
Tasting this tea is as much of a treat as you'd expect. The smooth carob blends with the sweet cocoa, and brings out just a touch of the Wuyi minerality. The roastiness isn't as strong in the taste as in the aroma of the dry leaves, but it is still certainly the dominant flavor here, lending its warming, soothing aspect to the flavor profile.
After a couple steeps, the roastiness does mellow out and lets the carob/cocoa flavors take the lead. Alongside the slight minerality, a hint of roasted nuts also comes into play. My only real complaint about this tea is that the leaves aren't terribly generous; they tend to peter out after 6-7 steeps, while most Wuyi oolongs can go for 10+. Overlooking this small flaw, I'm still left with a fantastic DHP, likely the best I've had.
If you're not a fan of roasty teas, you may want to give this one a miss at the moment. While I absolutely love it, it could stand to mellow out and give the roastiness a couple years to fade. I'm excited to see how this tea matures in the near future, as more age could only turn this from a great to to an exceptional one.
You can buy this tea from Yunnan Sourcing here and here.