It’s been a minute since I’ve done a tea post, or at least that’s what it feels like to me.
I drafted most of my September posts back in August, so I haven’t written anything new in nearly a month (I wanted to focus on my new job). As you can probably tell, the last few posts have been going online at super random times; that’s because I’m posting them almost immediately after I finish writing.
Ideally, my articles will come out at regular times and dates. I’ve already made the list for October, so they should be coming out soon.
When I looked in my tea drawer (my beside tables contains nothing but tea), I realized I haven’t tasted Teasenz’s Da Hong Pao （大红袍, Big Red Robe） yet. I wanted to save it so I could compare it to other Da Hong Pao teas sold in my area, since I’m now living quite close to Wuyi Mountain.
I’m so in love with Teasenz’s Da Hong Pao. I’m tempted to order more tea from the company because it’s such high quality. It doesn’t make much sense to order tea, since I live closer to the tea mountains than to the Teasenz company, but I definitely recommend Teasenz to people looking for a company that does international shipping. With a $5 flat-rate fee, they’re hard to beat. I think I’ll order more Pu’er from them, since Yunnan is quite far from me.
Now on to the actual tea~
Brewing notes: I used 5 grams in a standard gaiwan to taste the tea, but I prefer a stronger flavor. Next time I’ll use 7 grams. I heated the water to about 95C. I didn’t wind up buying a variable temperature kettle because I was too impatient to wait for an online shipment to arrive. I like the idea of learning to listen to the bubble to determine the temperature of the water anyway.
When I was at home I used the tap water because Virginia tap water is safe to drink, but here the tap water is questionable at best, even when boiled. My apartment is relatively new so the water may be safe to drink, but I’ve been using bottled water just in case. Bottled water results in a slightly flatter taste because bottled water usually lacks the minerals found in tap water. I might start buying fancy mineral water, but that’s not financially feasible at the moment.
Da Hong Pao’s dry leaves were long, dark and twisted. They were mostly black with smudges of read throughout. As usual, there were very few broken leaves in the package. The leaves smelled like fudge, candied apples and smoked plums. They smelled like a perfume I’d love to wear.
Because I trust the quality of the tea, I skipped the rinse step and immediately brewed the tea for 45 seconds. The color of the liquor was a brilliant honey topaz color, firmly between yellow and orange on the color spectrum. It smelled like toilet water, but I’m willing to ignore that because it tasted a lot like Mei Leaf’s Bei Dou. The aftertaste was strong and fruity.
After the first brew I realized I wanted a stronger flavor, so I added a minute to the brewing time. That means the second brew lasted almost two minutes. The leaves opened up and formed a wet mass in the gaiwan. I wasn’t expecting them to grow so large. They started to smell like blue raspberry Jolly Ranchers and cotton candy.
The tea liquor became a deeper orange, but it retained its topaz characteristics. The flavor transformed into that of high-quality coffee, but without the bitterness. Almost none of the fragrance of the leaves transferred to the taste, but aerating the tea really allowed the taste to morph in your mouth. Air introduces the candy flavors.
The third brew is really when the flavor kicked in. I started tasting citrus and grapes and chocolate and general deliciousness. I was torn between holding the tea in my mouth and aerating it more, because both experiences were so enjoyable. I decided to alternate: one sip I’d hold the tea and on the next I’d aerate it in my mouth.
This pattern continued until the brews finally lost their flavor. I lost track of how many brews I did, but the water needed reheating before the tea lost its flavor. I’m pretty sure that means I got about 8 brews out of the tea.
Da Hong Pao is notorious for it’s price. Some tea connoisseurs refer to it as liquid gold. While I’ve seen varieties of Da Hong Pao in supermarkets and pharmacies in China (seriously, tea is not that big of a deal here), I’ve also seen varieties prices at over $100 for 100 grams (3.5 ounces).
Teasenz tea is on the lower end of the price scale, but that doesn’t mean you’re getting lower quality tea. 50 grams (1.75oz) or Da Hong Pao costs about $10, and they have a sample size (15g/0.5oz) for less than $3. It’s also worth mentioning that Teasenz accepts a variety of currencies, including Thai Baht, Czech Koruna, and Russian Ruble. I don’t think I have any readers from those regions yet, but I just thought I’d put it out there.
I believe I have one more Teasenz review to write (I need to double check that) but it’s probably going to be a positive review. The value for your money is truly amazing. I discovered a mystery tea in my drawer, so I think I’ll taste that one next. In my opinion, a happy tongue is a happy life.