Last Updated on 04/20/2020 by Desmond
What is the most expensive kind of tea in the world? In 2002, ever 20g of Da Hong Pao tea was under the hammer at an outrageous price – 180,000 RMB(about $28,000.) High to $1,400 average per gram, and the gold price was $12 per gram at that time. That means those Da Hong Pao tea leaves, was hundreds of times expensive than the same gold weight.
What is Da Hong Pao Tea? Why is it so expensive?
Da Hong Pao tea class in Oolong tea, one kind of the famous Wuyi Rock Tea, origin in Fujian Province, China. The climate there is mild, with an average annual temperature between 18 to 25℃, and abundant rainfall, the soil is mostly comprised of volcanic rock and shale. The original tea tree of Da Hong Pao planted at the crag of Mount Wuyi, and the particular growth environment makes it got a unique rock taste.
The yield of the original Da Hong Pao tea from the mother trees is poor, less than 500g per year in the historical record, only provide for the King consume. Due to it grow on the crag, a human is hard to pick, so folks training a monkey for tea picking, and sometimes people called the Da Hong Pao as “Monkey Pick.”
Low yield is not the main reason for the high price. In China, Da Hong Pao means a lot in history. In 1972, President Nixon visited China and established diplomatic ties. President Mao, the leader of China that time, gave about 200g original Da Hong Pao tea to Nixon as a gift. To play as a national gift in such an important historical event makes Da Hong Pao value more.
Da Hong Pao means “Big Red Robe” in Chinese, several legends about the origin of this name, here is the most approved.
In ancient China, there was a king, his mother got ill, and doctors have no idea about the disease. So he sent his son, a prince, out to find the prescription which works. In the travel, the prince found that there 3 tea trees grow on the crag, he thought that trees must be full of living power content so that they can live in such a bad environment. So he picks the leaves from those trees, go back and brew it to tea for his grandma, and the disease cured. King was so happy, bestowed a big red robe for those trees to keep warm. Every year since that, a new big red robe will be donned on those 3 trees under the King’s command, so people call them “Da Hong Pao.”
Later, it is said once a tea master cut a branch from each tea tree respectively, and planted in around, since then, the number of tea trees on the crag became 6.
Those six trees on the Tianxin Crag are considered the Da Hong Pao’s mother trees. They classified into three types – Qi Dan, Bei Dou, and Que She. In 2006, the government forbade picking from those six mother trees, for protection reasons. In 2007, 20g of Da Hong Pao tea, which was last harvested from the mother tree, was sent to the national museum of China for collection.
Da Hong Pao Tea Products
Because of the forbade picking reasons, no more original Da Hong Pao tea produce. So, is the tea sold in the market now fake? Can’t say like that.
In fact, the Da Hong Pao tea products classify in 3 types:
Mother Tree Da Hong Pao.
Made from the tea leaves which picked from the Da Hong Pao mother trees, regarded as the most authentic one, the same kind that Mao gave President Nixion. But few people know the taste of it nowadays.
Even some people storage them, they may just take it as collections and not for sale or consume. If for sale, that may be at an exorbitant price.
Pure Da Hong Pao.
We don’t have a chance to experience the taste of the authentic Da Hong Pao, but fortunately, we still can take a similar feeling.
Many years ago, tea master cut the branches from the mother trees and planted them in clonal ways in other tea plantations. Now the so-called authentic Da Hong Pao sold in the market, also made from the clone trees.
The expert said the trees clone from the Qi Dan(No.2 mother tree) has the most biological likeness, with the same genes as the original parent tree, there is little difference in quality or taste. Qi Dan tastes like Shui Xian(another kind Wuyi Rock Tea), with a fragrance like the wood after sun-blasted.
But due to the different environment of the tea plantation, the pure Da Hong Pao tea taste and quality are not the same. Especially the Qi Dan type, which is hard to plant and process, the quality is also challenging to control, resulting in low yield. So numerous tea growers prefer to plant other types of rock tea, which is relatively more profitable.
Commercial Da Hong Pao
Also known as blended Da Hong Pao. Because Da Hong Pao is too famous, the local government allows the tea manufacturer to use “Da Hong Pao” as the brand for all the Wuyi rock tea, for improving economic development. Among these commercial teas, some of them may be the other kinds of Wuyi rock tea, such as Rou Gui and Shui Xian, blended with pure Da Hong Pao; Some of them may only the different types of rock tea but branded as Da Hong Pao. That makes many people mistakenly believe that Wuyi rock tea and Da Hong Pao are the same.
You may think that blended Da Hong Pao is just the shoddy goods, that’s not right. Tea masters develop the blended Da Hong Pao, to simulate the taste of the original Da Hong Pao, or just wanted to develop better taste by blended other rock tea.
The high quality blended Da Hong Pao flavor by the tea masters meticulously, blend with various other types of tea and spice, got a better fragrance like fruit, flower, and wooden, or stronger rock aroma. Just like the cocktail, a variety of ingredients and processing ways, make the taste of blended Da Hong Pao in unlimited possibilities.
How To Make Da Hong Pao
- Prepare the teaware and tea leaves. Gaiwan is what I recommended.
- Pre-heat and clean the teaware with hot water.
- Put 5g Da Hong Pao loose tea into the Gaiwan.
- Wash the tea leaves with hot water. Da Hong Pao not tight like the Tie Guan Yin, pour the water out when it fills to 4/5
- Add hot water for brewing. It is best to add water on high so that the tea leaves will tumble in the tureen and heated fully.
- The first steeping time is about 1-2 mins, 10-30s longer each round next. Da Hong Pao can brew about 7-8 rounds, and every round brings different feelings.
- Pour out the tea after steeped, feel the charming wooden or flower aroma with your nose(depending on which tea type you choose), then sip and taste the unique rock flavor of Wuyi tea.
- How expensive is the most authentic Da Hong Pao tea? It ever cost hundreds of times than the same weight of gold. Why Da Hong Pao tea cost so much? Let’s see.