Tea is the second most popular drink after water, so it is not surprising that there are thousands of tea types. But have you ever wondered what the most expensive tea is? The most expensive tea — Da Hong Pao, is sold only at auctions and costs as much as $1 million per kg. Da Hong Pao has a lot of legends and mysteries around it.
Let’s find out what kind of tea is Da Hong Pao, why it is so expensive, what it tastes like, and what are the benefits of drinking Da Hong Pao tea.
What kind of tea is Da Hong Pao? Da Hong Pao became famous during the reign of the Zinn dynasty; it grows in China in the Fujian province, only near the Tianxin monastery. Da Hong Pao is one of the most famous varieties of Chinese tea and has an earthy, fruity flavor with hints of molasses. It is the most expensive tea in the world.
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Da Hong Pao Tea Ultimate Guide: Price, Taste, Nutrition, History
What is Da Hong Pao tea made of? Da Hong Pao is a highly fermented cliff oolong tea growing in the northwest of Fujian province, in the Wuyi Mountains. Wuyishan cliff tea bushes are tree-like shrubs with densely growing branches and dark green oval wide leaves with slightly pointed and hanging tips.
Among all elite teas, the highest place is occupied by a medium fermentation cliff oolong called Da Hong Pao, which translates as “Big Red Robe.” The price of this royal tea starts from 680 thousand dollars per kilogram and sometimes reaches more than 1 million dollars.
It is not surprising that Da Hong Pao is available only to a select few: the “red robe” is more than 30 times more expensive than gold. But, of course, we are talking only about the original since in the Fujian province, where this tea is grown and produced, its analogs can be purchased for $ 100 per kilogram.
The real Da Hong Pao is considered only the one collected from the so-called “mother” bushes (those from which this tea began to be collected 4 centuries ago). And now, there are only six of these bushes left. According to the roughest estimates, only 400 grams of Da Hong Pao is collected per year.
The last official sale of the original Da Hong Pao took place over 10 years ago. From that moment on, the entire harvest of the legendary tea is carefully taken for storage in state storehouses and served only to high-ranking officials.
Da Hong Pao Price
Original Da Hong Pao is sold only at auctions, and its price varies from $680,000 to $1,200,000. Da Hong Pao is 30 times more expensive than gold, and the price per gram can reach $2,000. You can buy Wuyishan Da Hong Pao for $100 per 100g at local stores or online.
Why is Da Hong Pao so expensive? Da Hong Pao is so expensive as only 400 grams of leaves are harvested each year. It has grown only in Fujian province only, near the Tianxin monastery, for 4 centuries. Now the entire harvest of Da Hong Pao is served exclusively to high-ranking officials and sold at auctions for at least $700,000/kg.
Six Da Hong Pao bushes, of course, have long been in possession of the state, but other similar bushes grow in Fujian province. At the end of the 20th century, the Chinese government allowed the name Da Hong Pao to be given to any oolong grown on the cliffs of this region. In particular, the varieties from Wuyishan have gained wide popularity and are sold at $100-$500 per kg.
The difference will be only in the raw materials. Still, the Chinese tea masters carefully preserve the technology: during the processing, the leaves must go through several stages of preparation – withering, shaking, heating, twisting, and drying over coals. The correct sequence of actions ensures the appearance in the tea shops of Wuyishan of an almost authentic Da Hong Pao, dark brown tea with green and burgundy splashes.
In terms of taste, this oolong is comparable to a well-aged wine and has a large bouquet of various shades and notes. It is believed to give mental clarity and purity.
The reason why Da Hong Pao is so expensive is not only its taste but also its uniqueness. For 350 years, leaves have been harvested from just six bushes growing near Tian Xin Monastery. About ten years ago, the last crop harvested from ancient plants was placed in a tea museum in Hangzhou, and since then, harvesting has been banned. But you can still try the most expensive tea, although it will not be the leaves from the legendary bushes but from the shoots propagated from them.
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Da Hong Pao Taste
Da Hong Pao has a balanced spicy, earthy flavor with notes of roasted nuts, brown sugar, and stone fruit. It has slight hints of sweet tobacco, smoke, and a bright, woody aroma. Da Hong Pao’s taste is reminiscent of well-aged wine with various spices, molasses, and peaty notes.
It is said that Da Hong Pao’s bright taste and deep aroma are beyond description. After all, they shimmer in hundreds of different shades. Tea masters have tried to identify the leading notes:
Aroma. The aroma is nutty, chocolate, and spicy. Most craftsmen found in it subtle notes of vanilla, fruit, toasted nuts, and freshness. Others identified the smell of dried fruit, old wine, or toasted brown bread.
Taste. The taste is soft caramel and, at the same time, tart. Astringency is light and pleasant, so the drink does not taste bitter. The oolong also has rich notes of caramel, toffee, vanilla, and fruit. As the tea cools down, it becomes even more soft and sweet and tastes more fruity.
Aftertaste. The aftertaste is soft, delicate, sweet, spicy, and refreshing at the same time. Tea seems to envelop and leaves behind a persistent aftertaste.
Deciphering Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea
Tea connoisseurs claim that Da Hong Pao‘s taste and aroma changes dramatically with each brew. This creates the feeling that you are drinking a completely new type of tea.
People describe Da Hong Pao’s taste differently, from clear fruity notes to an unexpected caramel flavor. The taste of Da Hong Pao will not leave anyone indifferent, thanks to the amazing combination of ancient wine and exotic fruits. After the first sips of Da Hong Pao tea, one gets the feeling that the light bitterness is replaced by the aroma of fruit and wine. The effect of the tea is rather mild, a little pacifying, but at the same time, it clarifies the mind and gives concentration.
Color, flavor, and aroma characteristics will vary depending on where it was harvested and the level of roasting. The longer the final heating, the more intense the smell becomes and the stronger the chocolate and caramel sweetness is felt.
Da Hong Pao is a very rich, tart, soft drink with a unique flavor that changes from one brew to another. Connoisseurs claim that one cup of this oolong can contain 10 different notes. When you try Da Hong Pao for the first time, after taking a sip, you will taste some sweetness that arises immediately after and not during drinking.
Da Hong Pao Health Benefits
Da Hong Pao is healthy as it is rich in tannin, iodine, manganese, selenium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, calcium and magnesium, and vitamins B1, B3, B6, B12, C, D, E, K. It strengthens the immune system, lowers cholesterol, improves the condition of the skin and hair, and slows down aging.
Da Hong Pao tea benefits include:
- Lowers cholesterol levels
- Strengthens gums and teeth
- Promotes fat burning and improves metabolism
- Normalizes the immune system
- Improves immune system
- Relieves fatigue and improves mood
- Has a calming effect on the nervous system, fights depression and stress
- Improves the work of the cardiovascular system
- Prevents atherosclerosis
- Improves the condition of hair and skin
- Removes toxins and detoxifies the body
- Resists the appearance of blood clots and cancer cells
- Good for weight loss
Da Hong Pao has a slightly intoxicating effect, which is associated with the appearance of pleasant freedom in the body, a feeling of joy, and a desire to communicate. At the same time, Da Hong Pao is perfect for drinking in the morning since it fills the body with energy, clarifies consciousness. Its action is mostly aimed at achieving clarity of mind rather than encouraging vigorous activity, which is promoted by coffee. Tea “intoxication” lasts quite a long time, even after drinking tea. It is recommended to drink Da Hong Pao during a friendly conversation in a calm, peaceful atmosphere.
Da Hong Pao contains a large number of trace elements and vitamins: polyphenol compounds, caffeine, as well as vitamins K, D, B12, C, B1, B6, B3, B1, E iron, phosphorus, phosphorus, selenium, magnesium, iodine, zinc, manganese, etc. The Big Red Robe helps to cleanse the body and remove toxins.
The substances contained in tea (flavonoids) help the rejection of dead cells from the surface of the skin and promote the appearance of new young cells, which maintains good skin condition, reduces wrinkles, and promotes rejuvenation. With regular consumption of Da Hong Pao tea, you lose weight as polyphenol compounds contained in oolong tea break down and remove fat from the body.
Brewing Da Hong Pao
Earthenware or porcelain dishes are best for brewing Da Hong Pao.
To brew Da Hong Pao, we need:
Da Hong Pao History
The recipe of the real Da Hong Pao is over 6 centuries old. After all, the first mention of a drink made from tea leaves from the Wuyi mountains dates back to 1385. The original name for Oolong was Qi Dan. It is believed that this name was associated with the purple-red color of the kidneys.
However, the history of the tea itself is 300 years older than its official name. Indeed, according to the chronicles, tea was renamed Da Hong Pao only in 1419. Soon the drink began to be called “the ancestor of ten thousand teas,” and its fame spread throughout China. The fame of tea swept through the centuries. In 1974, the great Mao presented a bag of 200 grams of tea to US President Nixon. Such a gift was already considered invaluable in those years.
To date, only 6 tea bushes of this variety have survived in the Wuyi Mountains. The place where they grow is called the “Lair of the Nine Dragons.” Every year, 400 grams of tea was collected from the mother bushes, which were immediately transferred to the state storage. Part of the stock was sold at annual tea auctions in Hong Kong and Guangzhou.
In 2006, the collection of oolong in the “Lair of Dragons” was stopped. The remains of rare tea are kept in museums and private collections. Therefore, it is not possible to buy Da Hong Pao these days. The last time tea was sold at auction in the same 2006 for half a million dollars. However, the descendants of 6 sacred bushes exist in the province to this day. According to a special government decree, almost all oolongs, except for four varieties, from the Wuyi mountains can be sold under the Da Hong Pao brand.
Da Hong Pao Legends and Myths
Translated from Chinese, Da Hong Pao (Chinese 大 红袍, pinyin dàhóngpáo) means “Big red robe.” The origin of the name is shrouded in a mass of myths and legends. Here are some of them:
The legend about the student. In the 14th century, a student went to take exams but suddenly passed out. The monks made tea and healed the young man. Soon the young man took up a high position, which was supposed to wear a wide red robe. In gratitude for his salvation, the young man presented the monk with the robe he had received. However, the minister rejected the gift. Then the dignitary covered the tea bushes with a robe, thanks to which he recovered.
The legend of the emperor’s mother. The mother of one of the rulers of the Celestial Empire was seriously ill. Even doctors and healers were powerless in the face of adversity. Then the monks sent the unique tea to the palace. After drinking the oolong from the Wuyi Mountains, the woman was completely healed. In gratitude for the healing of his mother, the emperor ordered tea bushes to be dressed in bright red fabrics to protect the plant from frost.
The legend of the monkeys. According to one of the beliefs, red robes were worn by specially trained monkeys who collected tea in the highlands. Thanks to their bright attire, the animals could be followed from afar.
Only the legend about the student turned out to be true. The legend is confirmed by the historical records of 1385 of the Wishan Monastery of Tian Xin Yun Le Chan Si “(天 心 永乐 禅寺) -” Chan Monastery of Heavenly Heart and Eternal Joy.”