Review: American Tea Room Big Red Robe Oolong

American Tea Room, Oolong Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Thumbs up!"The light brown infusion smelled vaguely of caramel and cocoa. Never have I run into an oolong where that's the case. A Darjeeling or two with molasses-like noses, sure. Oolongs, not a one. I swear I cleaned the cup I used."
Geoff’s Teaview: 7.3/10
Other Teaviews: Shaiha gave it 9.2/10, Sophie gave it 7.8/10, Jamie gave it 9/10, Troy gave it 8/10, Chelsy gave it 7.9/10, Lynn gave it 8/10, Vanessa gave it 8.8/10, Raven gave it 8.3/10, Katie gave it 8.2/10
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americanbigredrobeoolongDa Hong Pao - or "Big Red Robe" - is a Wuyi oolong (not the crappy weight-loss kind) with an interesting legend attached. During the Ming Dynasty, it was said that the Emperor's mother was cured by this tea. Said royal momma's boy sent for "big red robes" to clothe the four tea bushes from whence the magical brew came. Hence the name. Apparently, three of the plants still exist and are greatly revered. Teas from these plants reap a million-dollar price tag. In order for the average (read: occidental) tea fancier to enjoy something similar to the original experience, shavings from the original trees have been taken and "clonal" bushes have been grown with similar properties. Great care is taken to preserving those as well.

I'm not sure what category American Tea Room's Big Red Robe offering falls into, but it certainly smells like a Wuyi-grown oolong; all fruit-smoke-earthy. The leaves are smoke-black, indicating an extensive roasting process, but not leathery to the scent. There's a bit of nuance to the nose, which I have come across in high-altitude Guanyin oolongs.

Brewing for this roasted tea seemed surprisingly light. American Tea Room recommended adhering to a 175F temperature and a brew time of two-to-three minutes. I could understand the steep length, but the lighter temperature puzzled me. I wasn't about to deviate, though. Oolongs can be touchy. I used 1 tsp. per 8oz of water for two-minutes-thirty.

The light brown infusion smelled vaguely of caramel and cocoa. Never have I run into an oolong where that's the case. A Darjeeling or two with molasses-like noses, sure. Oolongs, not a one. I swear I cleaned the cup I used. The taste was less appealing than the aroma, however. By oolong standards, it was pleasant enough - and did possess that berry-ish tinge from the dry batch. Lacking was, and I can't believe I'm about to say this, the smoky flavor. I wanted at least a little smoke. What is odd is that I usually don't like oolongs for exactly that reason. That said, I will give credit where it's due, it's a damn smooth drink. As oxidized as the leaves looked, I wasn't tasting tannins at all. Sure, it was earthy, but it didn't feel like burnt leather on the tongue. Not my favorite, but still good.

I might not lay down a red robe for the tea bush it came from, but maybe a pair of plaid pajamas. What? I like plaid.

Special Offer! Free shipping on all purchases over $50 from AmericanTeaRoom.com.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff
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