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2023 Big Red Robe Rock Oolong

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The return of our most classic and historically favored offering from the Yue family, expect freshly baked cinnamon raisin oatmeal cookie nostalgia to greet you as the first steamy aromatics waft your way.  Plenty of dignified vegetality left unmasked to complement the light roast unfurls with each brew.  This kind of super light roasting take on a classic yancha style has become a bit trendy recently, and not for reasons left unsubstantiated.

Big Red Robe is the translation of 大红袍 Dà Hóng Páo, the most famous of all Wuyi rock teas, and the keystone of the 四大名丛 Sì Dà Míng Cóng, the 4 great bushes of Wuyi.  The cultivar of this particular varietal is Orchid Fragrance Da Hong Pao smaller leaf variety 兰花香大红袍小品种, a choice, hybridized sub cultivar derived from Da Hong Pao. The smaller delicate leaf lends itself well to just a light roast 轻火 qīng huǒ “light fire” roast and shines bright and balanced with this minimal treatment.

This is premier, fun, quality, intoxicating, modern 岩茶 yánchá.  For those suited towards more classic rock teas with a medium roast profile on less of a recently invented sub cultivar experience, try 铁罗汉 Tiě Luó Hàn Iron Arhat, or our 老丛水仙 Lǎo Cóng Shuǐ Xiān aka Old Bush Shui Xian.

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The Yue Family

The Yue family is our connection to well crafted and unpretentious 岩茶 yánchá or rock oolong.  These remarkable teas hail from the Wuyi Mountains, the site of a UNESCO world heritage site that features stunning (previously volcanic) mountain crags that stand as a kingdom above lush forests, valleys, rivers, and springs.  The mineral profile and acidity in these rocks and soil brings to life brilliant tea cultivars fostered for generations.  While the scenic park's teas demand the highest prices, the price of admission to this club has become more elitist over the years.  Incredible rock oolong in similar and proximal environs isn't impossible to be found upon careful searching.

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photo taken during our 2019 adventures to the area

During our latest trip to Wuyishan, we forged relations with the Yue family, an established greater Wuyi area tea family that tends to 8 acres of tea gardens just outside the Wuyishan Forest Park 森林公园 武夷山, another preserve located upstream just west of the more famous scenic area; north of Tongmu village. The Wuyishan Forest Park hosts a rich ecosystem of rare species of flora and fauna, old-growth forests, waterfalls, and shares the same volcanic mountain range as the scenic area, sitting at a similar elevation.AfterlightImage 6

When asked about the specifics of their location and its terroir, they respond:

We are located at an altitude of 457 meters in 山口自然村 Shānkǒu Natural Village, with 吴三地 Wu Sandi to the west, located on the windward slope of the Wuyi Mountains, with sufficient precipitation, coupled with dense vegetation, sufficient evaporation, and high humidity. Heavy, readily forming clouds with mist create a warm and humid semi-shady environment with more scattered light suitable for the growth of tea trees. In addition, the soil in the mountain pass is weathered gravel suitable for the growth of tea trees. The soil has good permeability and high mineral content, which makes the growth of tea trees reach an ideal level.

In an industry fraught with newcomers claiming mastery of marketable + popular styles after just a handful of years, the Yue family has been honing their yancha craft for 3 generations. Yue Jun’s grandmother was the first to begin growing and processing tea in the township of 洋庄 Yángzhuāng. It was her who planted their original 奇丹 Qídān Da Hong Pao bushes, their Old Bush Shui Xian, as well as others.

Also noteworty is that the Yue family's work in Tea has been matrilineal, a line of female "tea bosses" in an industry dominated by good ol boys.  Tea in Chinese society might be as old school as you can get, and deals can often be colored by a distinct machismo, a kind of patriarchal old guard influence that can seem inextricable from the eastern tea table, so much so that working with the Yue family is always refreshing.

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(2 customer reviews)

3 comments on “2023 Big Red Robe Rock Oolong”

    1. I should mention that I brewed this at 7g/100ml 210F°, 8 seconds for the first 3 brews, then added 3 seconds. I accidentally brewed this again for 25 seconds on the first infusion and it was awful.

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