First Taste: 2009 Imperial Da Hong Pao

This is an attractive tea with greenish black leaves and red-brown stems. It infuses to an orange-red liquor. There's initially a pronounced charcoal aroma, suggesting you want to be sure to rinse the tea well prior to infusing to help balance the flavors.

In the cup it has a sweet, floral aroma with caramelized notes that develop when abundant sap in the leaves is exposed to the direct heat of firing. This is a complex and multidimensional tea that evolves through several infusions, however, the florals never overpower, and the charcoal never totally goes away. The texture in the mouth is substantial without being chewy and the lingering aftertaste is sweet with a just a hint of charcoal.

Da Hong Pao (sometimes known in English as Big Red Robe) is the most famous of all the 100+ yan cha varieties, and we're proud enough of our 2009 selection to give it the coveted Imperial designation. Try it and we think you'll agree, this legendary tea is like a tea tour of Wu Yi Shan in a cup, as you can discover flavors, aroma, and intriguing complexities of many individual yan cha varieties in this single extraordinary tea. It's highly recommended to brew this tea in an yi xing teapot with plenty of leaves, very hot water, and ample steeping time. Now available in our online store; coming to the teahouses by the end of the week.