Blog 62: The Making of Da Hong Pao
Updated: Nov 6, 2018
In our last two blogs, we’ve discussed what a Da Hong Pao product is and what the Da Hong Pao blending principles are. If you haven’t checked them out yet, we highly recommend reading these two blogs before you continue with this one. Today, let’s talk about some details of the making of Da Hong Pao products.
The key and the difficulty of blending, or Pin Pei (visit our previous blog for definition), Da Hong Pao is to make a final product that tastes fully balanced. Since Da Hong Pao products are blended with different single-variety Wuyi oolong teas (such as Rou Gui and Shui Xian, visit our previous blog for definition), the quality of the raw materials (single-variety teas) becomes the No.1 most important thing in the making of Da Hong Pao. The screen and the proportioning before the blending lays the foundation for a successful Da Hong Pao product.
In our last blog, we briefly mentioned that all single-variety Wuyi oolong teas need to share similar harvest time, place of origin and processing techniques to be considered for a Da Hong Pao. Since all single-variety teas need to be processed first, it leads to a question: when do we start the blending process? Is it at the beginning of the harvest season? Or we need to wait until all single-variety teas are processed?
The honest answer is that it all depends on the tea maker/blend master. Typically, the selecting process for Da Hong Pao begins when single-variety teas are half-processed (see previous blogs for details). At this stage, we also need to consider the weather and the time during the harvest. Blend masters can determine the similarity between different varieties of teas. After the first selecting stage, blend masters would lightly roast selected teas to stabilize the taste of mixed teas. Then, blend masters would start testing various mixture ratios until the taste meets the expectation. Finally, a determined mixture ratio is applied to the mass production of a Da Hong Pao product.
However, the blending process above only concludes about 1/3 of the blending process. What we’ve discussed is only the blending among new teas. The taste and the aroma of new teas can be quite unstable. Tea makers and blend masters usually need to do more adjustments and re-roasts before they sell. To make a more balanced Da Hong Pao products, blend masters employ a technique that blend fresh and aged tea together. Commonly, among all Da Hong Pao products, we can find products that consist of only fresh teas, only aged teas or a blend of fresh and aged teas.
If a blend master chooses aged teas for a Da Hong Pao product, the final product would have a quite consistent taste and aroma. However, the “freshness” in the taste is usually missing in this combination. If there’s a gap in years aged, the final taste would have a noticeable “gap” too. Blending aged teas together is usually for inventory control purposes. There aren’t many good quality Da Hong Pao blends use aged teas.
More experienced and respected blend masters would pair fresh teas with aged teas. The collaboration between the fresh and the aged creates a more layered, smooth tea experience. The final flavor would be more playful and complex. However, one thing worths mentioning is that the most premium quality fresh teas are rarely chosen to be blended with aged teas.
Making a Da Hong Pao product requires tea masters/blend masters to have a very comprehensive understanding of all Wuyi oolong teas. In recent years, the lack of information about the making of Da Hong Pao causes many confusions, and these confusions lead to some bizarre and wrong introductions to Da Hong Pao products. We hope our blogs about Da Hong Pao can help you truly understand Da Hong Pao as a tea product.
We hope you enjoyed today’s blog. As always, if you have questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, tweet us @valleybrooktea or email the author directly at email@example.com. Please also follow us on Instagram @valleybrooktea and join our mail list to get our daily tea updates and our latest promotions!