Mineral, a little smoky, sometimes spicy. The taste and the name (it loosely translates to Iron Monk) conjures up images of temples nestled high up in mountains, shrouded in mist. This pairs really nicely with steak. It’s also a good choice during work when everyone else is running around - this is a very relaxing tea.
The first impression from this tea is actually one of iron. That seems gross, but it’s actually quite pleasant. Successive brews have less iron and more of a spicy and mineral taste. Imagine drinking this tea on a cold rainy day, listening to the rain against the window.
Not a beginner type of tea. Very earthy, which can taste like licking rocks and I know that doesn't sound like a pleasant taste. I brewed this in my mineral rich pot and nearly knocked myself out because the mineral taste was so enhanced. So I tried it in a porcelain gaiwan, which brought out those floral notes. I think you have to be careful with your teapot and brewing method with this.
While purchasing other tea, I got a sample of da hong pao. This particular oolong is a yancha. "Yancha" translates to "rock tea," and the Wuyi region is famous for them. These teas are known as rock teas because of the high mineral content in the soil which gets pulled into the tea plants. It results in a very distinctive flavor, and that flavor is why da hong pao and other yanchas are so prized.
I was eager to try it out so I did at work by bowl-brewing it (basically, you get a large bowl like a matcha bowl, put the tea in there and drink it as it brews). That was a mistake - it was floating around in the bowl and it was hard to drink - a rolled oolong is better with bowl brewing. Chalk one up to experience! I next tried a porcelain gaiwan. This was much better - a nice tea to enjoy at the office. Really chill. I got home after work and used my clay pot dedicated to brewing Wuyi teas. MAGIC. A woodsy, almost pleasant leathery, slightly floral smell. A spicy, mineral taste fading to what I can only describe as a mellow pretzel. Very complex, and even more relaxing.
Definitely not for those who are used to flavored teas - if you are, and you want to try more traditional Chinese or Japanese teas, I suggest you work your way up to yanchas. This is something you want dedicated brewing tools for, and time to savor.
I don’t really care for the first waft of the scent after the brew...noticed the mineral notes that I don’t really care for....almost like a rock/earth scent. After awhile it develops to a more floral scent.