Hey there Teacups! I’m back today with another Let’s Talk Tea post and this time around I’m going to be reviewing The California Tea House’s – Big Red Robe (Oolong). I’m so excited to be able to post again, so many things have gotten in the way of me posting recently and I’m doing my best to keep on top of my schedule but sometimes things just get in the way especially dealing with chronic migraine, I get no warning of when they are going to start out of nowhere and when they do I can’t work on anything so I had to delay all of my planned posts. I started some new medication recently though and hopefully unlike all of the other I’ve tried, this one might actually help, so who knows I might be able to go a week without having to redo my whole posting plan.
Let’s get back to today’s post for now though shall we, as you all know it wasn’t too long ago that I tried a Golden Monkey black tea from The California Tea House and if you’ve read my review you’ll know that I loved it, so ever since I’ve been really excited to try another traditional tea from them to see whether or not I was going to enjoy this Oolong more than the Golden Monkey black tea I tried. Oolong has very quickly become one of my favourite varieties of tea so I was intrigued to see whether this one was going to take the place of any other within my top 5.
Here’s what The California Tea House have to say about this tea over on their website: ”Organic Big Red Robe oolong tea, also known as Da Hong Pao, is the artisan Oolong of California Tea House’s Oolong collection. It is the finest grade of Chinese Oolong anywhere, hand picked for perfect colour modelling and complexion. If you are familiar with Oolong, once you have tried Big Red Robe loose leaf tea, we are convinced you will recognize the difference in quality, taste and aroma to any other. Our Organic Big Red Robe Oolong is so rich, it can be infused (or steeped) a handful of times. Like having wine from different levels of the same barrel, each new cup reveals a new layer of this tea’s complexity. Most of our customers have said they believe the 2nd round of infusion on the same leaves bring out the best flavour.”
Steep 1-2 teaspoons of Big Red Robe Oolong per each cup for about 3 to 4 minutes in mineral water at about 190oF and save the tea leaves for round 2 and 3!
Tea Tasting Notes
For this tasting session I used 90 freshly filtered water, My 250ml gaiwan and 7.5g of the loose leaf, I should have probably round it up to 8g but I have found that sometimes that can often be too much for me.
Steep 1: Malt, chocolate, subtle hazelnut, smooth, not at all astringent, slight dryness, aroma had a touch of acidity like the kind you find in plums and a floral orchid fragrance. It’s a rather brisk tea, definitely has a touch of minerality to it along with an ever so slight metallic underpinning in the aftertaste.
Steep 2: Sweeter than the first steep, again notes of malt, hazelnuts, chestnuts (toasted) and chocolate. Very smooth in texture. Still quite a floral (orchid) aroma which does some through a small amount in the after taste. Slightly fruity like plums in aroma and taste but taste wise its a subtle note. Again that touch of minerality was present in this steep which I wasn’t surprised about but I don’t think this would be a Da Hong Pao without that.
Steep 3: Sweeter aroma but still floral, very similar in taste to the previous steeps. Little more nutty, (roasted hazelnut and chestnut), malty, fried rice with butter, smooth and only ever so slightly drying. I think I knew going into this that I was going to love this tea but I didn’t expect it to be as good as it is. Flavour profiles like this are my absolute favourite there’s just something so comforting about them.
Steep 4 was so similar to steep three that I thought it would’ve better to pair them together rather than writing out the notes again because they were pretty much identical.
Steep 5: Paired very well with vegan fried chicken and hash browns. I didn’t intend to eat my lunch during the tasting session but it went on longer than I expected so I carried on steeping throughout my lunch and sipped this alongside. Surprisingly it pairs really well so it was definitely a happy accident. It seems to make it almost taste sweeter and definitely did shift a few of the notes in this flavour profile. It also brought a bit more of a vegetal note out which I wasn’t expecting
After steep 5 I did two more steeps making the tasting session 7 steeps long in total. Looking back I definitely would stop at either 5 or 6 steeps with this tea prepared this way. By steep 7 it was just lacking the depth that the previous steeps had. Overall though I really did enjoy this tea, that wasn’t really a huge surprise to me though as I do love Wuyi Rock Oolong. Is it the best one I have ever had? No it’s not, but it still a good quality tea with a deep and multi layered flavour profile and gets a high rating from me because of that. If you are a fan of teas like this, or you are wanting to try your very first one I recommend trying out this tea, I definitely think you’ll have a great time with it. I’ve since steeped this western style and works that way to, so if you aren’t a Gongfu fan don’t be put off trying this tea.
Overall Teacup Rating: 5/5
If you want to find out more about The California Tea House and purchase some of this tea to try for yourself, you can do both here. As always if you have any questions at all either stick them in the comments or send them to me on Twitter/Instagram @teaisawishblog and I’ll answer them all as soon as I can.
Speak to you all again soon. Happy Steeping – Kimberley
*The tea featured in this post was gifted to me for the purpose of this review. All opinions are my own and have not been paid for*