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Da Hong Pao

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Da Hong Pao
Da Hong Pao

Dà Hóng Páo (大红袍|p=dàhóng páo|l=Big Red Robe) is a prestigious Wuyi oolong tea. It is a premium variety of the Wu Yi Yan Cha (武夷岩茶, Wuyi Rock Tea) group of oolong. According to legend, the mother of a Ming Dynasty emperor was cured of an illness by a certain tea, and that emperor sent great red robes to clothe the four bushes from which that tea originated. Three of these original bushes, growing on a rock on Mount Wuyi and reportedly dates back to the Song Dynasty, still survive today and are highly venerated. Known for its highly expensive value, Da Hong Pao can sell up to 30,000 US dollars per kilogram.

One (possibly apocryphal) story claims that in 1972, US President Nixon received 50g of Dà Hóng Páo, at the estimated cost of 250,000 US Dollars in 2011 money.

In recent years, a number of companies have invested in preserving the interest in this tea and other so-called "artisan" teas, which typically are of very high quality and have rich histories as is true with Da Hong Pao. These have an initially high cost of production (and typically are only considered authentic when grown in their place of origin), but, as they have quickly become popular in Western countries, prized selections of the tea are available each year, with quality being consistent due to the increased popularity of tea.

Cuttings taken from the original plants have been used to produce similar grades of tea from genetically identical plants. Taste variations produced by processing, differences in the soil, and location of these later generation plants is used to grade the quality of various Da Hong Pao teas.

Due to its high quality, Da Hong Pao tea is usually reserved for honored guests in China.