2006 Aged Da Hong Pao, and The Meaning of Life
Before I start, I wanted to first and foremost thank the tea community (and you, the reader) for the amount of out-pouring love and support that I received when diagnosed with Covid. While my journey from recovery has been lengthy, I’m very lucky and fortunate that so many of you sent me messages of encouragement and love. However, now that my taste is (finally) back, I’m eager to get started on this aged Da Hong Pao brick by Maunamoku Tea!
This tea-brick of Da Hong Pao (also known as ‘Big Red Robe’) is aged from 2006, and Maunamoku claims it was made by tea-legend Zhang Tianfu, who unfortunately, passed away in 2017. So I must ask, does this tea really hold up to the name of Zhang Tianfu? Let’s find out!
Dimensions: 5g of tea for a 75ml vessel
Temperature: 212ºf (boil)
Price: $200 per brick
Steeps 1- 7
With the first infusion, this tea’s body slowly opened up to the clean and crisp earthy notes of fruit and wood. After another steep, this tea’s body quickly expanded with a velvety-smooth texture that illuminated the nutty notes of wood, and faint sweet fruit that were stored in a humid basement. To add, at the third infusion, this tea’s compression quickly fell apart and fully opened up, making this tea’s lovely subtle notes quickly turning into immediate strength — up to the eighth infusion.
Steeps 8 - 12
With this tea’s woody-velvety notes quickly smoothing out, the infusions quickly made the notes fade further apart. With the near-instant explosion of flavor from the de-compression of this tea’s leaves from earlier, the ‘peak’ quickly tailed off — causing me to make large jumps in infusion time to keep up with the diminishing notes. However, despite so, each sip towards the end of the session kept becoming smoother and smoother. With the tea quickly losing strength, however, a faint sweetness quickly coated all over the base of the tongue that mixed with the basement-like earthy quality. With that, by the twelfth steep (also, the fifteen-minute infusion), I re-boiled this tea for a final send-off. With one last drop, this tea’s leaves were spent…
To start, this tea definitely possessed qualities of a tea that indicated that it’s been aged for a period of time. The aging in question is something that I draw reference from with other oolongs that have also been aged. With the clear and evident proof of aging, this tea’s soup was surprisingly clean and clear. To add, this tea was surprisingly flavorful. However, despite being flavorful, it quickly died-off towards the later steeps.
Overall, this was one incredible session that I’m fortunate enough to have. As I drank this tea that had a decomposed and aged profile to it , and for how much clarity was within this tea’s leaves, I can say that this session was a memorable one. I can also say that there’s something special about drinking something that’s aged in the way that this tea was. While I sipped on this tea I asked myself, “I wonder what memories I can help pass on through tea, and who exactly will be imagining a past they never knew while drinking a tea that I had connection with?”
While I was fortunate enough to recover from Covid, and despite my current health issues from the virus, it helps give me perspective with the ‘bigger picture’ of life. As I drank this tea, I’m immediately thrown into a time-machine and experiencing the lives, the history, and the passions of the people who previously handled this tea, and get to bring-to-life their forgotten past with each infusion. While I wonder what the people were like who drank this tea years ago before me, I also wondered, what will you think of me long after I’m gone and you read this blog and read my thoughts?
Maybe, just maybe, we can all live another day in a future timeline that hasn’t been lived yet. For that, I’m grateful for this experience with this beautiful tea, and grateful to be sharing this experience with you…