Musings, Oolong Tea, Today's Tea, Yancha

The Mother Trees of Da Hong Pao

On the cliffs of Jiu Long Yu, remain the last 6 “Mother Trees” from which Da Hong Pao was once made. Since 2006, the Wuyi City Government banned the private harvesting of leaves from these six trees. in the same year they also insured the trees for the princely sum of 100 Million CNY. To manage demand for tea made from these trees genetics, cuttings were taken and carefully cultivated, leading to the development of the “Qi Dan” cultivar. Since then many more cultivars have been propagated and the tea’s quality is very much related to the terroir of where these tea trees are grown.

Today, much of the Da Hong Pao Teas, available in the market, are “commodity” teas made from a blend of Rou Gui and/or Shui Xian cultivars as a base, then blended with Qidan and other Wuyi cultivars: such as Tie Luo Han, Huang Guanyin, Qizhong, etc.; depending on each Tea Master’s individual recipe(s). Accordingly, it is said that a Da Hong Pao “blend” should be greater than the sum of its parts, exhibiting layers of complex and pleasing flavours, rather than the singular characteristics of any particular tea tree cultivar.

The Da Hong Pao mother trees should not be confused with the Four Famous Tea Bushes, “Si Da Ming Cong” which include: Da Hong Pao – Big Red Robe, Shi Jin Gui – Golden Water Turtle, Tie Luo Han – Iron Arhat, and Bai Ji Guan – White Cockscomb; for which many Wuyi Yanchas – Rock Teas, are made from and named.