The Legend of Big Red Robe
One of the more famous of the oolong teas from China’s Wuyi Mountains is Da Hong Pao or Big Red Robe tea. This tea is also sometimes called Royal Red Robe and it is one of the most highly oxidized oolong teas.
One of my favorite things about Chinese teas are the amazing legends that spring up around the names. I will definitely try to share some of the most interesting with you in future blog posts. Today I wanted to start with Da Hong Pao since there are actually FOUR legends as to how the tea was named.
Legend 1: High in the rocks of the Wuyi Mountains grew four beautiful tea trees. The leaves plucked from these trees were used to make this very special tea. The Emperor was in love with this amazing tea so he ordered that the trees be provided with beautiful red robes that would protect them during colder weather.
Legend 2: Because the trees used to make this tea grew in such a challenging location, monkeys were sent to pick the leaves. The monkeys were dressed in red robes.
Legend 3: A young scholar was living a life with very little money to eat, and certainly not enough money to purchase tea. On his way to school he would pick leaves from these Wuyi Mountain trees to make his tea. When he completed his Imperial Examinations and received honors he removed his red robe and adorned the trees with it on his way home. This was his way of paying tribute to the trees for helping him complete his studies successfully.
Legend 4: The Emperor’s mother became very ill. Tea made from these rock tea trees helped bring her back to health. The Emperor was so grateful that he ensured that the trees had red robes as thanks.
Two of the original Da Hong Pao trees still survive today. Most of the leaves used to make this important tea are from the “children” and “grandchildren” of the original trees.