Tea review: Jeeves & Jericho’s Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao)

This month’s tea review is a very special one. Having a known weakness for Oolong, it didn’t take much for my husband to convince me to buy Da Hong Pao on our most recent visit to Jeeves & Jericho, a local tea blender from our town, Witney.

I’d never tried it before but the description of ‘ripe apricot and spice with a slight smoky aftertaste’ sounded intriguing. I must preface this by saying that I’m not a huge fan of smoked teas, but I go giddy for an Oolong so my inner tea explorer was intrigued.

How was it?

Dry leaves: the dry leaves are beautifully long and rolled and almost black. The scent reminds me of the sea, a bit like fresh shellfish and seaweed. But there is also a scent of smoked wood in the background.

Big red robe tea leaves dry

Water temperature: 100 degrees according to the instructions. Quite high for an Oolong but I think it can handle it.

Amount: 2g or a teaspoon per cup.

Time to brew: 3 minutes.

Wet leaves: after brewing, the scent has a more intense smokiness almost like roasted coffee beans and the background is a bit like damp leaves. Not in a disgusting way, but in an autumnal-freshly-after-the-rain way. As you can see from the picture, they haven’t fully opened up after a 3 minute brew so they’re definitely good to go for a second steep.

Big red robe tea leaves wet

Brew: the actual tea is an absolute delight! There is a finesse in the smoky flavour that I didn’t expect from the scent. It’s elegant and smooth like you would expect from an Oolong but it has the body and depth of flavour of a black tea. In fact, you could be forgiven in thinking it’s a black tea if you tasted it blind.

Big red robe tea

You’ll like if you like: Russian Caravan or Ti Kuan Yin (dark Oolong)

Ready to try it?

As you can tell from my review, it didn’t really match the tasting notes from Jeeves & Jericho, but I think that’s why it’s important to use your own words and enjoy your own experience. I don’t claim to be a professional, but I would like to think I can tempt you to try something new. I have definitely been delighted and surprised with this purchase and I think it’s fast becoming one of my favourites, even though I’m not usually a fan of smoked teas!

So if you’re tempted, let me know what you can smell and taste by tagging me @whiteduckling on Twitter and Instagram.

One thing I can assure you is that even though the price seems rather on the steep side at £12 per 50g, the quality comes of Jeeves & Jericho’s Big Red Robe in bundles! And it only gets better with multiple steeps.

Until next time,

Anca

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