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Da Hong Pao: Legendary Tea

30 January 2019

at 17:35 by Social

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Harvested and produced in the Wuyi Mountains (Fujian, China), Da Hong Pao tea is considered by many aficionados to be one of the most prestigious in the world. Its reputation is such that some vintages are sold at higher prices than their weight in gold. As is the case with many famous Chinese teas, Da Hong Pao finds its origins in a myth. Legend says that during the Ming Dynasty, a very important character (some talk about the Emperor’s mother, other about the Emperor himself) was cured of a rare disease by drinking an infusion made from leaves growing on bare rock in the heart of the Wuyi Mountains. Thankful for this miracle, the Emperor sends big red robes to cover the plants where the leaves come from. The name Da Hong Pao means « Big Red Robe » and references the blankets used still today to cover the surviving bushes (dated from the Song Dynasty) in the Wuyishan National Park. Today, these bushes are protected as part of the country’s important cultural and patrimonial heritage and their use is forbidden. In 2002 their last harvested leaves were sold, 20g were bought by a private buyer for 180 000 yuan (35 000 $).

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On today’s market

The legend, however, is not the only source of such reputation. The whole region presents perfect geographical and climatic conditions for growing tea: the soil is rich in minerals and irrigation comes naturally from the mountain streams flowing down the limestone gorges. Wanting to take advantage of the name but halted by the impossibility to harvest the original bushes themselves, farmers from Wuyi region tried transplanting cuttings from these trees elsewhere in the park. Cultivation of these cuttings proved difficult and the results were rather disappointing. For the name to still remain alive today however, its meaning had to shift from botanical descendants to the particular type of tea it produces: a dark roasted wulong with rich and complex taste. Quickly, the market’s demand brought producers to name Da Hong Pao many different teas from Wuyi produced in that style. In 2007, the Research Center tried to control the appellation by demanding that production exclusively comes from Qi Dan cultivar, but pressure from the market was too high and in reality, the name designates various recipes of cultivar blends kept jealously secret by their producers. Today, with as many different Da Hong Pao as there are producers of this prestigious tea, the quality of the tea itself varies greatly from one to another according to the garden’s location, richness of the soil, the finesse of plucking and the ability to transform the leaves.

Mr. Wu Yong Peng

Our Da Hong Pao this year comes from Mr. Wu Yong Peng. His recipe is a mix of 6 different cultivars (Rou Gui, Huang Guan Yin, Qi Lan, Mei Zhan, Shui Xian and Bai Rui Xiang). The trees themselves, averaging 15 years old, grow on the mountainside neighboring Wuyishan National Park. This slight dislocation, far from diminishing the tea’s quality, allows us to bypass the crowded speculative markets and offer a product of exceptional quality at a more than decent price. To produce his Da Hong Pao, Mr. Wu roasts twice every cultivar separately before blending and roasting for a third and final round. In the Wuyi universe, teas often undergo six to eight rounds of roasting. Making this batch a “light” roast, ideal to showcase all the aromatic complexity of a terroir so often hidden behind the nutty and caramelized character of this kind of transformation. With every steeping, the tea reveals new nuances in taste: notes of sweet spices (cinnamon, nutmeg), candied cherries and licorice, a soft floral scent and a warm mineral finish (limestone, flint) typical of Wuyi rock teas.

Tea Studio : Our interview with the Chief of Operations

21 January 2019

at 18:46 by Social

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Our experimental factory in India known as the Tea Studio has now been open for just over a year. Our four expert tea tasters left in October 2018 to visit the factory, meet the team and make tea! They also took the opportunity to welcome two of their favourite Chinese producers to help them optimize the production.

François sat down for a chat with the chief of operations, Muskan Khanna, to discuss her job as well as her team, comprised entirely of women. We’ve come to discover that the project wouldn’t have been the same without her passion and dedication.

F : When did you start getting interested about tea ?

M : It was around when we started talking about this project, about 3 years ago. I thought the concept was innovative and different – I just wanted to get involved. I spoke to my father, Indi, one of the associates, and I got the opportunity to become the chief of operations. That’s when I started learning a lot more about the industry as I visited many other factories to understand the process.

F : Can you share your background previous to joining the Tea Studio ?

I studied in media and advertising and I worked in that field for many years. Needless to say, it’s a very different world. My father taught me a lot about my craft and I couldn’t be happier to be part of the team.

F : Can you describe to us a typical day at the Tea Studio ?

M : I typically arrive at the factory around 9AM and I spend a bit of time in my office answering emails and doing various administrative tasks. After that, I head down to the production floor and then…well I normally spend the rest of my day there!

F : How was it working with our two Chinese producers?

M : I love it ! I learned a ton of new ways to help us improve the quality of the production process within the factory.

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F : Talk to us about being one of the few women managing a tea factory.

M : It’s definitely not something you see everyday in India and at first, it didn’t help me making people around me understand what my day to day reality was. There was also an adjustment period for me to learn how to balance my personal and professional life. All that being said, I’m so passionate about what I do and I couldn’t be happier. I’m given a lot of room to grow as well as being empowered. My father often reminds me “You’re the boss around the shop”.

F : What about the rest of the team ?

M : The Tea Studio is 100% comprised of women. We’re now all friends which gives a great energy flowing throughout the factory.

7 natural cures to fight cold season

16 January 2019

at 14:33 by Social

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Winter often goes hand in hand with catching colds, flus and various other viruses. Thankfully, our team has put their efforts together to give you a few ideas on how to fight these and not get slowed down!

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Prevent

  • The second Josiane sees the first signs of a virus she prepares a good matcha dose to fight it off.
  • If you’re feeling a bit courageous, you can do like Noémie and mix a garlic clove with some L’Éclatante tisane, honey and gin. You’ll scare the cold away (as well as any humans).

Staying alert

  • If you take equal parts Labrador Tea and a Chinese green tea, you’ll get a tasty and efficient beverage to not doze off at work. Veronique-approved!
  • If you want to stay up and dance all night, go for a generous dose of black tea such as Tukdah, a Darjeeling First Flush

Soothe

  • If you’re suffering from a nasty cough or throat ache, go for the Shui Xian Lao Cong along with a good spoonful of honey
  • Looking for next level comfort? Try mixing the Ange-Gardienne and Taïga herbal teas along with honey.
  • Try simply enjoying an earthy Pu Er bien like the 2011 Menghai or Myanmar. Add some honey and wheat milk.

Do you have some natural remedies to share ?

 
 

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