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Red Blossom Blog

What is Da Hong Pao Tea?

What is Da Hong Pao Tea?

As one of the most famously celebrated teas in China, Da Hong Pao (translated as either ‘Big Red Robe’, or more poetically, ‘Grand Scarlet Robe’) is surrounded by myth and legend. While fantastic stories have helped to build this tea’s reputation as a rare and valuable commodity, they say little about the quality of flavor found in any particular leaf. So what makes Da Hong Pao so special, and what does it mean when a product is labeled “Big Red Robe”?

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Types of Pu-erh: Wet vs. Dry Storage

Types of Pu-erh: Wet vs. Dry Storage

Pu-erh can be one of the most complex categories of tea, thanks to the infinite flavor variations that can develop during the process of fermentation and aging. Two pu-erhs identical in provenance, variety, harvest date and craftsmanship can still diverge during the aging process to become utterly unique teas.

Many aspects of the storage environment can ultimately change the character of the final fermented tea, and details of past storage can be obscured over time as these teas move through the market. One of the most important considerations is environmental humidity, which is often summarized in the terms “wet” and “dry”. But as with most simple distinctions, these terms can be misleading.

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What is Dry Brewing?

What is Dry Brewing?

Despite a reputation as a formalized ‘tea ceremony’, there are many variations of the traditional gong fu cha brewing method. Most demonstrations utilize showy displays of rinsing and pouring to create drama, using a large tray to capture excess water during the brewing process. The elaborate setup, however, necessitating several pieces of teaware and a specialized tray, can be a barrier for beginners hoping to brew this way at home.

Find step-by-step instructions for brewing gong fu cha >>

The current trend, however, is a modern interpretation called ‘dry brewing’, which minimizes the amount of spillage as much as possible, and usually replaces the draining tray with a large bowl to collect excess rinse water. At first sight, this method may seem more approachable, but brewing with such precision actually requires more skill and specialized equipment.

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Types of Black Tea: Indian vs. Chinese Traditions

Types of Black Tea: Indian vs. Chinese Traditions

Within the broadly defined category of fully oxidized teas, there are an infinite number of variations. Black teas can vary in flavor based on the specific environmental features of local terroir, the weather and maturity of the plant when it is harvested, and the way in which the leaves are picked and crafted. But the unique history of the tea trade has also shaped the landscape of fully oxidized styles into two distinct families: those from China, and those from India.

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What is a Chinese Tea Ceremony?

What is a Chinese Tea Ceremony?

Among tea enthusiasts, much has been said about the “right” way to brew tea. Beyond the general consideration of leaf quantity, time, and temperature, many people believe the proper methods have been codified in a set of techniques to create a ceremonial presentation of Chinese tea.

However, this idea erroneously conflates common brewing techniques with the highly specific traditions of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, and leads to the misconception that brewing tea is somehow very difficult, or must be studied extensively to perform successfully. In fact, the process most people call the Chinese Tea Ceremony is better named as gong fu cha, which translates most directly as “tea with effort”. In contrast to the strict, long-standing traditions of the Japanese Tea Ceremony, the so-called “rules” of gong fu cha are best thought of as guidelines to help achieve the best tasting brew and get the most flavor out of every tea leaf.

Check out our step-by-step guide to brewing gong fu cha >>

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The Truth About Teas for Weight Loss

The Truth About Teas for Weight Loss

Tea has a long history as a touted cure for all sorts of ailments, ever since it’s legendary discovery as an antidote to poisons. So perhaps it’s no surprise that today, tea is often marketed as an antidote to one of our most pervasive modern health issues. Today, we’ll dive into the facts about “weight loss” teas to separate the true benefits of tea from the sales spin.

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Types of Oolong Tea: Rolled vs. Twisted

Types of Oolong Tea: Rolled vs. Twisted

Oolong teas compose one of the most varied categories of tea because they cover the entire range of oxidation levels between green and black tea. Newcomers to this category might be surprised to find that two teas called “oolong” could be completely different in aroma, flavor, and even leaf shape. In fact, there are four main types of oolong, hailing from four geographically isolated regions near the eastern coast of China. Each region has its own unique terroir and specialized varieties of Camellia sinensis, but the easiest influence to observe in the final flavors of the tea is each region’s specific crafting style. And one aspect of the finished tea that gives us a clue to crafting style is leaf shape.

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Signs of Quality: Whole Leaf vs. Broken Leaf

Signs of Quality: Whole Leaf vs. Broken Leaf

There are only a few rules of quality that apply across all styles of tea, but one piece of advice that is commonly given to new tea drinkers is to look for whole leaves. In fact, we have given this piece of advice many times ourselves. When shopping for loose leaf teas with complex flavor, looking for intact leaves is one of our highest priorities. But some teas, like English Breakfast blends or matcha, are always crushed or powdered, even at the highest grades. What is the real benefit of brewing whole leaf teas, and can there be advantages to using broken leaves, as well?

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Cakes vs. Loose Leaf: Types of Pu-erh Tea

Cakes vs. Loose Leaf: Types of Pu-erh Tea

Shopping for pu-erh can be confusing. With the added variables of age and fermentation, pu-erh is one of the most diverse categories of tea, and the growing popularity of the style only makes it easier to find bad examples. Since shopping for pu-erh can feel like a guessing game, it’s tempting to look for signs of quality in simple visual distinctions, like whether the tea is pressed into a cake or left in loose form. So what can we really tell about the tea from the way it is packaged?

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Is Monkey Picked Tea Really Picked By Monkeys?

Is Monkey Picked Tea Really Picked By Monkeys?

For drinkers of Chinese tea, the label “Monkey Picked” is a familiar one, typically applied to oolong teas made from the Tieguanyin variety in Anxi County, Fujian. Today, with the moniker applied to a vast range of teas within this style, it seems fairly obvious that it has taken on a poetic meaning, meant to imply information about the style and quality of the tea rather than offer factual information about the harvesting process. Certainly, tea farms in Anxi County don’t really depend on teams of monkeys to pluck their valuable leaves...do they?

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