Da Hong Pao. What’s in the name?

Oh, how we love the lore and legend that goes along with some of the teas we drink everyday. Since we are in the office sipping Da Hong Pao oolong right now, I’d like to share its story with you.

In English, Da Hong Pao means “Big Red Robe” and it the most famous of oolong teas in many tea aficionados estimation. Rich and roasty in flavor, the plants that make up this tea grow in rockier soil and you may sometimes hear this style of tea referred to as “rock” oolongs. There are other styles of rock oolongs such as Dan Cong and Rou Gui, but those shall be left for another time.

While there are variations on the theme of the story, this is the one we think is the most fun.  

During the Ming Dynasty, it is said that while out taking care of things that military generals do, the emperor’s favorite general took ill. It seemed that no one knew what to do in order to restore him to health and many healing techniques were attempted. Nothing alleviated the general’s illness and he grew worse. 

Big Red Robe, premeditated

Big Red Robe, premeditated

When a local Buddhist monk heard of the general’s suffering he offered to assist however he might in order to help restore the general to health. The monk meditated and served tea to the general while he convalesced in the monk’s home. The general grew healthier day by day as the monk nursed him back to health. The general came away from the experience believing that it was the magical power of the tea grown by monk that did the trick. He returned to serve the emperor. 

The emperor, excited greatly by the return of his esteemed general heard the story of the monk’s tea and to show his deep gratitude to him, presented the monk with a big red robe that could be used to cover his tea plants to protect them from cold weather. It is said that the three bushes that the monk grew are still in existence in a place that is guarded to protect them.

Through the centuries, cuttings have been taken from the original three plants and the bushes have been widely propagated in the same area, producing wonderful tea, processed with care so that we may continue to drink it even on this side of the planet. When we sip it, it is nice to think of the story and remember that we are drinking tea that descended from those magical bushes all those centuries ago. And since it seems that life is about intention, if we intend that we are taking in a healing elixir, our body will respond with more vim, more vigor and even in old age, we will have a spring in our step and a twinkle in our eye.

Bright blessings to each of you. May you know vibrant health and great and lasting joy.