Oolong Tea

Is Da Hong Pao Oolong Tea Or Black Tea?

da hong pao

Believed to be of interest to those who appreciate loose-leaf tea, many are familiar with Da Hong Pao. Da Hong Pao has gained a great reputation due to its outstanding quality features and has garnered much admiration.

For those initially unfamiliar, it might be challenging to determine whether Da Hong Pao belongs to the category of loose leaf tea. This confusion may arise from the similarity in the color and taste of Da Hong Pao tea and black tea, leading some to mistakenly identify it as black tea. In reality, Da Hong Pao is a well-known variety of oolong tea.

About Da Hong Pao

dahongpao tea iteaworld

Da Hong Pao is primarily produced in Wuyi Mountain, Fujian Province, and its tea leaves boast exceptional quality, making it a renowned Chinese specialty tea. Da Hong Pao stands out among Wuyi rock teas, with historical records dating back to the late Ming and early Qing dynasties. Da Hong Pao is resistant to multiple steepings, maintaining its fragrance even after seven or eight infusions. To truly savor the essence of rock tea, it is recommended to use small teapots and cups for a slow and meticulous tea-drinking experience when enjoying Da Hong Pao. If you want to experience the flavor of best loose leaf tea, be sure to give Da Hong Pao a try.


There is a legend about Da Hong Pao. It is said that during the Ming Dynasty, a scholar on his way to the capital for the imperial examination fell ill near Wuyi Mountain. Suffering from severe abdominal pain, he encountered a monk who brewed him a tea using a treasured tea, and the scholar's pain immediately ceased. After achieving the top score in the imperial examination, the scholar returned to thank the monk. When asked about the origin of the tea leaves, the monk removed his large red robe, circled the tea bushes three times, and draped the robe over the tea tree. Hence, it became known as "Da Hong Pao," meaning "Big Red Robe."


Characteristics of Da Hong Pao

dahongpao tea oolong tea

Appearance: The tea leaves are thick, tightly rolled, and evenly structured, with a glossy appearance.

Aroma: The fragrance is rich, pure, resembling orchids and hints of cinnamon.

Liquor Color: Bright orange-yellow.

Flavor: Rich, mellow, and sweet, with no bitterness or astringency, leaving a lingering aftertaste.

Brewed Tea Leaves: Green leaves with a red border, and the veins are green and shiny.


Why Is Da Hong Pao Often Mistaken for Black Tea?

dahongpao tea

In reality, Da Hong Pao is a loose leaf oolong tea, not black tea. There are several reasons why Da Hong Pao is easily mistaken for black tea.


Firstly, the name Da Hong Pao contains the word "红" (hóng), which means red in Chinese. This can be confusing and lead to the misconception that Da Hong Pao is related to black tea.

On the other hand, the bright orange-yellow color of Da Hong Pao's brewed liquor is visually appealing. If Da Hong Pao is brewed for an extended period, the liquor may take on a reddish hue, resembling the color of black tea. Additionally, the rich and mellow taste of Da Hong Pao, especially when brewed longer, may be mistaken for the bold flavor commonly associated with black tea.

The color and taste of Da Hong Pao's tea liquor are related to its oxidation level. Oolong tea, in general, is a semi-oxidized tea, falling between black tea and green tea. Specifically, different varieties of oolong tea have different oxidation levels. For example, lightly oxidized oolong teas include the Light Aroma TieGuanyin and Wenshan Baozhong. Moderately oxidized oolong teas include the Strong Aroma TieGuanyin and Fenghuang Dancong. Highly oxidized oolong teas include Bai Hao Oolong and Da Hong Pao. In contrast, black tea is generally fully oxidized, with varying levels of oxidation among different black tea types. Overall, the oxidation level of black tea tends to be higher. From the perspective of oxidation, highly oxidized Da Hong Pao and highly oxidized black tea can exhibit similarities in aspects such as tea liquor color and taste.

In reality, through multiple tastings, it is possible to discern the differences between Da Hong Pao and black tea. High-quality Da Hong Pao has a mellow and thick tea texture, with a strong and lingering taste. In comparison, the overall sensation of black tea is generally gentler than that of Da Hong Pao. To appreciate these differences, it is recommended to taste and compare various teas. It's advisable not to purchase large quantities of full-sized teas initially, but rather to explore and compare by buying tea sampler for a more convenient and economical experience.

 oolong tea sampler

Da Hong Pao Is a Renowned Variety of Oolong Tea.

Whether a tea is classified as oolong or black tea is determined by its production process. Oolong tea typically undergoes processes such as Weidiao(withering), Zuoqing(shaking), Shaqing(Killing green), Rounian(rolling) and drying. The production of black tea involves Weidiao(withering), Shaqing(Killing green), Rounian(rolling), oxidation and drying processes.

The production process of Da Hong Pao follows the typical crafting methods of oolong tea, including the unique step of Zuoqing(shaking), which is characteristic of oolong tea. This Zuoqing(shaking) process not only imparts Da Hong Pao with a distinctive and rich aroma but also results in the unique feature of the leaves having a "green leaf with red edges" appearance. When brewing Da Hong Pao, it's interesting to observe the brewed tea leaves, which exhibits a fascinating alternating pattern of red and green characteristics.

In addition to the distinctive production process, the environment in the core production area of Da Hong Pao, Wuyi Mountain, is a key factor in shaping the unique characteristics of Da Hong Pao. The tea trees in the Wuyi Mountain region where Da Hong Pao is grown thrive in the cracks of rocks, benefiting from ideal natural conditions such as sunlight, moisture, and temperature for tea tree growth. The entire Wuyi Mountain area, spanning hundreds of miles, is characterized by red stone cliffs, and the soil in the rock crevices is loose, well-ventilated, and rich in minerals. This is a primary condition for nurturing the unique quality of Da Hong Pao. Da Hong Pao grown and produced in such an environment exhibits a distinct and pronounced Yanyun(rock rhyme). Yanyun(rock rhyme) refers to the tea leaves absorbing mineral components from the rocks in their growth environment, resulting in unique taste characteristics. When tasting Da Hong Pao, one can sense its robust flavor, with the tea liquor carrying a subtle hint of mineral notes, providing a lingering aftertaste. The unique flavor of Da Hong Pao makes it suitable for both daily consumption and gift-giving. It is especially well-suited as Christmas tea and New Year tea.


The fact that Da Hong Pao is a type of oolong tea, not black tea, might be initially confusing. In reality, through understanding its production process and the appearance of the tea leaves, it becomes clear that Da Hong Pao is indeed an oolong tea. New tea enthusiasts can easily distinguish it after a few tastings.

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