Long Jing Huang Pao

April 21, 2013

This is a very uncommon tea that has managed to become one of my absolute favorites. The name is not quite representative of what it actually is since the Long Jing conjures up thoughts of the perennial favorite Dragonwell green tea. The Huang Pao might lead one to think of an oolong tea. The name translates to “Emperor’s Robe Dragonwell” and this is a black tea with really very little in common with either of those teas sharing its namesake. It comes only in small 3g packets and the tea is said to have been a lost art for over 300 years. Normally I am leery of tales of teas “lost” for centuries and then only recently rediscovered and recreated, it is usually less than genuine and used to add some mystique and interest to an otherwise unexciting tea. While I can’t vouch for the story of it having been lost to the sands of time and miraculously recreated hundreds of years later, I can say it is wholly unique and unlike any other tea out there.

Long Jing Huang Pao

Long Jing Huang Pao

It is a heavily fermented tea akin to Puer but with some very major differences. It is not fermented in humidity and it is processed very differently in almost every regard. Instead of the earthy and deep flavors of a quality Puer, this tea presents what I can only describe as an over-ripe almost spoiled fruity aroma and taste. That may not sound particularly enjoyable but it is incredibly successful and really comes alive on the palate with astounding complexity. The scent has a familiarity that I could not place for years and it has driven me crazy for a long time. A few months ago I was at the zoo and when I walked into the cave-like enclosure where the bats live I had a Eureeka! moment. The fruit and heat/humidity instantly registered as the exact scent I had been trying to place for so long! Again, not the most sensual thought to associate with a tea and I will admit that freely but neither are the earthy/mushroomy qualities of many highly-prized Puer teas :) It is subtle and not overpowering, more like biting into a super soft peach that is definitely over-ripe and would maybe be on the verge of being discarded in another day or two.

It is absolutely captivating to me and just a magical scent that transports me back 300 years easily with every sip.

Update – Long Jing Huang Pao

October 19, 2009

It’s not often I update a tea that I so recently covered for the first time, but this is an exception. My recent foray into some new black/red teas didn’t produce much to excite me, but there had been this one oddball. With a fairly mysterious past filled with intrigue and adventure such as 300 year-old, lost, recipes recently uncovered and diligent reproduction of it resulting in a tea that has been brought back from the sands of time and now can be in your cup for a few sheckles. These kinds of tales always fail to impress me and normally I steer clear of wild claims like this, especially since there is just one source and one manufacturer… but I tried a sample purely out of curiosity. It was strange, with an over-ripe fruit taste and some characteristics of puer along with a sweet/sour kind of note that permeated the whole thing. I know that it might not sound all that alluring, but initially the oddness caught my attention. It ships in small 3g packets from the manufacturer which is also kind of weird.

I can’t vouch for the story behind it all, but I can say that this tea has grown on me quickly. Something about that flavor sings to me, regardless if the story surrounding it has a shred of truth to it or not. I wish this tea was available in some other format than just buying multiple tiny 3g plastic packets which is actually my main issue. I’d like to store some to age and also to not have to open tiny packets for larger brewings. Hopefully this will change or a new source will be found where it can be bought in a normal quantity. But things can’t be all bad if my main issue is getting my hands on more! This strange tea is worth a try for anyone who likes puer or a bit of a walk on the wild side of tea.