I am a Founding Member and Nutritionist for The Tea Guild of Australia (TGoA) and we were invited guests to The Tea Expo in Wuyishan China; hosted by the local government to represent Australia’s Tea industry.
We had a great time! Three days of a huge Tea expo with Tea Masters and professionals from all around China attending and representing their teas.
More than 6,000 purchasers from across the world were confirmed to participate in the expo including ourselves. The Directors of TGoA also run Tea Total, an Australian tea company prompting tea education, tours and selling incredible tea.
Tea’s I got to try plenty of were Da Hong Pao – a Wuyi rock tea grown in the Wuyi Mountains, Tieguanyin – variety of Chinese oolong tea originated in the 19th century, some black teas and beautiful white tea’s which I will blog about separately.
There was also PuErh tea, but being pregnant I couldn’t really sample too much of this tea, which was a shame as its one of my favs!
I would like in this blog to focus on ‘The King of Tea’s’ Da Hong Pao and what I discovered in Wuyishan.
Da Hong Pao tea and Master Xu.
A big highlight of my time in Wuyishan was being invited to Mr Xu’s home in Wuyishan before the Tea Expo, who makes his tea at his family home living on acres of tea fields. He is a big deal in the tea world and known for being one of the few farmers who is allowed pick tea leaves from the mother bush and his family has been in the Da Hong Pao tea industry for many many years. To be invited to his home to see where it all happens was a great honor. As well as trying his delicious tea, we were served a banquet dinner of traditional chinese food, eating with his family and friends. It’s clear to see how passionate Mr Xu is about his tea and family.
Tea Master Xu tea is primarily made up of Qi Dan (descended from the original Da Hong Pao trees) and Rou Gui cultivars. Compared to most of Master Xu’s other teas this tea is very fragrance forward with strong fruity and floral aromas from the wet leaf mixing with the roast. The oxidisation and roast level is medium to medium-high, slightly heavier than many other ha hong pao teas that are lightly oxidised to promote aroma but at the expense of body and mouthfeel.
Master Xu processes the leaves entirely by hand – from the picking and sorting, through to the kill-green stage and rolling. The roasting is done carefully at a low temperature (around 75 degrees Celsius) over hours, and often re-roasted over the course of many months until he is satisfied.
Travelling to Wuyishan and attending the tea expo, I discovered how popular and sacred Da Hong Pao tea was, with it costing potentially around $1,400 for a single gram, or well over $10,000 for a pot. It’s one of the most expensive teas in the world.
You can find affordable Da Hong Pao teas though of reasonable quality in various shops around Wuyishan, but every genuine Da Hong Pao originates with a cutting from a single group of mother trees. And it’s these original trees that produce the rare and sought-after original tea and potentially the price.
The health benefits of Da Hong Pao.
I’m still learning and discovering the tea world but what I did discover was that Wuyishan’s gorgeous landscape has been famous for tea for centuries. The rain pours down the limestone gorges, flooding the narrow mountain streams and tumbling waterfalls, and is heavy with minerals that impart flavour and contains trace elements that are good for or body. The polyphenols and minerals both play a very important role in blood circulation and prevent arteriosclerosis. Therefore, people who have the habit of drinking tea regularly can lower the incidence of hypertension and coronary heart disease(CHD).
Da Hong Pao contains caffeine but the more steeps you have the lower the caffeine content gets. Caffeine has many benefits to the human body – compounds such as caffeine, inositol, folic acid, pantothenic acid and so on contain in tea can regulate fat metabolism. The tea polyphenols and vitamin C can lower cholesterol and blood lipids, therefore drink tea can help weight loss. Of course too much of a good thing can be bad including caffeine but the tea is served in a small cup and as mentioned above after a few steeps the tea caffeine lowers significantly so you can carry on drinking plenty of tea.
Today, every other shop in Wuyishan has a tea-tasting table set and Da Hong Pao to serve, taste and buy.
Tea Guild of Australia representing Tea in Australia
On the last couple of evenings in Wuyishan we were invited to dine with the local government and met the Mayor to represent Australia in the tea world. We met incredible people and made some great contacts for future events here in China and Australia.
Both as country representatives we agreed to work together further to expand knowledge of tea culture and grow the tea industry, throughout our two great countries.