Before going on with the tales, we would like to extend our gratitude towards Shinola Singapore for the beautifully customised planner.
2017 here we go!
One of the most popular and enduring legends surrounding Wuyi tea is that of Da Hong Pao, the so-called ‘king of teas’, and affectionately known as ‘Big Red Robe’. This tea is perhaps the most venerated in China, and is amongst the rarest and most sought-after tea on earth, due to the fact that production can be as low as one kilogram per year, harvested from the six bushes, tended by a single woman.
This tea is truly an ancient one. Celebrated in the Qing Dynasty, its origins can be traced back to the Ming times, through the Song Dynasty, when was adored as it is today, for its supreme quality and unforgettable flavour. The name ‘Big Red Robe’ associates to a whole set of legends, include:
1. The monks who planted the teas had great difficulty accessing the plants, due to the Rocky Mountain. As such, they trained monkeys to collect the leaves. As these monkeys were dressed in red robes in order to be seen from afar, the tea is therefore named after the robes worn by these ancient pickers.
2. A Ming Emperor who was saved of a disease - in gratitude, he sent four red robes to clothe the bushes through the cold winter, and to honour their magical healing properties. Thus the name.
3. In another legend, an important Ming official - dressed in a mighty red robe was impractical in climbing mountains; hung his clothes on the tea bush during an inspection of the monasteries on Heavenly Mind Cliff.
One legend though is being popularised by Zhang Yimou 张艺谋, the famous film maker, also the coreographer of the Beijing Olympics opening and closing ceremonies. He has taken into account of the natural splendour and magic of the spectacular Wuyi Mountains as the backdrop for his on-going stage perfomance in retelling the tale. The story goes as follows:
In 1385 during the Ming Dynasty, a scholar Ju 居 was on the way to attend the Imperial exam. An exam determines one's path to a career as an official. Unfortunately, he became ill whilst on his way to the exam ground. And wasn't able to continue his journey beyond Wuyi mountain.
Luckily, a monk from temple name 'Tian Xin' 天心寺 passed by and served him a special tea with healing effects. Ju was healed and made it to the exams on time. He eventually passed the exam with the highest score and was awarded an imperial scarlet red robe.
The humble scholar was so grateful that he travelled back to thank the Monk and upon his arrival, Ju took off his red robe and wrapped it 3 times around the tea bush. Since then, the tea is named Da Hong Pao, which has a direct translation of Big Red Robe in English.
Whichever legend is closest to the truth doesn’t really matter - they’re all charming in their own ways of adding further backstory to an incredible tea which provides those who discover it with a taste of Chinese tale.
Furthermore, the Scarlet Robes that we have presented to you in our shop are of different taste profile due to the variation in craft. So browse through today to find out which is your favourite!
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✵ Wuyi Tea Ceremony
✵ UNESCO/NHK on Mt. Wuyi
✵ How is Wuyi Tea Made
✵ The legend of Scarlet Robe, Da Hong Pao
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