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Teatime Tuesday: Classic With a Twist

The Xiao Hong-Pao, or Little Red Robe, elevates familiar flavor to something new.

February 23, 2016

Teatime Tuesdays

After today, there is only one tea left in our eight week post series highlighting teas from Seven Cups Tea, a local Tucson tea shop specializing in everything from traditional tea ceremonies to over 70 loose leaf Chinese tea varieties. It has been a fascinating journey for me personally, as when I started writing this series, my cumulative tea experiences could accurately be described as, “Twining’s, whatever herbal tea is at the coffee shop, and the breastfeeding support tea that tastes like black licorice.” Having adventured through six different flavors of Chinese loose leaf tea as part of this series already, it was a pleasant surprise for me to come across something that more closely resembled the tea flavor that I recall from various meals out at Old Peking in Tucson.

The Xiao Hong-Pao is a fresh-tasting variation on the commonly-experienced Chinese black tea.

The Xiao Hong-Pao is a fresh-tasting variation on the commonly-experienced Chinese black tea.

Xiao Hong-Pao, or Little Read Robe, is grown in the mineral rich soil at the center of the Wuyi Mountains in the Fujian Province. It is a black tea, but its roasting process avoids adding a heavy charcoal scent. Instead, the tea maintains some traits in common with green tea; it’s not quite “piney,” but this tea has some of the same fresh, tangy taste I expect to find in a green tea, combined with the greater complexity of a roasted tea. I’m excited to try this as a cold brew, and see how the added smoothness interacts with the flavors of this tea. (Protip: if you’re not up to doing all the infusions a tea’s leaves are capable of, an overnight cold brew in the fridge is a GREAT way to avoid wasting them, and has resulted in some really good iced tea here in the office.)

Priced starting at $15.50 for 25 grams of tea, the Xiao Hong-Pao is one of the more expensive teas from Seven Cups that we’ve previewed, but it absolutely is worth the extra expenditure. One sixteen ounce brew requires 1.5 tablespoons (5 grams) of dry leaves, and with the leaves being good for seven infusions, one 25 gram bag can make up to seventy 8 ounce cups of tea. It’s available for purchase in-store or online.

Tune in next week for the final tea in our series featuring Seven Cups’ teas. Truly unique, it’s not one you’ll want to miss!

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