Pesticide-Free Sparrow Tongue Big Red Robe Cliff Tea ~ Que She Da Hong Pao Yan Cha

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Que She, or Qiao She, as it's known in Chinese, is one of the famous rock teas, or cliff teas of the Wuyi Mountains. While it is often said to have been propagated from cuttings taken in the 1980's from one of the six Big Red Robe (Da Hong Pao) mother bushes, genetic testing in 2009 revealed that it is not a direct clone, but, in fact, a natural descendant of these six mother bushes.  These bushes, which sprout out of the cliffside in Jiu Long Ke (The Nine Dragons Nest), were those honored in legend, presented with a great, brocade robe, a gift to demonstrate the gratitude of the emperor for this tea having saved the life of the empress.  The name "Big Red Robe" also refers to the reddish sheen that lies atop the green of the youngest leaves, making the tea bushes appear almost as if they are clothed in red.  

The name "Sparrow Tongue," or "Que/Qiao She," refers to the tender and delicate shape of the small leaves from which it's made.  Despite the delicate form of these leaves, this tea is characterized by a full, robust flavor, which exemplifies the legendary flavor of Big Red Robe.  

Dry, its leaves have a subtle, slightly fruity aroma, reminiscent of wood and wood smoke.  Wet, its leaves carry a penetratingly fragrant aroma, earthy and dark, yet subtle, with strong orchid notes, lighter and fruitier than its cousin Bei Dou (Big Dipper), but with more of a nutty, roasted flavor than Qi Dan (Rare Elixir).  It produces an amber-orange brew.  Brewed lightly, it has a flavor that is rosy and floral, like drinking a garden on a tropical island.  Brewed more aggressively, its flavor becomes sobering, earthy, and dark, highlighting it's roasted flavor.  It has a smooth, silky texture, and leaves the mouth with a lingering sweetness, and a fresh, slight orchid aftertaste on the breath.  Its qi is clear and warm, and its effects are stimulating and chatty, good for studying or getting properly tea-drunk.  

Lasts about 8 brews.  

Very little of this tea is produced each year, making it extremely rare.  

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