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Topic: Da Hong Pao / Xiao Hong Pao - Distinct Cultivars?

I've read in numerous sources the idea that Da Hong Pao refers only to tea produced either from the original Da Hong Pao plants, or cloned plants a finite number of generations away, and that tea produced of the same cultivar but from more distant clones is more properly named Xiao Hong Pao.

However, I recently found Norbu Tea offering Xiao Hong Pao and on their page they say:

Xiao Hong Pao (小红袍, English: Little Red Robe) is a tea varietal which is known as one of the many Ming Cong (名丛, English: Famous Bush) that originally come from the Wuyi tea growing region of NW Fujian Province.  Contrary to the common story that keeps getting re-told in Western tea circles, Xiao Hong Pao is actually its own separate varietal, not "Da Hong Pao" varietal plants that are a certain number of generations away from the original DHP bushes.  It is entirely possible that some tea wholesalers misleadingly (either intentionally or unintentionally because of lack of knowledge) market some blend of several different Wuyi cultivars as "Xiao Hong Pao," but this just creates huge amounts of confusion with small tea sellers and consumers alike.  According to our supplier, this Xiao Hong Pao was produced from Xiao Hong Pao cultivar tea plants only.

Is this correct?  This is the first time I've encountered this information or this sort of claim.  I'd be interested in sorting this out and clarifying this issue.  If it is correct, this would be a pretty major piece of misinformation that is circulating very widely.  But I'm cautious here, as this is the first time I've encountered the idea that Xiao Hong Pao is really a distinct cultivar.

A thread on TeaChat also brings this up (I found this after searching) and several people whose knowledge I trust, including Ginkgo Seto of Life in Teacup, verify that this is actually a distinct cultivar.  I currently am unable to find anything that I would consider a reliable published source stating either way.  However, in the absence of clear sources either way, I'd be inclined to trust Gingko Seto and Norbu Tea.


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Re: Da Hong Pao / Xiao Hong Pao - Distinct Cultivars?

[Thanks to the_e for the translation assistance / refinement]

One of the posts (post #15, from user lusheng) in this thread seems to imply that it was formerly a name used to refer to blended dahongpao:

lusheng wrote:

在岩茶国标出来之前(2002)也有一些茶农把拼配的大红袍(非纯种)说成小红袍。[roughly: before 2002, some farmers produced mixed (non-purebred) dahongpao, called "xiaohongpao"]

Before that, the same poster says:

lusheng wrote:

小红袍是武夷山一个名丛,和大红袍没关系,不存在嫁接问题,事实上武夷山的茶树还没嫁接的,嫁接多用于果树栽培,茶树极少使用嫁接法,特别灌木类的,我还没听说过有嫁接的。我所了解的,只有凤凰的单丛(广东水仙)才使用嫁接法。

If I'm working it out correctly, I believe he's saying that xiaohongpao is one type of breed, no relation to dahongpao, and that there's no grafting issue, because grafting isn't generally used in the Wuyishan area for the small bush type of tea plant (only used in Fenghuang dancong, with the tree type plants). [nb: I think grafting refers specifically to putting one type of plant on another plant's rootstock, but doesn't exclude other types of asexual propagation, such as using cuttings]

Several of the posters do say that it's currently considered one of the ming cong.

Given that people can't even agree on which cultivar is the offspring of the "authentic" dahongpao (ji dan, bei dou #1, etc.), who knows if we'll get a firm answer to this question. While these things are interesting to talk about (and I'd certainly be interested to learn more), at some point, I think it makes sense to take what tea merchants say about yancha cultivars with a big grain of salt, and focus on how the tea tastes.

I think the context is part of a vendor thread, and not sure if you can see it without logging in, but a search also turned up this thread, where 甜菜 says:

甜菜 wrote:

小红袍由于是单品种(名丛)所以其味幽而长,单纯而且稳定。大红袍由多个品系拼配组合,其的劲足而霸,口感丰富,但是较为复杂。

Roughly, I think he's saying that xiaohongpao is one specific 'ming cong' strain, so its taste is long-lasting and deep, and is more pure whereas dahongpao is pinpei (blended) from various strains, so dahongpao is fuller and more agressive, has a richer mouthfeel, but is "messier" tasting [I read this as complex, but someone says it's more derogatory].

There's also this thread, where 百岁香 says:

百岁香 wrote:

那年,我在武夷山也问了导游这个问题.

导游回答是:'大红袍是注册了的商标,  其它嫁接的二三....代都只能叫小红袍"   对否?

Roughly, the poster asked a Wuyishan area tour guide whether dahongpao is the same as xiaohongpao, and got the answer "Dahongpao is a register trademark, and has to be grafted from the mother bushes; anything else has to be called xiaohongpao".

甜菜 replies again here:

甜菜 wrote:

这个说法错了,2001年2月,经国家工商总局批准,“武夷山大红袍”证明商标获得认证和注册.无性繁扦插大红袍其实保留上代遗产特征,儿子就一定差过老子吗? 打个比方,肉桂有人去分一代肉桂,二代肉桂的提法吗?优良的品种必须具备稳定的遗传特征特性.


另外小红袍是名枞,不同于大红袍,也没有亲戚关系.

This seems to be reiterating the thought that xiaohongpao is a distinct cultivar and that the cultivars aren't related.

[please add to the thread or PM me if you can improve my paraphrasing / translation]


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3 (edited by brandon 2012-01-10 20:20:08)

Re: Da Hong Pao / Xiao Hong Pao - Distinct Cultivars?

http://chadao.blogspot.com/2008/11/tast … g-pao.html

The comment by T.alain seems to further the opinion of a blended strain somewhat.
There is not much to go on there, but I think it gave me a better idea of how to interpret Will's info above - the genetic code of "Da Hong Pao" being some combination of the 6 trees, not an asexual reproduction of any single mingcong.

"Xiao Hong pao should be the best name for these teas,Da hong pao is for the original trees.These 6 trees do not contain the same genetic material and are a little bit different each others.Specialists think they are from seeds and not from cutting plants.It seem that original DHP is a blend tea...of 6 trees."

Re: Da Hong Pao / Xiao Hong Pao - Distinct Cultivars?

Thanks, this is fascinating and useful; even if there's no clear answer here I really appreciate these different perspectives.