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Imperial Red

Imperial Red is grown in the WuYi Shan region.  It is a handmade black using oolong stock.  Once processed, the leaves are dark brown, thin, elongated and twisted with just a smattering of gold.  This style of black is not typically made for export.  The leaves are roasted over charcoal fires in bamboo baskets.   In the last 4 years, there have been no offerings that matched the flavors our customers had come to enjoy.  This year, we found a small lot that we are proud to offer.  As an artisanal tea should, this year's offering is different from prior years yet will bring new aromas and flavors reminiscent of years past to your cup.

Why we selected this particular lot:
The leaves offered a very pleasing aroma, with just a hint of its charcoal firing process.  The craftsmanship in handling the leaf and processing is evidenced by the tea's appearance - the leaves are long and consistent with little breakage.   In steeping, the aroma is fruity and fresh.  This lot is complex - offering soft sweet flavors, hints of cocoa and a bit of molasses.  Note the distinctive clear, russet-brown cup color reflecting the skill of the tea maker in oxidizing the leaves. The finish is clean and lingers soft and sweet.  This lot is unusual and this style of tea is hard to find as fewer factories choose to make it any longer.

Interesting facts about our selection:
This oolong is known as a Ming Yan tea as it is grown within the WuYi Shan area.  Given the elevation of the farm, the leaves of these oolongs go dormant in the winter.  This lot was fired over wood charcoal as evidenced by the hint of smokiness in the aroma of the dry leaf.  It is made from a comparatively early pluck reflecting the tea maker's decision to capture a more fruity, sweet flavor.  This tea will steep multiple times.   

Taste profile:
This tea is complex and multi-layered in flavor and aroma. The first steep is brisk with sweet flowery notes being evident.  While the flavor is generally fruity, we found tastes of molasses as well, with some maltiness.  The second steep brought out more of the earthy side of the tea and its malty note.  The finish is quite strong and lingers long after cupping.  The aftertaste is very pleasant, sweet and clean.  The mouth is enlivened with flavor.   

Brewing suggestions:
Use a round tablespoon or about 3-4 grams for 8-12 ounces of water at a temperature of just below or at boiling.  Rinse the leaves to awaken them.  We suggest a steep of two minutes to experience the variety of flavors offered.  Longer steeps of 3 + minutes will give more body to the cup.   Leaves will steep multiple times.

$26.40    per  
Item number:

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Special Offer: All orders totaling $170 or more will automatically receive a box of Keemun Organic Tea Sachets (15 sachets per box). Your purchase makes a difference; our tea boxes are hand packaged by an adult with disabilities.

Satisfaction guaranteed

Silk Road Teas is an award-winning purveyor of rare and artisan teas. Every year, we travel extensively in China, visiting small farms, out-of-the-way tea markets, cooperatives and specialty tea companies to find teas that offer our customers the highest quality and a distinctive taste experience. As a result, our teas are widely recognized for their variety and unparalleled quality. Quite simply, you won't find a finer tea anywhere. Satisfaction guaranteed.

Supporting adults with disabilities

Silk Road Teas is more than just tea. We are committed to giving back to our community by providing jobs packaging our teas to disabled adults. As the older brother of a disabled person, Ned Heagerty, Silk Road Teas President, recognized the challenges and limited opportunities disabled adults face. So he wanted to make a difference. It is a small step, but it is an action we believe in and will continue to follow. Recently, we were honored by receiving the Employer of the Year Award from Integrated Community Services (ICS) for our commitment to employ persons with disabilities.

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The Silk Road Teas Story


A bright red cup color.  Hints of cocoa.  Naturally sweet and complex.

Write your own product review

  1. Very rich flavor with a smoky raisin after-taste 5 Star Review

    Posted by on 14th Jan 2017

    This tea delivers a definite typical oolong experience with a complex multi-layered set of taste and flavors. For me, the first taste is a smoky flavor (probably coming from the charcoal based drying process). Then, a taste of roasted seed, beans or a malty feel develops along with a warming sensation of a rich tea.The final note seems more like raisins to me. Overall, a very good tea with character.

Silk Road Teas has received the Employer of the Year Award from Integrated Community Services (ICS) for their commitment to employ persons with disabilities. Silk Road Teas is committed to improving the quality of life for disabled persons, sharing the belief with ICS that business can substantively help people with disabilities achieve independent lives by providing jobs in an encouraging and supportive environment.

Hand In Hand
Our tea boxesare hand packaged by an adult with disabilities. Silk Road Teas remains committed to creating opportunity and jobs in our community.

Sales of our Teas Benefit Ceres
Ceres Community Project builds healthy communities by restoring locally-grown organic whole food to its place as the foundation of health and creating heart centered ways for people to connect.

Ceres teaches teens to grow, cook and eat healthy whole foods and provides nourishing meals, nutrition education and a community of support for people facing cancer and other serious illnesses. www.ceresproject.org

Read the recent article in the Marin IJ: Silk Road Teas gives back

...What sets Silk Road Teas apart from others is the Heagertys are using their success and new tea line as a way to give back to the community...

Gives Back They're amazing people and of course the product is phenomenal. We're so proud to be associated with them. In today's nonprofit world, truly the best things you can have are compatible, giving partners.

Julie Burford, Program Manager and Founder of the Ceres Community Project of Marin.


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