China Cha Dao
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Recent Tasting Notes
An ‘old tree’ tea. I have been trying to drink my teas with the shorter shelf life first but I just needed puerh today. It’s been a long time since I steeped this one. Maybe two spoons of leaf (almost filled the scoop that came with the French Press). Boiled the water then decided to let it cool a bit before pouring. I steeped just over a minute. Did not do a rinse. The wet leaf has a tiny amount of seaweed smell but mostly it has the aroma of a mild green. This is still a young tea and the leaf is mostly green in color. The first cup is very mild. The main characteristics are a side tongue tingle, a bit of a metallic taste, and a thick mouth feel. Otherwise it is a very mild sheng with no nasties attached. Halfway through the first cup my tummy is singing the hallelujah chorus.
Second cup I decided to use the boiling water and steeped two minutes. The liquor is amber/green and not inky black like a shu. The leaf is a bit vegetal now but the brew hints at earthy. More flavors in the sip but they are all subtle. Metallic taste is gone, replaced by mild earth, mushroom, and maybe my imagination but a hint of smoke. Flavors intensify as the cup cools but never overwhelm. This even suggests it would develop some leather notes if it were allowed to age properly. That’s not going to happen as I have only enough left for one more adventure. Maybe I can stall it months but it definitely won’t be years. I may never know what aged sheng tastes like as I like the young stuff entirely too much to wait.
Third cup of the morning is the best yet. I will be drinking on this leaf the rest of the day, maybe longer.
It’s really cold today, and I needed something strong and dark. Luckily, this tea fits the bill perfectly. Brewed with near-boiling water and steeped for longer than usual, the resulting tea is a very dark brown, which was surprisingly easy to distinguish from a black tea. The aroma smells like light to medium roasted coffee beans, with hints of something sweeter and a bit nutty. The taste is also exquisite, featuring strong roasted flavors with nuts and fruit notes supporting. More important than just the flavors present, it is a very smooth tea, with no harsh flavors present. In this respect, it’s a bit better than some of my other Oolongs, because all of the flavors are completely dominated by the roasted flavor during the first steeping.
The second infusion is very similar to the first, but it is more muted. The aroma isn’t as “roasty”, and instead features more of a nutty and fruity character. The color of the tea is only a few shade lighter than the first infusion, leaving it a nice earthy color. The taste of the tea is less roasted than previously, and the fruit flavors have become very prominent, which leads me to believe that this was made from a spring picking.
The third infusion was the best so far, with a color that was a few shades darker than honey and an aroma that was a nice balance of sweetness and nuts. The flavor of the tea was sweet and fruity with hints of nuts.
The forth infusion was similar to the third, but it was weaker in all aspects. The color was several shades lighter, the aroma was greatly weakened, and the taste was beginning to become bland. Sure, there was still a sweet, indistinct fruity taste, but the nut flavors were very hard to taste. It’s still very good, but it’s lost a lot of the things that made it an excellent tea.
More to come later.
I brewed this Grandpa style in my large mug again, using a bit more than the usual amount of tea leaves, and the results were very interesting. The color of the first infusion was dark amber, but not really dark enough to be categorized as red like more heavily roasted Oolongs. The aroma was dominated by the roasted character of the tea, but with hints of something sweeter. The flavor of the tea is very interesting, with a medium-strength roasted character and hints of honey. The aftertaste is currently dominated by the roasted flavor of the tea, but the characteristic mineral aftertaste is still present, lingering on the hard palate for half a minute.
The second infusion turned out pretty well. The color only lightened a few shades, and the aroma was characterized by a declined in the roasted aromas, leaving behind something a bit sweeter. The taste also lightened, with the honey flavor becoming more prominent, and the mineral aftertaste gaining a bit more prominence.
The third infusion was better than the previous two. It achieve a perfect balance between the roasted flavors and honey/sweet flavor. It’s a bit hard to describe because of how simple the flavor of this tea is, but I guess that is part of its charm. That being said, the aftertaste again asserts itself, but it doesn’t linger for as long any more. Regardless, this was a very good cup of tea.
More to come later.
This is the third and final Da Hong Pao that I have, and I’m a bit sad to say that it doesn’t really match up well against the other two. The color of the first infusion in a nice deep red color, and the aroma is the nice roasted smell that is practically the signature of a Wuyi Oolong, but the taste seems to be missing something. The tea is very bold, but it doesn’t have the same kick to it. It’s like it’s missing something essential. The other problem is that I don’t taste the mineral aftertaste, which makes me question whether this tea is actually from the Wuyi mountains.
The second infusion was milder, but it just wasn’t good. I just keep comparing it to higher quality teas, and it just doesn’t measure up. The taste changed for this infusion, but it is now merely a milder bland flavor. The aftertaste is nearly nonexistent, without even a hint of mineral in it. I’ve decided to stop now, and I’m probably going to put this tea in the very back of my small collection.
I decided yesterday to go through my three Da Hong Paos, so here is the second installment!
Like yesterday, this is brewed grandpa style in a large mug. The color of the first infusion was a nice deep red color, and had a surprisingly light roasted aroma. The taste of the first infusion was interesting, with a very bold roasted taste, with dark chocolate notes that linger along with the typical Wuyi mineral aftertaste. Also, the aftertaste really lingers with this tea, somethings hanging around in the tip of the tongue and the hard palate for up to a whole minute! This is definitely better than the last time I brewed this tea.
The second infusions was surprisingly dark, a nice dark amber instead of a deep red. The aroma also changed so that while it retained its roasted quality, it began to smell a bit sweeter, possibly fruit or caramel. The taste definitely has more of a caramel taste to it, and the aftertaste has mellowed out, and now only contains hints of the chocolate, which linger for about 15 seconds.
The third infusion is a lighter shade of amber, bordering on caramel. The aroma is now definitely caramel and hints of fruit. The taste has really mellowed, with prominent caramel and fruit notes. The roasted flavor is still present, but not nearly as strong as it was. Also, the aftertaste has become purely mineral flavored now. All in all, this was a very balanced and pleasant infusion, and much better than the first and second.
The fourth infusion is actually better than the third. The aroma was pretty much unchanged, and the color was only a little lighter, but the flavors was more balanced. The sweetness of the fruit and light floral notes contrasted well with the weakening chocolate and roasted flavors, resulting in a very nice cup of tea. It wasn’t too sweet or too bold, but it doesn’t have the same variety of flavors that the Big Red Robe from Verdant did during its peak infusion. Regardless, is is a very good cup of tea.
Given how well the tea leaves had been holding up, I didn’t expect this cup to as weak as it was. The color and aroma were greatly reduced, and the flavor had degenerated into a rather bland – yet still surprisingly sweet – generic Oolong. Granted, the tea still retains the Wuyi aftertaste, yet even that has been greatly reduced in intensity.\
The final verdict about this tea is that while it is very bold early, it very quickly loses its flavor after its peak, and becomes quite bland. Still, it is much better than average, and I wouldn’t mind buying this again in the future.
It was a nice cool, crisp morning and I had a hankering for a nice roasted Oolong. This “Golden Key” has been a really wonderful friend, but I had not had any since Christmas… so I brewed up a nice large cup full before heading to work, and set aside a second steeping to have cold later on. I love the nice roasted aroma and flavor of fresh baked sugar cookies. When hot it is extremely satisfying, and cool it is quite refreshing. I may have to order more of this before all of the 2011 batch is gone. ;-)
I was going through my box of Oolongs, and realized that I hadn’t had this tea in over a month. Needless to say, I corrected this oversight.
The first infusion had a wonderful aroma, and the coloro of the tea suggested a medium-roast Oolong. The aroma of the tea reminds me a bit of honey, and be wvery sweet (if that makes any sense). The taste is very interesting, with light wood and floral tastes mixing together. The aftertaste of the tea is the distinct Wuyi mineral aftertaste, but it was a bit overpowered by the other flavors of the tea.
The second and third infusions were noted for incremental decrease in the strength of the flavors of the tea. Because of this, the mineral aftertaste became more prominent, which was really pleasant. I love Wuyi Oolongs more than other types because of that aftertaste, and this tea was just a bit shy of my Da Hong Pao in terms of the balance between the more overt flavors and the aftertaste.
More to come later, if I have time.
Backlogging (so, based almost entirely on my notes)
Experience buying from China Cha Dao: < more later, but positive overall, with some reservations >
Age of leaf: Stated as harvested in spring 2011, received in late fall, brewed up not long after.
Appearance and aroma of dry leaf: Looked and smelled like other Dragon Well teas I have had.
Brewing guidelines: 2 tsp tea, 2 cups water.Loose in glass Bodum pot. Stevia added.
……….1st: 170; 1’
……….2nd: 175; 1.5’
……….3rd: 180; 2’
……….4th: 185-190; 2.5’
Aroma of tea liquor: Good, sweet smell.
Flavor of tea liquor: Familiar Dragon Well flavor. Held up fairly well though four steepings.
Appearance and aroma of wet leaf: < no notes here >
Value: moderately priced at about $4/oz.
Overall: Nothing stood out about the tea. It is about as good as other Dragon Wells I have had for a much better price (Jing Teas Shop). I wish I could say more.
I’m brewing this tea Grandpa style – which I’ve never tried – but am definitely enjoying it. I’m having a hard time describing the flavor of this tea. There is a definite light mineral taste with a hint of wood. I also taste some floral aspects which remind me of a greener oolong. But while I’m not sure about the flavors, I am really enjoying this tea prepared in this manner.
Merry (belated) Christmas! I just got back from my relative’s house, where I suffered from both caffeine AND internet withdrawal, and this is the first tea I’ve had since Friday.
I prepared this tea Grandpa style, using the normal amount of tea and water that was just off boiling. The first infusion was a nice dark amber color, with a typical “roasted” aroma. The taste of the first cup was a nice honey flavor and fairly typical for a Shui Xian. The second and third infusions were pretty much the same, except that the color started to lighten, and the tea became a bit sweeter.
The fourth infusion was noted by a more significant decrease in aroma and flavor, and becoming a bit sweeter. Other than that, nothing important happened. This was my last infusion of the day.
Thank you Jerry for sending me this amazing sample!
I could so get used to pu-erhs like this!! in fact, once I’ve finished the samples I would definitely consider buying some more. That will take a long long time mind you… since I have to finish all of what I have first!
The only thing that gives me pause so far… is that the steeped leaves smell like wet dog!! blegh. I don’t wanna know what wet dog tastes like…
Moving on! The first steep was very plain. Mellow, but very smooth and comforting. Not bold at all like the last pu-erh I reviewed. It had a natural cakey sweetness to it that lingers for a long time in the aftertaste. The cakeyness seems to be sort of clay-like, in a sort of distant mellow way. I feel as if I’ve just eaten a delicious angel food cake!
Oh and as it cools, there is a hint of astringency coming out. Odd, I think, for a pu-erh.
(I gave it a little rinse first btw! I only do this for fancy pu-erhs hehe)
The second steep is more of the same only a tad more cakey and as it cools a hint of fish. Definitely less cakey or sweet notes here. One of the other reviews mention spinach and I can see where they are getting that from in the finish though I never would have pinned it as such.
Oh wow, I let the cup cool even more and a different sweet note has emerged! or rather the same note, only right before the finish. and in the finish there is a bitter point that I’ve never experienced in a tea!!! it’s so mild that I am actually enjoying the bitter aspect. The bitter part of the aftertaste reminds me of brussel sprouts (only it tastes even more spinachy now, so picture a spinach sprout!). Oh and no more fishiness either, once it’s lukewarm.
I’ve done two or three more steeps after this (I always lose count!) and they’ve been pretty much the same as the first. I’m starting to get a bit of that raisiny flavour from the other pu-erh I reviewed last week, which isn’t really my thing!
Ah well. There are so many things to love about this one! It was never harsh, always smooth, and rather complex! Mmmm. I likey this one, alot!!!
So. Here I am trying this one again, and I’m getting very much the same as before.
It smells like raisin, and maybe clay… which is pretty accurate to the taste.
(NB: I did “wash” the leaves with a rinse)
My first steep was very raisin like, with a round, sweet base. The sweetness reminds me of what I think honeysuckle should taste like. As it cooled, a hint of clay emerged.
My second steep: less raisin, a touch more clay but only by a hair. The profile is even rounder still. It was sweet, but there was a hint of abrasiveness at the bottom of the cup… like coarse honey on the throat.
Third steep: Wow, this is very sweet! Cloyingly so. It’s very upfront, and constant through the sip. I’m still tasting raisin, behind the sweetness. The raisin and sugary taste seem related somehow… I find it hard to separate them but I know they are more side by side than one and the same. Clay is in there somewhere but wayyyy behind the raisin.
Fourth steep: Still very sweet, hitting the back of the throat now, where the abrasiveness was… and it’s rounder still!! but lighter. I’m having trouble placing the clay-ness here.
Fifth steep: Less sugary this time but it sticks around in the aftertaste. Not so much at the beginning of the sip where I get more clay. The sweetness now reminds me of stevia, only more natural tasting. (I still haven’t gotten used to the stuff)
There is also a clay like dryness. It just showed up in this steep, so suddenly! I had to down a glass of water after this cup so that the pasties in my mouth would go away.
I could have gone for another few steeps but I didn’t like the direction it was going. Still, I’m delighted at having made it this far! I’m bumping the rating a bit.
Thanks again Jerry Ma!!
Another I haven’t had in a while. Enjoyed 5 cups. This is a green puerh. Still haven’t figured out how to remember if that means sheng or shu. After the first steep the leaf smells like mushrooms – like springtime morels. Yum. I love green puerhs. They are so light and clean. Sweet and sticky on the lips. Seems creamy today.
I gave the third cup to a co-worker- traditionally the best cup. He grumbled, “it tastes like sweet dirt” and poured it out. Guess he is entitled to his opinion, even if he is a stupid head.
Overall: This tea is not a typical Puerh tea in our opinion, we are accustomed to a much more earthy pungent tea. This tea is very gentle and gives out a faint sweet aroma. There is a hint of bitter on the tongue and it initially brings a floral flavor. We recommend a longer than shorter steep (approximately 9 minutes). 1st steep was the best in our opinion but keep in mind we are fans of earthy strong tea.
1st steep (one of two trials)- 9 minute steep 1.5 tsp/1 cup 96*C
-light color (coppery)
-aroma not-earthy, sweet
-after-taste is bitter and lasts a while
-initial-taste strong but disperses into a medley of flavors (algae very small hint of fish and floral )
-very good but not the Puerh that we are familiar with
1st steep (two of two trials)- 5 minute steep 1.5 tsp/1 cup 96*C
-light color (golden)
-light fresh smell (almost like green tea)
-initial taste, lightly bitter, disappears quickly
-slight almost floral after-taste
-does not taste like Puerh, however refreshing
2nd steep (two of two trials)- 15 minute steep 1.5 tsp/1 cup 96*C
-very little taste, slightly tart compared to bitter taste of first steep, more floral than first tea
-very faint after-taste (more of a gentile tea), reminiscence of what the first steep used to be
-same color as first five-minute tea (golden)
3rd steep (two of two trials)- 15 minute steep 1.5 tsp/1 cup 96*C
-very similar to the 2nd steep, lost much of it’s flavor.
I had a final today, so I needed a dark, highly-caffeinated tea to start my day. Once again, this is a nice dark roast, with a very Wuyi-esque flavor (but without the legendary Wuyi aftertaste, which, as always, makes me a bit disappointed.). Unfortunately, the tea felt a bit…flat today, but that might be because I am still unable to smell anything, and smell greatly affects taste. Regardless, I’m sitting here writing this at 8:45 pm, after 5 cups, and the leaves are still capable of more. The tea is starting to get a bit sweeter, but that is actually rather nice, and I’m once again glad that I have a whole lot of tea.
Usually I start off a review of Qi Lan by commenting on the wonderful aroma. Unfortunately, I am still congested, so this is an exercise in futility. Regardless of my inability to smell anything, this was a very nice session with this tea. The lightly-roasted flavors were interesting, and were nicely complemented by the light honey flavors. One thing that was a bit odd was that the aftertaste was very muted, and the distinct mineral taste of a Wuyi Oolong was very hard to detect. The other strange thing is that I remember the tea having more complex flavors, but they are absent. I suspect that this is due to my congestion, as it is a well documented fact that smell greatly affects taste.