China Cha Dao
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Recent Tasting Notes
I haven’t had an oolong in awhile, but not because I don’t enjoy them. It is just unusual for me to commit to such an extended tea session with the same tea. I usually switch it up and drink several different teas over the course of a day or evening. However, I woke up craving an oolong session today! I picked out this Da Hong Pao from my generous sample box that I received because I was in the mood for a truly roasty, toasty experience. I remembered to do a quick 5-10 second rinse before settling down into my first 3 minute infusion with this tea.
The liquid from the first infusion is very light in color, but holds a sweet aroma that reminds me of good BBQ sauce for some reason. The flavor has a bit of a toasty/woody thing going on but there is a good amount of a natural sweetness hanging out. This infusion is pretty enjoyable, but I’m looking forward to the consecutive ones more. The first infusion from an oolong is never my favorite. I’m leaving this unrated until I progress more through this brewing series.
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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. ;-)
A few months back, China Cha Dao was kind enough to send samples of a variety of their Oolong teas. Of those I tried, this one had the right balance of sweetness, baked flavor and complexity to keep me interested. So I ordered a 125 gr bag, along with two other unrelated teas, and have been happily enjoying it for the past few weeks.
This morning I brewed it western style in a glass pot so that I could watch the dark leaves unfurl and dance, releasing their goodness to make a copper colored infusion. Since Oolong leaves are only partially oxidized, they don’t impart the dark color of their black tea brethren, but they certainly create a highly fragrant tea with lots of complex flavor notes. Multiple steeps takes you on a journey through ancient forests, smells of campfire, and a brush by an apple orchard. Each time I brew it there are new things to notice, and it is a forgiving tea, brews well every time. A nice find by Jerry Ma at China Cha Dao.
As others have noted, the honey-sweetness and roastiness are less prevalent in this than in the other China Cha Dao Oolong samples. However, I’ve really enjoyed five infusions of it. It’s certainly more subtle, and perhaps less complex. But, I like how it evolved for me. I was really surprised by the strong floral notes I got from the third steep onwards. It started out quite nutty, and the floral emerged to work alongside the nuttiness.
I ran across this tea in my stash when I was looking for my Shu puerh, and realized I hadn’t had this for months. The first thing that struck me when I opened the tin was the strong roasted smell of the leaves. I put some in my tea ball, and let it steep in nearly-boiling water for three minutes. The result is a fairly dark tea that smells very roasted/toasty. The taste is very much like a Wuyi Oolong, much more so that I actually remember. The taste is pretty much the standard heavily-roasted Oolong taste, with no tea distinguishing feature, but the aftertaste tastes mineral-ish, but it doesn’t have the same smooth feeling associated with Wuyi Oolongs. Overall, it was a very pleasant tea, but with nothing special as of yet. I don’t have high expectations, but I’ll see how it develops in later steeps.
Second infusion, 205 degree water for a minute and a half. The tea is a nice caramel color, and the taste has mellowed quite a bit. The roasted flavor is smoother, and so is the aftertaste, making it seem even more like a Wuyi. The roasted taste also lingered pleasantly in my hard palate for over a minute, rounding off a very nice second infusion. I have to confess, this tea is much better than I remember, and the rating is getting bumped up again.
ALright, I had two more cups of this, and it was pretty good, but I got interrupted by some eleictical work that my dad was doing, so I; didn;t have electricity to post about it here. The TL;DR is that it was much better than I remember, and I’m really glad I git 100 grams of this tea.
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 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.
I opened up my tin of this again, after leaving it alone for a few weeks, and was greeted with the vivid roasted aroma with chocolate undertones. The aroma of the steeped tea is more subtle, but the roasted smell is still very prominent. The first infusion is rather dark, comparable to a black tea, but the taste is much subtler. There are nutty and chocolatey notes flavors present, which have really aged well, and produce a very smooth flavor with a hint of sweetness. The aftertaste of the tea is also really interesting, as it merely leaves a kind of tingling on the back of the tongue which is rather pleasant.
The only thing that I have to complain about is that it looks like a heavily-roasted Wuyi Oolong, and the taste is remarkably similar to a Wuyi Oolong, so I find myself comparing it to my Da Hong Pao, which is a bit unfair. Regardless, it is a rather nice tea, and I think it will enjoy it for quite a while.
The later infusions were interesting, especially how the sweetness that began to assert its self complemented the nutty flavors, and yet it didn’t affect the smoothness of the tea. As much as I hate to say it, this tea once again draws a comparison to Wuyi Oolongs, but it matches up better than some of the cheaper fares from that region. I got 6 infusions out of this tea, which is really a testament to how heavily roasted it was.
Anyway, the executive summary is that it’s a good tea, very smooth, nutty flavors, and something to look forward to drinking again.