China Cha Dao

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Recent Tasting Notes

80

I’m pretty new to tea in general ,so it is rather difficult to express how this tea tastes. The flavor was only a medium in terms of strength, and it had a pleasing aftertaste. The scent of the tea was also unique, which simultaneously reminded me of flowers and roasted nuts. All in all, it was a very pleasing experience.

This was a rating of the first infusion, steeped for 3 minutes at 93 degrees centigrade.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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100

On this rainy day perfect way to finish this Spring “Shi Ru” tea. I am happy, enriched to have tried this Oolong. It is rich and does brew best very hot/boiling temperature.

I do not yet understand the term “sweet” if not adding sugar to something. Perhaps it is described as ‘sweet’ if not vegetal or coarse and smoky; then I would say it is sweet.

Each cup I have had of this tea was fresh in flavor and full; the longer I brewed this tea the more enjoyment I found within the cup. And the tea leaves are soupy; yums or go a bit further to buttered yams kind of yummy in taste.

I am liking Oolongs and this is a good thing.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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100

Another obtained China Cha Dao sampler that is most enjoyable. This is a good morning cup of tea which is very mild and fresh in aromatic flavoring. I don’t find this to be heavy at all.

The liquor is lightly greenish in color, almost yellow like and it is very smooth in texture; and sweet not vegetal. I drink it all day long and find it most enjoyable.

I am grateful for a simpler cup of loose leaf tea. It is gentle on the palette, not demanding much investigation.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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67

This is my first review in a series of six samples from China Cha Dao

Experience buying from China Cha Dao: I responded to an offer on Steepster for free samples. Received exactly what was stated in the offer: fresh tea and very generous sample sizes. On their website on eBay they have a good variety of tea for reasonable prices.

Age of leaf: Stated as 2011. Received in mid-summer, brewed in late summer 2011.

Packaging: small, clear bags with small label printed with the full name of the tea.

Dry leaf: long, slender, dark brown leaves. Slight scent, something burnt, like paper, gunpowder, or something (reminds me of the smell from my cap gun when I was a kid; wild!). I am guessing this is due to the roasting it goes through?

Brewing guidelines: loose in glass Bodum pot. Stevia added. (I wanted to start with shorter steeping times than the other reviewers to get a wider perspective—-range of flavor—-for this tea.)
…………….1st: 195, 2’
…………….2nd: 200, 3’
…………….3rd: 212, 5’
…………….4th: 195, 6’

Aroma: rich, almost like coffee.

Color of liquor: medium brown, like a lightly roasted coffee.

Wet leaf: slightly different smell than the dry leaf, more pleasant, perhaps sweeter? Lots of large, very dark leaves, a fair amount of smallish pieces (chopped?), and a few stems. Some of the leaves are so dark they look almost burnt (due to the roasting?). Leaves on the top of the water with some hanging vertically during the 1st steeping, some hanging vertically, and some on bottom, during the 2nd, and all sitting on the bottom during the 3rd and 4th steepings.

Flavor: (I struggled with how to describe the flavor, and I finally settled on this description) The taste is similar to the smell of the leaves, with a rich, roasted, robust flavor (the three R’s?!) reminding me of coffee. The third steeping tasted somewhat burnt (which I did not taste in the first or second steeping), but that was possibly because I used water that was too hot for it; I chalk that up as a learning experience: don’t steep this oolong in boiling water! Tasting it at room temperature, it tastes almost chocolaty. It held flavor all the way though to the fourth steeping (even at boiling!).

Value: Free 10-gram sample (Thank you Jerry Ma @ China Cha Dao tea on Ebay!). His regular tea is very reasonably priced, I judge ($7/125grams).

Overall: I am a newbie when it comes to oolongs (I’ve only had about three to four), so I invite you to read my review from that point of view. This may be the most challenging review I have written to date, trying to pin down the flavors and aromas.
I like this tea! It gives me somewhat of a sense that I am drinking coffee, as seule771 has mentioned in her review (I like coffee, but my wife does not, and she does not like this tea either). There is something else about it that I like which is hard for me to put my finger on; I think it’s that it tastes fresh. There is nothing stale or off-putting about the flavor in this tea at all. Although it is rich and robust, it is nonetheless somewhat mild tasting, and still enjoyable (I don’t know if you can have rich, robust and mild in the same cup, but that’s the best way I can describe it for now!). There certainly seem to be subtle flavors stealthily swimming around in my cup that I am missing (as a few of the other reviews has eluded to), and that’s all the more reason for me to drink a tea like this: to discover the wonders hidden in this cuppa!

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80

This is one of those high end tea drink as opposed to store brand tea. It is lighter in roasted flavoring; and honey like in taste leaving for a very smooth, almost velvety note on the palette.

The leaves are roasted, dark, crunchy and curled and when dispensed amidst the water in the cup the leaves unfolds to fullness; and what was dark in coloring of the leaves is a mild green; and yes the leaves are edible as well. Maintaining that honey flavoring throughout.

Texture is described as smooth and mellow and this conjures the honey sweetness in the cup making for a slight flora aroma and not vegetal.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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83

A very good Wuyi Mountain Oolong. This is the “Mama Bear” of the Wuyi Mountain Oolongs I tried from China Cha Dao. Not too smokey, not too sweet, but just right. Enough complexity to keep me interested through several steepings. It is distinctive in it’s aroma, and does not overwhelm you as some can. One note, this tea really depends on having good water that is not hard, best with bottled spring water (soft).

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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93

Soft, nutty and sweet with hints of honey :)

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50

The scent of this one is big.. it reaches right out and smacks you! It’s honey and tobacco with a hint of burnt.

On sipping it very hot there is a green note.. think dark green lettuce, cabbage or kale. Somewhere in there.

When cooled to warm, it has that burnt edge to it -but in a pleasant way, the vegetal flavor is much lighter, the honey sweetness comes out. The tea is generally light in the mouth and not actually sweet but puts you in the mind of honey, instead.

Not my favorite of these samples, but good.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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84

I have been slowly working my way through my Wuyi oolong samples and had been saving this for last since it seems to be the overall favorite of my fellow Steepsterites. Although I have not finished (or even tried) all of the other samples, I felt compelled to brew this one up today. I was wanting something really good and that is exactly what I received.

When I first opened the sample bag, I thought that somehow another aroma had leaked into the tea because I smell juicy, sweet raisins. After a few more long sniffs into the sample bag (long enough that my kitten was starting to worry about me) I have come to the conclusion that it is perhaps the actual tea leaves that are giving off this delicious aroma. Already, I was super excited about this tea just from the aroma alone.

After brewing up a pot, I am greeting primarily with a roasty, toasty oolong with a very nice sweetness that wells up through the middle of your mouth and stays with you long after swallowing that sip. Even my husband, who is very picky about tea said this one was “interesting and pretty good!” And this is all from only the first infusion. I can’t wait to try subsequent steeps – I love how oolongs seem to progress and evolve as time goes on.

My rating is temporary based on this first infusion but if subject to change depending on what else this tea has in store for me.

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82

I swear I dreamt about this oolong. Today, fear of heavy metal poisoning gone, I barely rinsed it and let each steeping cool to enhance the floral tones. It really tastes vegetal in a yellow, autumn way. It’s going to be tough to save a cup of this to compare to the Golden Key, spposedly the best of the batch!

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82

Brief 10 rinse.
The first steep is almost light feeling, some mineral and staying with the barley and birch flavors. The floral layer comes out when it cools somewhat.
Second steep is even lighter, more wheat and woodsy.
The third is lightly grain and floral, very nice.

I wouldn’t call this one sweet but gives the impression of sweetness, which I love, usually in white teas. The cloud of heavy metal I asscociate with Wuyi is absent and the roasted flavor is welcome in this tea, a blanced brew indeed. The large leaves and subtler flavors make this the best contemplation tea of all the samples. I think I like this one best and I burned the first cup!

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96

So far, this has been my favorite Wuyi I received in the sample set from ChaDao. It reminds me of a wuyi TGY mix. It has a smooth/sweet flavor. I definitely stands alone. I am not used to Wuyis without smokiness. Love it. I am just surprised it has been rated so low.

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80

This is the first sample from China Cha Dao I’ve tried. I brewed it gongfu-style with a 10-second rinse of the leaves before I started.

Dry leaves smell kind of sweet, with woodsy notes and a tiny bit of citrus, though this last note is incredibly faint.

1st infusion: 15 seconds
Tea is pale gold in colour, sort of like honey. The aroma reminds me of the smell of tabacco, though not in a bad way – the sweet, woodsy notes that are also present make this a pleasant smell. The taste is fresh and sweet with vegetative notes (but different to the ones I would expect to find in a green tea – this reminds me of tree bark). Does that make sense?

2nd infusion: 30 seconds
The tea is much darker this time. It tastes and smells pretty much the same as the first, though perhaps not as sweet, but still very fresh.

3rd infusion: 45 seconds
The leaves are still very rolled up. The tea is now more mellow and the tabacco note in the aroma is now apparent in the taste, if only barely (I have never tasted anything like that in tea before – I don’t think it can be contaminated because no-one in the household smokes, but it seems very odd. Not unpleasant, just odd). The tea feels like silk in my mouth.

4th infusion: 60 seconds
The tea is starting to get a little watery now, so this will be my last steep. The taste is mellow with woody notes. It isn’t bitter at all, not even in the aftertaste, which I sometimes find with darker oolongs.

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75

Compared to the other samples I tried, this one is less toasty, but also less sweet.
It’s like a “lite” version of the other types. Which is not to say that this tea is bad, because it is not. I am currently on my second infusion, which I am enjoying greatly.
It is, however, less impressive than the other samples. Good, but not outstanding.

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61

Last dark oolong sample from China Cha Dao! I really appreciate the opportunity to sample all of these teas, it’s been very educational. While I’m not head over heels for Wuyi dark oolongs, I have definitely come to appreciate them through this little experience. Thanks again to Jerry Ma for the samples!

Anyway, this one brewed up dark! One of the darker ones from the sample, it’s a deep slightly reddish brown. It smells, not shockingly, very roasted… this is definitely one of the more toasty varieties. Definite erring on the side of burnt/charcoal. There’s also a distinct sweet smell behind the roastiness, but it’s kind of shy and fleeting. There’s another kind of odd aroma that I can’t quite place, and it’s only getting stronger as the tea cools. It shows up in the taste as well, and it’s almost coffeeish, actually. Yup, definitely getting coffee flavors from this one, along with a smokiness.

I’d have to say that I’m not really taken with this one, primarily because of those coffee/smoky notes, but I can see how they would appeal to others with different sensabilities!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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68

Another China Cha Dao sample. I think this one has the most pleasing aroma when brewed of the ones I’ve tried so far; it’s a nice balance of roasted grains (but not over-toasted) and sweetish, honeyed florals.

This is definitely one of my favorites of the samples. The roasty flavor is light and not to charcoaly or overly robust, which I am enjoying. I find that I like my teas to have a sweet feeling to them, if not a sweet taste, and the exceptionally roasty ones seem more savory. Which is funny because I don’t get a distinct sweet flavor from this one (but did on the roastiest one, the Golden Key). A very slightly vegetal floral character, like one you would see in a green oolong, peeks out here and there. Overall this is just a nice, balanced cup.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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73

The leaves have a sweet smell when dry. I steeped them in 190 degree water for about 2.5 min and get a wonderful toasted aroma of the tea. You get toasted nuts with a bit of earth. It is an amber to darker honey in color and a bit sweet but yet earthy. It has no bitterness that I can detect an does not stay long on the tongue. You are left with a bit of a sweetness and for a second a minute bit of tannins. It is a very pleasant middle of the road toasted oolong. I would call it a medium to medium dark oolong. Probably around a 60 to 65% oxidation.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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67

This was the first of the sample pack that I tried, but I brewed the cup with half the amount of leaf that I should have, so it was quite weak. Here we go with a proper brewing.

Of the samples I’ve had so far, this one smells the most burnt-toasted when brewed. It really does have a charcoaly aroma, like slightly burnt rice. Fortunately (for me) the flavor is lighter; I really thought this would be heavy, by it’s aroma, but it doesn’t get bogged down in roastiness. Still, it’s the predominant flavor, and I don’t get any of that roasted-grain sweetness to the tea. There is the barest hint of something greenish and floral at the end of the sip. I’m surprised that this one falls a little flat to me, and it doesn’t seem to have the depth of the other ones I’ve tried.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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67

I jumped on this pack of free samples of oolongs when it showed up as a great chance to further my oolong education. These oolongs are all dark, which I generally don’t have much experience with. I’m not brewing them gong-fu style since I don’t have the setup for it, so I read up a little bit and settled on these steeping parameters for now.

The dry leaf smells roasty, but also sweet too. The leaves are fairly long and loosely twisted. The tea brewed up lighter than I expected, a medium amber color, and it has a lightish aroma that smells a bit like roasted grains.

The flavor is extremely light. I have a feeling that I didn’t have a correct tea/water ratio, which is a feeling I get often from these dark oolongs. The greens I don’t seem to have a problem steeping “traditionally” in a mug, but the darks trip me up. Anyway, it’s light but roasty and sweet. Really I’m getting more flavor in the aftertaste than in the sip itself. I definitely think I would really like it if I could get it right! Sigh. I guess I won’t rate this one until I can try it again. Fortunately I have a very generous sample to play around with.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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69

I feel like I’m running around like a madwoman trying to get ready for my next trip… a month in Argentina, starting this Sunday! So find myself having to stop a moment and remind myself to brew a cup of tea! Next up on the dark oolong road, this one.

Obviously I’m comparing these teas strongly to each other, and have thus far tried the 2011 “Golden Key” and the 2011 “Qi Lan”. The brewed aroma of this tea is more similar to the Qi Lan than the Golden Key, in that it is roasty but not overwhelmingly so. I can detect a few honey-floral notes in the background of this tea.

The flavor of this tea is much brighter than the previous two, surprisingly so. It’s got a slight mouth-tingling brightness that I usually associate with darjeelings. There are some honeyish notes here, but I’m not getting any real sweetness from this cup, if that makes any sense… like the honey flavor without the sweet. The toastiness is there but very definitely in the background, and I’m having trouble sussing out other flavors over the sheer brightness of the cup. This one’s not my favorite of the ones I’ve tried so far, but still definitely a drinkable tea.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec
JacquelineM

I hope you have a wonderful trip! So many of my relatives from Italy lived in Argentina before coming to America. There is a whole little Italian expat community from what I hear. I would love to go there to see what it is like.

Jenn

Argentina is gorgeous! The people are so warm, the architecture/ culture is very European/ Italian especially in Buenos Aires, and the food is amazing albeit challenging for a non-meat eater :) You’ll have so much fun and a month is ample time to enjoy all it has to offer. Enjoy!

Dinosara

I’m really excited, but I’ll also be spending most of my time doing research in museum collections, so I unfortunately will only see a very small part of what Argentina has to offer, despite all the time there! But it should be fun anyway.

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73

We’ll I just got home from five days in the backcountry and after having the obligatory greasy burger and cold beer, I decided to treat my self to a cup of tea, like I really need a reason to do that though.

I have to admit this is the first da hong pao I’ve had, I’ve had many other wuyi’s but this one is quite fantastic and unique in its wonderful qualities.

I think this is the darkest tea I’ve brewed out of the wuyi region, and while being bold it still retains its delicate subtleties. This tea definitely would not cut it when I’m craving on of the lighter roasted wuyi’s yet when I want something a bit more robust this is the ticket. Sweet, bold, somewhat malty, layered and complex. Yeah I’ll drink this again. looking forward to trying the other da hong pao I got from jerry ma. Thanks again for the samples.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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88

I received this tea from Jerry Ma’s six sampler pack and Da Hong Pao was amongst the lot received.

I have been drinking this all day. It makes for a very malty cup of tea. Those favoring coffee would surely appreciate the smokiness in the leaves and the brewed cup of tea.

Images conjured: roasted and smoky aroma. I am not sure about the sweetness in the cup since I am too absorbed in the aroma.

Envisioning: a hot cup of Da Hong Poa with either milk or cream and sweetened with some pure sugar. Unfortunately, I drink mine plain always.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 5 min, 0 sec
seule771

I think it is addictive as well since I find myself drinking it still. I woke up wanting to have more of this robust roasted brew. This image of smokiness stays with me as I sip the brew, note not liquor-like since it is robust and unsweetened.

Dare I say divine, since I have yet to sample the remainder…

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69

Earthquake tea! When the tower of the hospital that I work in started visibly shaking this afternoon, we did not assume earthquake, but it turns out that’s what it was. Enough to make the building sway fairly significantly, but not enough to do any damage. Anyway, now it’s time for some tea. Another at-random selection from the ol’ bag of dark oolongs!

The aroma on this one is decidedly less roasty, though that is only in comparison to the previous one I had, which was incredibly roasty. I do believe there are some floral notes lurking behind the roasted oolong scent. They come out in the flavor too, but surprisingly this tea lacks a very distinct sweet note you might expect, though it is faintly there. It definitely has the roasted nutty taste as the main note, but I’m liking this one for it’s slight floral character.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Jenn

I hope you’re okay after your earthquake scare. It never gets any less unsettling no matter how many I go through. I practically live on a fault line. I’m glad you had good tea to sooth your nerves.

Dinosara

Fortunately it was hardly anything up here… more of a novelty, and nothing even fell off the shelves! But it was definitely an odd, freaky feeling!

GalInTheGreyHat

I agree I live in Upstate NY and a few seconds before it started my kitten started chirping and other two cats shot up from their naps and started racing around…then my chair felt like it was a rocking chair and not a desk chair…I did not make tea, but I should have as the feeling freaked me out a tad.

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87

Another very good quality Oolong from China Cha Dao. Nice aroma, slight scent of roasted apples and wood fire. A very mild sweetness to the flavor, and a wonderful feel in the mouth. Beautiful amber color, and you can see nice unfurling of the medium sized leaves.

I fist brewed a sample western style, with about 1 heaping teaspoon for 7 ounces of near boiling water. It lasted for several infusions and really got me hooked. This afternoon I tried brewing gong fu style in a small 150 ml zisha yixing, and the results were equally pleasing.

A very interesting journey in tasting this tea. It is one that I have enjoyed very much and look forward to drinking again.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Kashyap

did a bunch of people get on a list from China Cha Dao? seem like over the last 12hrs teas from them have been sampled…curious

E Alexander Gerster

Jerry Ma from China Cha Dao had a post in the Discussions area and sent out samples to a bunch of us. It was a very generous selection of his oolong teas. If you follow him, you can maybe get some samples from his next batch. I would be happy to send you part of my samples — especially the top three of his oolongs.

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