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!