Wow first time Cha Gao and I love it
First steeps more like instant beef broth
Turns to cacao/bitter choclate/coffee in later steeps bitter and floral notes
Nice beef broth/floral smell
“Wow first time Cha Gao and I love it First steeps more like instant beef broth Turns to cacao/bitter choclate/coffee in later steeps bitter and floral notes Nice beef broth/floral smell” Read full tasting note
“Earthy, smoky and sweet, remembering me of liquorice. Images and more at https://puerh.blog/teanotes/2015-black-magic-blt” Read full tasting note
“Whisked some of the “Silver” grade of this in some hot water and did a semi-grandpa style thing with it this morning – I saw semi because you can only add fresh water to this so many times before...” Read full tasting note
“Bronze grade. Have had this for a while and been meaning to try it. I got the podium, which has a sample of each grade, and decided to try the bronze grade first. The sample consists of a few black...” Read full tasting note
Cha gao (茶膏/tea paste), also known as “instant puer”, was originally produced during the Tang and Song dynasties, and perfected during the Qing dynasty. At its zenith during the Qing dynasty, cha gao was considered a delicacy and enjoyed only by the elite class. For the last century, however, cha gao’s production methods and quality have not adequately reflected its previous status. Our Black Magic Raw Puer cha gao attempts to restore it to its former glory.
Available in 3 different grades, each version of our Black Magic cha gao is made from 100% Yiwu region raw puer material from both young and old trees. The cha gao, or tea paste, is hand made in Yiwu by soaking the tea for several days in a simmering tank of water until the water has almost entirely evaporated, leaving behind a thick resin. This resin is then spread into sheets and dried. After this, a vital and often overlooked step is taken to ensure an excellent result. Nothing. The cha gao rests for a minimum of one year, during with time any “off” flavours are expelled. Similar to fresh shou puer, cha gao that has been produced too recently may have excessive smokiness and an unpleasant burnt taste. Small ridges along the top surface are a good indication that the cha gao is ready for drinking.
While this cha gao is made entirely of raw puer material and water, the resulting flavour is one that can be surprising. It contains many of the qualities one could expect from a traditional raw puer – fragrance, sweetness, huigan, bitterness, etc, but there is also some earthiness and even light smokiness, though in a unique way. For those new to cha gao or uncertain of whether they will enjoy it, we advise ordering a small amount to start off, then deciding how to proceed.
Our Gold grade is perhaps the most aggressive and boldest of the three. Made from old tree material, this cha gao has a thicker feel and is more likely to exhibit a bitter character.
Our Silver grade is the most fragrant of the 3. Made from higher quality material, this cha gao is very drinkable and enjoyable.
While our Bronze grade is the most affordable, it still holds its own in terms of unique fragrance and lingering sweetness.
We recommend an experimental approach to finding your own brewing parameters with this cha gao, but generally 1 gram in a 120-160ml vessel brewed gongfu style works well. Start with a flash rinse, then brew the first infusion for 5-20 seconds, or as long as desired. The strength is best indicated by the colour of the soup, which will be a light to medium orange-brown colour. For this purpose we also advise using a light coloured or glass vessel in order to accurately gauge. This method should yield at least 3-4 infusions.
It’s worth noting that cha gao is still a condensed tea, so the caffeine (and of course cha qi) will be quite high and very noticeable. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
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Whisked some of the “Silver” grade of this in some hot water and did a semi-grandpa style thing with it this morning – I saw semi because you can only add fresh water to this so many times before the paste completely dissolves and you’ve consumed it all.
I was craving dark, heavy, thick, bitter, and burly this morning though and HOLY HELL did this tea kick my ass. It 100% delivered on that smokey, earthy, bitter and leather-y profile that I was craving while also REALLY waking me up and giving me that caffeine boost I needed to feel present. Plus, it was also just a really cool share here at work since ti was something that a lot of people hadn’t had the chance to try before.
Have had this for a while and been meaning to try it. I got the podium, which has a sample of each grade, and decided to try the bronze grade first. The sample consists of a few black shards wrapped in bronze foil. 1 gram goes into the gaiwan, and after a flash rinse, matter from the shards begins to release, collecting at the bottom of the gaiwan.
The liquor is an orange brown as expected. I do get a familiar, shou-like aroma, and the first steep tastes of iron to me, kind of metallic and salty. rhinkle gets giggly pretty much immediately.
For the second steep I use my puerh pick to scrape the bits away from the surface of the gaiwan a bit and stir for about a second. By the time I sit down to start sipping from this steep, I’m definitely feeling the caffeine. The taste is completely different. No longer getting the iron, more of a light, clean earthiness. I can feel the energy coursing through me, but not in that disturbing jittery way that I really don’t like.
Sweetness really comes through in steep three. I have to take a break from it after this one as the effect is strong. When I come back to it I do a more concentrated round and finish it off it ends up cooling down quite a bit before I get to drink, resulting in an iced coffee flavor.
Overall a very interesting experience. Can’t wait to try silver and gold!
Flavors: Coffee, Earth, Metallic, Salt, Sweet
The dry Cha gao (茶膏/tea paste) has almost not aroma. Perhaps it depends on humidity or dryness of the paste. After a flash rinse I get an aroma I can best describe as smoked dates, but it still has that coffee like quality. Just picking up a sweet note with this one.
1/5s: Straight away the first thing I notice with this one is the clarity of the brew. The other two grades had a bit of cloudiness to them. In terms of taste it’s the same sweet yiwu sheng with notes of coffee and cacao.
2/30s: Got distracted. Another thing that I’m noticing between grades is how quickly and easily the cha gao dissolves. Mmmm and that huigan that only showed up in the last steep with the previous two grades is already apparent in this steep. Despite the darker brew (due to longer steep) the smoky/coffee note is subdued giving a much more chocolate/cacao note.
3/45s: Nice crisp finish. Great huigan. Sweet cacao and a bit of coffee throughout. Very smooth mouthfeel. I know it may be more pronounced because I haven’t eaten yet, but the cha qi packs a nice punch.
4/60s: Same a previous
5/90s: About the same as previous though there’s more cacao and the huigan has kicked up a notch.
6/360s: Wanted to finish this off, so I gave it time to fully dissolve. Gold is noticeably is super clear. Pure cacao! Super sweet huigan! I’m curious why it comes out so sweet at the end. Really good!
Something that I didin’t note in the previous reviews is that after the flash rinse, the cha gao sticks pretty firmly to the wall of the brewing vessel. So, after you rinse, immediately tap the bottom of the vessel so the paste settles near the bottom because you only have 5-10s. After that you can add water and pour tea without worry of the bits of gao swirling about or falling into your tea cup or pitcher. Also of note between grades is that there is a tiny bit of plant matter (leaves, tea dust) in the gao that decrease as you go up in grade.
Flavors: Cacao, Coffee, Sweet