01 September 2011
China Cha Dao Da Hong Pao
The least expensive of the teas from the China Cha Dao sample pack at $23/500g and the only one without a listed grade, the leaves of the gradeless Da Hong Pao are broken/short and dark. It smells very heavily roasted, even when dry.
I used all 11g in my gaiwan, again "Brazil nutting" to put the bigger leaves on top.
To my delight, the brewed tea only a little sour, and although heavily roasted, the roasted flavor never crosses into the "tastes like charcoal" territory. While some interesting floral notes appear in the taste in the 3rd and 4th infusions, and the aftertaste is decent, the tea is monotone.
Eventually, in later steepings the "cheap restaurant oolong" flavor emerges, a sort of "unnatural" sweetness: not artificial, but out of place. It's not strong enough to be awful, but it distracts from the nicer flavors when brewed too quickly. To its credit, although it needs real pushing after the 5th infusion, it does hold up to many long infusions.
At the price, one could buy much worse, for certain. At an "everyday tea" price, it's an everyday tea. After brewing it gongfu, I wonder if using less leaf and longer steeps would be a better way to brew this particular tea.