09 September 2011

China Cha Dao Golden Key Grade AAA+

China Cha Dao Golden Key "AAA+" - leaf

Continuing on with the oolong samples from China Cha Dao, I decided to bring the remaining two along to tea with the LA Tea Affair group this past weekend. While tasting teas and writing notes and forming my own opinion forms the basis of this blog, writing about tea in a vacuum does eventually feel unnatural. Tea at its best is group sharing of simultaneous individual experiences of a tea among friends and friends-to-be.
We only tried one, the Golden Key Grade AAA+. The entire 10g sample was brewed in a 110ml yixing pot, making for an altogether different experience from my 90-100ml gaiwan at home.

China Cha Dao Golden Key "AAA+" - brewed

Like the Shi Ru, the Golden Key is rather heavily oxidized and, likewise, reminded me of dancong in flavor and aroma: fruity, floral. Also similar to the Shi Ru, the Golden Key finished more like a wuyi oolong, roasty and masculine. Unlike the Shi Ru, the Golden Key began sour.

It was thinner and everyone commented that it was missing something, and I think this item missing was gan. The bitterness of the tea faded away without a returning sweetness, leaving only an astringent fruitiness behind. This struck some as having a "commercial grade" feel to it, tasting good but lacking some of the body characteristics that take good Wuyi oolongs beyond good and into great.

China Cha Dao Golden Key "AAA+" - brewed leaf

The Golden Key also gave out sooner than the other teas, giving maybe 4 good infusions before becoming watery.

One sample left, Da Hong Pao, the king of Wuyi teas, and an AAA+ no less! Great expectations...


Tony B. said...


I'm looking to buy my first good teapot and was wondering what other types are there besides Yixing, Gaiwan and Tetsubin. Which one would you recommend?

Great blog by the way.

Bearsbearsbears said...

Hi Tony,

Aside from yixing clay and iron, there are porcelain, glass, and stoneware teapots.

As far as recommending something to you, it really depends on what you plan to use the teapot for. If you want one pot for multiple teas, I would suggest porceleain or glazed stoneware, not yixing. Yixing culture suggests you use one pot for only one genre of tea--not that you have to follow that rule.

Iron tends to get really hot, which can make it difficult to use and it can do heat damage to finished wood furniture if not put on a trivet or towel. These pots are also usually larger, so better suited for "western" brewing (high water:leaf ratio, longer steeps).

Hope that's helpful.


Tony B. said...

This is very helpful. I think I'll try the yixing since I drink mainly black teas. I read on wikipedia (not the best source, I know) that yixing teapots are best for black and oolong teas, so any other type of teas I'll just keep doing it the way I do it now.

I've added your blog to my rss reader. I only wish there were more tea blogs that update regularly. Thanks for the quick reply.

Bearsbearsbears said...

You're very welcome!

If you don't have a vendor or particular pot in mind already, you might check out what people have to say about yixing vendors on teachat.com. Some vendors pass off new pots covered in shoe polish as antiques, and some others are really pricey. If you want particular vendor recommendations, it's a good place to go. Or you can ask me privately.