05 September 2011
China Cha Dao Shi Ru "AAA+"
The remaining three samples from China Cha Dao carry the grade "AAA+", including this Shi Ru ("rock milk"? Some have suggested "stalactite", but that's rushi (乳石) not shiru (石乳)). These kinds of grades, I'm finding, have either or both of the following psychological effects: it biases the drinker to think the tea is better or it really raises expectations. Will I be biased that this tea will meet my raised expectations?
The tea smells like passionfruit with vegetal green oolong smell and some roasted aroma, very balanced. The taste likewise sits in balance: fruitiness, vegetal, a little roast, ending oily and fragrant in the mouth. Over the infusions, the fruitiness and vegetal flavors take center stage, and the roast stands in the background. It reminds me of what good mainland China Tie Guan Yin used to taste like before it went "nuclear green": halfway between wuyi's thick roasted savory flavors and dancong's thinner fruitiness.
Unlike the other rock teas in the sampler, the Shi Ru has no sourness.
It tastes very well oxidized, and as the brews went on and on, I wondered if this is not a yancha at all, but instead a well roasted dancong! But then, it finishes mineral and thick like a wuyi, and the steaming leavees smell more like wuyi than dancong.
11g in 100ml held up very well to gongfu brewing: the tea lasted upwards of 16 infusions with punchy, very sweet flavor, a difficult task for most oolongs.
So far, this is the best of the bunch, more fragrant and interesting than the Shui Xian at slighly higher a price. I enjoyed being reminded of what Tie Guan Yin was like before contemporary Chinese tastes and modernized production gutted its flavor, but people who like the heavier roasted, savory flavors of wuyi might find this too oxidized/fruity and not roasted enough for their tastes.