Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Da hong pao oolong tasting; a Wuyi yan cha (rock tea)

New favorite tea shop

I recently visited a tea shop I've been hearing a lot about, and picked up a few nice teas.

The picture of me with the owner doesn't really show how the shop is sort of a large booth in a wide mall walk-way.  But there is space for a small tasting area, a nice glass display cabinet, shelves of tea-ware and tea figures, and of course lots of tea.  I think the name of the store is Tea De Zhang, definitely located in the Seacon Square shopping mall, with the Facebook page here.

They essentially specialize in pu'er, but depending on preference and what else you find that you like there that might not matter.  

I was there to buy two teas:  a well-known pu'er I'll share with a tea friend, and another loose tea recommended by another.  He said the tea was a Wuyi yan cha (rock oolong), related to da hong pao, and per the labeling one of two separate yan cha teas was a da hong pao.  The owner's wife was in China, overseeing old tree leaf sources used for a limited edition of a less commercial pu'er production--a tea for another day.

As routinely occurs in this country language was a bit of a problem, but with some help from a third party I bought the teas, in spite of a review process by my wife who was on the errands with me.

My wife had insisted I finish "all" the tea in the house before buying more--definitely not reasonable, a project I only mostly completed--and this purchase added up to a lot of tea.  

All the same it was a steal at not so much over $100 for over a kilogram of tea (3 pu'er cakes--on sale; see later blog entry).

Tea tasting:

To keep this entry readable I've decided to experiment with using the form of tasting notes, edited to be less messy, but all the same thoughts on the tea as I experienced it.  

I tried tasting by comparing Western style brewing against tea made in a gaiwan, and the results were quite similar, the flavors just changed over subsequent infusions differently.

-appearance:  long twisted dark leaves, tea brewed to brownish amber

-initial flavors include cocoa, wood and earth tones. Maybe teak and slate (I'm not so well trained with such flavors), with a malty undertone.

-smooth taste with relatively higher oxidation, without flavor profile starting towards even a soft black tea; no tannin / astringency.

-cocoa flavor stands out initially (a favorite), hits the palate first

-some natural sweetness, but hard to relate that to a specific fruit element and definitely not a floral tone.  If there were a fruit element it would probably be something like apricot, but the wood and mineral elements really stand out, so I wasn't really "getting" fruit.

brewed leaves

-not so much difference between gaiwan and Western brewing initially, but this could relate to technique, or could change based on variables, ratio or timing.

-the western brewing taste changes by second infusion; "brighter" cocoa fades a little and taste elements shift to different wood tone, balsa or even cardboard.  Not as negative as it sounds, still delicious, but not as good.  The gaiwan brewing seems to preserve the initial taste profile for 3 infusions better; "cleaner" flavors.  Even later infusions are pleasant using both brewing types though; tea tastes nice until it fades, consistent except for that change.

-the taste elements combine well, are very continuous, with a nice rich feel / body to the tea

In summary, the tea was quite nice, with the types of flavors I prefer just now.  It seems like a higher grade version of the same tea might hold the taste better over multiple infusions with a little more complexity, but the tea was very good and an excellent value.


  1. thanks much, but I'm an intermediate at best. it's nice to learn along with others though.

  2. One study has found that certain catechins found in green tea taken at levels many hundreds of times greater than what could be obtained from even very high tea consumption may actually damage DNA. These results are only relevant for those taking such amounts of the catechins in pharmaceutical formulations. Similar results from unnatural concentrations of other antioxidants including vitamin E and vitamin C have also been demonstrated in human trials. Further, more recent studies and those done in countries outside the US, such as Japan have found green tea consumption to result in decreased risk of many cancer, cardio-vascular disease, and dementia including Alzheimer's.

  3. I went to this shop today and had a 2 hour session with the owner, great place! Thanks for leading me to this shop John!!