April 7, 2010

2009 Douji Red Dadou

The Douji brand of teas have been getting plenty of positive reviews lately, and as usual, I,m lagging a little behind everybody else when it comes to checking them out. It seems that the majority of people think of the Douji brand as being a step up in quality from Menghai brand. I hope that they are. It would be nice if there were a brand that fits neatly in between the Menghai teas and the boutique teas. Although some of the Douji cakes are a little pricey they haven't quite reached the price range of say a Hai Lang Hao, yet anyways. Well, I am about to find out just where the Douji's rank when it comes to my tastes in tea. The Red Dadou is made from a blend of Menghai and Lincang area tea's. (Not to be confused with the Menghai brand) The Red Dadou is Douji's highest grade of the recipe (blended) cakes.

Not even having opened the cake the first thing I notice is the higher quality paper wrapper, just a little touch of class. Also the wrapping of the cake itself is evidence that they have their own way of doing things.To me it's obvious that Douji wants to visually set itself apart from Menghai and Xiaguan. Look at the back of the cakes wrapper, very neatly folded pleats with a re-attachable sticker that clearly states what it is. In such contrast to Menghai's wadded up wrappers with the anti-fake label that turns out to be not so anti-fake after all.
Now, on to the tea. The cakes surface is very attractive. Whole, healthy looking leaf that has a splattering of silvery buds. This cake smells very fresh and green. The wood and tobacco smells are there but much more in the background when compared to a Menghai tea. Doesn't really have anything unique in it's aroma, nothing I haven't seen before but what I can say is that it's very balanced. Judging by the smell alone I,m not sure I could guess in what direction this teas flavor is going to lean.
The cakes compression is perfection. Tight enough that it has a solid and hefty feel to it yet loose enough that prying into the cake is effortless. The maocha is very easy to separate into a nice pile of unbroken leaves. Not the dried up, chopped mulch that you get with a Menghai tea. But I do realize that those chopped leaves is how they achieve consistency from one cake to the next. With cakes made from whole leaves there is variation from one cake to the next. Even from one side of the cake to the other you can find differences in the teas flavors.

The tea brews up a crystal clear yellow soup. The aroma from the sharing pot is leathery and woodsy with the tobacco in the background, but that could all change with further infusions. Sometimes these flavors and aromas shift roles throughout the session. Very slightly sweet with plenty of bitterness. It's not a heavy dull bitterness we have here but something very light and clean but there is plenty of it. The teas body is just a little on the thin side but maybe I need to bump up the quantity of leaf used. After further contemplation, I think I do need to use more leaf. I normally use 10 gms of leaf for the yixing I,m using today but next time I,ll increase it to 12 gms and see how it turns out. There are some of the beany flavors that I like, but not in sufficient quantity. To be honest I,m not really enjoying this teas flavors that much. Not that it's bad or anything it's just kinda flat and thin. Maybe it needs a couple years of age on it before it starts to put on a little weight. After all, Menghai's teas are made from maocha that already has a few years of age on it when it's being pressed. If the Douji's are being pressed from the current years harvest then that would explain the lack of character.

So, all in all, I,m impressed by the presentation and the quality of the leaf. The compression is perfect and it's durability is good. I,m just not exactly bowled over by the teas flavor. But I,m not dismissing it yet. I,ll have another go at it with more leaf and see if I don't like it any better. All the indicators are there for a tea that's going to age well. We will see! And by the way, I didn't get a picture of the spent leaf but it was rather nice, a very healthy shade of green with no oxidation to the leaf. This is a debatable issue in that the oxidised leaf may or may not (depending on what you choose to believe) age well. I have no way of knowing if this is correct or not but for those of you who believe that it affects the teas age ability you will be pleased to hear that the tea has not been "wulong,d"

Note: just as I suspected, gotta use extra leaf in order to bring the best out of this tea. The teas richness is much more noticeable and those sweet and beany flavors are more assertive. However, I do think that this tea needs some storage time to fill out a little as it,s still a tad thin. One aspect of this tea that I had not noticed before was a delicate floral, perfume like aroma in the cup. It's a very nice tea and I have high expectations for it in the coming years. I really hope that Douji doesn't turn out to be one of those "here today, gone tomorrow" company's.


  1. I've noticed that you've been changing the background of your blog a few times, and IMO I like this latest one...makes the text easier to read.

    Anyway, have you tasted the mini-brick version of this? I'm wondering if there's a difference in quality/leaf.

  2. Thanks Maitre, yeah I changed it out of nesessity because there seemed to be some technical issues with the other background. Blogger in Draft is pretty cool, all kinds of stuff to play with. Anyways the Douji, no, Ive not tried it. I do plan on getting some of the mini bricks though to check some of the other teas out though.

  3. I agree with you that the Douji's are nice, but might need some time. I also had to brew the tea with more leafs than usuall.

    Keep posting!


  4. Hi Terje, I was wondering what happened to you. I thought maybe I had offended you with my blogging about how nasty the Yong De tea was. Yeah the Douji's are very well made teas, much higher quality in every respect than Menghai but they need some time to develop some body and character. I,m glad to hear from you, Thanks for reading.

  5. No, by no means! It's horrid, but my exams have been quite demanding. Now I'm drinking tea again - especially Changtai.

  6. The Chang Tai teas are very nice, at least the ones Ive had so far have all been to my liking. Steve at jas-etea has ordered some of the Chang Tai cakes for his site but I don't know which ones. I,m sure he is getting them from DTH on ebay and they typically have a good selection so we will see.