Thursday, June 22, 2006

2005 Menghai Factory, Early Spring Harvest, Ban Zhang

The Ban Zhang appellation in Yunnan is indeed a good place for tea. Though my experience with Ban Zhang pu-erh's is limited (I have tried 4 different pu-erh's from this area, not including the tea being reviewed here), it is fast becoming a personal favorite.

I purchased this 2005 Menghai Ban Zhang from
Yunnan Sourcing LLC for US$9/250gr tuo (bird's nest-shaped).

The purpose of this tasting was to find out the quality and ageworthiness of this tea: if it was approachble young or must be kept for some years before consumption.

A tightly compressed tuo, it took quite an effort to break apart the leaves. Fresh green fragrance emanated from the tuo. Once broken, one could see that -- as expected -- the leaves within were of lower grade(s) than those on the surface.

Brewing parameter: Yixing, 100/99' C spring water, 5s rinse twice, then 5s, 10s, 15s, 30s, 45s, 1m, 1.5m, 2m...

Hot wet leaves gave focused aromas of cedar, fresh cut grass, butter and floral (orchid?). Liquor was of medium to dense amber in color with an oily appearance. The tea was amazingly weighty and full-bodied. First and foremost, it was very woody (cedar), and then followed by its smokiness and bacon-y/meaty aromas. Its greeness was felt refreshingly sweet on the sides of my throat, though it was somewhat overshadowed by the aforementioned tastes. A strong, sweet finish that lasts.

From the first few sips, I noticed its strong cha qi hitting my palate and body. I almost immediately felt a good buzz in my head, my lower back felt warm, and after only the first cup I felt a bit tea-drunk. I had to rest for 15 minutes before brewing my second cup. Subsequent brews amplified its cedary characteristic and also brought out camphor into an already layered tastes.

Another very interesting Ban Zhang pu-erh for me. I believe it has a very good potential to age well and should be consumed when it has acquired some age.

3+ stars (g-vg)

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