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Recent Tasting Notes
Bana Tea Company has some of the best ripe pu’er. This mini cake is one of their cheaper offerings, but is pretty solid. It tastes a little young, but has a good earthy, bittersweet, molasses, brown sugar, mineral flavor. The last steeps are like drinking dessert with all sugar taste. There’s some dryness early on, but is very approachable mid to last steeps. I got 11 resteeps.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2015-bulang-ripe-puer-mini-cake-bana-tea-company/
This tea was part of a couple of puerh samplers my daughter gave me for Christmas. I’m not much of a ripe drinker, but enjoyed the opportunity to sample such an old tea.
After a 10 s rinse and 5 minute wait the tea tastes very much like a traditionally stored sheng. The primary taste is wet wood, but there is some camphor lurking in the background. I’m feeling a fairly good amount of cha qi as well. Color is also sheng-like: burnt sienna, without any reddish tinge. 2nd steep): Really nice wood/camphor aroma. Brown color. Taste is slightly sweet; camphor with some fruit. Really nice finish. Later in the cup, the taste is kind of earthy/dirty and I’m finding I don’t like it as much. 3rd and 4th steeps: nose is wet wood; taste not so much. Becoming sweeter, and slightly nutty. 6th (2 m): Soft and fruity. Very little wet wood. Bumped my score up a couple of points.
My overall impression was that the tea was very interesting, but that I got tired of the wet wood flavor very quickly. Fortunately, only two steeps were really dominated by wet wood, though it was present in the first 4 of 5 steeps. My rating went up and down in inverse proportion to the woody flavor. Since I was comparing this to an old sheng, I did some tasting of the W2T 90’s Hong Kong storage alongside this tea. I liked the HK flavor better because there wasn’t much of the wet wood, though this tea was quite a bit more interesting, and had less camphor.
This was a very interesting tea, but not at all what I was expecting. Reading the reviews, I was expecting some horchata-like white, though I wound up getting that so much from the Tribute White that I almost wonder if I wound up with the wrong teas! This tea leapt forth with cranberries, gooseberries, and sour grapes from the fore, which settled down into plenty of berry salad mixed with a little tarragon. Early steeps had some tamarind in them as well. The tea never got sour in the mouth, but was a nice, calm sweet/bitter combination that was very pleasant, with a heady aroma of berries. It was…well, rather like a white tea had some age on it, and was allowed to calm down. Even though it wasn’t what I was expecting, it was still quite nice!
I reviewed this and the Tribute White from Bana with pictures here: http://writing.drab-makyo.com/posts/tasting/2016/04/07/bana-whites/
Flavors: Berry, Cranberry, Grapes
I’m not huge on whites, but these aged ones might yet win me over. I’m used to more medicinal and sharp white teas, but this one burst forth immediately with honey and malt and milk. In fact, it reminded me so much of my childhood breakfast of hot Grape Nuts and milk topped with hone that I was made hungry almost immediately. The early steepings were mostly honey and grain, while the mid steepings shifted to more of honey and autumn leaf pile, very tasty. The later steepings started to calm down quite a bit, still milk and honey, and the tea pooped out around six steeps, though it was tasty all the way through. I found myself quite tea-drunk, by the end, and my notes don’t make a whole lot of sense :)
I reviewed this with Bana’s Moonlight White with pictures here: http://writing.drab-makyo.com/posts/tasting/2016/04/07/bana-whites/
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Grain, Honey, Malt, Milk, Sugar, Sugarcane
1st steep (10s): Strong, rich aroma is leathery. With some spice. Smells old. Deep orange color. Good flavor and texture: coats the tongue. 2nd (10 s): Really nice. A hint of bitterness underneath a slighty sweet leather/spice flavor. Rich. Hard to separate the finish from the effects of the cha qi, but both are very powerful. 3rd (20s): There is a slight hint of ashes, similar to what I’ve seen in a few other old shengs. Not strong enough to be unpleasant, but not as nice as the previous steeps. 4th (30s): Sweeter than before, less ash. Later steeps alternated sweetness with the ash flavor and were less enjoyable.
The first two steeps were outstanding, but I lowered my rating because I didn’t like the later steeps as much. Usually I find puerh peaks at the 3rd steep (bear in mine I only use 1 gram per ounce of water and steep 10, 10, 20…). This peaked at the second, and was much less enjoyable in the later steeps. A very good tea, but after the first steep, I was hoping for greatness.
I picked this Da Hong Pao up from Bana with a loose pu’er as part of my search for more portable teas than the pu’er cakes I’ve taken a liking to. The brick was intriguing, but the ability to break it up with one’s hands sold me. I’m aiming to try it as a travel tea, but to start with, I did it gongfu style. Early on, I noticed a ton of caramel and roasty sweet flavors, like a caramel corn or those sugar roasted almonds that you get at fairs and festivals (but only really the skins, no real nuttiness). After that, the flavor settled down into more of a middle-of-the-road oolong (to my uneducated tastes), which was pleasant and made me think that this would be fantastic iced as well. My water started cooling off, so my steeping pooped out rather early, which is alright – the remaining leaf smelled plenty herbal and very fresh, which makes me think I could’ve gone further and explored more pleasant bitterness and astringency, but I felt I had had my fill. All in all, I’m sold, this will make a wonderful traveling companion.
I wrote a much longer review with pictures, but it wasn’t conducive to pasting! Check it out here: http://writing.drab-makyo.com/posts/tasting/2016/03/24/da-hong-pao-blocks/
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Caramel, Earth, Kale, Rice Pudding, Roasted
I received this tea as a sample add-in to an order of puerh samples.
The dry leaves appeared to be very heavily roasted, which was confirmed with my first whiff of the pot. Very roasted! I was therefore pleasantly surprised that my first sip was more fruity than roasted. The roast was there underneath, and was dominant in the finish. Still, a pretty good balance. The second steep (1m) had a better balance of fruit and roast in the nose, but not much fruit in the taste. Third steep was similar. All of the steeps were interesting, which I like, but in the end I’m just not into a tea that is this heavily roasted.
I started with several chunks rather than loose leaves, so the first steep was kind of weak. The taste started out as straw with a hint of leather but in the next few steeps the leather became much more prominent. It also became quite astringent. Chewy texture. Long finish, and I’m feeling some cha qi. Later steeps were sightly bitter and more astringent than I like, but with decent flavor. Not bad, but not my style.
I found this tea disappointing. The early steeps were extremely astringent, to the point where it was difficult to notice any other flavor. As the astringency faded, it became very acidic, with astringency lingering in the finish. Never felt any cha qi. Later steeps less objectionable but nothing special. It’s too bad, because there were interesting leather/earth flavors hiding behind the astringency, but they just weren’t able to overcome the handicap.
Steepster has GOT to be eating my tasting notes, because I can’t believe that I haven’t written one on this tea before. I have had gallons of it.
This is my puerh of the evening, hoping to combat the kind of horrible reflux that awakened me in the wee hours this morning.
This tea comes as small coin shapes that are scored across the middle so they easily break in half, somewhat like a tuocha in volume and diameter. I have had my “tube” for over a year. It was a Christmas surprise from hubby, purchased at Tin Roof Teas in Raleigh, NC..
This is an earthy puerh, not too strong and not fishy. I made two steps with a half coin, and the color is a medium orange “normal” black tea color, not the inky black you sometimes get with shu puerh.
This has been especially delightful tonight, as it is getting a wonderful oily body as it cools a little in the pot. I would call it creaminess, but when that thick mouthfeel appears in a puerh with mineral taste added in, I always think of oil, the way Murphy’s Oil Soap smells to me.
Good stuff! I will probably get another three steps or so out of this tomorrow.
Another sample that came with my Bana order (thank you Linda!), the dry aroma of these leaves in a prewarmed gaiwan is of freshly cut wood, muddy forest floor, and flowers. Wet, they smell like trees, flowers, and surf, a summer storm in a cup.
The first infusion is really light. It’s vegetal with wildflowers and a woody, slightly peppery finish.
Moving right along, the second infusion is round with flavors of grass, wood, and a nectar-like sweetness. Orange flowers come to mind, which has become a rather common mental association for me with many raw Puer teas.
On the third infusion, there’s a good amount of sweetness and the flavor is more rich. I can definitely taste this tea’s age, starting to develop some very nice rounded, sweet aged notes, but still with a good amount of the peppery spice and woodiness of its youth. Subtle flavors of goji or wolfberry emerge.
Fourth infusion, I’m starting to sweat. Is that the tea or just me? Woo! The flavor is quite strong, and a pretty even blend of the sharp woody taste and the sweet nectar-like mildly floral taste.
Fifth infusion brings out more sweetness. The flavor is quite full and rich. Overall, I think round is the best word to describe this Puer. It has a good balance of contrasting elements. I personally find it to have a bit of a punch, but some more hardcore Puer drinkers may find it on the easy side. The description from Bana is accurate that it has a good huigan and yun.
Flavors: Flowers, Goji, Nectar, Pepper, Sweet, Wood
The dry aroma of these leaves is rather woody and also smells somewhat like clay. That was unexpected. The wet aroma is very fragrant, perfurmed and fruity. I can’t put my finger on what type of fruit aroma it reminds me of. Maybe lychee or grapes. Maybe even peach.
The first infusion is a pale cream color. The flavor is astonishing… I’m reminded of Thai Tea, the popular black tea that is infused with vanilla and heavy cream and often served cold. I would say it has all of those qualities, but in a much lighter way. It tastes and feels very creamy in the mouth. The scent of the brewed tea is radiating notes of cinnamon, almost smells like a cinnamon roll.
The second infusion is a luminous yellow, like a low moon in the sky. In the flavor, there’s some white grape coming through now, along with the cream and spice notes from before. This rather young Moonlight White tea tastes much like you’d expect young white tea to taste. It has that dewy, green edge to it that a few years aging will slowly take away. Truth be told, I generally prefer this quality over older white teas. There’s something very lifelike, vibrant, and wholesome about it to me. I live in the city where I am unfortunately very detached from nature, so the life in young tea often helps to make me feel a bit more free and unbound. Feels like a natural getaway. I know there’s some debate over whether Moonlight White is white tea or Puer, but generally I believe it is white tea unless pressed into a cake, because it shares the processing method of other white teas unless pressed.
Goodness, the whole room smells like this tea. I left for a moment and was greeted generously by it when I came back. I’ve given the third infusion a stronger brew. The taste is now very generous with a medium yellow liquor. Up front, I get a very mouth-filling cane sugar sweetness, lots of cream flavor. It still tastes vaguely fruity to me; I think white grapes might be the best descriptor I can give, though if someone said peach I could see some of that in there too. This tea just has a really generous aroma, flavor, and sweetness. I wolfed down (lioned down?) this infusion, not purposely.
The fourth infusion continues much in the same way as the third, but the fruit-like flavor is waning and there is more of a creamy malty flavor replacing it. The fifth infusion has not diminished in flavor at all, and is similar to the fourth but with a bit more black tea like flavor in the finish.
This tea is a keeper for me. I’ll update the review if anything interesting creeps out in the late infusions, but for now I’m off to just enjoy this tea.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Grapes, Peach, Sugarcane, Tea, Vanilla
Got this sent to me by Linda Louie as a sample with a recent Bana order. Thank you Linda. Most of Bana’s teas are Puer tea from Yunnan so it will be interesting to try this white tea from Fujian from them.
The leaves of this tea are very, very furry and plump. Cute! The dry aroma of the white tea leaves in a preheated gaiwan is rather sweet, with a berry-like fruitiness, along with the usual white tea notes of fallen leaves and a bit of earthy forest smell. The aroma of the wet leaves after a first quick infusion made me say “wow!” It’s hard to describe. It has a tangy/tart kind of fruity smell that I can’t describe much better than that and a bit of a dewy smell that reminds me of cucumber. Along with this you get some more foresty or even hay-like scents of tall grass.
The liquor of the first infusion is pale yellow. This tea tastes beautiful and sweet, lightly floral. Peony aroma is what White Peony tea is named after, and this is the first time I’ve had a white tea that really smelled like peonies to me more than other things, though it’s a really subtle floral scent, a lot like the kind you also get from carnations or orchids. This tea is not a White Peony, but I imagine it is from the same dabai dahao cultivars used for those. It has a really delicate sweetness that I enjoy, close to sugar cane in flavor or even cotton candy, though let me emphasize it is light, unlike a mouth full of cotton candy.
Oh what a surprise in the second infusion. I did not expect to be met with such delicious spice overtones. Nutmeg and cinnamon come to mind, while the background is still somewhat floral and a bit green tasting. Have you ever eaten an orchid? They taste like a spicy cucumber. It reminds me of that a bit.
Third infusion, the wet aroma is incredible. Reminds me of all the cut flowers in a flower shop. The flavor is similar but a little more muddled than before and harder to pick out individual notes. Still rather delicate and enjoyable.
By the fourth infusion I feel the flavors have shifted to be a bit more earthy, leafy, hay-like, not as delicate or sweet. There’s a light aroma of muscatel on the wet leaves. I haven’t really mentioned the mouthfeel of this tea yet. I think it has a nice rather thick presence despite its light flavor.
The fifth infusion still has a good flavor with more sweetness returning to it and less of the earthy flavors. The sixth infusion brought out even more sweetness. Seventh did as well. I have noticed that good white teas seem to move in sort of a sideways S pattern if you were to graph their flavor over Gongfu infusions. The first few get better, then they lower in sweetness and complexity for a few, then they get better again after a few. I love the sweetness you can coax out of late infusions of a white tea, and this one works well for that.
This was overall one of the best white teas I’ve had from Fujian province, and as the first white tea from there to really convince me there’s a peony element to the aroma and taste, I think that it deserves some kudos.
Flavors: Cucumber, Flowers, Forest Floor, Grass, Sugarcane
Coolest shou pu! The ginseng is to be understood as cooling, not the licorice ginseng tea taste.
This ripe pu’er starts rich, earthy, nutty and sweet. No funk, bitter or dryness so it is really easy to drink. With each steeping the cooling sensation takes over. It’s not camphor in flavor, so it’s not minty per say, but the sensation of the aftertaste leaves your mouth feeling cold.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2005-denong-ginseng-scent-shou-puer-from-bana-tea-company-tea-review/
I’m surprised I haven’t reviewed this yet. This was my first ripe Puer and probably the one I have the most experience brewing. And over the course of a couple of years as my brewing style has become more refined, I have learned to unlock the potential of this tea through Gongfu Cha. This review is a sipdown! :(
This time I am using a small round gongfu teapot. The first infusion is very smooth. The wet leaves smell like the forest floor during a heavy rain, when waters are pushing soil and leaves around, bringing up many earthy and leafy aromas. It also smells like sweet bread dough. The flavor by the second infusion is very sweet, the sweetest Shou Puer I’ve had. It’s subtle in comparison to the sweetness of some other styles of tea like white or oolong can be, but there’s a sweetness that lingers in the mouth and is quite sugary. It makes me salivate. The taste is like dates with an earthy backdrop. There are some mild wood flavors as well, hints of molasses. The third infusion really draws out more sweetness and is truly rich, especially as the tea cools.
This is an especially enjoyable ripe Puer. I may end up purchasing more of this.
Flavors: Dates, Sweet, Wood
Super delicious. Overall, the tea never really got too dark and lightened quickly after the first few steeps, but that didn’t stop the flavor train from going strong for 20 steeps..
First steeps are nutty, moving into a smooth, subtle sweetness. A little bit of spice in later steeps. Seems like a good deal.
WOW. Just WOW.
This tea is comparable to the two shengs I’ve tried from Global Tea Hut.
I think my order for Bana just got larger now that I tried this. Honestly, this is some beautiful leaf that brews easily with a STRONG aroma but a taste that isn’t overwhelming. Best of all, the astringency is on hold. This is the kind of tea that makes me feel like it was hand picked and gently care for over the years so others could sip away at it in future years.
I only used 4g of this tea and it taste more pure than the 20g I used yesterday on accident…
While this is a great tea, the 2005 ginseng was better (it has been my favorite pu’erh yet though)
This brews dark, quick, and it taste smooth from steep #2.
It goes on my list of teas I would like to drink again, but the price is a bit up there and I am going to continue to search for a brick that knocks me back.
The aroma is sweet wood and must, but not library musty, musty like damp woods. The taste is rather dry, lingeringly dry, and sort of coffee-ish, with a pleasantly milky flavor. The sweetness is subtle, with an undertone of cocoa.
For the most part, a very woodsy and somewhat earthy tea, hinting after a few steeps of some fruity taste—maybe cherry, or date? Overall, not a remarkable tea, but quite dry and woodsy and very effective; calming, relaxing, yet stimulating, with a tingling sticky mouthfeel.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Drying, Milk, Wood
This is the best pu’erh I have ever tasted.
210f and 15s/20s steeps
Why is it the best? Well, I decided after paying such a high cost for the BANA teas that I purchased that I would be rude and give them unfair test such as leaving a steeping sit for 30 minutes so I could taste it when it reaches room temperature. This tea though… this tea… just, the steeps are dark and strong but I am finding something new that I’ve never had from a pu’erh: After each sip, my entire mouth has a sweetness to it as I lick around. The mouth feel is bold and warm, but the aftertaste just lingers with this sweetness that I absolutely love.
Highly recommended. It seems that 100g is $33 which is like $9 an ounce … such a great deal. I’ll be looking at buying one of these within a month so let me know if you’re interested in taking 20-30g off of me :)
p.s. I enjoyed this so much that I hit the 8th steep before an hour passed…