Bana Tea Company
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The taste profile of this Pu’erh was so unique compared to other aged Shengs that it initially put me off. However, once I got used to the unique sweetness and rosy flavor of this tea, I came to enjoy it and added it to my collection.
Its complexity is medium compared to some of the best shengs, but it has a smooth / silky feel to it, a surprisingly sweet flavor and a noticeable rose scent. One of the things I like most about this tea is the really low stimulation effect / caffeine… it’s a tea to relax. I also enjoy how clear this tea is, and it has a really clean feeling when you savor it.
I view this as an excellent tea to add to a collection if you feel like trying something different once in a while. It is so light, has a calming / relaxing effect almost like chamomile tea, and a delicate rose perfume-like scent. This would be a great tea to drink before bedtime.
However, I wouldn’t drink this on a daily basis, as the taste profile is so far off what we’re used in aged raw Pu’erh.
Quick Note Thanks again to Amy Oh for sharing with me. I’m slowly but surely going through the samples :)
Dry Leaf Slight Sweet and bitter scent
Wet Leaf Sweet, fruity, bitter, floral.
1st 3secs Sweet and slightly bitter that turns savory and tangy. The sweetness is fruity and subtle, the aftertaste reminds me of a flavorful green tea.
2nd 5secs Sweet, fruity, bitter, slightly floral. The taste becomes savory and really tangy in the mouth but it retains the floral notes.
3rd 10secs Sweet and fruity, some bitterness/tangy that fills the mouth. There are floral notes and slight vegetal/savory notes that linger. The aftertaste becomes sweet in the mouth after a while.
I made about 7 steeps. It held up its taste through the steeps. I was incredibly happy when I finished drinking and decided to look up the tea here. While I was drinking I was thinking “Hmmm I know where this is from… This tastes like Lincang Sheng.” When I saw the description I felt like I aced a Pop Quiz!
I’m not a big fan of Lincang Sheng, for some reason I prefer it as a ripe, it retains some of it’s juicy/tangy properties with the ‘heavy’ properties of a ripe, but still this might be a good one to age at home (even when it says ‘vintage’ it is a REALLY young Sheng).
Quick Note Thanks Amy oh for sharing with me :) This notes are from my steeps at work (more traditional longer steeps than I usually do in gaiwan).
1st – 30secs Earthy with apparent sweetness, and VERY smooth, I would describe it as an ‘oily’/buttery feeling that coats your tongue. As it washes down it continues to be mellow and smooth and offers hints of toasty coffee and/or cocoa. There’s a slight bitterness that might be attributed to the cocoa/coffee or even slight leather taste to it that is pleasant. The aftertaste is sweet and smooth.
2nd – 35secs More toasty and cocoa-like taste that smooths into a mellow sweetness with cocoa notes. The coating of the tongue is present before it washes down and becomes slightly cleaner. The aftertaste is sweet and just slightly refreshing.
I made 2 other steeps with this one adding around 15-20secs to each. They were both good just a bit of astringency that may be due to the breaking of the cake in half (the coin shape) than the actual tea.
This is a great option for an every day puerh, it is easy to prepare and enjoy and it is surprisingly smooth for its age. At work is was pretty satisfying but if you want to explore its ‘notes’ I’d recommend using a gaiwan at home. It was easier for me that way.
A very warm, smooth cup, delicious with a touch of milk. I tried to make it lightly initially, and I found it made a surprisingly light cup compared to some others I’ve tried. Sadly I still don’t have a kettle, so my water temperature is approximate.
I tasted this today at the LA International Tea Festival while visiting the Bana Tea booth. Aside from a very lovely experience of getting to meet the owner of Bana(at least I think she was), I tasted several tea’s and this one in particular stood out as a nice alternative for a good everyday pu-erh.
Now, drinking it at home, this tea tastes even better. Light the first infusions with a super smooth and slightly creamy texture, with a very light hint of earthiness. Feels almost like comfort food… if that even makes sense.
I’m overall glad I purchased this, tasted even better than expected. A more detailed note coming soon.
I got this in the vintage sample pack from Bana. I’ve now had two session with it. The tea can get a bitter edge if over steeped, but once you pull back it is very nice. I tend to like strong flavors so I seem to push right up to that edge.
I found 4.3 grams with about 3oz of water made the better steeps, but keep the first few steeps short 20 secs or shorter. The color is a nice clear orange/peach and darkens to redder tint about the 3rd infusion. It lingers on the tongue, with a hint of astringency still. The taste is woody musk.
The aroma is a fairly mild fruity musk early but then fades quickly.
Thanks so much Amy Oh for this sample!
Well this certainly is a delicate tea. Very light, too bad I over-steeped the second infusion a little. Oh well.
Anyhow, after reading Amy’s note, I’ve decided that yes… it’s mushroom that I tasted! yep yep. I’m not sure what white button tastes like(is that the normal store bought kind?), but it was a very specific mushroom flavour that I am thinking of. Something I grew up with? Hmmm.
Anyhow, side by side with the Tamarind Pop, this one was my less favoured cup. I enjoyed it, but the other one drew me in more.
I don’t see myself craving it again for some reason but I’m really not sure why. If I ever figure that out I’ll post it… HMMM!
Thanks again Amy :)
Another great Shu Pu-erh, and a special Thank you to Amy for a great sample! :))
The dry tea smelled fresh and sweet, mild mushrooms, but mostly like fresh, clean earth. While the tea steeped, there was slightly more pronounced aromas-gentle mushrooms, with a definite clean, earthy aroma. The wet leaves were the most aromatic-somewhat toasty, and I just couldn’t believe how fresh, earthy, and clean the leaves smelled! :))
The cup was dark, but not as dark as the Menghai I reviewed two or three days ago, and what a pleasant, mildly earthy aroma. This tea was so refreshing on my palate. Mild mushrooms and clean earth made this cup so smooth, sweet, and delicious, that I drank it very quickly. :))
The second cup was even better. The wet leaves lost their toasty quality, but the sweetness remained, and the clean earth aromas intensified-reminding me of a “fresh air after the rain” aroma. The kind of aromas where the soil and earth are cleansed and renewed, sharing their rebirth with my senses. :)) The cup was darker, & more aromatic. The flavors were deeper and full, yet still quite mild What’s not to like about mild mushrooms and clean earth?? So sweet and delicious, I drank this cup just as quicky as the first! [4.5 minutes at 195F].
I’m glad I saved the leaves for a third cup. :)) More mild in all respects, yet still so clean, smooth and delicious! What a lovely tea and three quality steeps. :)) [7 minutes at 212F].
I’m still amazed that I got three quality steeps (14 minutes total). Each cup delivered mild mushrooms and clean earthy flavors in varying degrees. Sweet & smooth and my favorite Shu so far. Truly special, and so pleasing to my palate. Thanks again Amy for a real treat! :))
Cupped & Reviewed: Monday, July 9, 2012.
Tea for the afternoon… Bana does pick some very lovely shengs. I steeped this in the xiying and am having a great session drinking out of my glass mug. I wrote an extensive note on it a while back. It still seems lemony and a bit earthy, flowery. I still think the Bana sampler sets are a great deal for anyone wanting to explore a lot of good quality pu-erhs.
Finishing off the rest of my sample tonight. I had a bunch of vegan chili with beans and this seems like the perfect thing to have after a heavy meal. I did two steeps for around 30 seconds in a gaiwan and poured the results into an Irish coffee mug. It does seem a shame to toss the leaves now but perhaps I will cold steep them and drink them in the morning. This is a luscious pu-erh for sure, clean and mellow with no weird aromas or flavors in sight. See previous notes for more info.
I’m coming to the end of my Bana Tea samples (it’s only taken me 6 months) and here is one I haven’t reviewed yet!
After my first quick rinse (5 seconds or so), I steeped this in my infuser mug for around 1- 2 minutes, I lost track… the wet leaves smell very strongly of coffee, wet earth and have a roasted aroma.
The tea liquor is dark brown with a ton of earthiness. I have missed you, pu-erh! waaaah! This has a shiitake mushroom flavor to me, and is extremely sweet and thick with a sweet, fruity aftertaste like plums with dark chocolate – awesome! I’m using less water than I would to make a normal cup of tea and about 1 tsb. of leaf to make it more of a gaiwan-esque experience.
Emotionally this is a very mellow and relaxing tea. :)
My second steep was a little less time (maybe about 1 minute??) and yielded a slightly lighter but still sweet-ish and earthy tea, very similar to the first steep. Hmm, I think this is one I could leave in my cup and keep drinking all day. A delicious and fortifying shu.
I went back to Bana’s site and it really isn’t that expensive for a tea of this age ($18/50 grams). I might have to pick some of this up when I place another order with Bana – just added to shopping list!
I am finishing off the rest of the sample today – I have been impressed with this loose leaf shu. I know it says camphor scent but that camphor is very mild. This is rich, smooth and dark. Earthy with a touch of caramel sweetness. I’m sorry to see it go…. see previous tasting note for more info.
The after lunch pu-erh. Weather is warming up in San Francisco and I do think I might have issues keeping up this daily pu-erh drinking when it’s warm and sunny because the tea seems a bit heavy. Perhaps some shorter infusions would solve the problem. I wonder if anyone here has ever cold brewed a pu-erh? I might need to try it!
update: the tea was still good after I added a couple of ice cubes and some soy milk. :)
Finishing off the rest of this sample today. I’m still shocked at some of the other reviews of this, maybe these people don’t know how to properly steep a pu-erh or appreciate it. :-P
I thought this had a smooth date, almost cinnamon-y flavor. It is a bit lighter in flavor than some other pu-erhs I’ve had which is actually kind of nice. Did not find it muddy or fishy at all – See my previous notes.
This morning I am finishing off this sheng sample from Bana. I remember fondly my revelation that sheng did not have to be a sour, assertive beast after trying some of theirs. I am certainly wanting to purchase a cake or two of this, see previous notes.
The after lunch pu-erh. :)
These mini coins unfurl so beautifully to display long and sweet smelling leaves. The resulting brew is earthy with a lingering sweetness and a faint creaminess. see previous notes for more info…
Having a sample of this tea from Bana this afternoon.
Steeping method: xiying teapot after doing a quick rinse
First infusion: 45 seconds. earthy, slightly musty, a hint of smoke and bitterness. Shiitake mushroom aroma. hmmm
Second infusion: 60 seconds. Color is now darker. The tea has a very round mouthfeel and whatever bitterness I was sensing is now gone. The liquor is a gorgeous reddish brown. The flavor is very mild and soothing, woodsy. A tiny bit of sweetness present. Somewhat lighter in flavor than some other shus I have tried recently and a bit uninspired in terms of flavor, but definitely no offensive aromas/flavors.
Third infusion: Sweetness and richness is increasing with no noticeable loss of flavor. I am getting a bit of fruitiness along with some more wood sensations.
Not my favorite shu from Bana so far but still very nice, I enjoyed trying it. I think this would benefit from a few more years of aging perhaps.
I’m still trying to work my way through these Bana Tea samples I got in early January!
This is excellent – for a 2007 sheng it is very mellow. I steeped this in a small infuser mug this morning. It’s woodsy & slighty earthy, very mild with a sweeter aftertaste than a lot I have tried. I am guessing it is the wild arbor because I seem to be having good luck with those lately. I have no idea what this would taste like aged but I can only imagine it would be even sweeter and more delicious?
I let the second steep go for a bit longer than I would with a tea of this type. The color got to be quite a dark orange and I was a bit nervous. The flavor got a bit more intensified but is still very nice with a woody, almost plummy aftertaste. They say this is a good cake for beginners and I would agree with that assessment. I just checked the price and it is $45 for the cake which is more than I want to spend but it is seriously tempting….
I recommend checking this out… not astringent, bitter or sour, just seriously nice and relaxing.
Special thanks to Amy for sending me some really fine coinage! :)) Seriously, the Chinese used tea as a form of currency and barter exchange. I really like this so on to the review.
I used 1/2 a coin for this tasting and drank three delicious cups. In the wet leaves I smelled a toasty and sweet aroma. The cup is very dark and sweet smelling. I just love Puerh teas (the few that I’ve tried). This cup was no exception-velvety smooth, sweet, and delicious! The main flavor note I get here is mushrooms. My second cup was steeped at 1 minute and roughy same temp. An even deeper color greets my eyes. The aromas are slightly deeper as the wet leaves have a more toasty aroma to them. The cup has more depth of flavor too, with even more sweet mushrooms. My last cup (212 for 3 min) was still a delicious sweet cup with good flavor, but not as much depth as the second.
I’m not sure I get the “fishy” quality that alot of people talk of. Maybe it just doesn’t exist here at such short steeps.
For the second 1/2 coin, I decided to do longer steeps to experience the deeper flavors. My first cup steeped at 180 for 3 minutes. Now the aroma really comes out of the wet leaves! Really toasty and wood-like. Deeply inhaling I get intense toasty…….like a roasted marshmallow sweetness. What a toasty sweet aromatic cup before me. Much deeper flavors here-toasty, woody, very sweet and smooth! I’m still getting mushrooms, and….wait…fishy? Maybe some fishiness here. At least I think this is what others describe as the fish-like quality of Puerhs. If so it is mild, and I like fish, so it only adds to the depth of flavor.
My second cup was at a gentle boil for 5 min. I think having only two cups was a good choice as my second cup was similar to the first. Toasty, roasted marshmallows, mushrooms….and fishy?! Maybe a little more “fishy” than the first cup, but still a secondary flavor and still mild to me. What a delicious cup!
What I take with me with this tea experience is that I like to brew Puerhs in shorter steeps like my first 1/2 coin, and with the deeper flavors and aromas of the second 1/2 coin. It just depends on my mood. I like the dark sweetness of the cups. I like all their flavors, and still with the longer steeps-smooth and sweet with no bitterness. A little “fishy” maybe, but not offensive.
I will definitely explore more Puerhs in the future! Thanks again Amy. :)) One coin down, one to go. How should I brew it…….by the 1/2 coin? Should use the whole coin next time? Maybe I’ll flip a coin and throw caution to the wind. :)) WWWHHHEEE!
Cupped: Tuesday & Monday, February 21 & 27, 2012.
Reviewed: Sunday, March 4, 2012.
Another set in my sheng sampler fom Bana. It has taken me a while to get through these but it isn’t like I’m worried about them going bad. :)
I put about 1/2 the sample in my gaiwan and did a quick rinse, then steeped for around 60 seconds with not quite boiling water.
I was a bit intimidated by this one as the description says it’s a smoky tea and those do not tend to be my favorites.
First steep: it’s a very light orange/yellow color. Smoke is present but is very faint. Aroma is a tiny bit sour as seems to be the case with shengs. It does seem a little woodsy and a bit savory. So far it is smooth and enjoyable.
Second steep: my brew got a little bit darker. The tea still seems savory to me but you can also taste a bit of apple-fruitiness there in the background. The aftertaste is ever so slightly astringent and seems to be slightly cleansing to the palette.
Third steep: the tea is getting a bit sweeter now and the smokiness is starting to retreat a bit. Unlike some younger shengs this one is not astringent or bitter, it’s already kind of mellow in the flavor which is nice.
I want to save this note now before Steepster loses it but I will edit if I have anything else to report :)
I really enjoyed this one much better than I thought it would and it is very tempting to pick one of these up to see how it would age in a few years. Although I don’t think it would make it very long before I started to drink it. Maybe I need two? ;-)