Bana Tea Company

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Recent Tasting Notes

seems like the baby-brother of the Limited Edition 2008 sheng.
weak flavor
slightly belly warming chaqi
oily mouthfeel
velvety aftertaste that lingered
had it following the 2008 Limited Edition so this review is skewed, but this tea seemed a bit underwhelming comparatively (and 6 years difference)

I think this was a free sample, don’t remember.

One thing’s for sure, Bana has nailed the mouth feel texture of puerh, everything I’ve had from Bana has wonderful mouthfeel, thick, oily, mouth coating goodness.

Rasseru

You got the sampler with the mengsung?

andresito

Yea, the raw puerh sampler. I also got the ripe puerh sampler, Green Mandarin Ripe Pu-erh, Yiwu Golden Unicorn 2005 spring harvest, Anxi Tieguanyin Oolong 2016, and Bulang Ripe 100g Mini Cake.

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irked by the packaging, those cute little baggies nearly crushed the tea, and most of my samples are nearly powdered and crushed. There was a one chunk and a few partial leaves I saved, using mostly the crushed fannings, so I brewed this quickly to avoid bitterness. Fortunately, this tea was forgiving and not bitter even when brewed strong.

slight cooling huigan
oily mouthfeel
semi-sweet, grassy, hay
smooth, inviting, chuggable, highly drinkable and approachable
mellow
lasted about 10 steeps
flavor seemed weak, so I’ll use more leaves next session

will purchase a cake to explore this tea further

Flavors: Grass, Hay, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes

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84

Another oily Bana sheng that connects with my tongue the same way concentrated flavours in gummy sweets do. Vibrant feel on the tongue, yummy aroma from the leaf, slightly bitter taste.

Generally the session tasted to me inbetween the Red Label & the Mensung. I found the barky sharp tastes of the Red Label present, they do dominate the middle steeps.

I must admit following their steeping instructions for the last two spu’erh essions has produced really strong tea, & while I have been enjoying them I do feel i preferred the slightly-less-severe method of 5/10/10/20/30/40/1/2/…. rather than flying in with 10 or 15 seconds & ending up on 40 seconds by the 4th steep is probably more up my alley.

I’m still not quite 10th level sheng master even though im hanging with them here, it seems :)

so I have been taking it back a bit & not doing hefty steeps & finding this is where my tongue gets the right amount of stimulus.. then I find the slight brown sugar vibrancy comes back on the tongue rather than dominated by bitterness.

Its a little sugary, a little grassy & leafy, a little fruity, a little vibrant, a little woody, a little bittersweet, a little menthol huigan, medium thickness. I definitely think it could do with a bit more ageing as maybe its in the ‘limbo period’ where it doesnt know quite where its at – i’m no means an expert on this though. It has a bit of some kind of storage flavour but nothing overpowering.

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85

so I follow the exact instructions on the website, as I only have the one sample & trust Bana.

15 second 1st brew. Kapow. Deep almost smoked-stonefruit, spice & honey front which curves round to a bitter finish. Almost tastes a bit aged already, i looked at the soup & its a murky orange in my cup. Instantly energising, although i’m not used to the strength of a 15 second first steep – I wander off & start reading about 1950s red label puerh when I should be doing other things.

2nd steep, couldnt place the flavours but there is honey & bitterness wrapped up into one big bold flavour, zingy on the tongue. Slightly woody sharpness in the huigan.

Then the session got lighter in colour, and took on a bittersweet character. It tasted less leafy green & more like a varnished wood or the inner wood of a tree under the bark.

This flavour developed into a pretty sharp bitterness in the later steeps.

I loved the boldness of this tea, even if its for more bitter-loving or experienced puerh heads. The Bana sampler pack is a really nice one, totally recommended with a lovely range of interesting sheng for a decent price.

mrmopar

You are eventually going to make me get the sample pack….

Rasseru

You havent already? mrmopar, you’re slacking.

I am just thinking, & if its a really heavy press then maybe the 15 seconds first steep mentioned is to open it up – I had an already broken sample, I think I might have overblown it.. I might try another sample of this with less heavy initial steep times.

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91

Lovely aged white leaves. Gave it a rinse, had a whiff. Porridge! yummy oats & milk fly up my nose from the gaiwan. Then a sharp apricot aroma hit… lovely smell. After a ten minute wait the sharpness has a freshness/menthol alongside it. its cool apricots. YUM.

I dont usually gaiwan my whites but i’m following the guide for this one.

First taste, subtle. nice aroma up into my head, this apricot turning into medicinal. Lightly floral as well.

Second & the aroma is more deeper & sweet, cotton candy thing. The taste is deeper, pretty lush, sweet & hay-like but not the same as a fresh white. Evolved & heavier. Its lovely. Ever-so-slightly spicy like a Dongfang Meiren but just in the background. Dates is a good description.

Third is another deep sweet taste. Nice feel in the mouth, silky & slight tingle, with a sweet-sharp edging. I could glug a cup of this tea western style so easily, as it feels so nice in the mouth, but gongfu has been an interesting way to experience the flavours. Bit more of a date flavour, along with the evolved white peony florals & hay, actually this hay is more like the inside of a hay bale on a hot day. And ‘hot hay’ is listed here, so there you go!

Later steeps fall back to something more akin to normal white peony tea, but with a sour note coming from the leaf being steeped out. Still enjoyable, still nicely interesting, still smooth, still deep.

I do love the more complex, deeper whites. This one didnt disappoint at all.

Flavors: Cotton Candy, Dates, Floral, Hot hay, Oats, Raisins, Sugar

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Daylon R Thomas

Uh oh, a highly rated white.

Rasseru

haha yes, its really nice drinking it gongfu. If you get some you must try the mengsung secret garden sheng as well. Huigan so vibrant i’m still thinking about it two days later

Daylon R Thomas

That’s lovely :) I’ve been saving the shengs and shou you sent me for the right moment.

I’ve been on an empty stomach too often the past few weeks.

andresito

how do you normally brew white tea, if not a gaiwan? just curious :)

andresito

btw I have a sample of mengsung secret garden sheng I haven’t gotten to yet, I’ll put it to the top of the rotation.

Rasseru

@Daylon, ah, i didnt send you the mengsung, I sent you some: https://shop.chadao.de/product_info.php?info=p1633_16113-2-li-gong-jin-shi-bing-2013.html its a nice yiwu

@Andresito – yes! the mengsung is really really good. Follow the brewing guidelines on the bana website, I only had the one 8g sample, used all of it in a 100ml gaiwan as guided & it was gorgeous.
& I usually do whites western but i’m going to have to go back through all of them gongfu now

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Is there any way to unsee flavours? This one is listed as talcum powder scented… If I hadnt read that I might taste it slightly drying, bitter & perfumed but now, omg. TALCUM POWDER. help..

it took the first few steeps & some self-NLP to remove that idea from my mind. It doesnt really taste of it, but there is a slight drying effect & thin-but-sharp bitterness that does create that aftertaste.

Slight fruit, Dark dry bitter mouth coating, which now tastes like talcum powder again. Dark leaf sheng flavour throughout the steeps (of which I do like the character).

But yeah, if you like dry bitter character you might love this one, but for me I couldnt stop thinking of getting ol’ TC in my mouth. Unsure if I should recommend this or not, as it does taste like how its described, just not the right tea for my buds.

Fjellrev

Yikes, there’s no running away from it now.

Evol Ving Ness

Thanks—now I’ve just wandered off on a mega-NLP research project thanks to you.

Rasseru

haha did you find anything cool? I like the idea of having some control over my mind

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100

Just grabbed a random Bana sample, & this was the one. Quick rinse & leaving the leaf to settle for 10 minutes.

Firstly, the aroma. yes, its nice & complicated fruity smells. I’m looking forward to this a lot. I mean it really smells good.

First steep, & its a murky one. Thick-looking liquor, wonderful taste. Its soft & sweet but with just a hint of bitter. Its deep thick & lovely, with a honeyed edge.

Second steep & theres a little intense chi energy building already, but im also a bit hungover so that has an effect. Taste is great, i share some with my friend whos never had any puerh before. She cant place any of the flavours. Its lovely.

Lovely mouth coating thickness, & soft bitter streak on the finish of each sip & a lively bunch of flavours. Its a bit fruity & sweet, leafy & has some great floral/leafy/menthol aroma & huigan, its one of those nice ones that goes up into your head & fills your brain with steamy cooling lushness.

By steep 5 the flavour is an interesting complex menthol leaf flavour. I’m finding it hard to place the flavours but its going down a treat. Theres a lot going on.

Always a subtle bitter outline to the taste but at its core its thick, sweet, fruity, leafy, menthol. I’m basically really digging this, as Moot said its a kaleidoscope rather than one melded flavour & that is something I really appreciate in a tea. I can taste something a bit like green Wine Gums, which happen to be my favourite sweets. Totally making me smile. This was steep 5 with a 20 second around 85c/90c I think.

I LOVE the balance of this tea. I could never work it out, its exciting to drink, i’m relishing the changes happening in my mouth as I type this. The leaf never got ruined, bitterness never became dominant, every steep was a fresh one with its merry-go-round green-wine-gum vibrancy (while still being honey-sweet bodied & also leafy-bitter). I could also taste something akin to high-mountain Taiwanese Oolongs, although I had one this morning so It could be that.

I think I could write about this tea for a while, oops I left the gaiwan brewing on the 8th steep. Still vibrant & drinkable. I ponder if this is the sort of enjoyment animals that eat fresh bitter leaves get?

Also my nose is a bit blocked, is this is adding to the enjoyment by catching the aroma?Maybe sticking things in your nostrils to catch puerh vapour will be my next invention.

Great tea.

Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Fruity, Menthol, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec
Rasseru

Only thing bad about this tea is that it was so nice, I drank it too fast im a bit uncomfortable from the caffeine

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89

Terrible review because I drank this the other night with my housemate while getting merry, and I only had one session of sample of this.

What I can remember was that it started fruity, got sourer, then the next day the brews were really nice. Theres something good in the leaf flavour of this one. Dont know what it is but its slightly fragrant & minty camphor hints. The silky description on the website is quite on the money.

I certainly remember enjoying it, that much I do know.

Flavors: Camphor, Mint, Stonefruits

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88

A subtle tea, and a cerebral one.

I’ve been telling a lot of people lately that there are often two poles for culinary interest for me – there’s the delicious and pleasant, and then there’s the interesting. I started in a lot of green tea stuff that I think is entirely delicious and pleasant and wonderful, but it’s also quite static – the pleasures are very similar over time in one tea, and very similar across many such teas.

Not so with puerh. Some puerhs are also delicious, but some are for more fascinating than they are, like, you know, tasty. And Bana Tea – and especially this one – is a poster child for that.

There is nothing yummy to this. It reminds me of certain Strauss symphonies – it starts out slow, cold, and precise, and unfolds into something more complicated cold and fascinating.

It’s dry. It’s a very sculpted, exacting dryness. It’s the feel of late summer in SoCal, where all the grass is dead and the air is empty and a little bit smoky. The dryness kicks off aftertastes, very complicated ones, but not necessarily, you know, sweet. Shadows of dried fruits. Odd quiet earths. Ghosts of long-dead limbs blowing through dead branches in the hot late summer wind.

It layers on the mouth, builds… I wouldn’t call it drama, exactly, but lots of layers of new notes, all dry and earthy and quiet, shifting.

Sculptural, precise, fascinating. I love it, But, as I’ve said before, I’m a tea pervert, and sometimes fresh tasty yummy stuff palls.

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88

This is such a perfect example of the Bana / Vesper Chan house style. It’s got quietly, under a delicate surface, tons of the classic puerh feels and flavors in a kind of hyper-tense balance. There’s the nearly harsh vegetal bitter, that weird near Sichuan-tingle energetic glow, that warm almost soy-malt, the nearly vicious astringency, the dairy, the sweet. But unlike, say, W2T, these things don’t meld into a single warm thing. They stay apart and tussle and then they enter an extremely active balance. W2T stuff like this is often a hug, and but this tea is a tightrope, a see-saw, some careful balance.

Also, if you don’t brew it right, you’ll totally fuck it up.

But: when it’s right, it’s super-active, restless on the tongue.

This is, in my book, a classic Bana Tea. (it’s really weird to me that their top-rated puerh here is the Purple Tips, which is the least Bana-like of the Bana Teas I’ve had.) Delicate, subtle, giving, responsive, dynamic, restless, subtle, will slap you if you do it wrong and give you oodles of crazy electrical goodness if you do it right.

Also: classy. My wife agrees me on this. If W2T is always warm and bass-deep, Bana stuff just seems highfalutin’ and classy. I don’t know any other way to say it, or where to pin it, but this stuff just feels refined.

Rasseru

That sounds like my sorta tea. I love a kaleidoscope of flavours with the balance of an experienced tea maker

moot

I haven’t written up a note yet, but their Ambush is a darker and throatier version of that same active balance.

Rasseru

That ‘rise of the curator’ thread is a goldmine for boutique tea vendors, a few I hadnt heard of before (or hear very little). Plus Bana do cheap sampler packs I have noticed, which is nice

Zennenn

Sampler pack!!! Thank you, Rasseru!

moot

They also sell some 100g mini cakes and 100g packs of their more expensive stuff which I feel is a nice compromise – for subtler more difficult stuff to brew I’m just figuring it out at the end of a normal sample.

Rasseru

Yeah I’m going to get one, just enquired about shipping to the UK

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Hari brought this over today. It’s actually quite cheap for its age so it makes sense about what I thought about it.

The leaf is insanely dark as if it hasn’t really breathed while it has aged. The aroma at first is faint, but once it is brewed you get a strong smell of cooked old stuff. This smell fades a bit, yet the leaf stays black throughout the entire 10ish steeps we had of this.

A tea that can brew out forever, with a lovely dark red hue to it. Loose stored and aged., which is not, however it just doesn’t seem to have done anything but mellow over all this time. All of that powerful ripe’ness is still in there. For the price it would be something nice to buy and store in some more humid conditions for sure.

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85

From my Bana Tea sampler. A really flavorful, complex tea. A bit vegetal, a little camphorous, very mildly astringent. Definitely a great cup. Brewed at 192F.

Flavors: Camphor, Floral, Hay, Vegetal, Wood

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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80

I got this as part of the Bana Tea puerh variety pack.

This puerh started off like a typical shou – a bit musty, but 2 rinses took care of that. The resulting tea was rich, earthy and smooth. There was a hint of ginseng taste. Later infusions became quite mild and sweet. Like the description states, it causes a refreshing cooling feeling in the mouth after a sip.

While good, it also didn’t really stand out to me. It was what I’m coming to see as a “typical” quality shou.

Flavors: Earth, Nutty, Smooth

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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95

I love this sheng, it is a puer texture junkie’s dream. The tea is super oily thick! The notes are fruity, char, browned butter, peppery, amber, and hay. It gets more savory with each steeping. I got 16 infusions. The dryness is minimal and it is complex, yet easy to drink.

Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2008-bana-tea-company-limited-edition-sheng-tea-review/

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 1 g 1 OZ / 15 ML

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75

Received a sample of this from Bana Tea, drank it last night.

I’m not sure what to say about this tea. It was pleasant. The mouth feel was silky. There was no astringency or bitterness in my session. I steeped it about 10 times and could probably have gone longer.

The taste, on the other hand, was unremarkable. Very drinkable, and it tasted good, but I’m at a loss how to describe it besides “it tasted like a shou puerh.” Earthy, a bit rich, maybe some mushroom. Nothing stood out, though. No nuttiness, cocoa notes, not fruit, etc. Not particularly sweet.

However, for the price ($29/100g) it would make a pleasant, no nonsense daily drinker.

Flavors: Earth, Mushrooms, Tea

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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80

Opened with a familiar grassy/earthy character. Soon developed some sweetness. Astringency was mild and pleasant. Tea flavor lasted after swallowing for a good little while.

Perhaps a bit of nuttiness and woody notes, too. An impression of fruitiness but I can’t identify it.

Flavors: Fruity, Sweet, Tea, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Friday night and I’m Netflix’n and backlogging, but while I do that I’m drinking this raw :)

Hands down a beautiful tea. Clear. Light with tangy vegetable notes.

This is the better of Bana’s raw offerings I’ve had out of four. Highly recommending this for anyone who likes Bang Dong but wants something just a little lighter.

Literally, I might just buy this just because the brewed color is so light and makes me feel as if I am tasting spring.

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Warning: Long Review Ahead
This morning I woke up and decided I would drink a shou with my cereal because I could pair that well; and because I was too tired to cook anything. Looking through the ones I had, I saw a vendor I rarely get to drink: Bana Tea Company. This was an easy pick!
The appearance was that of a broken piece of brick, because that’s what it was. Not much to it in terms of look or smell. Upon washing it… I realized I got myself into something I wasn’t ready for. This wasn’t going to just be a good tasting shou, this was clearly something else… something that would require words to explain it because it needs exposing. Well, how did I know this? From just the wash the leaf had an olive hue to it; one that was easily noticeable. This already told me something unique was going on here. Once I poured out the liquid for the first three steeps so I could drink a few ounces, there was an immediate clarity to the liquid that most shou do not have. Yeah, I got myself into more than I had though.

Now I have not had any other Wild Denong, nor did I read reviews of any of the ones from the past, so maybe I didn’t get whatever else did or even get what Bana was aiming for but here it is: From the first sip, I actually had a sensation of joy because this was the first ripe tea to imitate humid stored sheng. Yes, you read that right! I’ve heard many talk about it but never experienced it. Well, here it was, brewing a dark leaf and it was tasting like a dirty humid store sheng. Not the ideal drink to pair with my ‘breakfast of champions’, but it was so clearly there. It might not have been 100% correct, but the additional notes come from something I would describe as tian jian like… somewhat roasted, but still coherent with one another that the contrasting taste blend together to something smooth. I believe this is where the mysterious wild taste comes into play, something that’s hard to describe but we all know what we are talking about when we say ‘wild tasting’.

Still working through this to see what happens when it dies out, there’s not much to say negatively about this tea because at 100c for 10s this is putting out solid tea that isn’t textured or repulsive as shou tends to be after I hit six steeps because my throat tells me ‘stop with that cooked nonsense’. This is only three years old at this point which has me insanely curious about what the older ones taste like. In terms of price, this is a frickin’ bargain right now. Currently it is selling for $29.00 for 100g. For something this unique, it’s worth the investment to drink say 5g a month to see what happens. It’s actually cheaper than my favorite from Bana, and still favorite after this due to its sweetness, but only by a few dollars (2005 Ginseng scent ripe). I expect this to go up in price by a decent amount while it’s stock each year; looking at the 2010, only three years apart, the price is $47.00 for 100g. I’ll probably do some undercover investigating to see if someone will let me get some of the 2010 to sample so I know which one I prefer since I would only want one of these sorts of tea in my cabinet at a time. It’s truly unique and something that would be nice to have on hand to swap with or share with someone who wants to try something complex and new.

Sometimes, more like many times, little things that look like nothing turn out to be a big deal. This leaf has the color of something I don’t want to discuss, but taste wonderful. The smell is offsetting, but it’s liquid draws you in because It captivates your thoughts as you try to associate the words that fit the taste.

Hoálatha

Well, what DID you pair it with? I’m interested to know what one pairs a shou with, even if it didn’t end up working out.

Liquid Proust

Oatmeal and shou. Toast and shou. Cinnamon bagel and shou. Waffle and shou. Pancake and shou. It might depend on you, but all these and more work well with me.

Eric Honaker

I had French bread pizza w/ a sheng, once. Worked pretty well, oddly enough.

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