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Recent Tasting Notes
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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/
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
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
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.
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.
Puerh Tea TTB. This was really good tea. The year wasn’t labeled on the packet so I didn’t realize how old it was. It seemed to have some fermentation flavor but not too much. That flavor was neither fishy or unpleasant though. There was little bitterness in this one and a lot of sweetness. Even perhaps the flavor of dates to go out on a bit of a limb. This was really good. Gave it twelve steeps and could have continued but I have to get ready for a job interview.
I steeped this twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 11.5g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. I’d say if I had the time to continue there were another four or five steeps in the leaves. This was really good tea. I wonder if it is still in stock.
Flavors: Dates, Earth, Sweet
The Trails of LBZ, Case 9 of 6
(Liquid Proust search for his favorite laser beam zensheng)
Obtaining some of this through a swap made me incredibly happy because this is a pricey tea. In that same trade I got some LBZ maocha from Tea Urchin as well so I really hope that what I sent to that person made them feel special as I did opening the swap.
Now many had told me that this was the one to compare the others to and if that was true I did it backwards because I should have done it first or second, but it wasn’t but two weeks ago until I had my hands on it. Blah, blah, blah… tasting notes:
The broken pieces are ugly; as I would guess for anything coming off a brick to be honest. The smell of this is quite strong which was unique. The first few steeps seemed to have been the brewing of astringent notes coming out. I’ve been told that true LBZ will drop off quick and become sweet so this astringency isn’t causing doubt for me.
Going into the fourth steep with nothing really to comment on, all of a sudden texture appeared. I’d call it creamy, but it’s really best described as buttery (but I never refer to sheng as being buttery because that’s an oolong thing to me).
Hoping that some fruity sweetness would come out, I was kind of met with this dirty nut from outside laying on the grass taste. While that’s not something bad, but it wasn’t what I had expected. This makes it much different than the others that I had drank.
The texture and taste stays the same throughout without much to point out after steep 8. Realizing the price factor on this tea and trying to evaluate it the best that I could, I ended up going 27 steeps all by myself. This lasted all morning and I ate nothing until I finished this session with a purpose; test those feels. So what is the conclusion? I felt absolutely nothing in regards to power which is odd. With no feels and a taste profile that is somewhat like a nutty yellow tea and a freshly dirty raw pu’er (if you know what I mean), I cannot sell myself on it. Honestly I could put this up against a lot of Mengku cakes and it wouldn’t stand out.
Honestly, I was disappointed and still am. Not only did I not eat anything so my body could feel the tea even more, I set aside the whole morning to do this because I knew it was a special occasion that I wouldn’t get again unless I paid a decent amount. As of today, the 2007 Mengku LBZ is the best bargain for feels when it comes to this search. With the Tea Urchin LBZ maocha , 2010 LBZ from YS, and puer.sk 2004 bamboo stored LBZ, I’m almost to the end of my road with these unless someone else comes along with a surprise.
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.