Bana Tea Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Ok, so I placed it in the zi-sha tea storage unit (guan) for two weeks and decided to try it out again since the weather has warmed up again. I don’t drink greens/raw unless the weather permits… all that cold not good for the stomach qi. Here goes…
Underwhelming. That’s my basic impression. I got 9 infusions before I just got bored. 15s/15s/15s/30s/30s/1m/1m/3m/3m, all at 195.
There was a world of difference in the taste since going into the zi-sha tea caddy (yeah that’s the word). All of the harshness of the tannins had essentially vanished. There were some, but they decreased by about 90%, becoming only evident after about fifth round.
Round #1: slight smoke, marshmallows, silvery liquor, vanilla, wee bit sweet, whispers of a certain metallic taste that I’m not too fond of.
Round #2: liquor more yellow, a hint of green, sweet vanilla taste, more metallic notes.
Round #3: liquor same color, itchy eyes.
Round #4: smokiness is really evident now, with slight soapy taste, liquor now quite yellow, more bitter, mellow, smoky, bitter, especially at the blade of the tongue.
Round #5: liquor is now more pale, smoky taste, a little soapy.
Round #6: bitter (finally), vanilla taste returns, smoky aftertaste.
Round #7: bitter but a roundness to the bitterness, no smokiness. liquor is still yellow.
Round # 8 &9: essentially the same. i didn’t note any new flavors.
It was nice to see how much storing the tea can affect its taste. In this case storing in the caddy for only two weeks changed this tea remarkably. It made it more pleasant in terms of tannins and “that metallic taste,” but it also seems that if it were to stay in the zi-sha much longer it will be even more characterless than it already strikes me.
I’d recommend this tea but probably not at this price. I really have only sampled pu-ers imported directly from China and this was the first I just purchased here at a tea event.
This is a lovely ripe pu-erh still available on Amazon.com and direct from bana teas in Feb. 2014. Tea brews a beautiful dark mahogany color with hints of orange, taste is extremely mellow/gentle with a touch of woodsy and earthy taste highlighted by citrus notes. I has an overall sense of balance and is what I would consider to be “lovely”. I just ordered a cake after tasting this sample.
The thing with really good raw pu’ers is that they taste better with each infusion. This one seems to bottom out fairly quickly, that is in terms of complexity and richness of flavors.
So much depends on storage. I had another raw pu’er which I tasted upon purchase and then once a month after placing it in a proper storage container. After three months, the tannins had mellowed and after 6 months it was a perfect balance of bitter, sweet and smoky.
This Bana cake has some nice smoky note initially but it goes away quickly. I’ve had this now for more than a year and a half and will now place it in a zisha container and see how it develops. It really needs to find its “sweet-spot.”
I felt this tea was pretty astringent (read: BITTER) and VERY grassy, both in taste and in the nose.
The color is not murky…much.
I found that using a cooler water made it halfway palatable.
This tea is not one I reach for very often. Bana Tea Co. was nice enough to send me a complimentary small sample of a ripe puerh. I liked that.
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.
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!
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. :)