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Recent Tasting Notes
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…
I love this pu’er! It is super clean, clear and smooth. The flavor is strong but not overly rich and thick. The flavor starts savory with walnuts and earth with a hint of camphor. Later infusion this pu’er gets really camphor minty adding a great refreshing, cooling and awakening feeling, along with a bit of sweetness.
Full review on Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/2004-denong-ripe-puer-from-bana-tea-company-tea-review/
The scent of the dry leaves in a warm gaiwan is just lovely, a mix of old books or old board game boxes mixed with petrichor and some tiny hints of apricot.
After a rinse, an intense plum fragrance exudes from the leaves, with a light vanilla note and still some of the aged books or old house kind of smell.
I tasted the rinse infusion. It smelled a bit of sweet dough and it had a slight dusty taste and a light overall flavor with a gentle sweetness. The flavor reminds me of the white stick you get in a Fun Dip candy. YUM! This is a rinse I enjoy drinking and will not be tossing out!
After the first infusion, the wet leaves have a more bright and sweet aroma like wet grass and soil during rain. The tea liquid smells like sweet dough with a hint of cinnamon, like cinnamon roll dough. The taste is complex, light, and sweet, with powdered sugar and subtle fruit qualities.
The second infusion has a deeper dried fruit flavor, is a bit less sweet, but is really mellow and rich. There’s a nice enjoyable quality to it. I taste faint notes of dandelion and burdock. If I swish the tea around in my mouth there’s even a bit of a wet fur taste that comes through.
The third infusion has just the most rich and delicious scent. I’m reminded again of sweet pastry dough with a hint of cinnamon, or perhaps horchata. As flavor goes, it is still rather light and mellow. I am having an interesting experiment tonight, as I just brewed a gaiwan of the loose Moonlight White from Jingmai (also from Bana Tea) a while ago. I purchased that tea on my own and this brick tea is a sample from a friend. I’m trying to decide which one I’d like to purchase on an upcoming order soon.
Having the two back-to-back is odd. They have similarities, but are very distinct. The loose tea is from 2012 and much younger. It has sweet and bright qualities, and a little more honey like sweetness. It almost tastes more like a white tea than a Puer. On the other hand, the brick tea is from 2007 and has a more complex nature with the aged earthy-musty notes blending with the sweet notes. The result is more a dulling down of the sweet tones than an enhancement of them, or perhaps this harvest itself is not as sweet as the one from Jingmai, as the cake tea is from a different source. The cake certainly has a mellower and perhaps weaker flavor, but the additional element of the aged taste creates more complexity and richness. Moonlight white is a tea you must brew more deeply than most other raw puer. It simply doesn’t give a bold flavor with very quick infusions unless you pack your gaiwan really full with it. I’m brewing 5g per 100ml right now and am having to add 10-15 seconds to each infusion. It has no bitterness or bite that you may expect from a raw Puer, even when young.
With both versions of this tea, if the flavor intensity and quality were mapped, they’d form a basin. The first few infusions are rich and flavorful, then the next several seem weaker, but the later infusions, pushing toward 6-8, become more rich and flavorful.
I’m on the fifth infusion of this tea, and I can tell that it would benefit from being brewed in a thicker gaiwan with higher heat retention, as the one I am using has very thin walls. I just didn’t want to bust out a larger one when drinking this tea alone. The flavor is subtle still, a bit unremarkable. I will raise the temperature for the next few.
These later infusions are mostly tasting of a light mustiness and a subtle fruit-like flavor.
I really love the aroma and flavor early on, but feel like it is tough to push much flavor out of it after the first few infusions, even if infusing it for a couple minutes or more. It’s definitely subtle. I’m curious how it will age, however.
I’ve had a chance to revisit this tea in my thick-walled larger gaiwan and I can say a few things now with certainty. Firstly, I prefer the loose version from Jingmai that Bana sells over this one quite a bit. At first, I think I was appreciating this tea a lot more because it was given to me by a friend and it’s of a varietal that I really like, but if I am to be totally as objective and unbiased as I can be, I feel this cake has a subdued flavor compared to the loose Moonlight White from Jingmai. I felt the cake was more complex at first, but I don’t feel that way now. It just had some more flavors I wasn’t used to, but those flavors have overridden and hidden some of the more subtle complexities that made me really fall in love with the loose version. This cake version, after a few sessions, hasn’t had the lasting appeal of that version. It’s a unique tea, but compared to other compressed raw Puer, I don’t feel it really competes for a place in my collection.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Musty, Pastries, petrichor, Plums
I’m back from being away in the woods camping this weekend with my Sweetie. We did have a good time although I feel like I did a little too much birthday celebrating with food and drinks! It’s good to be back home again.
I’ve had this sheng for a long time, it came as part of a sample set I got with Bana a few years ago. I’m amazed that I never reviewed it… anyway this is the last of it and it looks like it’s also sold out on Bana’s site.
This is a very pungent sheng with interesting flavors. It’s fairly overpowering when you steep it for 1 minute or so, but at shorter temperatures it’s not bad. I get a slight smoke with a woodsy element and a bit of bitterness in the finish. I’m no sheng expert but it isn’t my favorite by far. It is kind of bracing and energizing, but I think I prefer something more mellow. Maybe it’s a matter of personal preference.
Digging into some old Bana tea samples. Their stuff is typically quite expensive, but they offer a nice sampler pack. This tea has very strong qi. It is a light color and has a crisp and refreshing flavor. It’s nice, kind of soft so to speak, with bitterness coming through in later steepings. It’s hard for me to tell how a tea like this will age, but it is good.
This Moonlight White is listed by Bana as a raw pu-erh, but if you were to just walk up to this sitting on a counter unlabeled, you might easily mistake it for a white tea. Some further research has led me to find that this tea is classified by some as a white tea and others as pu-erh. I’m intrigued. Bana’s steeping suggestions are to brew it like a pu-erh rather than a white tea, so that is what I did.
I filled my gaiwan half full with the leaf, which took about 3.5 g per 100 ml of water. After an initial quick rinse (I tasted the rinse just to be sure I wasn’t missing anything, and I wasn’t) the first steep was for 5 seconds. I’m brewing at 203F with the gaiwan lid off. This yielded a very light almost clear brew that smelled like cinnamon, tasted creamy and buttery as hell and if I had to compare it to another drink I’d say it was like drinking horchata. Wild!
Increasing 5 more seconds each time, a couple more steeps in the cinnamon sugar scent is still there, the creamy, buttery flavors are still there and there are subtle notes of fruit, perhaps honeydew or nectarine. The tea has a cooling feeling on my tongue and leaves it coated with a very silky mouthfeel that lingers long after I’ve finished a sip. As the steeps get later, I begin to increase by 30 seconds. The liquor becomes more yellow and with every new cup the light flavor of this tea greets me again offering generously buttery flavor with a hint of spice. The aroma of fruit and spice is intoxicating. The silky mouthfeel becomes a bit more of a dry mouthfeel after more steepings, but it doesn’t feel unpleasant.
By the 5th infusion the fruity aroma is much more prominent and I’m tasting it more too. It’s definitely more on the side of honeydew than it was before. There’s a faint maltiness that is so gentle and the cream and butter are still churning out generously. What reminded me of cinnamon and spice is gone now. The flavor seems to reached somewhat of a plateau by the 6th steeping and onward, as I add a minute to each steep to ensure I am milking the leaves enough for a full brew, but it never comes off as weak, lacking, or anything but rich and full (yet impossibly light for such a full taste).
By steeping 8, I’m surprised again! The brew is darker and the aroma and flavor are very obviously of amaretto! “What in the world!?” I’m thinking. It’s still buttery, too!
Steeping 9 and on seem to be getting more astringent and not quite as drinkable, so I think I’m done with this tea here, but what a great journey that was!
This tea’s flavor is delicate, yet full-bodied. It’s got a nice consistent creamy quality to it, for the most part, so you’ve got to listen hard if you want to note the changes from one steep to the next. For the most part, the changes are not as obvious as with an oolong or some other pu-ehrs, but if you give this tea the quiet space it deserves (perhaps enjoy it under moonlight), the spirit it shows you is just sublime.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Melon, Nuts
This is a really neat raw pu’er! It’s got lots of body and very creamy texture. The flavor is like nectar sweet and malt. Very clean tasting as well. Interestingly, no earthy, floral or grassy flavor, just really smooth. The colour of this tea is just a hint of yellow that gets more colour in later steepings.
Moonlight White also resteeps very well with very consistent flavor. Later steepings developed some dryness, but was still loaded in flavor.
Full review on my blog The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/moonlight-white-jingmai-raw-puer-bana-tea-company-oolong-owl-tea-review/
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.
So a few months ago, I moved it from the zi-sha tea caddy and placed it in one of cardboard, one of those tubes. Wow, significantly improved! Much sweeter and rounder, very pleasant and nice to drink yielding many infusions without any blah, metallic taste or bitterness. So after two years and much fiddling, it’s finally an enjoyable cake. I mean really enjoyable.
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.
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.”