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Recent Tasting Notes
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.
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.
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!
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? ;-)
I have to admit it was kind of a shock for my palette to go from Almond Sugar Cookie to this… lol. But see, I don’t discriminate, I drink almost anything. :)
First steep – this is very nice for a shu, smooth rich flavor with a bit of sweetness in the finish, but a little dark for this much time. More coffee like than anything. And I probably oversteeped this just a tad for my tastes… it was at least 2 minutes at 208 F but I also lost track of what I was doing.
Then the second steep I did for around 45 seconds and that seemed better. It definitely has a bit of a roasted quality as well as some fruitiness coming through. This one makes me feel kind of mellow and happy – I take that to be a good sign.
Third steep – about the same as the second. This definitely has the quality and richness I have come to expect from a Bana tea but I don’t think there’s anything overly exceptional about it that would make me want to buy an entire cake.
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.
I thought this one was delicious. Very smooth and sweet for a pu-erh tea, I steeped mine in the gaiwan for 30 – 60 seconds each time.
The flavors are fruity, I definitely get the date flavor and aroma, or maybe raisin. The wet leaves are dark and smell of cocoa and the forest. A very rich and earthy cup. Bana gets my vote for some of the best pu-erhs I have ever had the pleasure of experiencing. I was surprised this one did not do higher in the other ratings. I think maybe pu-erh is an acquired taste…
I needed something to revive me today and this is helping, very uplifting!
I’m coming near to the end of my sheng samples from Bana Tea Company. I would have tried them all before now but sheng is something you need to sit down and pay attention to.
I steeped this in boiling water for one minute after a quick rinse of the leaves. I am getting something like a slight apple cider sourness along with a bit of malt. Can a tea be “tangy”? Well this one seems to be, sort of.
For the second steep I decided to go for 30 seconds only. This seems to have been a good decision since the tea is mellowing out a bit. I am still getting apples with a bit of burnt toast and now some sweetness. It seems very fresh and aromatic.
Third steep, I used water that was less hot. More sweetness and mushroomy-ness, it’s very mild and pleasant. This seems like one that would only improve with age although it is quite ready to drink now.
If you want to go on a sheng adventure you certainly can’t go wrong with this sampler pack from Bana, I’d highly recommend it. Not a bad one in the bunch so far…
Okay…I am official sold in buying pu-erh cakes now! I just love how this tea imparts the usual flavors of pu-erh but it gives of notes of dates and camphor that adds a bit of sweetness and kick. The first brews were light and lively that gave off notes of camphor, then it slowly introduces itself after the longer brews as pu-erh being all earthy, a bit leathery, just with a slight sweetness of dates. Amazing! Just a simple trip to a whole foods in SoCal and a kind lady who I recognized now as the proprietor of Bana served who me this tea herself! I glad to say i bought a box or two knowing I"ll buy a cake of her Pu-Erh soon!
I am drinking this tonight, it’s been a while since I’ve had it and I felt like having an evening cuppa… I put a whole coin into my small yixing teapot and short steeps are good with this combination. Tonight this seems delicious and tastes like chocolate to me. I would definitely get some more of these coins, but I just looked at the Bana website and the package is $42 now! I think I paid about 1/2 that much a couple of years ago. I guess they must be selling out? I will savor this tonight…
I finally negotiated my severance package with my ex workplace, I think I will be happy when this whole ordeal is behind me!
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. :)
I am having a bit of this now… hope it does not keep me awake for too long. :)
I read that the Yunnan + wild arbor/big leaf trees is a good sign of quality and I believe it. This is delicious whether steeped for 30 seconds or 2 minutes. Very rich, woodsy and grounding. No camphor and personally I am glad of that. See my previous tasting notes.
mmm. I’m a sucker for such nifty packaging! I had to get this to try it out! It’s all even enviro friendly because there is no plastic anywhere… luckily pu-erh likes to breathe so you don’t have to mummify it in a plastic bag!
These Pu-erh “coins” are stored on top of each other in a beautiful cardboard tube that provides DETAILED information about when and where it was produced, how to store it and steeping instructions. I love the beautiful box, for one thing… these coins are bigger than I thought they would be, 1/2 a coin is plenty for a small pot of tea and 1/4 of a coin is perfect for gaiwan.
I brewed this in the gaiwan, they recommend very short steeps so I’ve been going with these 20-30 seconds jobs. This brews up to a lovely dark orange color.
It’s no surprise that I would like this since the leaves come from wild trees up to 500 years old. This has the depth and beauty of an old forest with a bit of stone fruit, charcoal and smoke. VERY smooth and nice, slightly creamy… with a lingering aftertaste of cocoa. yum yum. I like it! These coins are great for convenience and they are also better than most tuo chas I have had. I’m glad I have a lot of them so I can do a bit of experiments with flavoring them. Oh Mini Cha-an Lucky Coins, you are adorable and tasty!
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.
One last tea for NYD.
I decided to steep this in the gaiwan after rinsing the leaves quickly with boiling water.
Man, oh man, They are not kidding about this tea being fragrant! It is lemony! And a little bit like asparagus. It’s very refreshing but the first steep had a tiny bit of “bite” to it which made me wonder if it was kind of young (it is from 2010). I did this one for 30 seconds with boiling water. I see now they recommended 10 seconds with not hot water for the first steep.
The second steep I did for less time and with not such hot water. Now I am getting more floral notes in addition to the zesty ones.
Third steep is definitely getting softer. Some clover types notes which are very gentle. I can see this would be a good after dinner tea or good for nausea. Somehow it is settling my stomach.
Fourth steep: I decided I would go back to using boiling water and would steep it for 2 minutes an an experiment. The first steep was actually my favorite here but this one is pretty good too. We are back to slighty lemony and flowery with a bit more “bite” again. This really has a kind of fizzy quality in my opinion. a tiny bit drying perhaps due to the age… this would get bitter if steeped too long I think. I really like it though!
Really an interesting sheng from Bana!
Happy New Year, Steepies. :)
After a quick rinse I have decided to steep this up in the gaiwan and used about 1 tsp of leaf. my water was not quite boiling for the first two steeps.
I am very happy with this shu and it is for sure going on my shopping list. It is very mild with a slightly sweet flavor that is indeed reminiscent of pecans with some cinnamon-spice in the finish. After 3 steeps there is no noticeable loss in flavor. A soothing cup of tea to the mind and the body. I would just like to keep this around for those moments when I want a gentle cup.