I haven’t had many Ban Pen teas, so I was happy to get an opportunity to taste a fresh one with BLT adding 8 Ball to their 2020 line-up. It’s quite a masculine tea and not really my absolute favourite type of a profile. It is, however, distinct from most teas in my collection. Maybe the closest one would be Jiu Tai Po – a Jinggu tea with a similar bitter, grainy, and nutty character.
Objectively, this is undoubtedly a high quality tea. It is processed slightly on the greener side, as is quite common for Bu Lang sheng as far as I can tell. The huigan is very pronounced and the full-bodied liquor has a very soft and plump texture to it, coupled with a numbing and slightly abrasive sensation at the back of the mouth. The cha qi is creeping slowly, but ramps up to facilitate an all-encompassing peaceful state at its peak.
The dry leaf aroma is sweet and floral with a hint of gasoline and dry earth. After the rinse, the smell is more nutty and grainy. The dominant notes I pick up are musk and fenugreek leaves, but there are many others too.
First steep is already quite pungent with a lot of breadth. It is mineral, nutty, and bitter with an underlying sweetness to it. Floral and vegetal aspects arrive soon, as well as a nice sour tinge. In the first part of the session, there are flavours such as sunflowers, chard, alcohol, various seeds, and hops – the latter especially in the aftertaste.
Going towards steeps 6-8, I get more bassy impression with more of a typical punchy and granular Bu Lang profile carrying a hint of tobacco. Some floral and dry grass flavours with nutty undertones return subsequently, such as acorn or eucalyptus. Some fruitiness reminiscent of quince comes to the fore around the 12th infusion too. The crisp aftertaste has consistently floral character to it, mixed in with some bourbon too, interestingly.
I end the session after about 18 steeps which is just short of 300ml/g, a pretty good longevity for a young tea. I can definitely recommend the tea to anyone interested in getting a solid tea that showcases a village that’s maybe not as commonly found on the western market as a couple of neighboring ones. I can’t speak to how representative it is, but I think one gets their money’s worth, just about.
Flavors: Alcohol, Bitter, Dry Grass, Earth, Eucalyptus, Floral, Flowers, Grain, Hops, Mineral, Nutty, Plants, Sweet, Tobacco, Vegetal, Whiskey