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Recent Tasting Notes
At 10 years old, this tea is boring and watery for the first few steeps — I’ve brewed it at 6 and 7g/100ml, and will up it to 8g next time — but around steep 4 it reveals an interior life: flowers and the prickle of camphor and a little barnyard. By steep 5 it begins smoothing out, and the huigan becomes notably cooling. Whether I’ve brewed it well or poorly, the most remarkable thing about this tea is the cha qi. In general, I react most strongly to the caffeine in tea, but here the qi is super calming and fuzzy-brained. A real two-hit stoner high — I can only drink this tea on a weekend.
Gongfu style, 5g/100ml.
First ~3 steeps (1 rinse): 90C. I had previously tried this at boiling, immediately after bringing it home, and it had a lot of qualities of young sheng I don’t like: bitter, hops, and hay-like. despite that this is now 14 years old. Checking the website, Bana Tea company recommends 85C, with a REALLY low leaf:water ratio. I didn’t want to kick the leaf:water down that far, so I tried 90C—it is much better now. The dry leaves smell like less acidic dried cranberries—maybe like dried goji berries? Definitely a dried red sweet berry or fruit. The liquor tastes like dried sweet fruits, with a strong sweet aftertaste exactly like dried dates. By steep 3, some of those young sheng notes started to emerge. This was dry stored which might explain that.
Steep 4-9: I got brave and went back to boiling. Again I was faced with these IPA/young sheng bitter notes, but still had that hui gan, which eventually gave way to a floral almost like you’d get from an anxi oolong. I will say that this is a very energetic tea, I am super pumped right now.
Steeps 10: of course I lose track. Oh well. Bitterness has given way to just that sweetness, without losing its strength provided I go to 30s-1min steepings. Astringent in the middle of the finish but the lingering sweet fruit notes remain though now its more of dried apricot rather than date—just a little bit of a tang.
I don’t know if you should brew this at 90C or 100C, probably depends how big of a baby you are about bitter tastes like IPA beers or young sheng (I am a huge baby about it). This maintains a lot of its energetic youth in my opinion.
Update now in the summer months and after its been brought home and resting. This has definitely smoothed out now that its been rehydrated. Still clear dry storage, but toned down on the bitter notes. Much improved!
Flavors: Dates, Dried Fruit, Floral, Hay, Raisins
Opens up with the start of some aged flavor to it, but quickly turns youthfully punchy and bitter in a light-ish fashion as it opens up (more noticeable with some mild pushing in the mid game). Pleasant, but not particularly unusual in any way. I think more age will bring out some different flavor due to the punchiness, but not something that stands out as of now.
Flavors: Bitter, Green
From the Bana sampler pack I purchased. Excellent raw. Very well balanced. Somehow it had everything: light, floral, fruity, creamy, buttery. Starts off soft and silky. A tiny and pleasant sheng bite developed as I got into the 3rd steep, but less than I’d expect for something less than 3 years old. The two times I’ve drank it I’ve tasted notes of green pepper, creamy green bean casserole, or fruity juiciness like grape. I have more detailed notes on my blog https://runawaytea.wordpress.com/2017/12/20/a-taste-comparison-of-the-same-tea-with-different-water/. It tasted different with spring water. I would purchase this tea. It lasts about 7-8 steeps if you do the last ones for several minutes. Wish it lasted longer. Medium cha qi. Not too harsh on my stomach.
This tea is wonderful. You would be forgiven, if you were ducking in-and-out of a session that someone else was managing, for thinking this is an elegant, almost understated tea—all soft mouthfeel and gentle florals, with calm, uplifting qi and maybe a little bit of honey dancing around the edges of the flavor. However, its demure exterior belies a tea with some serious punchiness, which you might first notice in the long, lingering finish (again, characterized by the florals that dominate the nose and top taste). Push it just a little, especially in the early steeps, and you’ll find the mouthfeel turning viscous and slick, and the liquor picking up some of the almost soapy notes of, say, a 7542 of similar vintage. This potential for aggression translates into quite a bit of staying power, if you’re careful; I never manage to keep track of my infusion count, but I didn’t move on from flash infusions for the first four-to-five steeps or so.
I bought 50 g of this a couple of years ago; unfortunately, it seems to be sold out, now. If you can track some down, though, it’ll be worth your while.
EDIT: I steeped this overnight and came back to it late the next day. At this point, the tea tasted almost like pure honey, which was a very pleasant surprise given that I had only noted hints of honey during the main session.
2x rinse, 5g in 85mL F1 shuiping yixing
2x rinse, 7g in 100mL jian shui dragon egg
(plus a few other sessions too)
-very dark dry leaves
-sweet and rich, clean honey and honeysuckle flavors
-no aftertaste, but kept mouth wet/moist for a while
-no huigan, no chaqi, no kuwei…
Edit: this tea tastes good, but that’s all it has going for it, flavor. I got no body feels, no chi, no aftertaste, no kuwei…etc…so for $.94/g I think its just a good tasting, but boring, and expensive tea. For that price, I’d expect to at least get a little something, but nope…nothing.
To cut to the chase, this is among the best ripe puerhs I’ve had, and it rates well among all puerhs in general. Although the leaves were a little reticent to open up thanks to some fairly tight compression, once they did, they offered up a dark, viscous liquor with herbal, medicinal notes and a lengthy finish. At its peak, I got some distinct dark chocolate, not unlike cocoa powder, towards the swallow. The endurance was pretty remarkable for a ripe (around 12 steeps), as was the qi, which peaked with a sort of languid bliss around steep seven or eight. I found only one really off note: a fishiness in the initial aroma, which didn’t persist into the flavor. (This was a five gram sample that languished in the bag for about half a year; that may have had something to do with it)
The main issue here is the price tag, which is comparable to a number of premium shengs (Treachery of Storytelling Part 2, 2004 YQH Dingji, etc.). I’m not sure I could recommend investing heavily in this tea over those, but it’s worth having at least once.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Herbs, Medicinal
According to the bag, LA stored before I picked it up in Seattle from a friendly tea head. 8g to 100ml at 205F in a ruyao gaiwan, the rinse immediately wafted up a cloud of intense plum aromas, although sniffing the rinse was similar to sniffing stagnant, murky pool water, for some confusingly disappointing and unpleasant reason.
Thankfully, the tea didn’t taste anything like murky pool water, instead continuing that deep plum juiciness with a lightly astringent vibrancy and tension that built throughout early to middle steeps. A sweet (but not quite as sticky or rough textured as I’m used to) throat coating built up quickly, leaving a lingering presence long after swallowing.
The energy was very strong, although not in the caffeine kind of energizing way, more of a heavy, calm presence rooted in my skull. I had to take a break early on in this tea to get food, as it was getting overwhelming by steep 6, and I think I’d been nursing a bad cold, as the next day and the day after were spent in bed. When I came back to this tea much later, in fact, I didn’t get much more out of it as I think I’d left it too long in the warm weather, :(. Overall, of what I’d tried of it though, it was very juicy and deep, with an interesting sweetness and a kind of tight balance of flavors that I could have seen developing interestingly with more steeps.
Flavors: Plums, Straw, Sweet
Got a sample of this tea from Hokdor as part of the slackchat Secret Santea tea exchange. The leaf didn’t have much in the way of aroma when dry, but after a rinse, it smelled wonderful. Slightly damp and musty woodiness and a touch of camphor.
I only rinsed it once, and perhaps paid for this as the first steep was a little bit funky tasting, but that went away mostly by the second steep and fully by the third. The flavor started off with some damp woody sweet notes (not dank, just a bit moist) – as it progressed, the woodiness got a little stronger and cleaner. The texture was nice and thick, as shou should be. I didn’t really taste any of the camphorous notes I detected in the aroma. This was a really solid shou, very little fermentation or funkiness to it.
Flavors: Smooth, Thick, Wood
Prep: 60cc gaiwan, ~4g. Boiling water, 30s, 10, 15, 20, 30, 40, 60, 60.
Sessions with this tea: 2
Taste: burnt walnuts and spice. I think it is earthy or dirt notes, but to me they mixed together with some nut flavor. This had maybe a touch of sweet vanilla or nutmeg or something I couldn’t quite place my finger on which was very fleeting. Flavors very understated and very linear, did not change much across steeps.
Body: Thin mouthfeel, slippery sensation, minimal energy. No salivation, no feeling in my cheeks or throat. Where is the tea? Maybe I underleafed this one as well.
Overall a linear nutty shu which I have enough for one more session with, but will not likely seek out again. The flavor is enjoyable I mostly like tea with more body and is thick and chewy with louder flavors. Update: another session, no changes.
Prep: 60cc gaiwan, ~4g
Sessions with this tea: 2
Taste: Much richer taste than the Denong Wild. This was rich, savory mushroom which showed earthy notes and some nuttiness at later steeps. Tiny bit of quickly fading bitterness.
Body: Thin mouthfeel, not much energy. Apparently I underleafed?
Overall enjoyable flavor, weak in texture, may leaf a little heavier next time. Oh well!
So the package this came in from Bana says this is a raw puerh… whatever.
This stuff was dark olive in color and the session went beyond 10 steeps. Very much a mixture of old raw, wet woods, and some earth. Complex and enjoyable. For the cheap price, it’s worth picking up 100g and throwing that into a tin/crock/orwhatever
Probably going to wait until next year to start my luian collecting though so I can continue and focus on older raw puerh this year.
Brief review, first session. 6g in 100cc, boil. Will expand but I wanted to pay attention and take brief notes for now.
Mostly woody and green pepper flavor. Thick mouthfeel, pleasant cheeks and throat. Very salivating. Energy makes me feel like my vision can puncture cloudcover. I don’t have much to add beyond the other reviewers for now, I feel this is more spicy and less sweet than reading would make it seem. Sweetness is bold and kinda near the end for me.
I had heard good things about aged white tea and had been wanting to try them for a while. So I ordered this and a Tribute White Tea from 2012 from Bana (the latter I’ll post a review of later). While the Tribute White Tea was affordable, this White Peony cake was a liiiiitle on the higher side for me. So, I had the wonderful folks at Bana throw in a sample of it for me to try it out and see if a full cake was for me. I was also interested in seeing what kind of cha qi I could get.
For some context – I’m hit or miss when it comes to white teas. For the most part, they’re too light for me and so I’m usually just pretty “meh” about them. This aged white is VERY tasty, however. I wouldn’t call the taste light at all – it’s definitely sweeter – almost a fruity taste. There’s still that familiar white tea taste in the background, but it’s actually quite pleasant. And this tea holds up to numerous steepings, which is always a plus.
The brewing directions on this tea are a little vague at the end .. “Use 5g of leaves per 6 oz of water. Using 195 degrees F water temperature, steep for 30 seconds for three infusions. Then increase the temperature of the water and lengthen the steep time for subsequent infusions.”
So I guess I just kinda figure it out as I go after the first 3? And that’s what I did. I actually kept it 30 sec @ 195 for at least another couple infusions because I like the taste and the leaves were still willing to give. Eventually, I kept it at 195 but upped the time. And then when that was falling flat, I upped the temp to 205 with longer steep times. I got at least 10 good infusions with this gongfu style, and I bet there’s even more to be had. This tea has a lot of longevity.
As for the cha qi? Ahhh.. that was a little disappointment. I was hoping for something amazing, but I fell for the hype. Maybe I didn’t drink it enough or drink it the right way, but there wasn’t much to speak of. I was told that aged white can be even MORE potent than aged sheng .. and perhaps it is. But this is not the tea for me to prove that. Still, I enjoyed the taste.
Will I buying a cake of this? Ahh, no. It is DEFINITELY worth a sample and it is very tasty with lots of give, but the cheaper Bana aged white is good enough for now. Or perhaps my palette just isn’t as refined.
Starting off with some spiciness on the first steep that developed into menthol on the second, I started this tea off with fairly high hopes. However, the menthol rapidly faded, supplanted by a slight sour note that floated above a general dark creaminess not too far removed from a typical 7572. The menthol’s lingered in a generally cooling aftertaste, but that’s about the only remnant of it. Other than flavor, the tea has a bit of viscosity—not a whole lot though—and nothing to speak of in the way of qi, with only a little caffeine in the background. This is decent, but there’s better tea available for the not insignificant price.
Provided as a sample with my last order from Bana.
Flavors: Cream, Menthol, Mushrooms, Sour
Of all the ripes I’ve had, this one behaves the most like a sheng; it’s got a high, sharp note lurking in the background that I seldom see in anything but the lightest fermentation ripes. This flavor undergirds the dark, savory mushroom of typical gong-ting ripe and keeps it lively and engaging, breaking the monotony I often find with that style. Other than that, there’s a little bit of dark-fruit plumminess present in the first couple of steeps, though it doesn’t last too long, along with a bit of storage mustiness that rinses off pretty quickly. The finish is surprisingly long and pentetrating, with some kuwei of the persistent, throat-clenching kind.
The negatives are more or less what you’d expect from a ripe. The durability’s not quite what it could be, compared to a comparably old sheng, and the qi—while present in a sort of calming background way—isn’t all that noticeable. That said, as a fan of ripes, this one is a no-brainer, and I’d recommend it even to those who aren’t terribly fond of them; it’s a good way to experience something resembling a relatively high-quality older sheng at a pretty reasonable price.
So not gonna lie, totally got this tea at the recommendation of Oolong Owl when I asked her what teas from Bana would get me tea drunk. And I gotta say.. I’m definitely feelin’ it.
I’m hit or miss on pu-erh and the taste of this is… okay. Malty, definitely a strong mouthfeel. Woodsy, even. I’m supposed to get sweetness but I haven’t gotten any of that and I’m on my 7th infusion.
I followed the brewing instructions on the website and the first few infusions under 20 seconds were fine, but when I knocked it up to 30 sec it started to get really bitter. Like, “I can’t drink this bitter”. So I dialed it back to 20 to cut back on the bitterness and that definitely seems to help. This tea is definitely drinkable but it’s not WOW this amazing.
I’ll tell you what IS amazing though – the service at Bana tea. Oh my gosh. I corresponded with the owner a week before and she customized my tea order so much and was SO prompt at responding to everything and really went out of her way to make sure I got waht I wanted. I will EASILY order from them again.
seems like the baby-brother of the Limited Edition 2008 sheng.
slightly belly warming chaqi
velvety aftertaste that lingered
had it following the 2008 Limited Edition so this review is skewed, but this tea seemed a bit underwhelming comparatively (and 6 years difference)
I think this was a free sample, don’t remember.
One thing’s for sure, Bana has nailed the mouth feel texture of puerh, everything I’ve had from Bana has wonderful mouthfeel, thick, oily, mouth coating goodness.
irked by the packaging, those cute little baggies nearly crushed the tea, and most of my samples are nearly powdered and crushed. There was a one chunk and a few partial leaves I saved, using mostly the crushed fannings, so I brewed this quickly to avoid bitterness. Fortunately, this tea was forgiving and not bitter even when brewed strong.
slight cooling huigan
semi-sweet, grassy, hay
smooth, inviting, chuggable, highly drinkable and approachable
lasted about 10 steeps
flavor seemed weak, so I’ll use more leaves next session
will purchase a cake to explore this tea further
Flavors: Grass, Hay, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes