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Recent Tasting Notes
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
Another oily Bana sheng that connects with my tongue the same way concentrated flavours in gummy sweets do. Vibrant feel on the tongue, yummy aroma from the leaf, slightly bitter taste.
Generally the session tasted to me inbetween the Red Label & the Mensung. I found the barky sharp tastes of the Red Label present, they do dominate the middle steeps.
I must admit following their steeping instructions for the last two spu’erh essions has produced really strong tea, & while I have been enjoying them I do feel i preferred the slightly-less-severe method of 5/10/10/20/30/40/1/2/…. rather than flying in with 10 or 15 seconds & ending up on 40 seconds by the 4th steep is probably more up my alley.
I’m still not quite 10th level sheng master even though im hanging with them here, it seems :)
so I have been taking it back a bit & not doing hefty steeps & finding this is where my tongue gets the right amount of stimulus.. then I find the slight brown sugar vibrancy comes back on the tongue rather than dominated by bitterness.
Its a little sugary, a little grassy & leafy, a little fruity, a little vibrant, a little woody, a little bittersweet, a little menthol huigan, medium thickness. I definitely think it could do with a bit more ageing as maybe its in the ‘limbo period’ where it doesnt know quite where its at – i’m no means an expert on this though. It has a bit of some kind of storage flavour but nothing overpowering.
so I follow the exact instructions on the website, as I only have the one sample & trust Bana.
15 second 1st brew. Kapow. Deep almost smoked-stonefruit, spice & honey front which curves round to a bitter finish. Almost tastes a bit aged already, i looked at the soup & its a murky orange in my cup. Instantly energising, although i’m not used to the strength of a 15 second first steep – I wander off & start reading about 1950s red label puerh when I should be doing other things.
2nd steep, couldnt place the flavours but there is honey & bitterness wrapped up into one big bold flavour, zingy on the tongue. Slightly woody sharpness in the huigan.
Then the session got lighter in colour, and took on a bittersweet character. It tasted less leafy green & more like a varnished wood or the inner wood of a tree under the bark.
This flavour developed into a pretty sharp bitterness in the later steeps.
I loved the boldness of this tea, even if its for more bitter-loving or experienced puerh heads. The Bana sampler pack is a really nice one, totally recommended with a lovely range of interesting sheng for a decent price.
Lovely aged white leaves. Gave it a rinse, had a whiff. Porridge! yummy oats & milk fly up my nose from the gaiwan. Then a sharp apricot aroma hit… lovely smell. After a ten minute wait the sharpness has a freshness/menthol alongside it. its cool apricots. YUM.
I dont usually gaiwan my whites but i’m following the guide for this one.
First taste, subtle. nice aroma up into my head, this apricot turning into medicinal. Lightly floral as well.
Second & the aroma is more deeper & sweet, cotton candy thing. The taste is deeper, pretty lush, sweet & hay-like but not the same as a fresh white. Evolved & heavier. Its lovely. Ever-so-slightly spicy like a Dongfang Meiren but just in the background. Dates is a good description.
Third is another deep sweet taste. Nice feel in the mouth, silky & slight tingle, with a sweet-sharp edging. I could glug a cup of this tea western style so easily, as it feels so nice in the mouth, but gongfu has been an interesting way to experience the flavours. Bit more of a date flavour, along with the evolved white peony florals & hay, actually this hay is more like the inside of a hay bale on a hot day. And ‘hot hay’ is listed here, so there you go!
Later steeps fall back to something more akin to normal white peony tea, but with a sour note coming from the leaf being steeped out. Still enjoyable, still nicely interesting, still smooth, still deep.
I do love the more complex, deeper whites. This one didnt disappoint at all.
Flavors: Cotton Candy, Dates, Floral, Hot hay, Oats, Raisins, Sugar
Is there any way to unsee flavours? This one is listed as talcum powder scented… If I hadnt read that I might taste it slightly drying, bitter & perfumed but now, omg. TALCUM POWDER. help..
it took the first few steeps & some self-NLP to remove that idea from my mind. It doesnt really taste of it, but there is a slight drying effect & thin-but-sharp bitterness that does create that aftertaste.
Slight fruit, Dark dry bitter mouth coating, which now tastes like talcum powder again. Dark leaf sheng flavour throughout the steeps (of which I do like the character).
But yeah, if you like dry bitter character you might love this one, but for me I couldnt stop thinking of getting ol’ TC in my mouth. Unsure if I should recommend this or not, as it does taste like how its described, just not the right tea for my buds.
Just grabbed a random Bana sample, & this was the one. Quick rinse & leaving the leaf to settle for 10 minutes.
Firstly, the aroma. yes, its nice & complicated fruity smells. I’m looking forward to this a lot. I mean it really smells good.
First steep, & its a murky one. Thick-looking liquor, wonderful taste. Its soft & sweet but with just a hint of bitter. Its deep thick & lovely, with a honeyed edge.
Second steep & theres a little intense chi energy building already, but im also a bit hungover so that has an effect. Taste is great, i share some with my friend whos never had any puerh before. She cant place any of the flavours. Its lovely.
Lovely mouth coating thickness, & soft bitter streak on the finish of each sip & a lively bunch of flavours. Its a bit fruity & sweet, leafy & has some great floral/leafy/menthol aroma & huigan, its one of those nice ones that goes up into your head & fills your brain with steamy cooling lushness.
By steep 5 the flavour is an interesting complex menthol leaf flavour. I’m finding it hard to place the flavours but its going down a treat. Theres a lot going on.
Always a subtle bitter outline to the taste but at its core its thick, sweet, fruity, leafy, menthol. I’m basically really digging this, as Moot said its a kaleidoscope rather than one melded flavour & that is something I really appreciate in a tea. I can taste something a bit like green Wine Gums, which happen to be my favourite sweets. Totally making me smile. This was steep 5 with a 20 second around 85c/90c I think.
I LOVE the balance of this tea. I could never work it out, its exciting to drink, i’m relishing the changes happening in my mouth as I type this. The leaf never got ruined, bitterness never became dominant, every steep was a fresh one with its merry-go-round green-wine-gum vibrancy (while still being honey-sweet bodied & also leafy-bitter). I could also taste something akin to high-mountain Taiwanese Oolongs, although I had one this morning so It could be that.
I think I could write about this tea for a while, oops I left the gaiwan brewing on the 8th steep. Still vibrant & drinkable. I ponder if this is the sort of enjoyment animals that eat fresh bitter leaves get?
Also my nose is a bit blocked, is this is adding to the enjoyment by catching the aroma?Maybe sticking things in your nostrils to catch puerh vapour will be my next invention.
Flavors: Bitter, Camphor, Fruity, Menthol, Pleasantly Sour, Sweet
Terrible review because I drank this the other night with my housemate while getting merry, and I only had one session of sample of this.
What I can remember was that it started fruity, got sourer, then the next day the brews were really nice. Theres something good in the leaf flavour of this one. Dont know what it is but its slightly fragrant & minty camphor hints. The silky description on the website is quite on the money.
I certainly remember enjoying it, that much I do know.
Flavors: Camphor, Mint, Stonefruits
A subtle tea, and a cerebral one.
I’ve been telling a lot of people lately that there are often two poles for culinary interest for me – there’s the delicious and pleasant, and then there’s the interesting. I started in a lot of green tea stuff that I think is entirely delicious and pleasant and wonderful, but it’s also quite static – the pleasures are very similar over time in one tea, and very similar across many such teas.
Not so with puerh. Some puerhs are also delicious, but some are for more fascinating than they are, like, you know, tasty. And Bana Tea – and especially this one – is a poster child for that.
There is nothing yummy to this. It reminds me of certain Strauss symphonies – it starts out slow, cold, and precise, and unfolds into something more complicated cold and fascinating.
It’s dry. It’s a very sculpted, exacting dryness. It’s the feel of late summer in SoCal, where all the grass is dead and the air is empty and a little bit smoky. The dryness kicks off aftertastes, very complicated ones, but not necessarily, you know, sweet. Shadows of dried fruits. Odd quiet earths. Ghosts of long-dead limbs blowing through dead branches in the hot late summer wind.
It layers on the mouth, builds… I wouldn’t call it drama, exactly, but lots of layers of new notes, all dry and earthy and quiet, shifting.
Sculptural, precise, fascinating. I love it, But, as I’ve said before, I’m a tea pervert, and sometimes fresh tasty yummy stuff palls.
This is such a perfect example of the Bana / Vesper Chan house style. It’s got quietly, under a delicate surface, tons of the classic puerh feels and flavors in a kind of hyper-tense balance. There’s the nearly harsh vegetal bitter, that weird near Sichuan-tingle energetic glow, that warm almost soy-malt, the nearly vicious astringency, the dairy, the sweet. But unlike, say, W2T, these things don’t meld into a single warm thing. They stay apart and tussle and then they enter an extremely active balance. W2T stuff like this is often a hug, and but this tea is a tightrope, a see-saw, some careful balance.
Also, if you don’t brew it right, you’ll totally fuck it up.
But: when it’s right, it’s super-active, restless on the tongue.
This is, in my book, a classic Bana Tea. (it’s really weird to me that their top-rated puerh here is the Purple Tips, which is the least Bana-like of the Bana Teas I’ve had.) Delicate, subtle, giving, responsive, dynamic, restless, subtle, will slap you if you do it wrong and give you oodles of crazy electrical goodness if you do it right.
Also: classy. My wife agrees me on this. If W2T is always warm and bass-deep, Bana stuff just seems highfalutin’ and classy. I don’t know any other way to say it, or where to pin it, but this stuff just feels refined.