Menghai Banzhang Zhengshan Tea Factory

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85

The factory that produced this is Menghai Banzhang Zhengshan Tea Factory. I’m definitely going to be looking for more of their stuff.

This really is a ‘first impression’. I’ll update my note later.

So this tuo is enormous (250g) and it’s not very compressed, so it’s fairly easy to peel off in-tact material from the outside. I’m brewing it in my new Zhuni pot which is 110ml and I decided to use around 5g of leaf with boiling spring water. The material is meant to be Lao Man’E.

This tea took me completely off guard. It’s as if I took a bite out of an after-eight chocolate wafer – and then with the aftertaste lingering, took a drink of a V93 shou. Kinda, sorta. That’s until it takes a hard right turn down a pine forest lane.

The smell off the leaves is impressive. Woody and camphorous. It has that skunky whack on the nose. But the smell coming off the broth is vanilla, cocoa and cream.

EDIT (after steep 3): the smell on the leaves slowly becomes more smooth and creamy once you get past that third steep…

What starts out as an unexpected creamy and almost shou-like beginning turns ‘very sheng’ to pleasantly sour astringency (what a plot-twist). I had a glass of water next to me and each sip I take becomes sweet in the throat.

Mouthfeel is thick, oily and creamy at the start reminiscent of rice milk, but it does thin out after the first few steeps.

Sorry if this text is a bit “all over the gaff”.

What’s so odd about this is that it’s recognisable in various components to lots of tea that I’ve had, but at the same time completely different in this combination. It’s all jumbled up. Very strange, in a good way.

I am just going to have to break this up and drink more of it.

Flavors: Camphor, Creamy, Mint, Pine, Pleasantly Sour, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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83

Bought this with my last order to Puerhshop. This was a fairly nice semi aged raw tea. It was very densely compressed. After it opened up there were some notes of tobacco and leather. These were not too long lived and they were replaced at least largely by a sweet note. I failed to accurately identify this note but chestnuts and mushrooms came to mind. But that is by no means definitive. I will say it transformed into something fairly nice if not spectacular.

I brewed this twelve times in a 150ml gaiwan with 8g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. It could have gone a few more steeps but twelve was enough for me.

Preparation
Boiling 8 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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76

Man, I came close to ordering one of these…I ended up with two samples from two different puerhshop orders. I had pretty fond memories of my first try, but after having it a second time, I don’t think it’s anything I need to pick up. The dry aroma was nice and minty smelling. After a rinse, the leaves had a leathery slightly smoky smell – smelled like kind of old sheng I guess.

The liquid had a decent orange tint going on, indicating this sheng’s entrance into middle-agedness. First couple steeps were slightly thick, smooth, with leathery and menthol notes. The taste got pretty pungent a few steeps in, with the leathery becoming more tobacco. It started to gain a bit of a sour undercurrent that reminded me of raisins or craisins, without much sweetness. I got a bit of feeling from this tea in my throat – a slight constricting feeling. Not much otherwise in terms of body feel. Later steeps were pretty clean tasting, with tobacco and an “aged” note. Not bad tea, but not one I need to pick up a whole 250g of. I might have snagged one if they were 100g tuos, but there’s honestly much better tea I could spend $20 on.

Flavors: Leather, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Tobacco

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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Note: my tuo was purchased through Beautiful Taiwan Tea Company; given that most of their pu seems to be sourced through other vendors, I just added this one instead of creating a new entry. Should anyone have knowledge that this is a noticeably differently stored tea, I’d be interested to hear it.

This tea is reputedly from Lao Man’E, a region of some renown. It is famous for its tremendous strength and bitterness, and the dry leaf odor alone lends some credence to this claim, as it manages to smell like a kilo of tea in a 250g bag.

I didn’t leaf too heavily, this being the first Bulang I’ve had at all, and I didn’t want to have to spend my evening trying to find where my taste buds had landed after they’d been blown clean out of my head. I think I hit a decent proportion for a Bulang novice at about 1g/18mL, as the bitterness was certainly present in greater quantity than I would expect from a 9 year old sheng, but was not so bad that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy the first few cups. Later infusions softened comparatively, but never backed down to the point that you could be sure you hadn’t insulted the tea’s lineage in a past life and it was out for revenge.

This all being said, I do believe this is from very young trees/bushes – it didn’t exhibit tremendous complexity or particularly pronounced aftertaste (though the ku hung around for a bit, somehow in a manner rather enjoyable). Body effect was non-zero, but not impressive. Wet leaves were reasonably intact – most of any leaf was there, but rarely all. As this was my initial crack into the tuo, this could be a covering leaves only phenomenon. Leaf size was rather small.

Overall it was an interesting experience – if I’d read my account of it beforehand, I’d likely have expected to have enjoyed it less than I actually did. Perhaps next time I’ll go big and see if I have an even better time, or just get knocked on my keister.

Likely worth a sample if you like teas that bite back – not that I’m sure anyone offers samples of it. But at right around 20 per tuo, it’s a good value for a “daily drinker” IMO.

Just watch what you say about its mother.

Cwyn

Great review! Keep them coming!

Matu

I got a couple samples of this from puerhshop.com – I tried one and don’t remember it at all. I’ll have to go back to it and see :) I didn’t know it was Bulang material. Since I started paying attention to region, Bulang is one I’ve really enjoyed.

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