Warning: Long Review Ahead
This morning I woke up and decided I would drink a shou with my cereal because I could pair that well; and because I was too tired to cook anything. Looking through the ones I had, I saw a vendor I rarely get to drink: Bana Tea Company. This was an easy pick!
The appearance was that of a broken piece of brick, because that’s what it was. Not much to it in terms of look or smell. Upon washing it… I realized I got myself into something I wasn’t ready for. This wasn’t going to just be a good tasting shou, this was clearly something else… something that would require words to explain it because it needs exposing. Well, how did I know this? From just the wash the leaf had an olive hue to it; one that was easily noticeable. This already told me something unique was going on here. Once I poured out the liquid for the first three steeps so I could drink a few ounces, there was an immediate clarity to the liquid that most shou do not have. Yeah, I got myself into more than I had though.
Now I have not had any other Wild Denong, nor did I read reviews of any of the ones from the past, so maybe I didn’t get whatever else did or even get what Bana was aiming for but here it is: From the first sip, I actually had a sensation of joy because this was the first ripe tea to imitate humid stored sheng. Yes, you read that right! I’ve heard many talk about it but never experienced it. Well, here it was, brewing a dark leaf and it was tasting like a dirty humid store sheng. Not the ideal drink to pair with my ‘breakfast of champions’, but it was so clearly there. It might not have been 100% correct, but the additional notes come from something I would describe as tian jian like… somewhat roasted, but still coherent with one another that the contrasting taste blend together to something smooth. I believe this is where the mysterious wild taste comes into play, something that’s hard to describe but we all know what we are talking about when we say ‘wild tasting’.
Still working through this to see what happens when it dies out, there’s not much to say negatively about this tea because at 100c for 10s this is putting out solid tea that isn’t textured or repulsive as shou tends to be after I hit six steeps because my throat tells me ‘stop with that cooked nonsense’. This is only three years old at this point which has me insanely curious about what the older ones taste like. In terms of price, this is a frickin’ bargain right now. Currently it is selling for $29.00 for 100g. For something this unique, it’s worth the investment to drink say 5g a month to see what happens. It’s actually cheaper than my favorite from Bana, and still favorite after this due to its sweetness, but only by a few dollars (2005 Ginseng scent ripe). I expect this to go up in price by a decent amount while it’s stock each year; looking at the 2010, only three years apart, the price is $47.00 for 100g. I’ll probably do some undercover investigating to see if someone will let me get some of the 2010 to sample so I know which one I prefer since I would only want one of these sorts of tea in my cabinet at a time. It’s truly unique and something that would be nice to have on hand to swap with or share with someone who wants to try something complex and new.
Sometimes, more like many times, little things that look like nothing turn out to be a big deal. This leaf has the color of something I don’t want to discuss, but taste wonderful. The smell is offsetting, but it’s liquid draws you in because It captivates your thoughts as you try to associate the words that fit the taste.