Lao Banzhang 2004

Tea type
Pu'erh Tea
Not available
Apricot, Cherry, Dark Wood, Leather, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tobacco, Wood, Bitter, Smoke
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Edit tea info Last updated by DarkStar
Average preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 8 g 4 oz / 115 ml

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Lao Banzhang 2004 is a pu-erh pressed into bamboo tubes. Mighty and rich tea soup reminds us its great power and true origin. It’s making is not masterly but back in 2004, when LBZ was not that which is today, they did no care much about good tea processing. In spite of this one could taste and have a feeling how LBZ could develop in almost 10 years of storing. Stored in Taiwan.

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3 Tasting Notes

111 tasting notes

Man this tea is a monster! Big wood and earth flavors and a nice mildly bitter backdrop with a touch of tobacco and plums for good measure. Very generous too. I lost count after a dozen steeps. Got a sample and shoulda gotten more with my last order. Great qi as well.

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526 tasting notes

This is a favorite of mine! The leaf quality is not the greatest, but it still makes a very nice brew. The compression is tight and gives off tones of leather, dry grass, and mild menthol that lingers in the background. I warmed my yixing up and chip some inside. The scent opens into intense eucalyptus, leather, and pipe tobacco. A warm mahogany note lifts up along with dark wood resin. The background has a faint sweetness of black cherry cream. I washed the leaves twice and prepared for brewing. The taste is incredibly thick and sweet with sugarcane. The woody astringency builds as a contrast to the succulent sugary feel. The huigan begins immediately and is nice and long. The qi begins as a calm and quiet feeling. I can note that things seem more “distant” as I drink this. I would label this effect as a separating sheng. The brew continues on with crisp apricot tones and a clean body. The qi gains force and refocuses on my scalp and commences hair prickling. The prickling quickly and effectively washes over me, and I’m thrown. The brew continues in a perfectly smooth fashion, and it is packed with flavor. Due to compression, this brew tends to last for a very very very long time. Further, the qi continues to build with each sip, so I am pretty smoothed out half way through. By the end of the session, I have gone through flavors of apricot, melon, sugarcane, honey, bright high notes, and a great base of well oiled wood. The qi leaves me feeling like a freshly pressed and steamed suit, haha.

Flavors: Apricot, Cherry, Dark Wood, Leather, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet, Tobacco, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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26 tasting notes

This is another very interesting aged puerh, courtesy of Peter from I found it to be a challenging tea session as there are several changes the puerh goes through, meaning it is somewhat more complex than your standard puerh. Here are my notes…

This tea is VERY tightly compressed and is tube-like in appearance. Breaking apart the puerh requires a bit more work and “elbow grease”. Using my puerh pick I managed to carefully break off a nice 8 gram nugget of this. After 2 quick rinses I smell the nugget…I am not detecting any bitterness at all but rather a lovely sweet aroma with just a very mild hint of smoke. The nugget is still completely intact…the 2 quick rinses could not penetrate it and break apart the leaves.

As the puerh is still in the compressed stage for my first proper steep I decide to let this sit for a full minute. The end result: A lovely thick, golden liquid. I take my first sip and am not left disappointed…very clean, very pure, very sweet and a very slight hint of smoke. I check on the nugget in the yixing…it is still very much intact.

Steep 2 and 3 both yield very similar results…I am beginning to question where is the bitterness that Lao Ban Zhang is renowned for? I check the nugget again…it is still intact, the leaves resisting and refusing to let go.

The 4th steep is when things really start to develop. This time I decide to steep for another full minute and the result it a much darker, almost amber brew which for me looks more like an aged texture. I smell the wet leaves and indeed I am starting to get a nicely aged aroma…still the sweetness in the background with the slight hint of smoke. I slowly sip the 4th steep and this is where the magic begins…there is the bitterness but it has been tamed and matured. It feels thick in the mouth, rich and robust. A lovely aged taste is beginning to develop rather nicely. I am still getting the lovely sweetness, however not as prominent as in my in first couple of steeps. The QI is beginning to develop…not the raw energy you get from young Lao Ban Zhang, but a far more sophisticated, relaxed approach. I look into my yixing and this nugget is still intact. “will it ever let go?” I ask myself.

Steeps 5-6 and I am still getting a clean aged taste, with mildy bitter overtones and lovely returning sweetness. By now my body is fully relaxed and I need to take a break and contemplate. This really is an exceptional puerh.

I actually lost count on how many steeps it took for the leaves to eventually give up and break. This puerh just goes and goes and goes. If you decide to get some of this set some time aside…it will keep you charmed and guessing for several hours before it reveals its full beauty and elegance. The leaves are so strong and potent that you will probably have a few tea sessions that may last several days. You may give up before it gives up on you.

So, the bottom line is that this is an excellent example of nicely stored Lao Ban Zhang. It is very clean and pure, extremely complex in its taste and character, and nicely aged. It will take you on a “rollercoaster ride” with its complexity and reveal itself to you over time.

From a price point this is exceptional value for money. 50 grams is only just slightly over 18 euros, however take into account how many steeps you will get, and when will you be able to try Lao Ban Zhang with age at this price? It is a beast of a tea that has been tamed, but do not underestimate it. A big thanks to Peter at for giving us a chance to try this complex puerh.

Flavors: Bitter, Smoke, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 130 ML

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