2003 Farmer's Cooperative (Mt. Banzhang) Wild Arbor Sheng

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Pu-erh Tea
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Marzipan, Smoke, Chestnut, Citrus, Creamy, Honey
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Edit tea info Last updated by Spoonvonstup
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 oz / 109 ml

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74 Tasting Notes View all

  • “I have to admit I’m somewhat new to the world of Pu-erhs. My first taste of Pu-ehr was the Kim Fung Brand. I knew when I bought it that it was going to be very different. I am now trying to...” Read full tasting note
  • “Today this tea is completely kicking my head in. After a good 18 steeps on the wang shu over the past day and a half, and today’s on again off again rainy day pattern, I wanted to take things to...” Read full tasting note
  • “Another Sipdown, from Sil. I drank the last of this from my cupboard awhile back, so it’s nice to find a sample in my collection of teas from Sil. This is a savory sheng, with strong...” Read full tasting note
  • “Woke up with a cup of Zhu Rong and now I’m a few cups into this and it’s really helping wake me up nicely. This is a nice, creamy, sweet and slightly smoky sheng. There are hints of spice and...” Read full tasting note

From Verdant Tea

Year: 2003

Dry Leaf: Very dark, large curled leaf, unbroken with longer stems. Loose hand-pressed ball of tea.

Aroma: Smoke of a campfire deep in a wet forest of redwood and eucalyptus after fresh rain.

Tea Color: Small floating down gives this Chardonnay color a darker opacity that turns orange in sunlight.

Taste through early steepings: Immediately creamy with a tingling sweetness like the finest spring Gyokuro. Assertive notes of toasted walnut and hazelnut linger in the throat. As this continues steeping, cinnamon, ginger and cardamom spice with mucovado brown sugar play across the palate.

Taste in middle to late steepings: The intriguing muscovado sweetness carries through even as the intense tingling texture subsides. The spice of early steepings slowly moves towards baked apple. Very late in steeping, the texture of licorice root comes through across the tongue accompanied by notes of malt and barley.

Steeped Leaf: Enormous dark green leaves that are thick and strong with abundant buds and long stems.


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74 Tasting Notes

60 tasting notes

Dry Leaf: There was a earthy aroma with a faint sweetness in the background.
Wet Leaf: There was a warm earthy aroma with a lingering sweet aroma.
Liquor: Was like a amber color but in the light you can see it is a orange color. The tea had a nice brightness and good clarity.
Taste: What I get is a smooth earthy, kind of nutty or smoky taste with a some spice in their and a touch of sweetness. This tea has a nice complexity to it.
My Score/Over All Opinion: 92, When I first tried this tea it had a bit to it in the first infusion then I experimented a little with this tea and did 2 rise’s instead of 1 and the 1st infusion improved a lot but there was a slight bit I got in the first infusion. Over all this tea is very nice.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

Did you do this one western style? I notice you steeped it for 3 minutes! I know you can do that with this tea, but I never think to do it that way. How much leaf did you end up using?


(whoops, cut off too soon). I’m curious to retry this one in different steeping methods; it’s been so long.


Yes Spoonvonstup I did do it western style and as instructed by verdant tea.


Thanks! You’ve inspired me to see what this is like in a pot again.


Please let me know what you notice about the taste difference between western and gong-fu. I am getting a gaiwan just don’t have one yet.


Sure thing! sounds like a project for tonight

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131 tasting notes

This Sheng Puerh certainly brews up to a beautiful golden color and one tasty cup of tea. But I get ahead of myself… you really should take a good inhalation of the dry leaves and smell the aromas of heaven and earth. Redwood forest, eucalyptus trees, and the smell of a distant campfire all come to mind. The first infusion brings out such a brilliant color, and definitely is assertive in it’s flavor. Smooth, bold, robust without being overwhelming.

Subsequent infusions are lighter in color and flavor but bring a new sweetness and aroma. A fascinating tea that leaves me wanting more to brew up. Too bad I only had a small sample bag to try!

200 °F / 93 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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59 tasting notes

This is a giant ball of tea!

It’s very walnut-y, and reminds me of chewing on a pistachio skin. You might think this would also make it bitter, drying and overly tobacco-ey. Not so! In fact, it is very creamy. As you move through later steepings, it reminds me more and more of some sort of whipped, creamy nut-flavored ice cream.

I am very very excited to see what this will turn into as it gets older. I’ve still got half of a ball hidden away and out of my reach so that I can see how things get creamier and more whipped.

If you haven’t made this before, start with less leaf than you might with other teas. The tastes are definitely assertive, and if you pack your gaiwan or teapot too full of leaves, you might be overwhelmed in the first steeping or so (this is especially true if you’re making the tea for people who are in the mindset to dislike tea because “all tea is nasty and bitter and drying..bleh!”).
That being said, I wouldn’t ever agree with someone who calls this bitter. I’ve even tried making this in a big pot as an experiment; I feared this would become temperamental brewed in a big pot, but I was wrong!

A fun sheng to try now, especially for fans of bolder flavors.
An exciting tea to age for the future, especially with it’s notable creamy flavors and textures. I’m telling you, whipped nut butters…

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30 tasting notes

I was extremely excited to find this one! This enormous 1kg ball of tea comes from a farmer who has grown tired of the big factories dominating the Banzhang tea market. Her family used to sell their hand picked wild leaves to Dayi, and said that Dayi would do 1000% or more mark up and cut the farmers out of the profits. This family has been struggling since branching off on their own because their tea does not have the certification that big factories like Dayi can afford. I hope to introduce this tea to America and help start a movement on Banzhang mountain to return to quality and small farming.

195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 45 sec

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183 tasting notes

I’ve been drinking both green and ripe pu-erhs for a few years but I can’t claim that I have the experience or refined tastes of the people at Verdant whose sample packs of Pu-erhs and Oolongs came in the mail yesterday. I steeped this teas using the Western method prescribed by Verdant (five 2.5 minute infusions) and while the tea is quite good for a youngish sheng, I wasn’t having the epic experience I was expecting from the tea—based on the comments of other tasters (some of whom are affiliated with Verdant). Maybe I’ve been drinking some pretty good shengs, or maybe it’s a case of having high expectations, but I didn’t have the aha moment I’ve had when drinking the best examples of other types of tea. This just didn’t outpace the other shengs I’ve had by such a degree that I would pay the steep price; while I would like to support the farmers who make this, I feel I can get a satisfying pu-erh experience for $30 a cake rather than $40 an ounce. I have enough tea for a couple more tastings, so I hope to be able to revisit this review soon.

David Duckler

I am sorry that this one did not live up to expectations! The Farmer’s Coop is probably the most polarizing sheng that I am importing. It really depends on what you are looking for in sheng pu’er. Having tried so many shengs (and so many terrible ones!) while over in China, I might be starting to get jaded towards the most eccentric profiles. It is easier to find a sheng of classic perfection- the sweet, deep, slightly camphory flavor, with developing mustiness and a lingering smooth aftertaste. I am always happiest with a pu’er when I am taken off guard by surprising flavors I didn’t expect. The farmer’s coop does that for me, and many others with its bizarre nutty and almost numbing taste, and green tea sweetness. not everyone agrees though, and even long time tea drinkers sometimes find this one lacking. One of my closest friends decided that they disliked this tea, until months later I pulled it out when the weather was just right, steeped it up in a gaiwan and didn’t tell them what it was. Suddenly, it was their favorite in the world!

You might try steeping it Chinese style if the larger pot brewing method isn’t working out. It generally yields more complexity in the gaiwan and yixing pot. Also, you can always try less leaves and longer steeps. I would assert that when this tea is tasted with other classic sheng pu’ers in mind, it might have the possibility to disappoint, but when you drink it without comparison, it strange and unexpected qualities come through, making it well worth the $13 an ounce. In the next few days, I may write a special section on brewing this one up and post it to the product page. In the meantime, I hope it gives you more the next time around.
Happy tasting!

Doug F

Thanks David, I fully acknowledge that I may be off on this one. The nuttiness wasn’t there for me and that could definitely be due to the steeping method or the amount of leaf I used. I’m grateful to you for providing me with the opportunity to try such unique teas and I will report back after I try steeping it Chinese style. Oh, and I’m sorry I got the price wrong. I must have been looking at the Artisan at the time.

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123 tasting notes

This is my first unflavored sheng and I’m incredibly excited to try it. I had the sticky rice sheng from ctg which is great but it’s not a great introduction to sheng tea. First steep after initial rinse was for about a minute. This has such a wonderful light nuttiness. The nuttiness ends with a wonderful citrus lime aftertaste. After having so many shu teas its wonderful to try a naturally aged pu erh. The taste is a lot more subtle and reminds me of Darjeeling.

2nd steep: The flavor has morphed into a ginger and clove blend with a sharper tartness at the end. The licorice root comparison is totally appropriate and it reminds of those Italian anise crackers I’ve had at whole foods. A fascinating sheng and I can’t wait to try more sheng pu erh.

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41 tasting notes

One really shouldn’t go in to Sheng pu’er until they have come to a point of understanding Shou pu’er. At that point one can begin to start trying Sheng to venture in to the realm of understanding what they will evolve in to. Considering this, understand that 95% of the Sheng pu’er that makes it to America is unbearably foul and does an injustice to Sheng. If this has been your experience with Sheng, I hope you take time to try this wonderful tea.

Assertive. This tea knows what it is. It is not at all bitter, but rather possesses heavy notes of hazelnut and a new rain. Incredibly complex. The sheer quality and size of the leaf matter is overwhelmingly beautiful. The tea is nearing ten years in age yet the leaves are in perfect condition because of the delicate and hand pressed manner in which they were produced.

I would say to go for this tea only if you are ready for the highest quality in Sheng and are looking for something unique, assertive, and perfect for aging.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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81 tasting notes

Ever since trying Pu-Erh I never thought it I would get hooked to it! Here I’am some years later writing about it and find it so lovely! Now, this Pu-Erh came with my sample of Yunnan Black (another wonderful tea), it did not came in pressed chunks but broken down to every leaf. The leaves are finely aged to shades of brown, it has a nice earthy,woody,wet leathery, almost irony smell accented with slight smokiness that alludes to a Lapsang. The brew in succession of 4 steeps all gave a slightly astringent and sharp taste that kinda bites(in a good way) on the tongue. It has an almost starchy component almost like eating raw noodles, and it mellows out at the last steep to a plummy taste that hits the back end of the palate to give it smoothness to the minerally and earthy flavor. Throughout the the steepings there are some subtle spice notes mainly ginger and some pepper with a brown sugar like aroma. Quite a tea and Cheers!

195 °F / 90 °C

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39 tasting notes

Brewed this again last night in my gaiwan. I had left it alone for months. My first attempt at brewing it didn’t go very well, but I’m now certain that the method I used at that time was wrong for this tea. Verdant’s steeping notes for Sheng Pu-er generally prescribe 7 grams of leaves for Gongfu brewing, and I think I must have missed the note that for this Farmer’s Cooperative tea a pretty big exception to the general rule is suggested. For this tea, no more than 1 teaspoon of leaves is prescribed for Gongfu brewing. It seems like too little when you’re looking at it, but these leaves are apparently loaded with flavor. Verdant also suggests that you wash the tea twice before drinking any of it, and I think that definitely makes a difference. Following these guidelines last night, I found the Farmer’s Cooperative deeply satisfying.

This is the tea I remember impressing me when I initially tried it at Verdant Tea’s first pu-er tasting. I love the slight numbing sensation that it produces in the mouth, somewhat like menthol in its effect. Probably had around six infusions before I had to leave the apartment, so I haven’t even reached the peak of its profile yet. It’s still in the gaiwan and I plan to drink more as the day progresses.

Nothing else of detail to say at the moment, except that this is really an excellent tea! I’m glad I learned how to properly prepare it because the first time I tried (using too many leaves) I thought the tea was not so good. I was preferring to drink Verdant’s Golden Strand Shou while I neglected this one, perhaps only because I was preparing that one right and this one wrong. But then they’re two different classes of pu-er, and really suited to two different moods, so I’m not making a direct comparison. I’ll have to return to the Golden Strand as well at some point and post some notes on that one. For a Sheng Pu-er, the Farmer’s Cooperative has come back into my sight, restored to the great appreciation it deserves. This is a tea worth giving your attention to.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

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330 tasting notes

I think this is the tea I have – the label on my sample says "Mt. Banzhang Farmer’s Cooperative ’03 Sheng.

Brewed it in my gaiwan, in my typical clumsy fashion. It seems like I always try to do a gaiwan brewing when I have other stuff going on and I’m constantly interrupted.

This is nicely smokey – not overwhelming like the lapsang souchong I tried a couple weeks ago.

And man… it goes good with the marshmallow filled chocolate easter bunny that I just bit the head off of :D

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec

Puerh and chocolate…yum!


Indeed, Miss Bonnie!
Happy Easter, BTW :)

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