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

Tea type
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

83 tasting notes

Very Good tea with a very smoky character in beginning steepings, and mellows somewhat on later steeps. Smoky flavor reminds me alot of a black tea or a smoky green tea..very light, but noticeable! I pick up more of a sweetness than an earthy flavor profile and a dry/puckering (astringent?) mouthfeel… which is not quite as characteristic for most pu-erhs! A very smooth pu-erh that would be very nice for someone being introduced into the world of pu-erh’s! As always …an excellent tea from “verdant” teas,..they have never disappointed me yet ;)

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec

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2 tasting notes

I’m very tempted to give this a perfect score, but seeing that this is my first tasting note, that’s probably bad protocol.

David generously sent me a sample of this and the 2008 Xingyang Shu nuggets as an introduction to Pu’er. The 2008 Shu was a fantastic horizon-expanding first, but this… I’ve been drinking this pretty continuously for two straight days.

With the 2008 Shu, I could see why a lot of people are turned off by Pu’er. My friend tried the Shu with me, and it was his first Pu’er as well. He simply described the smell as “fish” and the taste as “tree”. Overall: “best cup of tea I’ve ever had”.

With this Sheng, however, I can’t imagine why anybody would dislike it. The aroma it puts off reminds me of the aroma inside of a sauna. It’s just this excellent, warm, cedar-ish scent. I don’t really know how to describe the taste. I suppose the taste is pretty similar to the scent… Just imagine wood, but not in the musty, moldy, or damp sense. More like if someone were to refer to a nice Scotch as “woody”.

My favorite part of this, though, is the aftertaste. It realllly lingers in your throat, and you can taste it as you exhale. It’s surprisingly powerful, considering that the upfront taste is pretty subtle.

I know my review isn’t very useful. I’d say just try it for yourself!

Boiling 2 min, 30 sec

I think your review is quite good and my right brain understands the sauna and the exhale. Keep writing your way!

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11 tasting notes

This pu-erh has been sitting in my tea cupboard for a few weeks now as I am the resident tea brewer for my office cube, but it turns out most of my co-workers favor green and oolong tea; drinking tea is not quite the same without drinking buddies, but it’s Monday morning and I have been thinking all weekend about having an assertive savory tea to start the day. So there.

I am brewing this gongfu-style, with a new yixing pot for pu-erh (only used once before). Cleansed the tea leaves twice and brewed it subsequently for: 30s, 45s, 1m, 2m, 3m, 4m

Early steepings: Mellow earthly sweet taste with smokey woody scent. The color is a robust brown color. The flavor is complex as you might expect from a “sheng” or raw pu-erh: gentle taste at the first sip, transitioning to mild bitterness and then transforming to a smooth sweet taste that lingers.

Later steepings: The taste starts becoming smooth and brisk, with the same satisfying sweet aftertaste. The tingling mouthfeel is very very good.

For lovers of sheng pu-erh tea, this comes highly recommended.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

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4 tasting notes

This Pu-Erh was fascinating. I liked it. I want to give it another, more thorough tasting. I’m not sure how many grams I loaded into my steeper, but the first steeping had a very smoky flavor. It was full bodied, and delivered exactly what I anticipated. The second steeping was close to the first, only a little fainter. The third steeping disappointed me, a little, as it seemed to “fall off.” Still, I rated it highly, because of the first two steepings. They held the sort of earthy, smoky flavor I expected. I think that if I procure a gaiwan, load up a little more tea, and brew it in the “gong fu” style, then it may deliver the sort of Pu-Erh experience for which I’m looking. I’ll try that, then update my notes.

185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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22 tasting notes

This tea has a very dark brow color and is very twiggy looking. The leaves are all crumbly and folded. It has a musty, earthy, alfalfa scent. The scent reminds me of a old hay loft.

1 Tbsp / 8 oz water / 2 minutes / 208 degrees fahrenheit

Rinsed twice and the leaves started smelling more woodsy and kind of like burning wood.

The liquor from the first steep was a light golden brow color and was very clear. It still had a musty scent and smelled slightly like cedar wood.

This is a very smooth tasting tea. It still has that pu-erh taste to it but its so smooth. It has a smokiness to it. It tastes like drinking a campfire. The aftertaste is a bit peppery tasting.. Never experienced that while drinking tea.

I think next time I brew this I’m going to use a bit more. I think this tea would be better if it was a little stronger, purely my opinion though.

205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 0 sec

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73 tasting notes

hay and cedar. black licorice, black cardamom, shoe polish & honey aromas carry through to palate. Still quite tannic. nice mixture of young and old elements here. Very lively on the tongue (there’s probably a proper tea term for that??).
very pleasant

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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127 tasting notes

Amaretto scented incense

Sound appealing? well then this is your tea. I will not speak in absolutes but I am rather bothered I got so much of this after my first impressions I can’t imagine wanting to drink this again anytime soon. Maybe as a result it will age into something better but at the moment I can’t see myself giving it a second chance to tweak parameters any time soon as I have an over abundance of good tea majority of which I have yet to even try.

One of the only sheng I have dumped after single digit steeps. Once again only had one short experience with this tea but it tasted like smoky incense initially then after 2 steeps I tasted a artificial amaretto/marzipan profile that was a weird sweet and off putting for me personally. This is more of a note for myself than a rant. I have been wrong in the past but I cant see my tweaking parameters changing my enjoyment of this.

Flavors: Marzipan, Smoke

7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Good honest review.

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25 tasting notes

I discovered a new brewing technique, and decided to revisit this one, and experiment, today. Instead of the usual 4 grams of solid leaf cake, 205 deg water, and two 4 sec rinses, followed by three 5 sec infusions. I changed it to 8 grams of solid leaf cake, boiling water, and two 2 sec rinses, followed by a 10 second infusion, and two 2 sec infusions. Also, I added a little of the hot water to the saucer to keep the porcelain gaiwan hotter. This was intended to keep the water at a more stable temp, and give the leaves more time to fully open during the first infusion. What I noticed, is a lighter color liquor, and the smokey flavour is all but absent, which may be desirable to some sippers. Also, there is absolutely no bitterness, and the tea flavour is more mellow and subdued, the opposite of what you’d expect. Also, in the second infusion, I’m already beginning to taste the subtle sweet, honey melon notes beginning to make themselves known, a nice surprise. Personally, I enjoy the smokey, storage flavour, and miss it slightly. However, the added sweetness and complexity does make this a more interesting concoction. The total lack of bitterness, and mellow flavour profile easily make this a most approachable pu’erh.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

I steeped for an additional 3 seconds on the fouth infusion, and got a slightly bitter flavour. Perhaps, it was too soon?

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301 tasting notes

Verdant brought back a limited supply of this one during the last Cyber Monday sale and I had to pick it up. Very glad I did for I know that it is real Ban Zhang which is quite difficult to obtain these days. This is a powerful tea with a definite bite to it.

Begins with a lovely clear and bright golden tea soup with a thick and sweet leather-like aroma. Progressing through several steepings, the color begins to turn more orange. Body is low and strong. At the front of each sip there is definite smoke and bitterness but it becomes sweeter at the back of the throat. Note, this is a heavy, dense sweetness with smoke and pepper in the early steepings. The texture here is thick, smooth, and very satisfying. After each cup, I am left with mouth watering and a fuzzy warm feeling in my body – interesting that I feel both mellow and alert at the same time. After each of the many steepings it remains pungent and potent with a bit of sweetness coming through. Each cup is full-flavored with long-lasting aftertaste. Overall, quite a tea with a balanced mix of bitter and sweet that infuses first the nose, then lips, tongue, mouth and throat. This is strong and potent stuff and I am delighted to have more in my tea cabinet to enjoy from time to time.

I should add that there is an interesting backstory to this tea. As reported by David Duckler at Verdant:
“This pu’er is a unique example of a brick pressed by a small farmer’s cooperative. Their family has a plot of land on Banzhang mountain, which is considered to be the absolute top in terms of pu’er. They eventually got sick of selling the pu’er leaves they picked with care to the big factories for pressing because they felt that the pu’er was treated like too much of a commodity by the bigger companies. They took a huge risk and started their own pressing of bricks.”

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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278 tasting notes

Happy new year!

Maybe I used too much tea. I’m in my nook, so I wasn’t measuring. Also, I may need to let the water cool a bit more. This was pretty darn bitter, even with just 10 second steeps. I’ll try again soon. Switching to shou for now!


Yea. I’m noticing the more Sheng I experience, weight is key. No matter the flash brew time. Give it another try. (I’ve nvr had this tea btw). I wouldn’t change the temp. Puerh should be just off the boil as far as I have learned. Just drop the weight.
As I’m sure u know, the tighter the press on the cake, the more it will open up. ;)


I normally use 200 degrees for all pu’erhs, but the kettle in my nook only boils, so I can’t set a temp. I’ll definitely try less tea next time :)

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