Thursday, November 5, 2009

Banzhang Chun Qing Puer

Last month I ordered four 2009 puer cakes to add to my personal collection. I purchased the cakes from Yunnan Sourcing (an Ebay store that specializes in puer tea).

One of my new cakes, the "Banzhang Chun Qing Puer cake (班章純情普洱茶餅)," seems to be getting a lot of positive online attention. At $50 per cake it was the most expensive of my new treasures and the one I was most anxious to try. According to Yunnan Sourcing, the maocha (毛茶)* for this cake was sourced from one family farm in Lao Ban Zhang village and only 84 cakes were stone pressed. That information and more was found here.

Banzhang Chun Qing Puer tea cake

Naked Cake

I used about 5 grams of dry leaf in a 100 ml gaiwan and my water temperature was about 200° F. I started with a 5 second rinse to "awaken the leaves" and used the rinse water to warm up my teacup before discarding it. At this point I smelled the now steaming wet leaves. They had a very clean, bright and fruity aroma, which reminded me of a ripe nectarine.

My first three infusions were 20, 20 and 30 seconds long. These infusions yielded a healthy, pleasant bitterness with notes of orange rind, mulling spices and pine forest. The clear yellow broth was not smoky or grassy. My next three infusions (all about 30 seconds long) darkened slightly and presented a fruitier liquor. My tasting notes for these infusions included: wild, peppery, pure and pomegranate.

The third infusion:

As advertised (and as expected) this tea is very long lasting. The following 9 infusions' steeping time increased from around 30 seconds (#6) to 5 minutes (#15). Tasting notes included: rosemary and snow.

This puer was a very rewarding and delightful tea to brew. Every cup offered me an intriguing and/or delicious reason to steep it again.

Like most puer aficionados, I am always interested in improving my personal knowledge of region specific puer tea. I have heard other tea lovers proclaiming their adoration of Ban Zhang puer's wild, clean, long lasting, strength and after drinking this tea I can relate.

Spent leaves:

*Wikipedia defines maocha as: "...a mostly unoxidized green tea processed from a "large leaf" variety of Camellia sinensis found in the mountains of southern Yunnan."


Bret said...

Glad to see you enjoyed this tea, good isnt it? This is the tea that started my Lao Ban Zhang obsession. What I love about Ban Zhang teas is the rich flavor of long beans, yam and chestnut. Next time you try this tea keep those flavors in mind and see if you dont agree. Enjoy these teas, they are a cut above the factory produced stuff out there.

Brett said...

Bret-Thanks so much for the comment. Your posts about banzhang tea have been very inspirational to me. I'll look for those flavor notes in my next session.