Monday, January 30, 2012

2006 Banzhang Lao Man E Sheng Cake

I'm a big fan of The Tea Urchin's blog and I hope someday to follow in his footsteps exploring the birthplace of puer tea. One of The Urchin's finest posts in my opinion is called From Lao Man E with Love. Lao Man E (老曼峨) is a village in the Banzhang (班章) area of southern Yunnan province. It is known for its many old tea trees.

That post reminded me that I had purchased a 2006 Lao Man E cake several years ago from but I have yet to try it. So today I'll be tasting and reviewing this cake for the first time.

In the middle of the external wrapping paper you'll see the words Banzhang Wang (班章王) or "King of Banzhang." This name is very common for many tea cakes from this popular origin. It does not guarantee the cake will be completely (or even mostly) comprised of actual Banzhang leaves. Because I'm not an authority on puer tea I must trust the vendor and hope that it really has a high percentage. The wrapper goes on to advertise old trees (老樹) and across the bottom it specifies Yunnan Xishuangbanna Menghai Banzhang Tea Factory Production (雲南西雙版納勐海班章茶廠出品).

I used about 5 grams of dry leaf in a 100ml glass gaiwan. After a 3 second rinse with boiling water I settled in for 7 nice infusions. The scent of the damp leaves reminds me of peppermint.

My first pour had a very savory, minty flavor with peppery, and foresty notes too. The color of most pours was between yellow and orange and the mouth-feel was medium bodied, sparkly and playful.

Several of the middle steeps had a little more sweetness, reminding me somewhat of basil, but even then it was always more savory than it was sweet. Tea Urchin's post made me wary of potential bitterness in Lao Man E tea but I didn't find this cake to be bitter (perhaps I was being too careful). As the session wound down a pleasant apricot note emerged.

It has a clean aftertaste that feels good in my throat. The cha qi left me feeling sharply alert and slightly fidgety. Although I like this cake, I've had more delicious and memorable tea sessions with other Banzhang cakes. I think this cake was a good buy (it wasn't too pricy) but I think I'll stick to higher quality offerings from this area in the future.


Petr Novák said...

I also like the Tea Urchin's blog and yes, the LaoManE one is great. I am happy to have one cake of The Tea Urchin summer LaoManE and also sample of the spring one. Both are strong, potent and both are bitter :) When spring one is just for hardened drinkers the summer one is quite enjoyable right now. Look forward to try it after couple of years.

Nice review. Thanks


Patrick said...

Tea Urchin is pretty awesome, definitly get your hands on a sample of his LaoManE if you can!

very nice post.