Sunday, December 16, 2007
Lao Banzhang Mountain has been long revered for its ancient tea forrest, which considered by some to be the strongest pu-erh avaliable, both in qi and in taste. Of course these qualities are what makes a great pu-erh, and as a result Lao Banzhang has a tremoundous following. Most puerh collectors will agree that no collection is complete without Lao Banzhang. Collectors will pay an exuberant about of money to have them and no doubt make them the corner piece of their collection.
This love affair with Lao BanZhang is one of the reasons why Lao Banzhang is one of the most marketed and mislabled products on the market today. For example, if you scan pu-erh vending sites, you may come across a beeng which claims to be a geniune Lao Banzhang product selling for $16 USD. The uninformed collector, hearing of all of the good things about Lao Banzhang will of course decide to buy a beeng believing they have just purchased a pure single estate Lao Banzhang. However, the reality of the matter is what they really bought was a beeng which may only contain 10% of Lao BanZhang in a blend. How can I be so sure that a $16, $17 or even $20 beeng are a blend and not a pure single estate without tasting it? Simple, just do the math. Currently, Lao Banzhang maocha is selling for 1500 RMB a kilogram or $203.00 USD for spring maocha, slightly cheaper for "Gu Hwa" or fall harvest. The price is justified due to the fact that only 10 tons of Lao Baozhang leaves are available each year for puerh, of which mind you, 30% will be useless material. What does this mean? IT MEANS THAT THERE ARE ONLY 7 TONS OF BOTH SPRING AND FALL MAOCHA FOR COMPRESSION
Now for some of you, MengYang Guoyang needs no introduction. Ms. Dong, formally of the MengHai Factoy has taken the Pu-erh world by storm. Her products are being praised for their quaility, consistency, and affordability. For further information about Mengyang Guoyang please refer to my previous post Mengyang Guoyan Factory.
This particular example is "Gu Hwa" production. This means that the leaves are of the fall harvest and therefore slightly cheaper than spring harvest of which are said to be harvested from ancient growth trees. Fall harvest maocha has different characteristics from that of a spring harvest, the most noticable of which is that the maocha is less bitter. The leaves are also generally much larger than that of the spring harvest.
Initial Inspection -
From my initial review of the maocha it can be suggested that the leaves were not heavily rolled during the maocha proccess as they are nice "striped" leaves. The maocha has a nice floral and musky scent. The leaves have a considerable amount of down on the underside of the leaf. Ususally a good sign that the prescription contains ancient tea trea. The compaction is light; clearly stone mold pressed.
Source - Dragon Tea House (Ebay Vendor)
Water-Bottled spring water.
Source of water - Frontier Springs, PA
Amount – 5.2g
Water Temp - Boil then cooled for 3 breaths
Brewing Method - Gongfu
Brewing Vessle - Yixing Teapot 150ml
The aroma was pungent which did not dissapate easily. It was floral and musky which remained constant in the sniffer with very little variation.
From the very first sip, my taste buds where awaken. This was a nice active tea with excellent huigan. Very woody with floral undertones. Silky viscosity with long lasting finish.
Still floral with more honey this time. The pleasant musk keeps the sweet aromas in check. Still very little variation as it cools.
The bitterness is starting to assert itself which seems to be most active on the sides of the tongue. There is a nice warm filling in my throat long after the swallow. More huigan this time.
The aroma is starting to balance. There is a fantasic woodiness almost reminscent wood dust. The huigan is still quite active. More salivation this time. My mouth and tongue are now both being affected by the liquor. The warm feeling in my throat is still present. There appears to be a hint of berry this time. Very interesting palate.
The leaves appear to be of the Gu Hwa harvest in that they are large. They do appear to have nice veins and a hearty texture. Nice and healthy.
The beeng faired will with other Lao Banzhang that I have tasted. It had an excellent huigan with a profound woodiness. Oddly, the liqour had an aged feel and taste to it. The subsequent infusions were all flavorful with with hints of berry, mint and camphor. Although this beeng is expensive it is considerably cheaper than other Banzhang out on the market; especially spring harvest Lao Banzhang. It should age nicely.
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