Pu-erh Reviews

2006 2006 Banzhang unblended cake

Genre: Compressed Sheng/Green/Uncooked/Raw
Factory: Six Famous Tea Mountains
Vendor: Yunnan Sourcing
Reviewed by tea junkie on 12/25/2006

Background    I am assuming that in response to their sets of cakes that 6ftm produced from blended leaves, they decided to up the ante and create unblended cakes from some of the most famous mountains.

Dry Leaf Appearence:    The top face of the cake is beautifully adorned with large downy tips and the overall leaf grade appears in the 6-7 range. The bottom of the cake is still heavily mixed with tips, but the leaves appear more in the 2-3 grade range. The leaves break apart nicely, though I took most of my leaf from a dented edge which left alot of broken leaves.

Water to Leaf Ratio:     10 gr of Leaf in 100 ml of water

Brewing Method:    Gongfu brewed the leaves. Rinsed leaves for ten seconds and allowed the leaves to stand in the pot for five minutes. I used a black yixing pot well-cured for sheng use as the brewing vessel, a porcelain pitcher for serving, and porcelain thimble-cups for drinking.

Wet Leaf Appearence:    The leaves were heavily broken, as was to be expected, but there were generous bud sets that were maybe 3-4 cm in length. Some of the larger stem material was a little woody towards the base hinting at some sloppiness in screening the leaves for the cake. There were moderately deep striations in the leaf, and pretty healthy veins especially along the center parts of the leaves. They also showed very little oxidation around the edges, less than I am used to seeing in the cakes I have reviewed previously here. The aroma was still a bit pungent with that Jerky thing going strong.

1st Steep    30 seconds with 195 degree spring water. The broth was a deep amber and had a very deep aroma of Jerky and Honey. The flavor was robust to the nth, a thickly coating wave of Jerky that fades after thirty seconds or so into a sort of peaty sweetness that contains hints of camphor on the edges of the tongue. This tea is highly intimidating.

2nd Steep    15 seconds with water brought down to 175 degrees. A lighter amber color this time, but the soup still was a potent Jerky broth that hid some finer notes of cedar and camphor. The astringency is so strong that it takes almost a minute before it even begins to slide into sweetness, and the overall sipping experience really lasted about five minutes with the finer notes mentioned above poking out slowly over that time.

3rd Steep    15 seconds with 195 degree water. Still a fairly deep amber; but the Jerky, while still dominant, began to allow the touches of vegetal sweetness to become more than just ghosts in the fading of the tea.

4th Steep    30 seconds with 195 degree water (I am a sucker for punishment). Now the tea is coming into its own, while still wielding that Jerky bat about pretty recklessly, the camphor has become much more pronounced along with a nice mulchy bloom on the back of the tongue.

Subsequent Steeps    I took this beast out to eight steeps, but found that it dissipated pretty fast after steep number six. Alot of the problems I encounter with this tea may be a reflection of the very broken state of alot of the leaves (probably at least half the weight was pretty fine), but in the end Jerky cake brewed Jerky tea and left juicy Jerky leaves.

Conclusion    I really do not want to write the word Jerky anymore, but since I already have I will go ahead and tell you that this is a Jerky Monster. Mosomoso, in an earlier post spoke of the banzhang power trip, and this cake comes up a distant second in all time strength to the Ming Xiang Ya Yuan banzhang cake that I have also tasted. I would write up a review of the MXYY cake, but frankly I have absolutely no interest in even looking at that cake for another five years. I am more than accustomed to the thick astringency of sheng pu-erh, but that hellspawn beast left a ten minute lacquering of my tongue with a third infusion of just ten seconds. And that was with very carefully removed leaves that were almost all whole. If anyone else comes across the MXYY banzhang cake, please heed my warnings and just say no until 2010 at least. Back to the 6ftm cake, I will simply conclude that it would seem from the two single mountain banzhang cakes I have tasted that mosomoso's observations of the strength of banzhang are right on target. The MXYY cake had alot more woodiness in its mouthfeel that tempered the jerky, but the two together rank one and two in overall astringent potency in the sheng I have quaffed. I recommend long careful storage, or Lung Ching style brewing with 140 - 170 degree water and very abrupt steeps. I do not want to be harsh on this tea since I have no experience to hint at what it may become in twenty or thirty years, but at present it is best left for future reference.

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