July 6, 2010

2009 Yunnan Sourcing Ban Zhang - Revisited

Jeez! Has it been a year since these teas were all the talk? Ummm.......just about! After having a hearty breakfast this morning I was contemplating what tea to wash it all down with and decided to dig into this one, Ban Zhang "Chun Qing" which translates as "Precious Feeling" or something equally silly. I remember loving this tea upon the very first sip, rich beany flavors and aromas sit side by side with nutty notes. Now that the teas had a year to settle in and find it's groove let's see what we have here. This Ban Zhang is one in a series of cakes released by Scott last year. There are also cakes from Yiwu, Bulang, You Le and a Wu Liang mountains in the 2009 line up.

The cakes surface leaf is definitely a shade darker than it was last September. The smell is just a tad woodsier than it once was. The compression has relaxed just a wee bit and it's very easy to separate into a nice pile of unbroken leaf. Keeping the leaves whole makes all the difference in the world, it allows for proper extraction without unnecessary bitterness. Which, speaking of bitterness, I remember when this tea was initially reviewed most people thought this tea lacking in bitterness. Considering that this is a Ban Zhang tea and one of Ban Zhangs traits is that infamous bitterness, a lot of people were left scratching their heads wondering where it was. Well, it's there now. Not obnoxious by any means but there is no denying it now.

 The first Yixing I ever bought. I think Ive had it for about ten years or so. Ten years of sheng poured over the pot has given the pot a beautiful glow. Single hole spout that pours in a good, solid stream with no drips.
If I were one of those people that names their tea pots I,d name this one Tug Boat. There is something about the pots shape that reminds me of those chubby little boats, small but what a brute. A couple of weeks ago I had added this pot to my garage sale, what was I thinking? I love this little pot, it can brew a pot of sheng like no other I own. It takes years of training to get a pot to sit up straight and behave properly. Nope.......it's not for sale.
 The teas color has changed as well. Still clear as a bell with a touch of amber starting to show. Just a little more viscosity than when these cakes were straight from the press. I think Austin TX (where I live) has a perfect environment for aging sheng. Average humidity level inside the house is around 55 % with the air conditioner running. The teas flavor has deepened, woodsy and faint tobacco flavors. Long beans and nuts are still there in spades. Very slightly sweet that becomes more dominant in later infusions. Solid but tolerable bitterness. Just a much more solid tea than it was a year ago. But...having said that, I don't see this tea as having the required traits necessary to age well. Now, I could be wrong, it's happened before and I guess theoretically it could happen again. I see this sheng as dropping out for about twenty years or so and then maybe emerging as something tasty. I havn't the time for all that, I,m gonna enjoy it now. Ive come to the conclusion that nothing washes down a hearty breakfast of bacon and eggs, toast and marmalade like young sheng. Aged sheng doesn't do it, youngish, slightly bitter, slightly sweet sheng washes it down the gullet and caps off the meal to perfection. Now it's time to pay the piper and go clean up the mess I made in the kitchen.

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