Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Introducing Laomane Menghai Banzhang Factory: 2006 Laomane Menghai Banzhang Factory “Banzhang Wang” Banzhang Ancient Arbor and 2006 Laomane Menghai Banzhang Factory “Banzhang Wang” Laomane Ancient Arbour

Is there anyone out there reading this that has ever heard of Laomane Menghai Banzhang Factory? This factory has been around for a little while and is located in the puerh producing village of Laomane (aka Laomaner).  Location, location, location.  This factory has undoubtedly benefited from being located and by primarily pressing cakes from the Banzhang area.  Their selection of puerh includes lots from this trendy area.  It seems to include very factory/ plantation like productions as well as old arbour pressings from this area.  King Tea Mall has a wideselection to look at if anyone is interested.

I acquired these two cakes together in a recent order fromAwazon.  I paid $59.00 for 400g($0.15/gram) for the Banzhang and $21.95 for the 357g ($0.06/gram) Laomane.  A few days after ordering there was a big “Sold Out” marker on these two.

Let’s first try the 2006 LaomanE Menghai Factory “Banzhang Wang” Banzhang Ancient Arbour…

Large dry leaves have an airy soft and creamy floral smell to them with a very slight suggestion of smoke.

First, is a light slightly smokey, slightly creamy taste with nice soft mouthfeel in a sour soup.  The throat is opened but not overly activated by the liquor.  There are faint suggestions of cherry hidden in all of this.  This first infusion is a ghostly one.  The mouthfeel slowly layers itself on with each cup.  Very slight cherry tastes are left in the mouth along with barely floral suggestions.  The cha qi almost immediately sharpens the senses.

The second infusion has more vegetal notes as well as smoke in there.  The mouthfeel really stacks itself to the point where it is nicely thick.  It holds some tastes of barely sweet cherry and even more fleeting floral.  A very mild coolness develops in the throat.  There is a soft astringency and sourness that comes in as well.

The third infusion shows slights of slight, crisp juicy cherry tastes up front the slight smokiness is pushed to the middle and there is a faint fruity floral lingering in the breath.  The smokey taste is the dominant taste in this tea with the fruit and floral at the edges.  This infusion has a stronger perfume and fruity onset.

The cherry fruit and slightly floral taste slowly gains momentum in this tea.  In the fourth infusion it is more obvious still.  The cha qi is quite relaxing and focusing on the mind.  I can feel the energy gingerly sauntering around my body as well.

The fifth and sixth is much the same a nice crisp pop of fruity cherry slight florals then soft smoke then a slight returning fruit flavor.

The seventh infusion the smokiness is gone and the fruit and floral are left behind.  This tea is a nice slow moving tea that feels like it will last many many infusions with quick infusions.  Overall the taste and qi is not standoffish and is very unpretentious.  The leaves have lots of stamina. 

The eighth has some honey and florals in there now with less fruit.  The ninth has lots of honey floral tastes.  To me the long stamina and changing flavor of this tea confirms its arbour/ non plantation status.

Ten, eleven, twelve push out a nice floral taste in a decent soft mouthfeel with still a cooling throat feel.  This tea can be steeped a long time with nice floral taste in a soft and juicy mouthfeel with barely cooling in the throat.

Overall, this tea is believably Banzhang and possibly at least some arbour material.  Overall, I like the tea and it is different than any others I have ever had before.  I guess most people don’t get to test lots of 11 year Banzhang?  LaoBanzhang puerh was a rarity in Korea and most of what I’ve sampled in the past were great examplesof 1-5 years old LaoBanZhang.  I have never purchased any LaoBanzhang bings in the past so overall this is new territory for me.

Ok let’s change gears just a little and try some of the 2006 LaomanE Menghai Banzhang Factory “Banzhang Wang” LaomanE Ancient Arbour…

Dry leaves smell of strong, vibrant, pungent floral and sour fruit.

First infusion presents with a thick floral front with a sweet creamy sweet edge and nice harmonious coolness in the throat.  There are some juicier and watery edges to the taste that appear more as well.  The mouthfeel is slightly sticky and fairly full the sweet creamy florals stay on the breath.  An interaction of fruity notes on the breath minutes later.

In the second the initial floral notes are pronounced and plume and cloud on the breath with an underlying note of creamy fruity sweetness.  There is a barely noticeable bitter vegetal taste underneath.  It finishes with a solid coolness in the throat.

The third is much of the same strong floral display.  The mouthfeel of this tea has a nice chalky consistency.  The qi is somewhat strong in the mind pushing racing thoughts around, simulating, alerting, the body feels it too but is relaxed under the influence of the cha qi.  More of a malty, creamy sweet base starts to present itself now in the layers of chalky mouthfeel.

The fourth and fifth present with many fruit tastes of honeydew melon and honey along with the now secondary floral tastes that expand on the cool aftertaste.  The tea develops some more pronounced slight vegetal notes here that seem to add a further layer nuance to this tea.

The sixth and seventh has slight  flat wood and vegetal base to the mainly dominating floral and sweet honey fruit tastes.  The qi is more relaxing on the mind now- putting it at peace. 

The eighth has floral tastes almost fading away now and some sweetness is left in there too.  Long steeping pushes out mainly drier woody notes with slight bitterness- there doesn’t seem to be much left in the tea after eight infusions.

Overall, these teas could easily be priced 3-4x what I paid for it.  I feel like I got quite a deal from these two and am currently looking at exploring more from Laomane Menghai Banzhang Tea Factory from King Tea Mall in the future.  King Tea Mall lists the 2006 Banzhang at$289.00 per cake which is probably closer to the actual value of a cake of this namesake and age.  If you completely forget the name and just go on the actual taste and feel of this cake is probably closer to double what I paid- still a great deal.
Of the two I really preferred the LaomanE in the initial steepings but the BanZhang had much more stamina and tasted good for many many infusions.  Overall, both of these teas were on the mild end of the spectrum for BanZhang and LaoManE teas.  I think that the Laomane might have a harder time as it ages but the Banzhang has enough to last the long. 
It is my understanding that the LaomanE Menghai Banzhang Tea factory tends to produce puerh that tends to be less strong and more mellow than your typical LaoBanZhang and LaomanE.  It was interesting though to see how potentially BanZhang and LaomanE puerh age because there is not really that much out there for comparison.

It still showed that a tong of these two were available days after I placed my order.  I am left wondering who was that lucky puerh drinker that purchased a tong of these two just days after my purchase?  They really walked away with a deal!  For me I am happy I walked away with a cake of each, I'm not sure if I would have purchased a tong of it anyways.



Unknown said...

So you're the one who took the last of these haha! I had been eyeing them for months before I saw they sold out :( I should have pulled the trigger because there's now way in hell I'm paying the $200+

Matt said...

Michael O'Brien,

Sorry Michael. Like I said, I think someone cleared them out days after me because it did show a tong purchase option even a few days after I was checking these guys out.

I will never by a tong blindly... that's something a collector not a puerh drinker would do. For a puerh drinker buying a potentially undrinkable tong is way too much a financial gamble and wasteful.

Who knows these Banzhangs could have been my everyday drinkers... sounds extravagant eh?


a bad pasty said...

As a coincidence, I pulled out a LMBF 2007 tuo to drink before reading you post. Got it from chawangshop a couple of years ago, and sometimes I wish I had gotten a bit more. It was something around $.05/gram, and has some class and plenty of aging potential. Looks like King tea has some (green/yellow box, "banzhang tuocha"). Still a pretty good price, but I would be hesitant about the possible storage - this tea is quite bitter, and might not be so good if stored too dry.

Matt said...

A Bad Pasty,

I feel like this factory has just kind of taken off recently considering the reasonable prices and age attached to tea from a trendy area which now sells for hundreds of dollars a cake in 2017. It just makes sense really.

I wonder about the storage of King's teas as well...

Thanks for your insights on this rarely talked about factory.