Ban Pen is an area that is really overshadowed by its close neighbour Lao Ban Zhang. Its also notoriously known as one of the area ingredients (along with Lao Man E) to fake a Lao Ban Zhang. However, like any area, it has its own merits that are often overlooked… I look to not overlook…
On this unseasonably hot 31C early June day I go for something that is reeeeaaaaally fresh...
Dry leaf smells of intense very grape deep sweetness. Very sweet and very grape… a bit too fresh for 2020 (this is actually fresh 2021 maocha!).
The first infusion has a buttercup shining sweetness with an underlying woody taste and returning grape sweetness. There is a faint cooling in the mid throat and a saliva producing effect in the mouth. There is a bit of underlying bitterness that moves into that grape sweetness with rubber/wood underlying. The mouthfeel is a fine sandy feeling in the mouth. It tastes really vibrantly fresh.
The second infusion has a quick moving vegetal bitterness that moves to a mild saliva producing grape sweetness in the mouth. There is a strong floral presence with this taste that says throughout the profile. The mouthfeeling is thin and slightly sandy with a saliva producing effect almost being trapped in the mid-throat. There is a muscatel sweetness and grape skin pucker going on here that reminds me of a good Darjeeling. The aftertaste is long with grape, bitter, rubber, florals stretching out for minutes later. The Qi is felt in the Chest and in the mind with a spacy expanding energy.
The third has a strong bitter onset with an underlying floral and grape sweetness. The bitterness is strong and overpowering here, a bit astringent and really pushes my empty stomach reminding me it’s time for breakfast. I am also pushed into a euphoric state by the overtaking Qi- my Heart races. A flat thin kind of griping tongue coating. Bitter but also nicely floral sweet.
The fourth infusion has a very vibrantly floral grape sweetness that comes after a moderately strong quick moving bitterness. There is the splash of vibrant flavours. This infusion has a brilliant and clear pure balance of quick moving bitterness and strong returning floral muscatel sweetness. There is underlying woody rubber taste, flat tongue coating and long floral aftertaste. The Qi is big and euphoric in the mind. There is strong bodyfeeling in the shoulders and arms almost pulsing throbbing. The length of the floral aftertaste is notable.
The fifth infusion has a vibrant lemon peel bitterness that quickly moves to a floral grape skin fruit taste. The bitterness is moderate strong- to strong and has a quick reversal to a long floral finish in the mouth. Chest Qi with limbs floating and throbbing. There is a flat sticky tongue coating with some faint saliva producing in the upper throat.
The sixth infusion offers an almost gamey pungent barnyard not as bitter but also not as sweet. There are more subtle florals and white grape skill tastes over a flat sticky tongue coating and faint upper throat opening. Qi is quieting in the mind with Chest and limb bodyfeelings.
The seventh infusion has a mild-moderate quick moving bitterness that transforms into strong more pungent florals and grape skin fruitiness. The mouthfeeling is a touch gripping but the throat sensation is nice and deeper into the mid-throat. The Qi has taken me places and it starts to soften and relax just a bit but still euphoria reigns.
The eighth has a buttercup and gamey tastes that come out after quick moving bitterness that turns to gamey floral notes. A flat sticky tongue coating and fading floral finish. There is a relaxing bodyfeeling now. Soothing and tranquil. Shoulders and arms feel like they are floating or separating from my body.
The ninth infusion oops was left in the pot for 5 minutes! It has a very concentrated pear syrupy gamey pungent barnyard taste with a fair bit of thickness. Syrupy bitter wild flower dandelion barnyard. Very strong spaced out feeling with this hard push…. Spacey very spacey.
My busy day engulfs the tea session and I, unfortunately, abandon it for the day and come back the next day…
I fill a big mason jar up with the leaves from yesterday which I refrigerated and pour boiling water over them and drink this stuff up grandpa style…
Wow! Is it ever good…
Obscenely fragrantly floral notes fill the nose and mouth. The floral is strong and long. The bitter taste hits you pretty hard especially after sitting in the boiling water for hours but there is always a strong movement to grape muscatel notes over a strong hard chalky and slightly gripping mouthfeeling. There is a bit of linger depth in the throat but not overly. There is also suggestions of vegetal notes, and almost faint pungent gamey suggestions. The floral and grape and bitterness is strong and along with the gripping moutfeeling stick tightly to the mouth. The Qi is really insane here and push me into a euphoric stupor with a floating bodyfeeling overall. I have to step away and approach cautiously tomorrow!
This fresh 2021 Puerist Ban Pan maocha is not like any I’ve tried before but no doubt has the power of a solid Lao Ban Zhang underneath. This maocha hasn’t been pressed yet or put up for sale. Its Mark’s style to let this powerful stuff rest for a few months. I also am not too sure about the current pricing from a region that can piggy back on the price of its ultra-famous neighbor Lao Ban Zhang. I could guess a tea like this could go for above $250 for 200g cake.
Its good stuff.