Thursday, March 31, 2022

2005 Chenyuan Hao Shanzhong Chuanqi TeasWeLike vs

I picked up a cake of the 2005 ChenYuan Hao ShanzhongChuanqi from and posted a review on this cake here.  I picked up a few quarter cakes of 2005ChenYuan Hao Shanzhong Chuanqi from Teas We Like to compare the storage and to enjoy.  These notes are from Teas We Like storage.  This is going to be awesome…

I picked up a Dry leaves smell of dark woody odours.

First infusion has a woody icing sugar taste there is a strong nutty finish in the mouth with layers of wood and a few layers of sweet icing sugar.  The mouthfeeling is silky.

The second infusion has a layers sweet nutty then almost cherry taste with pops of sweet cherry and icing sugar layers over a base of deep dark woody tastes.  It makes the mouth salivate.  Nice euphoria feeling early in the session.  The cooled down cup of tea is darker woodier layers with nutty sweetness first then fait cooling and some icing sugar layers.  Nice silky feeling with distant not really bitterness.

The third infusion has a sour woody layered onset with a nutty woody chestnut type of taste there are fainter cherry tastes and some faint coco tastes a well.  There is faint cooling and a returning creamy icing sugar and cherry finish.  Nice lubricating oily feeling with some faint dry coating underneath.  A slow to appear very distant bitterness lingers at the end.  The coco taste lingers in the mouth along with a intermittently appearing cherry and some background icing sugar.  Nice mild euphoria feeling.

The fourth infusion was left to cool and has a nutty hazelnut sweetness with layers of darker woods.  There is a bit of cooling then some dark cherry taste mixed with coco with some returning saliva producing.  The taste has a nice richness to it with nutty tastes, woody tastes, fruity and surgar tastes.  Moderately oily texture with some dryness underneath .  Mild happy euphoria is building up.  Lingering background faint bitterness.

6th is left to cool and has this nutty, dark layered woody with emerging coco and faint dark cherry with some lesser cooling as the tighter mouthfeeling reveals itself and the mid-throat opens.  A long icing sugar sweetness lingers with hints at sour fruit faint coco woods.  Layered and complex taste with a strong wave of stupefying Qi building now with warming feeling- face warm.  Nice tidal wave of Qi hits hard and the chest expands and heart races. There’s the sneak attack, right there!

7th is left to cool and gives off a sweet sugar and woody coco taste with distant bitterness.  There is a nice oilier feeling and slight tugging mouthfeeling with mid-deep throat feeling underneath.

8th has a woody fruity a bit sour and turns a bit bitter coco.  Has a long sugary taste, nice oily texture, nice chocolate darker woody taste to it.  Has a woody tree almost vegetal taste in there now.  Nice saliva producing.  I am in a bit of a slowed useless stupor with chest sensations, Heart beats, and heavy arms/limbs.  Nice long sugar sweet aftertaste with woody coco subtle bitterness.

9th is left to cool and is brown sugars woody layers and almost chocolate cocos.  Nice faint coolness and nice sweet sugared layering.  Nice mild uselessness and Heart beats.

10th is more woody almost vegetal woody underneath but with a flat bitterness throughout.  There is some oily almost fruity notes.  A flat bitter bland vegetal note lingers in the breath with very faint hard to pull out sweetness.  Nice spacy relaxation now.

11th has a bland woody vegetal almost coco woody not that really sweet.  I would say a bland woody coco taste is now the dominant. Some incense notes are noticeable now.  Less oily texture and more tight tongue feeling.

12th has a vegetal woody incense bland taste with brown sugary sweet underneath.  Has mainly a woody bland vegetal incense mild bitter taste now with almost no sweetness.  Nice slowly relaxation with still some arms and chest feelings…

Not as nuanced and as obviously complex as the but heavier on the deeper beefier notes.  The version has much more vibrancy and higher fruitier notes where the Teas We Like version has more deep mysterious notes.  I think I like the storage a bit better- its doing a bit better on the speed test, if that says anything.  Fun to compare!


Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Retaste: 2003 Yuanjiutang Ban Zhang

I recently retired this free sample from Tiago at Tea Encounter as a comparison to the other older Lao Ban Zhang and it compares favorably to them at a much better price… Nice wine floral sweetness with hints of bitter coco and some faint astringency.  Nice stoning Qi as well.  Warming energy pushes me to sweat.  Nice coolness and long icing surgar sweetness with nice dry storage on it.  Nice saliva producing pops.  There is this beautiful mouth numbing quality to this one in the early infusions that is quite dynamic with the stoning relaxed Qi.  This is comparable to the 2005 Greatful Tea Factory with this 2003 Yuanjiutang a bit less deep with less stamina but probably strong Qi.  This session is a bit better than my first and my memory of it.  It was a great price while Tea Encounter still offered it. 


Monday, March 28, 2022

Marshland Brawler: 2017 Chen Sheng Hao Ban Zhang Ancient Tree 200g Brick

This 2017 Chen Sheng Hao Banzhang Ancient Tree 200g brick is now for sale at for approx. $257.00for 200g brick or $1.29/g… I got this sample free with purchase/ for review… Chen Sheng Hao is famous for adding a bit of Lao Ban Zhang into these things…

Dry leaves have a woody, papery faintly sweet odour.

First infusion has a watery woody pondy but bright clear candy taste with seaweed aftertaste mixed with hard to grasp candy.  There is a lingering but super faint bitterness underneath.  The mouthfeeling is very faint sand.  You can feel some faint chest sensations right off the bat…  Long faint lingering bitter sweet candy taste minutes later with slow release saliva.

The second infusion is left to cool and gives off a pond marshland onset that expands into bitter and candy sweetness with the marshland storage taste of drier natural Taiwanese storage taste trailing into the aftertaste of mild but building bitterness and candy sweetness.  Chest heart beats.  Mind is energetic.

The third infusion has a pond marshland faintly pungent onset that slowly changes into a woody bitter which then slowly gives way to sweetness in the aftertaste.  The sweetness is subtle and long.  The profile is really clear, stretched out and slow moving with the pond-marshland, likely storage taste spanning the profile and providing some depth.  The mouthfeelng is a faint soft velvety coating.  There is a faint cooling and saliva producing after the bitterness subsides to make room for sweetness.  All the flavours are not too strong but slowly reveal themselves.  Nice chest heart beats with some chest expansion and energetic focused mind.

The fourth infusion has a more condensed creamy sweet with pond onset the bitterness is getting stronger and starts to beat the crap out of my now empty stomach… there is also more saliva producing and more sweetness but this is more bitter than any LaoManE I have sampled recently… super strong unhinged power that races the heart, excites the mind into a euphoria… and pains the stomach from its raw bitter power… oh baby!  The cooled down cup is much sweeter with a long candy finish….

The fifth infusion has a bitter pond-marshland then some slower to emerge sweetness, a bit of faint cooling and a faint saliva release.  The sweetness almost reminds me of a box of cereal I’ve tied… granola?  Long faint slow emerging sweetness that strengthens in the mouth minutes later.  Softer faint velvety coating.  Humongous waves of intense alerting energy push me into a dysfunctional giddy mess…  Strong heart beats and shoulder heaveiness with cheek numbness.

6th sweet bursts of candy sweet under a moderate flat bitterness some heart beats and forehead sweeting.  More lubricating texture and sweetness with drier tugging mouthfeeling.  Powerful Qi.

7th a bitter pond-marshland onset with an almost but not really fruity and floral sweetness that expands into a candy like finish.

8th has a quick bitterness with a pondy-marshland finish a cooling throat and returning saliva to the throat.  There is a slow sauntering sweetness underneath that slowly reveals a candy sweetness that is transposed over some lesser bitterness and marshland taste.  The Qi is felt in the strong heart beats, open chest energy movement down shoulders and limbs.

9th infusion has a bitter then pond then woody then a slow sweetness.  The cold cup gives off a woody menthol caramel sweet that turns candy slowly and slightly minutes later.  Strong alerting Qi, I break a sweat as my heart pounds.  Slight dry gripping mouthfeeling.

10th infusion has a flat bitter and fruity presentation with pond and woody tastes in there and a cooling pungent on the breath.  The pond marshland taste lingers throughout… this is a drier Taiwanese storage thingy…

11th has a malty caramel fruity sweetness that pops with the bitterness then pond tastes then throat cooling… ahhhh… then candy faint sweetness under bitter and pond…. Strong heart beats, sweat, limbs…

12th has a sweet pop then bitter with woody and pondy then sweet and cooling.  Stong Qi!

13th has a sweet onset then a bitter, pondy then sweet then cooling then candy. Strong Qi!

I goes like this for a handful more infusions….

I return to the pot the next day… still at flash infusions and its giving off some pond watery onset with some lesser sweetness, more woody pond marshland than yesterday faint sweetness…

The mug overnight infusion is marshland pond with a faint ashy incense bitterness and not really much sweetness just hints of returning sweetness.

It feels like single estate profile or maybe just delicately blended? and obvious Laobanzhang taste that is a bit more LaoManE than Lao Ban Zhang.  Dryier natural storage.  Super power Qi.  Super enjoyable!  I would rate this one pretty high compared to some of the other more obvious Lao Ban Zhang samples I have recently had.

I drank all these past Ban Zhang samples in about an 8 day span and it made my life super enjoyable!  Thanks Paolo for this opportunity!


Thursday, March 24, 2022

2018 Private Label Lao Ban Zhang Huangpian 250g Brick

I sampled this one not knowing it was Hunagpian but drinks like something between Huangpain and standard leaf.  Somewhere in the notes below I ponder if it is hunangpian but the leaves are not obviously huangpian.  This was given as a free sample but is also included in the In Search of Real Lao Ban Zhang tasting set at

Dry leaves have a sweet floral odour.

First infusion has a watery clear buttery faint floral approach that has a salivating mid profile and wet oily texture with light candy floral finish.  Very oily and mouthwatering.  Very pure dry stored flavours tastes so fresh.  Light candyfloss in the oily saliva 5 minutes later.

The second infusion has a pop of fruity fresh candy with almost fresh rain forest taste that appears briefly afterwards but not really just a strong very sweet and mouthwatering effect.  The thick onslaught of saliva strongly pushes lots of sweet candy taste out.  This tastes like a good Yiwu to me.  Lots of layered candy taste even 10 minutes later.  Qi is calm mild and feels very comfortable in the body.  Makes me feel calm and focused and happy.  The oily and layered and long sweetness is really nice.

The third infusion you can see the oily texture in the picture here… pungent rainforest onset with creamy sweet oily layers that follow.  The cooled down cup is very fresh rainforest taste with a thick oily sweetness layered in there.  The saliva producing is significant.  Thick oily buttercup sweet layers.  Nice mild spaced out calming Qi.  It isn’t that Laobanzhang though… tastes more like Yiwu with a thickness of Huangpian.  I would have guessed it to be 2020 material… quite fresh.

The 4th is oily thick juicy sweetness fresh forest tastes.  The cooled down cup is more pungent caramel sweet oily thickness with a faint mid-pungent taste lots of oily saliva producing slow faint rolling candy finish.  Nice chest sensations and relaxing feeling.

The 5th has a fresh forest oily taste.  The processing and storage feels a lot like the fresh Zheng Si Long Hao processing.  Lots of sweet candy thick oily layers over an emerging pungent and fresh forest tastes.  Really tasty!  Calm focusing Qi with fine sand under oily textures.  The cooled down cup gives off delicious and fantastic tropical vibrant fruity tastes.

6th has a bitter sweet fruity and fresh fruity onset with a slight fresh pungency and a nice oily mouthfeeling.

7th has an oily and mouth lubricating floral pungent even slightly bitter woody taste with nice oily fruity sweetness in the finish. Calming Qi and a bit spacy.  Sweet aftertaste in saliva oil.

8th has a floral fresh forest taste with an oily texture of sweet fruity fresh flavours the underlying mouthfeeling is dry but oily textures carry the sweet tastes.  Calming relaxation.

9th has a fresh fruity sweet taste oily sweet layers not too much pungent freshness but nice layers of fruity and creamy and almost caramel sweetness.

10th has a buttery creamy oily sweetness with some faint pungent coolness and woodiness slight faint bitter.  Oily textures over a slight sandy, dry mouth.  Relaxing Qi.

11th has a buttery oily fruity fresh forest and caramel buttery oily sweetness.  Mildly relaxing effect. 

The next day I get back to the teapot and the cool cup is still nicely oily and very flavourful fruity fresh tastes.

The 13th is still very very lubricating and oily sweet with mild coolness in the throat.  Very vibrant oily sweetness, fresh tropical fruity tastes.  Good stamina in these consistently oily sweet leaves.

14th this is the first infusion longer than flash infusion and sits over the leaves for a few minutes… very lubricating oily fresh tropical sweetness with a subtle cooling and creamy sweet finish. This puerh has very little bitterness even a longer infusions..

15th infusion is minutes long again and is unwaveringly oily and sweet there is a bit of fainter bitter but mainly very distinct oily fresh tropical fruits there is some increased saliva producing then a creamy sweet layered over the fruity oily sweetness the bitter lingers throughout in these long infusions.  These leaves are very consistent with great stamina but never boring due to the great taste.  Nice calming mild Qi in these leaves nothing too exciting.

16th is left to cool and has a lubricating fruity deliciously oily sweet taste faint bitterness and a coolness tries to punch through the oily sweetness…. Chill relaxing…

The long mug steeping is still bursting with thick oily juicy mouthwatering sweet fruity tropical tastes there is a base of mild bitterness with vibrant sweet pops of layered fruity sweetnesses.  This is a super delicious oily and vibrant puerh!  This is one of the best tasting younger puerh I have tried in a while…

Dry stored, tastes very fresh, tropical juicy lubricating oily tastes tastes like more like a 1-2 years sheng than 4 years but possible.  Does have many classic or typical Laoban Zhang qualities tastes more like Yiwu than Menghai to me.  Super delicious and easy to drink single estate with a very oily juicy and lubricating feeling.  Qi is just a mild relaxing Qi really…


Tuesday, March 22, 2022

2012 Guang Yang Hao Lao Ban Zhang: A Strong Savory Attempt

This free sample I recieved is available in the In Search ofReal Lao Ban Zhang tasting set here.

Dry leaves smell of a salty savory floral… very different odour.

First infusion has a woody almost metallic savory and puckering taste. Not much sweetness.  There is a bit of pungent menthol then some creamy metallic salty sweetness.  Kind of a slight bitter then flat finish.  Unusual tastes for Laobanzhang.  Head stuffiness.

The second infusion has a bitter to not really sweet but more medicinal savoury salty tasting.  This is a really unique savoury taste with a metallic, salty, medicinal, bitter taste.  Super unusual profile which reminds me of some of the salty savoury puerh from Yiwu and Northern areas like Simao but with an obvious Menghai area strong feeling and quick movement from bitter to not that sweet.  Heady feeling Qi.

The third infusion has a salty bitter metallic taste that moves to menthol taste with fluffy candy like finish.  The candy finish has a bitter taste hanging out under it.  The mouthfeeling has a chalky pasty finish.  There is a lingering bitterness on the tongue.  Stuffy heady and spacy Qi feeling overall.

The 4th infusion has a coppery metallic salty savoury bitter presentation that integrates medicinal menthol tastes and returns with some sweetness underneath kind of creamy custard sweetness but really blanketed by bitterness.  Fuzzy gripping bitter mouthfeeling and tongue pulling sensation.  Qi is pretty spacy and strong in the mind!  This is a strong puerh as the Heart now races and the mind escapes.  Salty and vanilla tastes come out in the finish minutes later.  This is a blended material with most of the blend being of high quality older trees and possibly some LaoBanZhang blended in there?  There is lots going on with it- too much for single origin.

5th has a salty licorice that turns to bitter woody salty taste there is some sweet creamy candy under the long bitter presentation.  Very savoury tastes, some medicinal, bitter, lesser sweetness.  Not typical Banzhang taste but maybe something underneath.  Relaxing head.

6th has a menthol honey salty onset with not as much bitter but still quite bitter.  It turns in to a medicinal honey salty almost candy sweet underneath.  Qi beats the chest and spaces me out a bit. 

7th has a sweet salty licorice almost candy onset with a bitter taste that stays throughout.  There are some grassy and woody notes.  Bitter and salty mainly with some cooling and medicinal tastes as well.  The mouthfeel is a tugging bitterness from teeth to tongue.  Nice spacy Qi with strong heart beats.

8th is left to cool and gives off a nice sweet malty salty woody medicinal taste.  Still quite bitter.

9th has a woody almost coco bitter caramel onset with lots of savoury woody layers still.  Nice cooling pungent.  This is is really not that sweet but has a consistent bitterness. Nice clear mind Qi.

10th has a bitter savory salty onset with a underlying long bitterness and almost no sweetness left.  Lots of interesting woody, grass, weedy, dandelion, taste with bitterness.  Flat tight bitter mouthcoating.

11th has a bitter creamy almost sweet woody salty weedy taste.  Lots of layers in this savory based blend.  Tastes sweeter in the longer aftertaste like custard sweetness over bitterness.  Flat tugging bitter mouthfeeling.

12th has a bitter medicinal taste with weeds woody grasses, salty tastes and a long sweet finish on the breath.  The sweetness has been picking up and lingering now minutes later on the breath.  Usually this is when bitterness starts to overtake the sweet but it’s the opposite here… still more savoury and salty and bitter but a long flat sugar sweetness now.

13th has a weedy bitterness with a chalky thick mouthfeeling, less bitterness allows for a long sugar sweet almost creamy custard finish.  Nice spacy focusing now.  Not much bodyfeeling in this one.

I flash steep this one a few more times before walking away from the pot at the end of the day but it was hard to walk away from… it started to get much sweeter in these later infusions with a custard like sweet taste emerging in long aftertaste that can be felt even 10 minutes later along with a mild spaciness and relaxing effect in these later infusions.  There was still some bitter strength and savoury flavours… this was an interesting experience for me… but I’m not too sure how much LaoBanZhang it contains?

The a long overnight steeping is woody and still savoury with a metallic flat taste and a touch of faint bitterness and a bit of creamy sweetness that is hard to grasp…

The taste profile isn’t really that classic LaoBanzhang taste, it doesn’t even really pretend to be this.  The Qi is strong spacy and Heart beats… pretty nice gushu feeling not quite typical Qi for LaoBanZhang but close.  There is a nice bitter and sweetness thing happening here but under lots of complexity it must seem like a blend but from where… I’m not too sure???

Either way I really like the experience…



Famous Puerh in the West: 2013 Xiaguan Love Forever Paper Tong


Sometimes there are puerh productions that become so famous they are simply know in the puerh world by their acronym.  So is the case with LFPT (2013 Xiaguan Love Forever Paper Tong).  This production has been everywhere, I mean EVERYWHERE, since I got back into the puerh scene in 2017.  I’m not 100% sure but it might have first gained prominence in the West by Toby of the Jade Leaf?… there was an early group order of this one around this time.  Since then the Jade Leaf, King Tea Mall, TeasWeLike, and now has offered it but I am unsure if some have been sourced from the same wholesale dealer with the same storage??? And more importantly… what the fuck ever happened to the bamboo tong version of this production????? I really want to know!  I have only read reviews of the cakes which come from the paper bag tong which would offer more of a sealed storage option but not airtight compared with the bamboo.  Not one comparison tasting between the two… I want to see that- we all want to see that.  I think Shah8 maybe thought he did a bamboo tong version tasting but he could not say for certain.  Anyways there is a crazy amount of reviews on this puerh.  Surprisingly, I have never tried this  before dispite my general enjoyment of Xiaguan puerh.  I’m thankful for the free sample that came from one of these 2013 Xiaguan Love Forever Paper Tong which goes for approx $100 for 357 g cake or $0.28/g.

The Super chopped up factory style dry leaves are a nice floral sweet smell.

First infusion has a strong floral sweetness with a strong body underneath of woody thickness.  There is a pungent woodiness type of menthol and underling bitterness in there.  A really strong punch start!  Nice creamy sweet floral taste to it.  Very full slight puckering chalky feel to it.

Second infusion is a strong floral creamy sweet with a deep woody almost bitter base taste.  Lots of mouthwatering saliva returning after a menthol taste.  There is a pungent menthol onset with thick woody creamy floral sweet finish.  Very tasty and satisfying.  Tastes very much like Laobanzhang.  Strong focusing but deeply soothing feeling with some shoulder heaviness and chest opening feelings.  Very sweet finish in the mouth with layers of sweet floral candy released.  Nice dense layered tastes.

The third infusion has a thicker menthol woody sweet taste.  Some candy, floral, caramel, wood, menthol a layered and dense sweetness.  Full fluffier chalky fullness with a salivating returning sweetness which releases a very sweet floral candy sweetness.  Nice focusing energy with some shoulder heaviness and chest opening.  The storage is a bit humid and reminds me of Guangdong or Malaysian storage maybe a bit of Taiwanese as well but not completely natural Taiwanese stored… hard for me to place exactly.

The 4th infusion has a strong sweet floral initial burst then a woody menthol before a saliva gob turns things very creamy candy sweet and long…  Deep focusing feelng with shoulder and open chest sensations. Nice full lighter fluffy chalky mouthfeeling.

The 5th infusion has more woody menthol initiaily with candy floral creamy strawberry sweetness more at the end of the profile or mid profile.  The saliva gob comes and goes with creamy floral and strawberry sweetness.  Feeling a bit focused, a bit floaty.

6th has a woody menthol onset with lesser sweetness kind of a roasted woody bean taste under some lesser floral and creamy sweet and strawberry.  Deep focus and relaxing.  The cooled down cup has a woody menthol creamy almost bitter-astringent sweet taste.  Saliva returns to push out an almost bready creamy floral candy sweetness.  Nice focused feeling.

7th has a woody almost soapy floral with a thinner woody taste and longer thin candy taste from onset to aftertaste.  There is a woody thin and fine candy sweetness here throughtout with lots of the more dense and layered tastes falling off.

8th has a woody and a bit mildly astringent sweet candy taste.  Its thinning out but still some longer lanky woody and candy tastes with more pronounced but only slight pucker dry mouth.  Nice productive focusing today!  Shoulder heavy and chest expanding.

9th has a soapy floral woody pungent brackish woody almost dirt taste with cool throat and some faitn sweetness returing.

I mug steep out the rest…. And it gives off woody bitter brackish notes with hardly any sweetness left that kind of lingers faintly on the breath and creamy sweetness trails away.  I enjoyed this one a lot! This one tastes like it was stored briefly in Malaysia or Guangzhou before a longer period of Taiwanese storage or could just be a deeper natural Taiwanese storage.  I can totally see the appeal of this uniquely floral factory tea- a great option for the price.

Order of preference for these 6 recently sampled semiaged Banzhang-

#1- 2006 Zhi Zi Hao Black Wrapper / Yin (not pictured) this was probably the best deal from Western facing vendors in 2020 when Houde sold this cake for $595.00 for 400g cake- vibrant powerful, elegant, and brilliantly stored!

#2- 2005 Greatful Tea Factory Zhengshan (middle top)- the most LaoBanZhang out of the bunch in its wine like presentation with full mouthfeeling and Qi sensations also has some nice dryier natural Taiwanese storage on it that goes well.  Nice full leaves and buds.

 #3- 2013 Xiaguan Love Forever Paper Tong (very bottom )-  a powerful blend of small factory chopped leaves with layered dense strong flavours of florals, strawberries and some woody heft some faint bitter, strong immeditate presence with strong focusing Qi and shoulders and chest opening, nice fluffy full mouthfeeling.

#4- 2005 Banzhang Macau Hualian Small Buds (middle bottom)- single estate, grape, bitter fruity explosion of taste that slowly builds and has amazing strength and stamina especially for such little buds- mug steeped this one out for a few days and powerfully fruity sweet bitterness even days later!  Reminds me a bit of Lincang and not as much Banzhang.

#5- 2003 Yuanjiutang Ban Zhang (from Tea Encounter)- nice banzhang character in taste, nice stoning Qi, saliva producing pops, not as great stamina with a touch of astringency, a lesser version of the 2005 Greatful Tea Factory above but really good for the price.

 #6- 2005 Lao Ban Zhang Sheng Tai Toucha  (very top) - deeper smokier old school Laobanzhang, I like the old schoolness but its depth is lacking.


Friday, March 18, 2022

Top Recommendation: 2004 ChenYuan Hao Song Pin Hao Commemorative Cake

I publish this in haste because there are still a few samples left to try at  I took a risk and got a full cake of this 2004 Chen Yuan Hao Song Pin Hao at approx. $623.00 for 380g cake or $1.64/g… I thank Paolo for bringing this one in for us in advance….

Dry leaves smell of faint distant woody cardboard with a stronger lingering creamy sweetness.

The first infusion has a pure watery woody creamy sweet very Yiwu initial taste with a very fluffy creamy sweet finish.  The pure creamy sweet Yiwu taste pops and expands long in the mouth and deep in the throat.  The mouthfeel is very soft with a mild mouth watering and deep throat feeling.  It is very clear and tasty.  Minutes later there is a subtle brassy metallic taste.  The cooled down cup tastes more woody, salty, and bland vegetal.  Interesting…

Second infusion has a vibrant tangy initial pop of sour cherry that holds in a lubricating saliva inducing mouth.  There is tons of mouthwatering and saliva producing with a strong moving saliva from the deep throat and filling the mouth like biting into a Gushers candy from childhood.  There is some brassy notes, salty notes and woody notes and creamy sweet notes underneath.  The Qi is very pausing/ quieting on the mind.  It’s the Qi that stops the world….  The jaw feels heavy, the eyes clear.

The third infusion has a strong tangy sweet sour cherry plumb onset that makes the mouth strongly water and pulls the saliva up into the mouth.  The movement pushes the strong sweet fruity taste out with great effect.  There are salty, briny, woody and creamy sweet with faint distant incense underneath.  The savoury, sour, sweet, bland combination with the strong saliva producing and vibrant pop of flavor with completely mind stopping and world pausing Qi is a pretty amazing experience.  There is a deep and profound sense of purpose, happiness, and euphoria in this Qi that I would say is at the very highest quality to me.  A heavy jaw but gentle spinal release. Wow!

The fourth infusion has a woody sour fruity cherry plum pop that is more weighted with woody tastes initially and has a long creamy sweetness underneath with salty briny and some faint distant incense.  Nice strong saliva producing but less than the first three infusions.  The taste and mouthfeeling is insanely tasty to me the Qi is this bigger than me feeling.  Pausing me and bringing me into a purposeful euphoria.  Mintues later there is a salty creamy sweet taste in the mouth.  Wow!

The fifth infusion has a strong syrupy oily cherry tart plum with some richer coco and buttery notes layered in with salty savoury notes… so good… the cooled down cup is incense cherry plum with a woody savoury incense taste.  It has a returing candy like sweetness under savoury and woody syrupy tastes.  The world freezes around me but I have this deep ethereal feeling of freedom… so good with a thick saliva producing feeling.

6th infusion has a syrupy cherry plum thick initial taste with a distinct savory, woody subtle incense underneath.  Thick sweet taste over a tone of saliva producing oils and deep throat sensations.  Enliving and pausing feelings simulatanously.   Very powerful and profound Qi experience here.  Dense thick taste with sweetness, sour, savoury bland, smoke… no bitter at all.

7th has a syrupy dense sweet plum slight sour cherry with nice vibrancy and thickness to this there is complexity in this blend in its taste, mouthfeeling, and Qi.  I see no weaknesses in this puerh…. Top shelf stuff superior to other Yuanchen Hao I have tired thus far. 

8th thick oily cherry plumb with deep mysterious smokey woody savoury taste there is a returning sweetness of faint sweet candy underneath.  This infusion is a bit smokier and woodiner now and less sour.  Deep throat sensations and lots of saliva producing.  Beautiful Qi transcending experience here.

9th has a woody smoke less sweet and more savoury onset with a toasted nut and faint hard to grasp candy sweetness in the aftertaste but more nutty sweetness.  The mouth salivating is less.  The sweetness is much less initially as is the thickness.

10th has a sour smoke less fruity or sweet onset and more smoky, woody onset with a returning long faint candy and salty taste which makes the mouth salivate.  There is some brassy metallic notes in there and a creamy almost bready note as well.  Complex and interesting tastes.  Nice mouthwatering and deep throat feel with more distinct long candy finish.  Qi is more focusing now with subtle shoulder and jaw heaviness and some heart beasts.

11th has a watery woody smoke onset with some lesser sweetness underneath.  Some wood, some savoury but not much sweetness anymore.  Not as oily and not as much saliva producing.  Still heavy jaw and arms and shoulders feeling with drowsy happy stillness feeling.

12th has a fruity smoke onset with some faint sour and woody and savoury.  Qi is still strong in the body and mind.

I put this one into mug steepings….

Smokey savoury deep woody tastes are left here with a faint hard to grasp sweetness on the breath now…

With a strong solid profile thoughout I feel this one is flawless and likely the best full cake I own.  It accomplishes this with strong dense sweet tastes with a layered complex background of woods, smoke, salty/savoury tastes, and candy sweetnesses.  The mouthfeeling is very deep throaty and pushes tones of saliva into the mouth where vibrant and complex tastes are accentuated while there is balance within smoke, savoury, and darker tastes.  The bodyfeeling is also complex with heavy jaw and shoulders and limbs that are at a polarity between an enlivened Heart beating feeling.  In the mind there is a profound feeling like the world is pausing around you, different and more complex than a more common slowing of the mind sensation.  It feels freeing and profoundly rejuvenating and strongly sharpens the senses and the enjoyment of life.  It has all the features that suggest a brilliant puerh and is actually reminiscent or better than the famous old cakes it tries to emulate or commemorate from Yiwu’s famous Song Pin Hao.

I give this puerh the top rating and am left wondering why there is more attention paid to the 2005 ChenYuan Hao Shanzhong ChuanQi and 2003 ChenYuan Hao Tong Qing Hao?  Maybe it is harder to come by???  This puerh is much superior in my mind… with stronger taste than the Tong Qing Hao and stronger Qi than the Shanzhong ChuanQi and better mouthfeeling/throatfeeling than both.

There are a few samples of these left and I couldn’t recommend it enough.

Marco’s (Late Steeps) Tasting Notes


Tuesday, March 15, 2022

2005 Banzhang Macau Hualian Small Buds: Powerful Tiny Buds!

This was sample of Lao Ban Zhang from Paolo’s personal journey has not yet been offered on

Dry leaves are very sweet and fruity smelling pure dry stored smells much younger than 2005.

First infusion has a creamy malty sweet almost caramel and sort of licorice sweetness.  It’s a bit thick and rich already in a sweet and oily broth.  Sweet tastes dominate with a layering and thickness to them.  There is a cooling slightly in the throat.  Tastes like 10-13 years material.

The second infusion has a rich caramel woody oily sweet dense taste.  Mouth salivating.  The cup cools down and there is a dense rich sweet creamy caramel that has a dense sweet presentation almost licorice finish.  The layers of sweet taste remind me of a Lincang.

The third infusion has a caramel dense oily sweetness with a soft cooling throat.  The cool cup is really very sweet and layered.  Licorice and caramel very sweet finish.

The fourth infusion has a thick dense caramel, licorice taste, faint bitterness, nice full mouthfeeling with a coating that makes the gums and roof of the mouthfeel squeaky when the tongue runs across it.  Qi is very enlivening and very happy feeling.  A burst of happy energy.  There is some faint face tingles.

The fifth is densely caramel sweet.  The flavor comes all at one in one thick sip but underneath is a subtle bitter woody taste that is barely discernable under the thick sweetness a faint almost metallic taste in there as well.  Very delicious tasting tippy leaves with no astringency and feels really nice in the body but without any crazy bodyfeelings.  Nice enlivening Qi.

6th has a caramel dense sweetness with slight metallic tones and subtle menthol like taste that lingers in the mouth. 

7th has is still caramel but is becoming more metallic bitter menthol as well.  The menthol bitter sweetness stretches into the aftertaste.  Nice strong uplifting and enlivening feeling.  The mouthfeel is a full unwavering slight dry feeling that feels really nice with this sort of tea giving it something for the sweet tastes to grab on to.

8th pot clogged! Must have been in there for a good minute… stronger infusion… strong menthol with caramel and lesser bitter full strong taste. 

9th is more strong caramel menthol with faint bitterness.  This is a pretty satisfying tippy puerh!

10th is a bitter woody a bit menthol in the finish with a sweet underlying caramel throughout.

Obvious single origin likely plantation material.  Changes slowly from sweet to more bitter over the course of the session.  Strong taste and decent mouthfeel throughout.  Not much bodyfeeling at all really but nice uplifting plantation feel to it.  Seems younger than 2005 likely 2010 ish… dry storage which feels like Kunming.  I really like the experience with this one.


Monday, March 14, 2022

2005 Greatful Tea Factory Zhengshan Banzhang: Very Laobanzhang!


Dry leaves smell of vibrant smooth creamy sweet fruity odours.

The first infusion has a blank watery dry almost pond and peat drier natural Taiwanese storage taste onset with a bit of wood that finishes very very faintly creamy fruity sweet that trails on the breath.  Right off the bat it is believably 2005 aged material.  As the liquid cools there is a more significant long creamy sweetness left behind.

Second infusion has a blank almost faint pond/ marsh taste with a returning throat coolness and creamy sweetness.  The creamy sweetness has a sugar sweet edge to it as well and comes with some nice saliva returning in the mouth.  There is some lesser woody, bark, and even sour notes.  Nice tingling sensation in the limbs and scalp and some relaxing qi.

The third infusion has a faint pondy marsh onset with sour, woody, fruity notes that have a nice saliva producing with a returning coolness with creamy sweet bready aftertaste.  Some fuzzy head Qi sensations.

The fourth infusion has a slight bitter woody and lesser fruity taste.  There is some cooling with a creamy sweet returning taste with a bit of coco in the finish.  Tastier infusion here.  Stronger stuffy head feeling now.

The fifth infusion is a bit bitter coco woody onset with some creamy sugar sweetness that comes after a soft cooling.  The mouthfeeling is really soft so I hadn’t really mentioned it.  There is some sort of peat and creamy sweetness in the aftertaste.  Some nice salivating.  Stuffy strong heady Qi.  Heavy head feeling.  The cooled down cup of tea tastes like a bit bitter wine coco woody with a faint coolness and returning creamy sweetness.  This infusion has an unmistakably Lao Ban Zhang taste and feeling to it.

The sixth infusion has a bitter woody wine onset with some creamy sweet and coco in the finish.  Strong stuffy head Qi.  Some saliva producing.  Nice taste her.

The seventh infusion has a soft velvety mouthfeeling with watery wine woody onset and some cooling in the mouth then a creamy sugar finish.  Nice sugar sweetness in the mouth a few minutes later.

The eighth infusion is left to cool… it gives off creamy sweet almost but not quite banana sweetness with woody sugar sweetness.  It tastes pretty good with stuffy head Qi.

My day gets too busy and I’m let with no choice but to abandon my tea session…

I resume the next day…

And more deliciousness gets pushes out… really yummy and obvious Lao Ban Zhang Taste and Qi with this one.  It has that classic bitter-wine-coco then creamy sweet taste that I highly value and is very Lao Ban Zhang.  I push the spent leaves hard in the mug and these tastes and feelings have lots of depth and stamina in them.  This has enough of the Laobanzhang character in it that it has me interested…

This 2005 Greatful Tea Factory Ban Zhang Zhongshan was initially only offered in the In Search of Real Lao Ban Zhang tasting set but has since been offered at in quarter cakes and full cakes at approx. $470.00 for 357 g cake or $1.34/g.


Sunday, March 13, 2022

2005 Lao Banzhang Sheng Tai Tuo Cha: Old School, Clear Storage, LaoBanZhang

This is the first in a series of free Laobanzhang samples giftedfrom Paolo of in my first order and offered for review.  Some of these are from the “In Search of RealLao Ban Zhang” series that he offers.  Its kind of a cool idea that has been overlooked by Western vendors as of late.  Its name implies that maybe they are not 100% or pure LaoBanZhang but some kind of search or journey with some LaoBanZhang-ness to them…. Sounds pretty fun… most of these samples are for sale at but others are not yet offered.  I sampled these without reading the descriptions… after finishing them I will put a ranking together…

Dry leaves smell of smoky meaty BBQ odours.

First infusion has a light buttery clear and clean floral taste with some very faint smoky mesquite BBQ nose in the finish.  Elegant and clear with nice mind focusing energy right off the bat.  There is a subtle creamy sweetness.  Nice oily mouthwatering effect.

Second infusion has a pure creamy floral taste that builds the oils in the mouth it has a super faint BBQ finish but is primarily elegant and pure creamy sweetness with a very soft mild velvety texture.  Nice soft velvet-chalky fine feeling in the mouth.  Deep mild mind euphoria… this type of Qi certainly feels a bit like Lao Banzhang to me.

The third infusion is left to cool and gives off a pure sweet creamy oily taste that is really clear and nice.  There is a fine full velvety-chalky mouthfeeling.  Nice floral almost tropical fruity taste.  Creamy oily sweet taste.  Nice dry storage on this one gives the tastes a clear pure feeling.  The oily saliva returning taste holds the creamy sweetness in the aftertaste.  Very faint fleeting background smoke.

The 4th has a very very faint smoke and watery creamy sweet taste upfront.  It is subtle and elegant and pairs nicely with the oily expanding textures of creamy sweet pure tastes.  Strong-ish deep euphoria type of Qi that you would expect from Laobanzhang.  Deep sighs and good uplifting.

The 5th infusion has a watery juicy creamy sweet onset with an oily mouthfeeling there is a subtle smokiness to it in the aftertaste.  Nice saliva returning creamy sweetness.  Nice pure taste and feeling overall with some faint face, jaw sensations.

6th is left to cool and gives off a creamy sweet subtle faint smoke creamy oily sweetness.  There is a nice saliva returning. 

7th has a creamy lubricating oily simple sweet onset with a background late emerging smoke.  The Qi is becoming less strong and has more of a mind slowing relaxation now.

8th has a buttery creamy taste with faint smoke.  Still oily and saliva returning but less so and coarser mouthfeeling.  Relaxing more than euphoric Qi now.

9th has a longer 30 second infusion and is a subtle caramel creaminess still really nice clean pure tastes the smoke seems to fade as the infusions go on.  Nice creamy solid sweetness with still nice oily textures.  Pretty satisfying with the subtle faint background smoke.

10th 60 second infusion then left to cool is a bit smoke, a bit bitter, a bit woody, a bit melon rind but mainly smoky in this longer infusion.  Not much sweetness left.

11th is a long few minutes long infusion but is mainly just watery smoke now with lesser sweetness coming out in the aftertaste.

It’s a pure and even simple feeling puerh but has nice elements of clear pure taste with the creamy sweetness and subtle background smoke with a decent oily mouth salivating and lingering oily creamy buttery sweetness.  Its Qi has a bit of euphoria to it but not much at all of the Lao Ban Zhang bodyfeeling.  By the sixth infusion the Qi is more of a generic relaxation with a bit of euphoria.  Tastes like an older school processed factory tea at its core.  I like this tea for what it is… I wonder about the price?  Might be just paying for the location here.  Dry storage is nice on this and does it well.  I would have guessed this to be 2007-2009 Kunming or other drier storage… still possibly 2005 but a longer shot for me.