Another sample of mine from Pu Erh shop. This time it's a Banzhang from 2006, well.. 40% of it is, the other 60% is Bulang. It's supposed to be a close match to the 2003 Spring Banzhang cake I sampled yesterday so I thought it would be an ideal time to try it.
First up, what do you do when the remaining size of your sample is too much for one brew but only just? I seem to always be left with an amount too small for another session, most frustrating! I left the 'chunk' in the bag (pictured above) as it's compression was too tight to separate with my cha dao 茶刀.
First impressions, it was a lot darker than I expected, had I used too much tea this time? The pictures on Pu Erh Shop's website confirmed the colour though. The soup was thick and it's main characteristic was the taste of burnt dark sugar. 2nd infusion less so but it didn't have a second flavour to replace the sweetness.
3rd infusion, this is more like it. A little bitterness at last with a slight numbing of the tongue. I've rushed though this infusion so I can get to my fourth, I'm starting to become intrigued.
4th infusion, it has lost its sugar and is now tasting more like the 2003. The effect on the tongue is more pronounced and far more energetic in general across the mouth. It's at this point I'm going to stop 'trying' to analyze the tea. It's time to clear my mind and get on with the days doings.
Is it a close match to the 2003 at one 1/3 of the price? I preferred the 2003 as it was tasted more refined and didn't go through an awkward first stage of being nothing but caramel. It does, however, become a lot closer after a while. It's a $25 cake compared to $99, that's a big difference in price! Again, I ask myself, is the better cake worth almost four times the cost? No, but it is better.
Side note for today, I've stumbled across another place in London to drink tea for myself to investigate. Prices for decent teas start at £10 with the first few infusions being performed by a member of staff in a gaiwan. I must take a closer look.... watch this space.