Monday, 25 January 2010

2009 Hai Lang Hao Lao Ban Zhang Gu Shu (Yunnan Sourcing)

This was a surprise, through the post came yet another 2009 sheng sample, something I was suppose to be cutting out as part of my new year resolutions! I can be forgiven though as much as the Royal Mail can be chastised as I ordered this sample at the start of November and they had been ageing the tea for me for almost three months now. The dry leaf was highly aromatic inside the foil packet, perhaps because it had been closed for such a long time.

First rinse and as expected with such a fresh sheng pu erh the beanie aroma was strong but not too overpowering, shades of spicy winter apples. The soup is a good clear yellow colour, gladly lacking oranges.

Hints of slight smoke in the taste but not unpleasant and good in that it left a tingle on the sides of the tongue. The taste seems to flood the entirety of my mouth, a nice even coating. Evidence of a good early huigan from under the sides of the tongue and I'm enticed to explore further. The taste lingers for some time like a nice floral honey.

Quickly I'm into the fourth infusion and things have started to level out with some bitterness taking over the proceedings and I hang about to wait for the sweet after taste. It doesn't rush onto the scene so I take my time to savour it. So often at the fourth infusion mark many teas just become sweet, this tea holds its own still.

I've made my mind up, I really like this tea. I feel compelled to order a bing which is unusual for me, I'm often just satisfied with a sample only.

How about the price? Oh dear oh dear, pro ported Lao Ban Zhang leaf is never cheap and you never know if you're really getting what you paid for. Hai Lang Hao produces both a 2009 Xin Ban Zhang and Lao Ban Zhang bing at $59 and $73 dollars respectively significantly more expensive than any other tea they produce and almost twice the price of their 2002 Mengku Wild Arbor cake. My conundrum is this, should I spend over $70 on this 2009 tea when I could spend about $100 on 2005 Lao Ban Zhang from Nada whose opinion I trust on the real quality of a tea more than my own?

There is something 'fun' about betting and many a gambler will tell you that its a perilous road to travel down. I may well just take a punt on this tea but being a sensible gambler I will have a flutter on Nada's 2005 Lao Ban Zhang first.


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  2. Ive also been tempted by both of these teas. As of yet I havnt taken the plunge. If you have not tried the YS LBZ cakes you might want to give em a go. I think it's a really good tea, and it's price is more in line with my allowance for tea.

  3. Ah! I see you have tries the YS LBZ, in that case, nevermind.

  4. Yes, I followed Hobbes' taste test under my own steam. I must admit that the YS LBZ wasn't quite what I was expecting, I was hoping for more transformative bitterness. It's all good but rather expensive fun!