Today’s tea is a new release from Bitterleaf Teas, but has been around for quite some time. This is the 2006 “Mad King” Banzhang sheng puerh. Banzhang (班章) is a growing area in Bulangshan (布朗山) that is known for high quality teas. Since 2007, the area of Banzhang has delineation between Lao (老 – literally “old”) and Xin (新 – literally “new”) Banzhang, based on the age of the trees therein.
Mad King is a 2006 Banzhang sheng puerh (生 – sheng, 普洱 – puerh) which is pressed into a 357 gram disk shape (餅 – bing; literally “cake”). The dry leaf has a nice, sharp scent and it seems the compression of the bing is pretty tight (or at least it was for my sample).
Due to the higher compression, I did a longer, ten-second rinse, which didn’t really reveal anything about the tea besides some residual astringency (涩味 – se wei; literally “astringent taste”). The first full steep was also for ten seconds. This steep gave me some bitterness (苦味 – ku wei; literally “bitter taste”) on the side of the tongue; however, the steep finishes with a cooling sensation and some minor floral notes.
Steeps Two through Five – Steep two, also for ten seconds since the leaves loosened up, yielded a brilliant orange/gold color. There was plenty of bitterness and astringency, but balanced with a nice sweetness (回甜 – huigan; literally “sweet return”). Also noted in the steep are smoke, wood, and tobacco notes. I’m also impressed that there is such a great tea energy (茶气 – cha qi), even in this early steep. By steep four, the tea develops some stone fruit notes and builds on the sweetness. Steep five, for 20 seconds, continues to develop the sweetness and, at this point, the bitterness is dying down quite noticeably.
Finishing the session
As the session continues, the bitterness and astringency both fade into sweet, powerful notes. The energy of this tea is great, which is fantastic for leaf that is being marketed as qiaomu (乔木 – qiaomu; literally “tall tree” or “arbor”). Unfortunately, there are only a handful of cakes of this tea available, so if you want one, head on over to Bitterleaf Teas’ site and check out before I do.
Until the next cup.