2006 “Mad King” Banzhang – Bitterleaf Teas

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.

Swiped from www.bitterleafteas.com
Swiped from www.bitterleafteas.com

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).

Dry, leafy goodness
Dry, leafy goodness

Steeping

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.

Steep 1
Steep One

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.

Stone fruit, wood, and a little smoke
Stone fruit, wood, and a little smoke

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.

Good for 12-15 steeps
Good for 12-15 steeps

Until the next cup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *