19 April, 2008

2007 Banzhang Maocha

I need a t-shirt that reads: "I maocha".

It's probably not going to age as well as bingcha (given the exhausted yet delicious state of our 1960s Gaoligongshan maocha), but the leaves are usually less damaged having avoided compression. A good maocha can look very beautiful.

Today's maocha comes from Puerh Shop - thanks to the chaps and chapettes there for the copious number of extra samples included in my order!

This is pretty, carefully-handled tea: some tips, lots of darkness, and a leathery-sweet aroma that makes me happy. Based on first impressions, before I even boil the water, I feel well-disposed to this tea. My constant teachum, Qingchan, went for a dive:

The aroma marches on forever in the wenxiangbei [aroma cup]: it opens with extended butteriness, and eventually turns into a lengxiang [cool scent] of darker caramel. The sheer duration of the aroma leads me to believe that there is a lot in this tea.

Fresh yellow soup (above) brings up-front flavours of green pu'er, fine acidity, a long presence in the mouth (to match the duration in the wenxiangbei), and a sustained mouth-watering huigan. The performance is rounded off by a creamy yunxiang [aroma after the swallow].

(One of my favourite passages from Lin Yutang is reproduced above, which echoes the feeling of this maocha: uncomplicated, honest, natural.)

The whole feels rather potent, and I make sure not to overstep myself with the brewing.

Later infusions emphasise the sweetness. The leaves (pictured below) are well-grown and sturdy.

This tea performs in the mouth, and it is good to give each sip plenty of time to unfold. Don't rush this one.

As Puerh Shop observes, allowing it to cool a little can bring out further complexity - perhaps the bitterness is dimmed by so doing. However, I ensure boiling water for the infusion itself to coax maximum character from the leaves.

Make no mistake, this is bitter, power tea and is not for those unaccustomed or uncomfortable with an aggressive young shengpu. For me, this is part of its appeal, and I am refreshed. It puckers the mouth and speeds the mind - perfect for a morning, to be avoided in an evening session.

I can see myself partaking of this one more regularly, especially as maocha is unfashionable, and thus uninflated in price ($6/60g). It's right up my proverbial alley.

28 April, 2008

What fine maocha this is. Transferring it to my office, and using filtered mains-supply water instead of bottled "Scottish Mountain", still retains its sweet, potent character. It is slightly more muted in acidity using this "flatter" water, but still noticeably pleasant - so much so, that I stop what I am doing to enjoy the cup. Worth buying.


Ecclenser said...

Glad to hear you liked this mao cha so much. I have also tried this and find it very suitable as a young shengpu.

My brewing methods are different, however. I use water more suited for an oolong or green, thus preventing much of the bitterness.

I found many similarities though, with the huigan and especially the yunxiang. I also felt the coolness this maocha offered. I find it so interesting, using these words to describe characteristics which are essentially sensations.

Have you noticed a mild smoky scent from the leaves? It would not be present if you rinse twice, but breathing on to the dry matter and then smell would reveal this.

Excellent review.

In Mao Cha we trust.

Hobbes said...

Dear Ecclenser,

Suitable indeed, and rather a tasty one! It's a good idea to select the water to avoid bitterness; how did you go about selecting it?

Tea is all about sensations, is it not? :)

I don't recall finding the smokiness that you mention, but will pay attention next time I brew this good maocha up.

Thanks, and toodlepip,


Ecclenser said...


Since I have been drinking pu-erh for just over a year now, my brewing methods have changed a bit, naturally.

Lately, I have been using hotter water, as my taste for strong pu-erh has matured. Scathing pu-erh with boiling water doesn't seem to destroy leaf vigor, as I once hypothesized. I now accept boiling water as it "wakes up" the tea.

Sensations are great!