2008 BangPen (Pu-erh.sk)
This morning I opened a plastic bag with a 30g sample of 2008 BangPen ancient tree cake I ordered three days ago as I decided to give it another, this time more proper, testing. I already had a chance to taste this tea approximately a month ago as I received a sample with one of my previous orders. After having tasted it again I am sure this is one of the rare cakes that deserves to be mentioned.
I opened the plastic bag and saw there was a neifei (内飞, small inner label or ticket embedded in a cake) hidden among the leaves. I consider it a stroke of luck. I easily took it out to look at it, take a picture of it and put it (together with my Chinese stamp collection) into my tea diary I keep just for pure pleasure.
The dry leaf smells after ripen fruit and wild wood berries, perhaps even dry plums. It is the intense indescribable smell of ancient tree cakes that makes me smell the cake again and again in wonder. The wet leaf in a hot teapot smells little bit after summer woods, it is deep, fresh and enticing. The colour of the first infusion already shows some care and "history", as it is rather darker ochre, still light though, transparent and pure.
First few infusions are gentle but it has nothing to do with the tea being weak, rather the opposite. It is only a prelude to its immense delicacy which is about to come later and accompany you as long as you wish (well, not that long in my case but pretty long). I decided not to give up this time and had a pleasant conversation with this tea for a few hours, giving it regular brewings, perhaps up to 20 in my 80 ml teapot (Liu is her name). I stopped counting after the thirteenth infusion when an immense wave of its chaqi (茶气, the vital energy in tea) came and made me sit and melt down in an armchair for another few hours.
It came rather slowly and somewhat carefully. Surprises such as this one are more than welcome, especially when they come absolutely unexpected. I was just sitting in the armchair, sipping tea, watching the world around go by and suddenly I just stopped moving and realized this soothing and calming while arousing and uplifiting effect that slowly flooded my whole body.
As I am very sensitive to energies and my body is rather light, I usually react strongly to fresh green tea and sheng cha as well. Despite the fact that I really like its taste, I usually cannot stand the reaction for long. I figured out it is not only caffeine/tein that makes me feel this way but the whole energy of the particular tea which is very referential to its origin, storage and care it was dedicated. Being too fresh or young (or from a certain region) it might have a very strong impact on me. I therefor prefer tea which is at least little aged and more balanced as I am able to drink it without being distracted by its effect. After this experience I am now more open to giving a try to younger BangPen samples. It would be interesting for me personally to meet the energy in its different stage of aging. (I have already put it on my tea "to do" list and will do it in a few weeks time).
In later infusions I clearly identified honey-like sweet flavour which strangely reminded me of some YiWu teas I have tasted lately. It was not as intense and straightforward as in the above mentioned YiWu teas but it was there, waiting, as a gift, especially after longer steeping. The colour of tea broth got gradually thicker and golden, exactly as I was expecting.
If I should say one thing about this tea that I keep in my "memory of tastes" I would probably say I like its mellow but intense indescribable aroma and flavour (perhaps due to its few-years time of aging already), soothing effect and almost everlasting potency of brewing. My mother had a chance to drink this tea with me and she would probably never have guessed it was puerh if I hadn't told her. Some people still think that puerh is the black dirty stuff you can buy at each corner and believe it has got the power to help you lose weight which might be the main reason they drink it even if it tastes like a fish pond. We spent 1,5 l of water on 5g of leaves and didn't want to stop. It is exactly that kind of tea you want to squeeze up to its last drop because it's just great.
2008 Pu-erh.sk BangPen
Type: Raw Ancient Tree
Astringency: Almost none
Bitterness / Smokiness: None that I would be aware of
Flavour: Very special, intense, sweet, fruity but it has something indescribable within which makes it extraordinary
Aroma: Sweet, fruity, intense
Aftertaste: There is a nice returning sweet I did not mention above, altogether it creates great tea experience.