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2019 Fuhai Certified Organic Five Star Banzhang (50g)

2019 Fuhai Certified Organic Five Star Banzhang (50g)

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June 12th, 2019

Only 3,000 of these cakes were pressed. This is a premium cake from one of the oldest pu erh factories in China, and one of the few state factories that existed before the industry was privatized in the late 90s. Here's your chance to get something truly special! 

This tea comes from a plantation at 1,400m elevation in the Banzhang area. I'm offering up three 50g portions of the cake for anyone who would like to try this cake with me! Pre-release pricing is substantially lower than expected market price after the release!

Dayi produced organic Lao Banzhang cakes in the 2000s: the best of those cakes now go for over US$20,000 a piece. While these cakes are Banzhang area versus Lao Banzhang, this is truly excellent tea.

The beautifully double-wrapped cake smells like Lao Banzhang material, but sweeter. The intense aroma already hints at the complexity to come! The tea smells balanced between sweetness and wildflower, which is much more my style than sweet and fruity Gedeng or Mahei. 

I chose not to rinse this tea when I tried it because of the tight quality control standards the big factories employ in 2019. That and this tea is certified organic! I was surprised that the cake was stone pressed. It was very easy to wiggle some off to try.

This tea has the kind of wildflower depth I'd associate with wild tree material. In the cup, the liquor wasn't as sweetly aromatic as I thought it would be when I smelled the dry leaf. The huigan is deep and long lasting without bitterness, which is also something I associate with good wild or gushu teas. Like this year's Xiaguan Bulang Gushu cake, I noticed date in the aftertaste. 

The material used for this cake is truly excellent. The leaves look amazing, and there is some minty freshness to the liquor from the leaves since this tea is so fresh!

There is no astringency or bitterness in the liquor in the first infusion, but the depth of flavor and the longlasting huigan definitely make this cake special. The liquor also has surprising umami. The cha qi is powerfully calming, like I'd expect from good fresh material. As I continue to sip, I detect cantaloupe, wildflower and date in the finish, and they blend into each other, one after the other. This tea has a lovely mouth cooling effect as well, like good Bingdao material!

This tea has such powerful energy that it almost knocked me out! While the Banpen may be better value, this tea is in a class of its own. 

The second infusion brought out some very tolerable astringency and bitterness, and the wildflower Lao Banzhang note was dominant. The wildflower note also became more complex. I detected a hint of natural jasmine in the floral bouquet. The mouth cooling was just as intense in the second infusion, and date was still very present in the aftertaste. The cha qi was very intense in the second infusion. It took me up and energized me, and then I felt the calm set in 30-45 seconds after a sip. The umami and huigan were less intense in the second infusion, but still very apparent!

The aroma lingered on the palate for a good, long time. 

The third infusion was classic Lao Banzhang: powerful cha qi and deep, distinctly Lao Banzhang wildflower flavor. The date in the finish and the mouth cooling were both very apparent as well. The fourth infusion gave me distinct wildflower, cantaloupe and date, with strong huigan and cha qi, and the mouth cooling effect was still very present.

This is an incredible tea. While not cheap, it is truly something special, and would serve as a good benchmark to compare all other single origin sheng pu erh against, especially from the Banzhang area!

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