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2019 Xiaguan Five Star Banpen Gushu Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

2019 Xiaguan Five Star Banpen Gushu Raw Pu Erh Cake (100g)

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I originally discovered this tea after my friend and customer Lobster asked me to source some high end Haiwan cakes from 2018: he'd told me about Mahei material, and I'd bought some Haiwan Mahei to try. It was incredible! I was sent this tea as a sample. It is very new to the market at the time of writing (April 2019) and I had no knowledge of Banpen village. 

Banpen borders Laobanzhang, which is the most hyped village in the pu erh game today. I have tried other high end Xiaguan productions and been very satisfied with the price-to-quality ratio, but nothing I'd tried prepared me for the experience that this tea provides.

Xiaguan have pressed this cake with iron plates, like the classic T8653. This slows down aging and also means there is no harder center or binghole (central dent) to deal with on the iron cakes. The cake meets ISO 9001 quality specifications, so this is an extremely clean pressing without any unwanted foreign matter such as string or hair. I like the direction Xiaguan have gone in as far as meeting international quality standards, and this incredible gushu (ancient tree) material has been sourced and pressed by one of the best pu erh factories in the game. Xiaguan's definition of gushu is from trees that are a century old (or older). There's a lot of fake ancient tree tea on the market, but I have no doubt this is exactly what Xiaguan says it is!

This tea has aroma and flavor similarities to Laobanzhang material, but I find this material to be more complex than the Laobanzhang I've tried, and also sweeter. I have not, however, tried fresh Laobanzhang material, so it's not an entirely fair comparison since this Banpen material is from 2018.

The aroma is sweet and fruit-like, but in the cup, the tea has a gushu wildflower character that I am very, very fond of. I love gushu teas for the depth of flavor, complexity, and intensely powerful cha qi they offer, and this tea meets the mark in every way. The huigan is excellent and long lasting, which is another defining characteristic of true gushu material.

I get a flavor that reminds me of Concord grape from this material. The flavor is long-lasting and the sweet wildflower (like Laobanzhang material) is truly lovely. The huigan is intense, as you would expect from the best gushu material. The cha qi from this tea is extremely calming, and makes my entire body heat up. I love this tea, and I am looking forward to putting some away for the long haul as this is the kind of raw pu erh I am most fond of!

This tea has excellent longevity, and the flavor and cha qi persist for hours on the palate. If you'd like to try a truly excellent gushu tea with a great deal of similarity to much more expensive Laobanzhang material, I definitely recommend this tea. It will set a good benchmark for gushu and will also help the new drinker identify Laobanzhang-like character when they encounter it. 

Xiaguan's previous five-star offerings have been a hit with pu erh aficionados, and I have no doubt this tea will be a hit!

Wholesale pricing is available on this cake. Please message me if you're interested in a volume purchase!

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