Well also, the Hai Lang Hao cake is 50% LBZ, not 100%, which the description specifically says was done partially to keep costs somewhat reasonable (though it's an expensive cake).
I have some of the YSLLC one w/ the 禅 logo on the front; haven't tried it yet. But I have seen at least one person express skepticism (after tasting it) of whether it is truly 100% Lao Banzhang or not (I think it was Tim, but can't find the link, and I don't remember if it was here or on his weblog).
See also this thread about it.
and Hobbes's comments at:
http://half-dipper.blogspot.com/2009/01 ... arbor.html
(interesting comments about the paper)
Scott's exact words are:
Members of the Mengku Tea Factory made an expedition to remote area near Banzhang mountain to obtain the leaves for these cakes. The leaves are from trees 400 to 500 years old that were heavily cut during the Cultural Revolution. The trunk is still intact and in the 35 years since the trees have continued to grow and produce excellent quality Pu-erh with that special Banzhang taste and penetrating perfume-like aroma.
The cakes are made from the highest grade Ban Zhang raw material and are entirely spring 2008 production. The price of premium Ban Zhang raw material has surpassed other tea mountains, because it is the most sought after.
This cake is 100% Ban Zhang Wild Ancient Arbor material!
So I'm not sure if it's possible that he's choosing his words carefully to avoid making false claims -- to me, it sounds like he's saying that this is 100% LBZ, but maybe there's some wriggle-room in there.
But either way, let's say for the sake of argument that the producers have rights to use tea from this land, or whatever... it doesn't actually cost
them the wholesale price to harvest the tea (though it would be stupid of them to sell it too cheaply).
Similarly, just because the asking price for the raw material in the wholesale markets is XXX RMB/kg, it doesn't mean that it's impossible to get the tea leaf for a lower price... negotiation, quantity, connections, buying from the farmer rather than from a middleman, etc. all can influence the price (as well as the quality of the material, of course). So I don't think it's impossible
that the cake is 100% Lao Banzhang at that price, especially given that it's not from a famous factory. However, it doesn't seem entirely likely either.
Either way, I know a number of people who really liked the earlier mini-bricks made by the same factory (I have an untouched one at home), and I bought some of this tea blind just as a gamble. I generally take most claims about tea (even if the vendor is reliable and trustworthy) with a big grain of salt.