HLH Lao Ban Zhang / Man'E prep ??


One of the intentionally aged teas, Pu-Erh has a loyal following.

HLH Lao Ban Zhang / Man'E prep ??

Postby expatCanuck » Jan 9th, '09, 12:06

Greetings - Clearly I'm missing something with the HLH Lao Ban Zhang / Man'E cake.

I'd appreciate any comprehensive brewing advice that folks can provide - leaf quantity, water volume, rinsing times, brewing times -- the whole nine yards.

Thanks much.

- Richard
http://oldWithoutMoney.com
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Postby heavydoom » Jan 9th, '09, 15:04

what have you done to cause you to make this thread about that particular pu erh tea?

did you get negative results with the brew?
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Postby expatCanuck » Jan 9th, '09, 15:14

It's just that everyone seems to be gushing about this tea, and my results, while good, are certainly not stellar.
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Postby heavydoom » Jan 9th, '09, 15:47

how did it come out for you then?

with any green pu erh tea, it's going to be tasting astringent/bitter if you oversteep it. we are talking about huge differences within 10 seconds. also, everyone's tolerance of bitterness/astringency is different. some are macho some are sissy.

get to know this tea, jot down the perfect steeping time for the first few infusions, after the first few infusions, the tea will be easier to deal with. make mistakes, learn.
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Postby tenuki » Jan 9th, '09, 16:27

expatCanuck wrote:It's just that everyone seems to be gushing about this tea, and my results, while good, are certainly not stellar.


Maybe they are just full of crap?
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Postby wyardley » Jan 9th, '09, 16:39

I haven't tried this tea yet, though I've been curious to given all the buzz this particular cake has gotten. If anyone has a decent-sized sample to send me, I'll be happy to send you some stuff in return.

I have a few HLH cakes and bricks (2 from their store in Shanghai, and a few from YSLLC), some of which have been pretty well recommended by others, yet none of them have really done that much for me so far (which is not to say they won't turn into something good down the line). I tried a sample of one of their other 2008 offerings (maybe the Star of Bulang, which, to be fair, is much cheaper), and didn't like it that much either, though I'd like to try it again. Two of the older ones I haven't tried in quite a while, so it's probably time to revisit them.
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Postby Salsero » Jan 9th, '09, 18:47

Here are two links to my comments on the single session I have had with this tea.
viewtopic.php?p=75148&highlight=mane#75148
viewtopic.php?p=75203&highlight=mane#75203

I brewed it: 5.00 g in 120 ml pot: no rinse, 15 s, 20 s, 35 s, 45 s, 1 m, 1:15 m, 2 m, 2 m, 2 m, 2:25 m, 2:45 m, 3 m, 5 m, 6 m, 8 m

Have I been wrong based on a single session before? Ooooooh yes!

It's also possible that I was responding largely to the sweet, delicate, drink-me-now-you-big-boy stuff I had been drinking in the weeks leading up to that session.

So..... I will postpone my Douji brickette (appropriately sized like an ATM $$$ card!) and detour back to Ban Zhang & Man'E mountains tonight, so I can test my previous experience with this other expensive pu. Will share my opinion here.

(But let's also allow for the possibility that not all people like the same thing. I know there have been many teas raved about by others ... including the estimable Hobbes, TeaNerd, ABx, and Space Samurai ... that I just don't care for or only tolerate.)
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Postby chrl42 » Jan 9th, '09, 19:14

In Yunnan, 08 Lao Ban Zhang Mao Cha is 1kg/600RMB, if buying the cheapest, THE CHEAPEST.

A Bing is 357g so that makes about 200RMB (30usd)...
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Postby tenuki » Jan 9th, '09, 22:18

I believe the beeng in question (below) is 56.00 US from YSLLC before shipping from china, so it's in the ballpark. I wonder if I might have a sample of that around here..

Image

what an ugly wrapper, for 56 bucks you think you would get something cooler.

I've been enjoying the 2008 Lao Ban Zhang Wild Arbor from YSLLC a lot, wishing I'd got that in the 4 pack instead of 3 individuals.
Image

Now that's a wrapper!
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Postby wyardley » Jan 9th, '09, 23:02

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.
viewtopic.php?t=6110
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.
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Postby tenuki » Jan 9th, '09, 23:59

Well, you aren't gonna find someone more skeptical about vendor claims than me probably. Which is probably why I don't really get upset when they are wrong, see, I never believed them in the first place. I can tell if a tea is good or not, that's what matters to me.

Regarding Hobbs take on the paper, mine was that color to start with and hasn't changed since I got it quite a while back, so he may just be smoking something again... ;) However I will note that the wrapper on the one I'm drinking is already torn, so I agree it isn't the hightest quality paper ever for sure, but the color came that way. Acid free paper and/or unbleached paper is often that color to start with and that is what I assumed it was when I received it.
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Postby wyardley » Jan 10th, '09, 00:15

Yeah - I wasn't sure that it necessarily followed that cheap paper == non-acid-free... and certainly it could just be used for its "rustic" charm. :>
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Postby Salsero » Jan 10th, '09, 01:09

I have one of those cool-wrapper bings of Lao Ban Zhang Wild Arbor. The one session I have had with it did not leave me crawling the walls for more. It was a nice tea and I love the wrapper design, and who knows maybe it's true that "This cake is 100% Ban Zhang Wild Ancient Arbor material!" as it explicitly says in Scott's posting.

I'm not so sure Scott isn't as much a willing victim of manufacturer's hype as we are.

And what's with the "Members of Mengku Shuangjiang Tea Factory." I wouldn't be too excited about a Wheaties knock off made by "Members of General Mills," but without the General Mills name.

And further, as I understand it, the whole wild and ancient tree craze is a recent trend (fad?) started by Mr. He Shihua in 1999. My understanding is that the majority of wild and ancient trees are no good for making tea in the first place, so isn't it possible that quality could vary among batches of leaf even if they are all genuine Ban Zhang or Nannuo or Jingmai?

I believe that none of the great sheng of the past lay claim to any such pedigrees. One day we may well look back astonished at what fools we were to believe many of the axioms of that age that Cloud has labeled The New Era of Puerh Tea (since roughly 1997). Sometimes it looks a little like the wild west, replete with flim flam artists, shysters, and pettifoggers. Isn't it supposedly a Chinese curse to wish someone to live in interesting times? These certainly are interesting times in the Puerh industry!

Fortunately, the real bottom line is how the stuff tastes and the collective experience of forums like this help enormously at picking our way among the con artists and the balderdash.

Rant over. We now return you to our normal programing.

Oh, and it looks like I will not get to the Lao Ban Zhang & Man'E cake tonight after all :( since I am still working on a second day of this Menghai - Five-Color Peacock - Nan Nuo Cha Shan sample. Tomorrow ... no fail!
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Postby thanks » Jan 10th, '09, 01:18

Whew, and I always thought I was a glass half-empty kinda guy!

At the end of the day, it's still tea. I thought it was good tea, I also think it's worth 50$ for close to a pound of good tea. That's my opinion on it. I think we also forget how cheap pu'er really is compared to a lot of other teas. You wouldn't think twice to pay 17$ for only 100g of somewhat decent oolong, would you? If I were asked to pay 17$ for a 100g tuocha that was just somewhat decent, I'd laugh in the vendors face. Drink tea, if it's good tea, buy more of that tea as long as it's reasonably worth it. If you don't like it, don't buy it. I often wonder why there's such a big fuss about these things.
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Postby Salsero » Jan 10th, '09, 01:33

thanks wrote:Whew, and I always thought I was a glass half-empty kinda guy!
Yikes, the voice of reason strikes again!

Let me clarify that post ... I don't mean to criticize any person or any tea, I really like almost all the puerh I have had.

What I really meant to do in the above was to call into question the idea that "wild and ancient" leaves necessarily make superior tea. After all, most of the wonderful (and cheap) CNNP, Xiaguan, and and Menghai cakes are rather anonymous in their sources and likely (I suppose) from plantations.
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