Accessible LBZ/Bingdao


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Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby Tofsla » Jun 28th, '12, 14:35

I really want to try a genuine Laobanzhang and Bingdao. Are there any cakes under $120 of any weight or age one can recommend. Please, do not suggest samples - I find it hard to get to understand any particular cake in mere 2-3 sessions.
I know, some people are reluctant to share their sources. Yet, I hope to get at least some directions.
E.g. does it make sense to look for 2003-2006 (before the boom) cakes from LBZ?
Are the 2003-2004 Tian Di Ren cakes worth it (they are sold on taobao for around 600RMB)?
What about the cakes from LBZ village commitee, like this one: http://item.taobao.com/item.htm?id=13806281615?
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby shah82 » Jun 28th, '12, 15:24

Genuine old tree Bingdao is not available in western outlets.

Genuine LBZ?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/2008-Chen-Sheng ... 2c541e1177

uhhh...

well, there are some HLH...

http://www.yunnansourcing.com/store/pro ... oduct=1778

not such a good price either. In fact, from what I've read, neither of these are especially great examples of LBZ.

This is not pure LBZ:
http://www.houdeasianart.com/index.php? ... ts_id=1348

The price is not completely awful, and I've had it, and it's an okay representation, especially in the early brews.

Puersom, based in Korea, but who will ship internationally, offers a Hekai xiaobing that's spiked with some LBZ for $66/200g. I've heard this also works ok.

If you're agnostic on your lincangs, then I recommend that you get something like:
http://www.banateacompany.com/pages/pue ... Charm.html

It costs less than any serious Bingdao, and I would wager a small amount, given how much Bingdao is a hysteria on much less quality foundation than good LBZ, that it is better.

If you're shivering over the prices, why not try some stuff from Bannacha?
http://www.bannacha.com/en/mengku-jinqi ... -jiao.html

This is tea from areas close to Bingdao and is often substituted for it. It's also a reasonable 50 euros for a bing.

Another try at getting something "cheaper" would be this 2009 HLH...
http://www.yunnansourcing.com/store/pro ... roduct=830
I have little faith it would be that great.

You can also try:
http://www.yunnansourcing.us/store/prod ... roduct=188

Again, no promises that it would be especially great.

Rule of thumb:
You can't expect LBZ, honest and pure LBZ of any sort, of any age, to be less than about $250. You should also expect, in this day and age, that most LBZ that makes it to general markets aren't going to be that good until the mania dies down. Bingdao, it will be a hassle just to get pure Bingdao, let alone pay for it. An excellent Bingdao area is going to be about $350/proper cake or more. It might be possible to find older "good enough for guvmint work Bingdao" for an appreciable fraction less. In general, Bingdao is a classic monopolist scam, because it's small enough for effective control of who gets what, and the localities are trying to set the prices as high as possible. So don't worry about Bingdao too much. Just try a variety of lincangs until you hit an area that pleases you.
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby Tofsla » Jun 28th, '12, 17:12

Shah8, thanks for such a great response! I would not even dream of getting a reply from you! And with all these great links!

I am currently probably on the path of an adept of Yi Wu, actually. And, since I have not have any mystical revelations with Lincang teas, I don't think I am a Lincangs' agnostic. Moreover, I should admit that my favorite tea from the latter area so far is 2010 Yi Ru Cang "Si Shui" (which got some mixed reviews) - I have even put aside the last remaining third of the cake to see how it evolves.

Probably, all this chase for famous cakes is a bad idea from the start. I already know some teas I both like a lot and absolutely can afford. I am definitely going to include the Bannacha cake in my wishlist, though.
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby TwoDog2 » Jun 28th, '12, 23:55

shah82 wrote:Rule of thumb:
You can't expect LBZ, honest and pure LBZ of any sort, of any age, to be less than about $250. You should also expect, in this day and age, that most LBZ that makes it to general markets aren't going to be that good until the mania dies down. Bingdao, it will be a hassle just to get pure Bingdao, let alone pay for it. An excellent Bingdao area is going to be about $350/proper cake or more. It might be possible to find older "good enough for guvmint work Bingdao" for an appreciable fraction less. In general, Bingdao is a classic monopolist scam, because it's small enough for effective control of who gets what, and the localities are trying to set the prices as high as possible. So don't worry about Bingdao too much. Just try a variety of lincangs until you hit an area that pleases you.



As per usual, I agree with Shah. Two anecdotal things regarding LBZ and Bingdao.

Two weeks ago, I was discussing LBZ's current situation, and the vast majority of it is already purchased prior to being picked. That tea is then cut with other area teas, and mass produced by a single outlet. Those cakes are still very pricey. I asked the person who was telling me this if they had any idea of a percentage of what had been contracted out, and they said they had no idea, but they said "a majority".

Bingdao, is similarly hard to find, with any kind of quality. I tried a Bingdao a few weeks ago that was a bit over USD 100, and it was so painfully mediocre. I almost felt embarrassed for the producer. It had clearly been cut pretty heavily, just to keep their "bingdao" cake on the shelf.

Sometimes, rather than getting caught up in teas from this location or that location, it is better to just find a great tea from a place with less hype. Instead of Bingdao, aim for some decent teas in the area. The price point will be lower and the teas are going to be better in many cases. If someone was giving me a gift, I would sure as hell prefer a $25, but good quality lincang, than that $100 bing dao abomination. (Ok, maybe it was not 100....Maybe more like 90. Still.)
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby tingjunkie » Jun 29th, '12, 10:07

I was under the impression that the Mengku Wold Arbor King was true Bingdao material, but I'm no expert. What I can tell you is that, in my opinion, the quality of this cake is quite exceptional for a modern big factory production. Well worth the price.
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby shah82 » Jun 29th, '12, 14:03

Just updating...
Linda Louie's brought back some LBZ bricks, and given what of I know about proprietress of Bana Tea Company, this is probably real... It also costs $150/100g. However, it's the *only* LBZ I'd buy with any sort of confidence.

http://www.banateacompany.com/pages/pue ... _Ming.html
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby bagua7 » Jun 29th, '12, 23:14

Tofsla wrote:Shah8, thanks for such a great response! I would not even dream of getting a reply from you! And with all these great links!


Yes :) One of the few helpful users in this forum. A puerh connoisseur and unbiased person.

tingjunkie wrote:I was under the impression that the Mengku Wold Arbor King was true Bingdao material, but I'm no expert. What I can tell you is that, in my opinion, the quality of this cake is quite exceptional for a modern big factory production. Well worth the price.


Thanks for that, I'll give it a go since I panic about the idea of spending tea past the three figure mark and it turns out to be average or less than that. I shall trust you. :wink:
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby Tofsla » Jun 30th, '12, 17:13

shah82 wrote:It also costs $150/100g. However, it's the *only* LBZ I'd buy with any sort of confidence.

Thanks again for the link. I cannot believe the difference in price can possibly be proportional to the experience one gets with a less famous tea from the same region. I think I should consider Lao Man E or just some good generic Banzhang.
tingjunkie wrote:I was under the impression that the Mengku Wold Arbor King was true Bingdao material, but I'm no expert. What I can tell you is that, in my opinion, the quality of this cake is quite exceptional for a modern big factory production. Well worth the price.

A guy from another forum, whose opinion I usually trust, once said that Mengku Wild arbor is a perfect border line cake for him - he definitely cannot drink anything worse than that, so, he uses it as a reference to compare all other shengs to.
Other reviews I have read suggest that it is mostly, if not completely, plantation tea with the kind of smokiness that is very characteristic to this factory and that I seem to dislike.
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby shah82 » Jun 30th, '12, 18:12

I've never had it, but current western prices are, I suspect, well out of line with the eastern prices, which is usually about $25-$30. While Taobao et al are full of fakes, even for cheap stuff, I don't see any place reputable selling it over there for more than $30. So I've always had the WAK as something I'm vaguely insterested in, but cautious that it's more than what it's quality represents.

China Cha Dao *used* to sell Douji '10 and '11 regular Banzhang (which is probably really low quality, as I did not think the '09 was a very good example). Now, they only have a sample of the '10. So, good luck with the whole "generic banzhang". There used to be such things like that. Today, virtually the sum of all that's available is at YS, from HLH, Big Classic, and the YS house '09 banzhang at the US site. Virtually every other place has it unavailable, low quality, or really expensive, if you want something sorta close to bz.

What's worse, virtually all good young teas have skyrocketed. When Houde posted that '09 XZH Dian Gu priced at 31 cents a gram (in may 2010), well that was a truly expensive, but it was for (imo) a truly awesome tea. And it certainly has accolades in MIT forums and on the XZH facebook site, the cake has more the 30 "likes" when almost everything else has none. You could also buy LBZ, the good stuff, for only a little more, even from Diancha. These days, it seems like 31ct+/gm teas are as common as dirt, for teas that aren't really that close to the best there is. What's worse, there isn't any sort of "must have" teas. I'd like the Bangwei 33 and the Spring Xikong, and if I had money, I might buy them. But aside from them, we're talking about indifferent LBZ or GFZ/DJZ/WGZ/newest yiwu place. They'd be good, like what people say about the 2010 HLH Yiwu Chawang. But that sucka costs $175 when new! It had better (*^&()^*&^(* well be good! It doesn't mean it'd be truly awesome and worth the expense. More than that, among newer teas, it's gotten too expensive to simply *drink* and be familiar with them. I've drunk up almost completely my first brick of 2006 XZH nu'er zhuancha. I know precisely why I should love it, and it knows how to love me back. Because I didn't spend a zillion bucks on it, and it didn't become "oh my good, has to be special treat from now on", before I drank most of it up. How many affordable "real treats" are there, that's out there? It's a big reason why I tout the Tai Lian, or why if you find something that really makes you happy, and doesn't cost a fortune, buy a lot at once!
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby TwoDog2 » Jul 2nd, '12, 04:00

shah82 wrote:I've never had it, but current western prices are, I suspect, well out of line with the eastern prices, which is usually about $25-$30. While Taobao et al are full of fakes, even for cheap stuff, I don't see any place reputable selling it over there for more than $30. So I've always had the WAK as something I'm vaguely insterested in, but cautious that it's more than what it's quality represents.

China Cha Dao *used* to sell Douji '10 and '11 regular Banzhang (which is probably really low quality, as I did not think the '09 was a very good example). Now, they only have a sample of the '10. So, good luck with the whole "generic banzhang".


Douji's newer banzhang is supposedly "pure: (as they mark it) but not marked as "lao". There teas are quite decent, but their prices have really sky rocketed. For the same reason as I listed before, there is a huge company there buying up most of the crop as futures. Both the LBZ region and a nearby region both got hamstrung by this. The prices will just continue to go up, as it is a near monopoly situation. The product the company puts out is heavily cut, and not that great.

The only time i buy LBZ is from friends who produce, and all I can ever secure is a cake. And the price seems uglier every year. :x
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby zzenster » Jul 3rd, '12, 13:05

Puersom, based in Korea, but who will ship internationally, offers a Hekai xiaobing that's spiked with some LBZ for $66/200g. I've heard this also works ok.


Wow, I am surprised to hear you mention Puersom here. I have been buying their teas every year. They offer very good teas (imho) at reasonable prices (compared to what else's available in gushu world). They are completely sold out on 2012 spring teas but some of older cakes are still available.
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby SFLouis » Sep 17th, '12, 00:54

Does puersom have a website? Could anyone email me a link? BTW I have tried Bana Tea Company's 2012 Lao Ban Zhang offering and it is very good, although i bought her 2012 Nan Nuo brick bc i felt it was almost just as good and significantly less expensive. I have also bought a few other 2012 cakes that I felt were comparable to the Bana LBZ but which are less than half the price per gram. There is plenty of such 2012 tea that is still available for sale at a couple of vendors. For anyone willing to hook me up with a source I don't have yet, such as puersom, I will email you back with the names & sellers of the teas for which I hold this opinion.
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby teaisme » Sep 17th, '12, 15:29

SFLouis wrote:For anyone willing to hook me up with a source I don't have yet, such as puersom, I will email you back with the names & sellers of the teas for which I hold this opinion.


How bout you just tell us :mrgreen:
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby Wh&yel-appr... » Sep 17th, '12, 16:08

SFLouis wrote:Does puersom have a website?


Korean language website for puersom, from SOTD thread on B&B:

http://cafe.naver.com/puersom
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Re: Accessible LBZ/Bingdao

Postby SFLouis » Sep 17th, '12, 20:56

OK then :D The 2012 offerings from Bana were enjoyed very much by me, but I should temper my compliments with a disclaimer. These bricks are delicious but they contain a high proportion of leaf fragments. After the leaves have been brewed a couple of times & fully expanded in the teapot, they sort of looked how good japanese green tea leaves look when wet, as the leaves were mostly cut or broken into large pieces. There were a few complete bud/leaf sets, but only a few. I don't know what this means as to whether or not they are in fact composed of true gu shu mao cha that got accidentally sat on or what, but the tea is good aside from the leaves being all broken up.

In terms of flavor, fragrance, strength, etc., I think the following teas are of comparable quality to Bana Tea Co's 2012 LBZ at much lower prices:
Yunnan Sourcing 2012 Spring Xi Kong
Yunnan Sourcing 2012 Jia Bu
Essence of Tea 2012 Qi Sheng Gu
Tea Urchin 2012 Man Zhuan

Also, here is a little further info that I have learned about Bing Dao.

Real Bing Dao ancient arbor material is scarce and very, very expensive. When I was in Bangkok last month, I visited JRT Puerh Tea Shop and met its proprietress, Paula Chan. She told me that she was planning to become an agent for the Bing Dao-Refined Tea Company, although she didn't have any of their tea available for sale at that time. She let me try that factory's 2011 production, and it was very good. However, their website makes it apparent that the price of this tea is just way out of my league. They are charging 4500RMB per 400g bing, which is equivalent to 712.30 USD at the current exchange rate. That is just Chen Sheng Hao-tastic. http://www.bing-dao.com/products.asp?type=%B1%F9%B5%BA%B6%C0%CA%F7%B2%E8
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