CYH Banzhang

2007 CYH Laobanzhang

 When to buy Gushu?

The other day some tea drinking friends of mine were having a conversation about how to optimize timing when purchasing gushu [old arbor] teas. Opinions around the tea table differed, as they always do, but the general consensus was that there are two strategies. Either get in early and hope, or buy late resign to forfeiting half of your mortgage payment for puer tea. In the case of Banzhang teas, even news tea carry a hefty pricetag, so maybe neither strategy is optimal.

Since acquiring a ten year old Banzhang cake of any quality is already completely out of reach of most smallfolk, I’d say one ought to buy good tea right away (1 – 3 years old), rather than when it has enough age (8 – 10 years old). There is a tradeoff. Buying young tea can be difficult because how it will age is anybody’s guess. However, this risk is outweighed by the alternative, which is paying far too much for tea that is difficult to know much about. Questions like where was this stored? and Is this really from Spring on that mountain? are easier to answer in the year of production. But, unless the leaves were picked, processed, and pressed by the hands attached to your body, there is always a little mystery.

A dry piece of the Banzhang cake
A dry piece of the Banzhang cake

The 2007 CYH Banzhang is in a transition stage from strong youth to strong maturity. The kuwei [bitterness] flashes in front  of you with a quick gesture, and then quickly turns into sweetness that sits down in the mouth. There are some woody flavors emerging, but it is still in between feeling like a young tea and a middle aged tea. Some sort of tea Freshmen year.

Fledgling soup of Puer Tea Ban Zhang
Fledgling soup

The body is thick. Even 6.5 grams (about 20% less than I normally use) still makes a compelling brew. The depth of flavor and qi [feeling] is admirable. Even though this cake is in the middle ground of its age, still a worthy investment. Thanks again to Origin for the sample.

Spent leaves
Spent leaves