$21.00 – $180.00
班盆 Bānpén tea or poor man's Lao Banzhang, perhaps less in reach for the poor man as it was just a few years ago, yet still wayy more affordable than the hype. Just a few miles away as the crow flies, doling out that unmistakable and irresistible banzhang flavor, you could say if there was a village to do it, Banpen is qualified to represent the LBZ.
Expect Banpen to yield a smooth, lubricative mouthfeel, not quite as juicy and thick as Lao Banzhang or Bakanan. The experience sits high on the palate, buoyant, distinguished, hinting at exotic + unusual bouquets, the vegetative rind of melon, cane sugar. The taste of an exhale adds to the symphony. A classy musk appears in the throat if the tea is leaned into with a hotter or longer infusion.
A tea worth slowing down and paying attention for, as it guarantees to potentiate positive experiencing upon the user; on the mind as well as the body.
This tea comes through the channels of Mr. Yáng, an Akha ethnicity Lao Banzhang villager, and mutual friend of Dá És. When Dá É took us to Lao Banzhang, Mr. Yang graciously showed us around the village and the gardens, as well served us his tea at his mansion. Mr. Yang owns some of the primest old growth tea tree gardens in the area, and has become one of the more successful villagers in Lao Banzhang. In 2006, him and his sister decided to lease prime old growth trees in Ban Pen Lao Zhai maintained by Lahu villagers, eventually making tea from this area as well.
Noteworthy: because LBZ teas are famous and necessitate such astronomical prices and standards, the production style honed there over the last two decades in many ways represents the precipice of processing acumen in the pu’er world. Mr. Yang and his team treat their Banpen leaves the same as LBZ, and therefore the immaculate quality and leading edge skill level is palpable in the brew. Harvested from old trees in Ban Pen Lao Zhai in late march / early april, at gardens 1700 meters in elevation.