The BB (Banzhang benchmark) comes! When I read about it in the Leaf few years ago, I thought "hmmm, I'd love to taste it sometime". And now I can - what a pleasant surprise. My gratitude to EoT for selling it for quite a reasonable sum (given the fame of the cake). New packaging seems to be introduced - the well known and well functional bags (with cute sticker on it):
The aroma of wet leaves is pretty good - dark sweet, attractive. I find it similar to less fruity Syrah - not really fruity, but smooth, heavy and rich.
The aroma of empty cup is very good and as my local empty-cup-aroma specialist, Marketa, realizes, it is present in the aroma of the liquor - not that frequent phenomenon.
The taste itself is very nice, really enjoyable - dark smooth sweetness, very clean, like molasses. There is no smoke which disturbed me in many Banzhangs (possibly fake ones too). If I had to analyze the taste, I'd say there is wood and garden fruit, but I feel that "dark smooth sweetness" is a better description of the overall feeling.
In the second brew, tones of dwarven bamboo and "light ground after spring rain" spring up and that is when I start enjoying the tea even more. In these two tastes, it is similar to the great 2002 Pa Sha brick sold by Longfeng some years ago. I think that this is the first tea of this kind which I found to be better than the brick (to the defense of the brick, I have to say it was much cheaper, that was a great find of Longfeng).
From the third brew since, fruity tones become stronger (peaches?), but they do not bring disharmony to the pleasant mix of dwarwen bamboo and light ground. It is really very pleasant - nothing negative is to be found. The tea is quite elegant, yet not overly light in character. Even the sweetness is just about right to my taste.
Further brews are very consistent, the tea is quite strong (I'm somewhere around 15th brew now). It is fairly obvious in comparation with the 2010 Xizihao Laowushan and 2009 golden brick - where I had to use 40s for the 6th brew in case of these teas, I used 10s for the 6th brew of this Banzhang and I got more flavor out of the tea.
After the taste, there is a good cooling and tingling feeling.
The aftertaste is good and comes "continuously". Hui gan is excellent and comes at the right time. In general, the tea is very smooth and consistent - there are no hollow parts in its character.
Earlier, I felt that many Banzhangs (potentially not pure, of course) had a sort of dark, slightly intimidating energy. Contrary to that, this tea feels sunny and "kind" (and I'm saying that during a rain, I'm not just hypnotized by the weather).
Spent leaves are still strong and nice:
I enjoyed this tea a lot and I'm looking forward to the next tasting of it. It is not so cheap so that I would say that it is a steal and everyone should buy a tong. But it is worth buying a sample, at least. For me, it is the most pleasant Lao Banzhang up to now. The YS Banzhang Chung Qing could become similar though, I think these two teas are possibly similar in character.