Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Testing Water LOT 1 – Brewing the 2005 Gan En Ban Zhang Part 2

The 2005 Gan En Ban Zhang is a semi aged puerh tea. The tea has shred most of its youthful green characteristics and is in the initial stages of developing dark characters with low and heavy notes. The tea leaves are giving and provide a substantial brew with strong Cha Qi.

Semi aged puerh tea makes up the largest portion of tea that I drink in a given year. Therefore it is my prerogative to be on the lookout for good sources of water that pairs well with this category of tea. Furthermore good tea leaves from old trees in Ban Zhang are expensive and have become hard to obtain. It is for these reasons that I am willing to spend more and make the extra effort to obtain good water that can elevate my enjoyment and appreciation for the special teas in my collection.

Brewing the same tea with 4 different sources of water is a great way to experience the spectrum of characteristics the tea has to offer not to mention identifying the best pairing of tea and water. Each source of water produces a different shade of an outcome that emphasizes different characteristics in the tea. The Icelandic spring produced the most alluring mouth feel, giving the body of the tea a syrupy thickness. Notable was the smooth and rounded characters that opened up to a pleasing sweetness, altogether showing good depth and structure. Fuji water emphasized an aromatic and sweet nose that presented a merge of dark mushrooms, wood, forest and herbs in a background of a sweet darkening mass of gushu tea leaves. The brew however felt tight and the taste was muted making the sensations in the mouth the least agreeable of the 4 comparatively. The Australian spring enhanced the higher notes, allowing for more nuances and clarity in the characteristics of the tea. The brew showed good length in the finish accompanied by a stronger astringency that highlights the muscular presence in the tea. The Scottish spring provided the most balanced brew that combined the different facets of aroma, taste, mouth feel and finish. I felt the Cha Qi in all the brews and this was especially focused in the area of the chest, subsequently spreading to the different parts of the body. Overall my preference was for the Icelandic spring. The charm of this semi age Ban Zhang rests in its low and heavy characteristics and it was the Icelandic spring that brought this out best.

Return to Part 1 of the water test
May the best performing bottle of water … please stand!


  1. I have a beeng of this tea too. I agree that it has nice"low and heavy" characteristics. I have never felt much cha qi from this tea though. I will try it again soon to see if I have just been inattentive. This wasn't a cheap tea when I bought it, ad I assume it is very expensive now.

    1. I think you have probably answered your own question. The best tea sessions I have with cha qi is when I can disconnect from the world and focus on the tea and myself. Individual experience with qi varies and I would suggest Googling and reading up on other blog reviews on this tea. I remember encountering a few that described how the energy of the tea made them feel. I have also written a few posts that describe cha qi in more detail that can be found on the blog if you wish to explore further.

      Best VP