Sunday, June 17, 2012

06 Douji Lao Banzhang

I was packing up some samples to send and I could not resist. There is something trustworthy and enticing about Douji cakes.  A friend who was doing a Fulbright in Beijing brought me 4 Douji cakes back in 2006 when the Yiwu Zheng Shan Tea Company was getting the Douji brand off the ground.  This here cake is one of their earlier attempts. I thought I had already opened it years before but here it is unmolested  with a sticker securing the most prim pleats imaginable and now thanks to Jerry of China Cha Dao, you can see exactly how such a thing came to be folded.  There is no good way to peel such a sticker off for mere mortals like me despite this video.

Jerry specializes in Douji offerings in his China Chadao ebay store and provides some illuminating history of Douji listings.  YZSTC operate 8 pre-production facilities near each high mountain source to ensure quality.  I do vouch for Douji quality given their relatively low prices at the time and being such a big operation.

Although I have a small box of purportedly pure banzhang rocket fuel cakes,  I only partake in their fragrance from time to time.  Even though I'm not supposed to have any sheng and particularly not any Banzhang,  I pathologically cannot stop myself from brewing it up.  I only try to sip tiny thimblefuls which are surprisingly smooth and refined.   This is a very polite Banzhang I think to myself and even my stomach does not complain yet.

In comparison- a few sips of the 06 Hai Lang Hao Banzhang will induce immediate heart palpitations.  So I'm a bit suspicious that this Douji is not hitting me too hard.  But 15 minutes later,  my hands are shaking and I have trouble arranging tea leaves for a shoot.  By physiological effects alone,  I am going to consider this a bona fide Lao Banzhang cake.  The "rocket fuel" designation is not unwarranted but it does depend on whether or not you are already a hardened coffee or whiskey drinker.

You can see the tell-tale rust hue of oxidation on some of the leaves  but it's such a small portion that you can't tell in the brew.  Even after 6 years, this LBZ has not yielded any signs of aging.

Pure Lao Banzhang cakes are dangerous- it's like the 99% cacao bars that appear on the market.  Just handfuls of leaves should give a blend a taste of that LBZ unrestrained power but instead pure cakes become a legal alternative to methamphetamine. The jittery nervous feeling that Banzhang causes my system is not a pleasant one but their heady perfume in the box is enough for me to keep them around just for late night sniffing.

In the heart of my tiny house, I have about 15 kilos of sheng I am not supposed to partake until another good 10 years.  It's a bit maddening.  In the meanwhile, I bought some Douji ripe from China Chadao to tide me over in the intervening years. 

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