Today we will be comparing two very similar teas: Yunnan Sourcing’s 2017 Spring Bang Dong Village and Bang Dong Zi Cha. Both are Assamica varietal sheng puerh coming from the same village, Bang Dong, in the Mengku region of Yunnan. The difference here is that the “Zi Cha” is a special picking of only naturally occurring purple tinged leaves. The purpose of this post is to explore the differences in taste and aroma.
I open the samples and measure 4.5g of each into small 60mL gaiwans. The leaves look relatively similar, the zi cha leaves having some slightly darker areas. The dry aromas are similar too. Both smell pungent, green, and spicey, but the zi cha may be a bit sweeter. I rinse both with water at 208F and allow the leaves a few minutes to open up.
I do flash steeps with both. The regular Bang Dong (left) comes out slightly darker than the Zi Cha (right). In the regular Bang Dong I taste wet moss, minerals, dry spices, and sugarcane with a slight floral aroma. Bitterness and astringency are moderate, the mouthfeel is somewhat lubricating. Comparatively the Zi Cha is quite similar, but there’s a touch of tropical fruit to the flavor, the mouthfeel is a bit thicker/more brothy, and the bitterness a bit less.
As I keep steeping I get more bitterness and pungency out of both. These are among the strongest shengs that I’ve tried from the YS label. The regular Bang Dong develops a slightly citrusy lemon flavor while the Zi Cha stays more buttery and tropical. While the Bang Dong initially brewed a darker color, the Zi Cha becomes the darker one in later steeps.