269 Tasting Notes

93

This has been a lovely Mandala Tea weekend for me- Black Pearls (one of my new favorites) on Saturday and Noble Mark on Sunday. Doesn’t get much better than that when it comes to enjoying fine tea.

The dry leaf has an earthy aroma just as one would expect from a pu’er. One large tablespoon (after two very quick rinses) in 8oz boiling water for 30sec for round one; round 2 for 45sec; then combined in my 16 oz Zojirushi travel mug. Infusions 3 and 4 (1 min each) were just as enjoyable a few hours later. The tea has an appealing combination of flavors – chocolate, fruit and a little cream yet a bit earthy as a pu’er usually is.

This pu’er is delightful – silky, smooth and solid texture with slightly sweet aftertaste; a dark reddish brown color; and good for multiple enjoyable steeps. It left me wanting more so what could be better in a pu experience?

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec
Terri HarpLady

Love me some Mandala teas!

DigniTea

I definitely agree and his new three cake special is on the way to me right now with my requested sample of the Wild Monk.

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92
drank Black Pearl by Mandala Tea
269 tasting notes

First of all, I always look for the fun factor in my tea experiences. These brown and gold pearls are fun to watch in the hot water – I love watching tea in action as it unfurls during the first infusion.

Yesterday morning I steeped four of Mandala’s Black Pearls in 8oz of boiling water and immediately resteeped because I drink my morning tea in a 16 oz Zojirushi travel mug. The flavor is fantastic – chocolate and malt with a slight straw note. I love this tea! I’ve had it several times and I always enjoy four 8oz infusions with the initial four pearls (although infusions 3&4 are not nearly as flavorful but enjoyable nonetheless). Without question, this tea is currently one of my top five teas.

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

As far as pearls go, this one is on top for me so far. I still have a few more to try, & I tend to love them all, but I especially love this one.

DigniTea

This is the only one I’ve tried but I just received the Teavivre black pearls ordered during their recent sale. Haven’t opened those yet because I have lots of teas already open and needing to be enjoyed before I start in on new ones.

Sil

teavivre pearls are fantastic as well!

Terri HarpLady

I can’t wait to try them!

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84

This is delicious iced! The aroma of the dry blend is a bit off-putting but after steeping in the fridge for 24 hours both the aroma and the taste are magnificent – lemon and cream with no rooibos flavor detected. One packet of Splenda added and it’s ready to serve. My guests love it!

Preparation
Iced 8 min or more

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93

If you enjoy Chinese black teas, you must try this one! Open the packet and inhale deeply – hay, cocoa, malt , maybe a little fruit. Smells delicious.

I used less than boiling water, as suggested by Teavivre in their brewing instructions – 2 tsp in 8 oz of water. Flavorful for 4 steeps (1m, 2m, 2.5m, 3m). The tea soup is a rich brown and it tastes fantastic. I cannot wait to serve this to guests. I’ll definitely be keeping this one on hand!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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90

It is a pleasure to work with Teavivre – their tea is delicious and the customer service is just as good. Today I am enjoying their Taiwan Jin Xuan Milk Oolong. The thick creamy taste is superb. Hard to believe that this rich creamy flavor is natural but it definitely is.

The liquor is a medium gold with a slight vanilla cream aroma. Both the flavor and the mouthfeel suggest sweetened condensed milk. I prepared this according to instructions provided by Teavivre for an 8oz cup Using my test tube steeper, I watched the leaves unfurl and expand and was able to enjoy four flavorful infusions (1m, 2m, 3m, 4m). I was delighted to discover that the flavor had staying power throughout the process.

This is one rich, delicious brew. Certainly one I plan to keep on hand and enjoy regularly.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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90

I am enjoying Teavivre’s Spring 2013 harvest and have taken advantage of their 2nd anniversary sale. The speed with which they deliver their tea is very impressive.

So I have finally tasted the highly regarded Bailin. Though a milder black tea flavor than I prefer, this tea is most enjoyable! The flavor is rich and gentle with a definite sweetness. While the smell of the dry leaf is definitely mild, the aroma of the liquid is strong and very pleasant.

It produces a dark copper brew. The taste is woodsy, sweet, and fruity all in one. Brewed below boiling (I used 190 degree water) and there is no bitterness at all. Added 1 minute to each 8oz infusion (1m, 2m, 3m, 4m).

If you’ve not had the opportunity to try this tea, do yourself a favor and give it a try!

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec

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89

This tea is just plain fun! I enjoy tea – all types (with only a few exceptions). However, when there is a special fun factor involved, I enjoy it even more. This Monkey King is just such a tea.

I had heard about Monkey King from a former Chinese exchange student in one of the courses I taught a few years ago. He said that I would definitely enjoy it. I never forgot that recommendation and I’ve been on the lookout for the tea.

I recently placed an order through an eBay tea shop based in Shenzhen (Royal Tea Bay). By the way, I would recommend this direct source for tea from China – shipping cost is included in their tea prices and my order arrived at my front door just 7 days after placing it online. I was delighted to discover that they had a new Spring 2013 harvest of Tai Ping Hou Kui (Monkey King Green Tea) and I had to order it. My order arrived late yesterday and I was quite excited to try it early this morning.

I am in love with this tea – the whole experience! First of all, be prepared to be blown away by the size of the leaf - 4" to 4.25". Beautiful thin, whole, flat leaves with lovely shades of green coloring in each. They are very delicate and paper thin like tissue paper. The aroma of the dry leaf is slight but pleasant.

The recommendation for brewing this tea is to use a clear glass with 175 – 180 degree water. I decided to try it in my 16oz Chinese glass tumbler with filter for drinking. I was unsure of the leaf amount so I started with 22 long leaves added after pouring the heated water. It was a pleasure to watch these tall soldiers stand at full attention in the water. The tea aroma was vegetal and sweet and was a very pale yellowish-green color. The flavor is sweet with clear vegetal overtones and I was able to detect a little citrus.

As I finished half of the liquid in the glass tumbler, I added more hot water. This continued over a three hour period using the original 22 leaves, adding more and more water, and it was only at the very end that I detected a slight astringency.

This tea is fantastic and this was a wonderful tea experience. I’ll definitely reorder. Teavivre has a Spring 2013 Tai Ping Hou Kui Green and that will probably be my next Monkey King tasting.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C

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80

Refreshing tea. I drank this iced and it hit the spot. Blend of black and green leaf makes it interesting. The cinnamon and sugar in the blend make it pleasant to drink – subtle enough to make a nice accent to the light blueberry flavor. The brew offers a very nice aroma. Overall, I enjoyed this tea iced and wonder what it would taste like hot.

Preparation
Iced

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87
drank Fragrant Bud by Zen Tea
269 tasting notes

This tea makes a very enjoyable cup. Lightly oxidized, yellow tea produces a sweet and mellow flavor without any vegetal overtones and this one delivers. Yellow tea is more difficult to find and this one is sold at a very fair price. Grab some while you can!

From the Zen Tea website: “The process for making yellow tea is time consuming. In general, the leaves are first fried, as is the case in most green teas, but then the leaves are wrapped in thick paper or cloth. At intervals the tea is fried again and re-wrapped to cool and oxidize slightly. This process continues for up to three days and then slowy roasted at the finish.”

Dry leaves are medium brown, twisted and bent. No strong aroma detected but pleasant enough. The brew results in a yellowish tan liquid (golden) which is a delight to drink – gentle, sweet and mellow. The hot tea produces a honey-like aroma with lighter flavor at first and as the tea begins to cool down a bit, the flavor intensifies.

This is my first experience with a yellow tea but it will not be my last! I am definitely sold and I’ll be keeping an eye out for other yellow teas to try.

Brewing Notes: I often put my greens and whites in a Chinese-style glass thermos/tumbler. This is the way I enjoyed this yellow tea all morning long. Four teaspoons in a 16oz tumbler with filter for drinking. Added hot water 4-5 times throughout a five hour period.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 8 min or more

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80

Strong, rich flavor (particularly for a decaf). The bergamot flavor is a bit too strong for me. I would enjoy more if the caramel and vanilla came through more. All in all, a tea to enjoy (since I have a 4oz tin) but I doubt that I’ll repurchase.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec

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Bio

For me, tea is magical with its ability to transform by bringing one back to center and inspiring both peace and contentment.

Reformed coffee drinker. Switched to tea as part of my goal to work on living a healthier, more balanced life — haven’t looked back since. Surprised to learn what a passion I have developed for all things tea related.

I enjoy most tea types but I cannot handle jasmine or other florals and I’m not particularly fond of bergamot. Started with flavored teas but moved quickly into unflavored blacks and puerhs. Now most of my purchases are puerh cakes for aging. My cold brews for iced tea tend to be a fruity green, white or rooibos but every once in awhile I’ll chill an oolong or puerh.

I no longer assign numerical ratings to teas because our enjoyment of tea is very subjective. Reactions to a particular tea vary from person to person and within the same person across different tasting sessions. My tea notes are now simply comments reflecting my impression at that specific point in time. They are useful to me and if they happen to be helpful to someone else that is good.

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