81 Tasting Notes

75
drank GABA Black by Mandala Tea
81 tasting notes

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76

I am a sucker for that laoshan black flavor profile as much as I complain about the value ($8/oz) and the questionable air quality of the region(https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/4775-Seeing-China-s-pollution-from-space). I think this blend is the best way to go value wise and with the addition of the rice it reminds me of kashi cereal which i have fond memories of growing up so this blend almost always puts a smile on my face. A great no fuss tea that travels well(tumbler western brew) and is always pleasant.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 6 OZ / 177 ML
Terri HarpLady

I love Laoshan Black, AND this variation, with the rice & the Oolong is OH SO GOOD! :)

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77

-Preface
I do not think I have had a bad tea from verdant yet but I have yet to have one that is worth their prices. This is another prime example, obviously I understand you are buying small batch productions of quality tea and I am sure his costs are high but to me garden to cup freshness only really matters when you are buying first flush or spring plucking green/green oolongs(I am excited to try their shi feng dragonwell when the time comes). Darker teas may actually improve with age(pu er unquestionably) so if you can afford to pay over a $1 per cup (4g/cup most tea are +$8/oz.) then by all means verdant is the not a bad option but I am still waiting for that tea that blows my mind and is worth almost double what I would pay at any other shop(anxiously waiting to try their 10 yr aged TKY in my cupboard). To clarify Verdant has some great teas but Im broke as hell lol so anything over $7/oz has to be something really special for my budget at the moment.
-Review
(Back log)I western brewed first time around and got a pleasant cup definitely different from laoshan black flavor profile wise. I do get the slight sweet potato notes not as much as I had hoped but still pleasant. I can not recall anything amazing about this tea which is never a good sign but I do like it and will gladly drink the rest of the bag, I will not re purchase but glad I tried it.

Flavors: Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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70
drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
81 tasting notes

Nothing too offense after two long rinses but nothing worth $8/oz either. I have brewed it a few different ways and still can not seem to get a “80” rating taste out of it, not a bad ripe to start with before delving into the pantheon of puer but even some big box brands ive had better and for much cheaper (still prefer rishi’s shous over this and they are almost half the price and “organic” not that it matters but it doesnt hurt).

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 100 OZ / 2957 ML
Garret

Hi!! This is Garret from Mandala Tea, wishing you a great day. I am sorry to hear that you have not been enjoying the Special Dark. It is a very big seller here for us, but not every tea can be loved by every person.

Just out of curiosity, can you tell me what you are using for water when you prepare your tea. There can be some HUGE differences in the tea depending of the water one uses to make it. Let me know when you get a chance. I’m interested to see if that may be part of what is giving you such a different experience for this (or any other tea).

Joy and good health to you!!

Jiāng Luo

Im honored and embarrassed someone from the company of the tea I reviewed is replying(thank you for the sample of gaba black btw). Until recently I was using the filtered water from my refrigerator but the city works cut off my water last week and I have been using spring bottled water. I do not believe it is water quality but I was curious about your recommended steeping times for my gaiwan I have learned this shou tasted better after two long rinses.

Garret

I love it when I have the chance to reply to users on Steepster, I am the one who is honored :) Please don’t be embarrassed. I hope you enjoy the GABA black. It is a tie guan yin varietal leaf fully oxidized into a black tea. It’s been quite popular since we began importing it. It has a sweetness to it and also the typical tie guan yin slight sourness. Very interesting tea.

Spring water is good. I just really recommend that people stay away from RO water or distilled because of the lack of minerals. Can’t get the taste from the tea without the minerals. It is always a good idea to use water without chlorine in it, too, as that chemical tends to really zap tea of its flavor.

As far as ripe style pu’er teas, I typically do two (boiling) rinses of about 5 to 10 seconds if the tea is loose leaf, slightly longer if it is compressed. With the special dark, I start with steepings around 15 seconds and slowly increase from there. That’s how I like it. Others report using less leaf and doing longer steepings. I’m always telling people to experiment and see how they like it prepared in various ways. Some drinkers allow the brewed tea to cool a bit in the cup before they sip and that does change the characteristics of the tea somewhat. Fun to see what might make it your cup of tea :)

Great to have some conversation about it. Thank you! Garret

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77

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70

Super temperamental, not sure if its inconsistency with batches or my brewing or a combination (had lots of variances in smell and taste batch to batch with other teas from adagio in the past) . Nothing special, plain and simple, gong fu pretty well surprisingly and 120% in need of a rinse very prone to going bitter super quick. Make sure to let fanning/dustings to pour of with the rinse and I might even do two. Once I treated it like a bai hao (Infusions as quick as possible and water as hot as possible) it actually yielded a much better cup and fairly fruity as well. I feel like im chasing the dragon with this one though, the first time it brewed an amazing sample tasted like a dancong on steroids(super peachy, apricoty, sweet, floral) so then ended up buying a bunch because it was my new favorite(more than I care to admit) and now at best with a lot of time and effort, its a sub par fruit darjeeling profile.

Flavors: Grapes, Stonefruits

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
mrmopar

I call it “Tuition” tea. Teas like this are the price we pay to learn about good tea. I have a lot of “tuition” tea also, but hey it’s part of the learning curve :) .

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77

-Preface
Literally my first sheng so no reference point. I remember hearing somewhere shengs under 10 years old are undrinkable so I was bracing myself. I was shocked to see what a difference sheng and shou are in appearance and smell of both dry and wet leaves as well as liqueur, the liqueur was night and day. Onto to the review
-Review
The dry leaves smelt of slight smoky/woodsy/dry like the day after a camp fire. The first few steepings were smokey but not overpowering. Then after a few more the infamous sour/bitterness of young sheng ive been hearing about. It wasn’t as unpleasant as I had imagined, in fact it reminded me of good dark extra virgin fruity olive oil with the same spiciness at the end.
Overall my first sheng experience so cant give a numerical rating but it would not be something I craved normally, It might be something Id reach for after a heavy meal and did not feel like a shou or perhaps paired with fruits for some reason I think it would be good with a bowl of juicy melons(random).

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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77

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70
drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
81 tasting notes

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77

If you have tried Laoshan Black this will be nothing new flavor profile wise(not that it is a bad thing) but being $12.5/oz vs Laoshan Black $8.5/oz for the price being 50% higher it is not 50% better or even different for that matter. Once again I like the tea but only difference I could discern was the hint of scotch at the tail end which was the main flavor I was looking for. The tea didnt seems to develop over the different infusions like I would have hoped as with other oolongs (Dancong and TGY particularly). Maybe I had to high of expectations.

All and all not a bad tea but not worth the price IMO.

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Roasted Barley, Scotch

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Sil

yeah that was where i fell too. It’s slightly different but given that i’m less of a fan of oolongs, not worth the price difference!

Bonnie

Oolongs are more labor intensive and the cost is reflective.
When you try the Laoshan Black, I hope you brew it Western Style (I have a glass pot with a deep basket…which I prefer) besides the gaiwan method. 2-3 minute steep is what I’ve been doing for 2 years.

Jiāng Luo

-bonnie
Im aware of why the costs would be higher on a oolong verses a black (all other factors being the same), I just was hoping it would be better or at least different. Thanks for the tip though I will try western brewing laoshan black and cupping their oolong next to it as I have some time off tomorrow for once and a lot of new teas im looking forward to cracking open.

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Reputable Companies I have narrowed down to over the years and my personal purchase preferences from each

Origin tea (Gao Shan Oolong)
-Eco Cha (Taiwanese Teas)
-Rishi (Great starter for Taste Profile Footing and high quality teaware)
-Yunnan Sourcing (Teaware, Black, Pu er)
-White2Tea (Curated Pu erh)
-Essence of tea (Curated Pu erh)
-Tea Classico (Curated Pue rh)
-Yuuki-Cha (Japanese Teas/Teaware)
-Den’s Tea (Japanese Green)
-Teavivre (Chinese Teas)
-Jing Tea (Best Chinese Teas I’ve Tasted)

“You can go a week without food, but not a day without tea."

Numerical rating personal meaning
70-75
#Bulk#
Drinkable but would not purchase

76-80
#Traveling/Tumbler/Office Tea#
Willing to pay up to $5/oz

81-84
#Staple#
Willing to pay up to $8/oz

85-89
#Reserve#
Willing to pay $10/oz

90-99
#Experience#
Priceless

I try to refrain from numerically rating a tea until I have tried brewing at least an oz of it with various different parameters and vessels (hotter/colder water, longer/shorter times, yixing/gaiwan etc)

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