381 Tasting Notes

i don’t know what i expected from this tea…. but is is most certainly not what i got.

as a rule, things that are are harvested in canada in fall like the grapes for ice wine and winter like maple syrup are viscous and have an intense potential for sweet. playing off the word ‘frost’ i think that, paired with the colder weather, had me expecting something with an element of sweetness. i was entirely wrong.

while i smelled a light floral from the dry, the strangest thing i have ever encountered happened with the water added: nothing. well, almost.

i have an autoimmune disease that impacts my nervous system primarily. i have some abilities that could be called rather rare, though certainly not unheard of— like being able to smell the metal UNDERNEATH the plating metal. weird. i know.

this tea is cold. it smells like ice. yes, for me temperature can have a smell. screaming hot, steaming away, scalds my tongue….. and it is ice. pure ice. i have never encountered such a thing!

i don’t know if i like it… i don’t DISlike it, but i want a repeat performance. thinking that i might be having an early moment of dementia i wrenched the top off my tea cup in class today and shoved it under my lab partner’s nose. (she’s used to this by now)
‘what do you smell?’
‘i….nothing?’ (perplexed look) she grabbed the cup and took a more serious sniff. ‘how can it smell like nothing?’
‘it smells like ice to me.’
‘james, ice doesn’t have a smell!’
‘yes it does.’

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
CrowKettle

Oh, that’s curious! On to the list this one goes.

JustJames

quite, quite unique! distinctly striking…. i just have no idea how to classify it yet! lol.

Ysaurella

sounds really interesting, as your ability to smell metal and ice !

JustJames

i guess everybody needs a skill? lol

OMGsrsly

Thinking about the Maple Pecan Oolong, I totally get where you’re coming from. I wouldn’t have phrased it the same way, but I do get it. Now I want to try the base tea on its own! :)

Amariel

I agree, ice does have a smell.

JustJames

i will let my lab partner know. … …. AND my wife, lol.

Amariel

I admit I am super sensitive to smells. I smell things at work that no one else does.

Amariel

Which is bad because it often results in a migraine or a headache of some annoyance at least. :(

JustJames

me too… mine’s a nervous system disease byproduct. i don’t get headaches, well, barometric if there’s a real swing….. but i can usually smell it, before it happens lol!!!!! although i get clogged up really easily from stuff too and i wind smelling nothing. sigh. everything is a coin toss: the up side, the flip side.

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87
drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
381 tasting notes

ooooh, very nice mandala! simply complex.

very smooth, reminiscent of a tie guan in, or yellow…… i really don’t think i would have guessed it was anykind of oolong had it not been on the packaging. robust but in a light hearted kind of way.

on a completely separate note, i wanted to thank your group for your product excellence. i had lunch with my mum today. often we don’t get on, but life has been a bit tough on her lately and the place where we meet always has great food but ghastly tropical flavoured bagged green teas. i brought my bag of yellow buds with me and made her a pot at the table. she loved it! she was very surprised at the steep time, the colour, the taste. i know things are going to be difficult in her life for a while longer, so i sent her home with the tea and told her i’d get her more when she ran out.

your company really is a class act. and while my mother doesn’t know you at all, on behalf of us both i will thank you.

i find these days i bounce between paris (mariage and dammann) complexity and manadala’s understated simplicity. but that’s like calling a circle simple to someone whose only ever drawn straight lines. thank you for the introspectively quiet circle.

most sincerely, james.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Garret

James, thank you so much for not only taking time to write the reviews, but for the kind words about our humble endeavor here at Mandala Tea. I am honored to have earned such accolades from you. This makes my day. Truly.

Grateful,
Garret

JustJames

most welcome and well earned, garret.

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85
drank Demain by Nina's Paris
381 tasting notes

this tea is grand, i mean truly exceptional.

dry it reminds me of ripe strawberries and raspberry jello, but once the water goes in there is a premeditated tartness from the green base that negates any thoughts of jello whatsoever.

my unsolicited advice (as someone who thoroughly messed up their first attempt), believe the 3 minute recommendation on the bag. nina’s has been doing this long enough that they don’t recommend halfheartedly.

the green they have chosen is very smart indeed…. it has a sharp tang that is absolutely timed to the minute. the berries are balanced against a three minute time…. like a smartypants i figured more was better and went for 4 the first time and got no berries whatsoever. when correctly timed you get a perfect equation with perfectly (not over) ripe berries with a medium strength green tea. this is a flavoured green, there is never any doubt that it is a tea. with some flavoured blends the tea essence is lost, but not here.

very nice. little doubt i will buy again!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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43
drank Black Pearl by Mandala Tea
381 tasting notes

this tea has frustrated my intelligence. true i can be stubborn and do things in my own manner, but i have followed the instructions for this beautiful tea. i love the smell, i love the appearance….. but i get a mediocre taste!

1 minute, 1.5 minutes…. 4 minutes. hotter, colder. nope.

it is so highly sought after, and there is no more to be had this year at least and with every steeping i am wasting my supply.

i will rate this one… i do not believe it is a failing on my part or my other teas would be impacted. very sad…. i really did want to love it as others do….

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec
Stephanie

Bummer. I am still curious to try it !

Dexter

It makes me sad that you are having issues with this tea.:((( I LOVE it. I knew it was discontinued, and I’ve heard a rumor that Garret isn’t sure he will ever be able to get more. That also makes me very sad :(( I’m hoarding what I have. I don’t even know how I steep it. I would have said that you can do anything to it and it just works.
Do you like Teavivre Black Pearls?

JustJames

actually, i also found them lacking. interesting. i wonder where the glitch is?

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90
drank Grand Amour by Nina's Paris
381 tasting notes

i was curious, so i looked up the history: nina’s paris, (named after the founder’s wife mme nina diaz) was founded in 1672 as the furbishers of fragrance to versailles. it shows.

this tea is red, and round. it actually creates a spherical shape in my mouth. i am not referring to the natural process of swallowing here, i feel the flavour in a spherical shape, over my tongue and against my cheeks.

this blend is an exercise in just enough and not too much; had the raspberry been stonger it may have evolved from a balanced tart to sharp or bitter, but it did not. the red currant adds the round component i think, as well a classic element. the caramel is very quiet… three fingers brushing one time lightly between your shoulder blades after a long day. soothing.

this tea is lovely. i was surprised at first when i learned that the french tea apothecaries were also frequently parfumeries, but it makes perfect sense now. how the two vocations could ever be separate is a foreign thought to me now because it is. so. logical.

while she did not send me this tea, i really must thank ysaurella for playing the part of brilliant catalyst for this part of my tea journey. our swap caught me so offguard i think my heart may continue to dwell in parisien tea houses.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec
gmathis

Ooh…thanks for the reminder that I haven’t tried my sample of this yet.

JustJames

nina’s paris is one of two companies where caramel even registers with me…. the rest i can’t detect at all. this blend was so very well done!

Bonnie

I was enamored with the sense of being transported by the tea to the Orient Express for some reason. Nina’s reminds me of elegance…brocades velvet, polished wood, leather, perfume, plumes and jewels. Bowls of fruit, flowers and silver samovars.

gmathis

Yum. Bonnie, you’ve missed your calling—you should be writing Victorian novels!

Bonnie

Well, my grandmother was born in San Francisco in 1883. (Not great-grandmother). My mom singing Opera when I was young had some effect on my being a dreamer and a string of exotic travelers in need of lodging in the 1950’s…friends of my linguist Aunt. In other words, I’m old.

gmathis

Suddenly I’m craving Agatha Christie :)

Bonnie

Haha! I still remember dancing with my grandfather at the Fairmont Hotel on Nob Hill in S.F. on my 13th birthday…1961. A scene out of Mad Men, evening gowns and furs.

keychange

Jaaaammmmmmeeeeessss! How much do I have to pay you/what combination of favours would let me snag a teeny teeny sample of this from you? Feel free to say "there’s nothing you can do, keychange, and I’ll politely eff off.

JustJames

lol, you’re already going to be getting some. no begging required (though it is amusing) =0)

Aimee Popovacki

THIS ONE SOUNDS SO GOOD!!

JustJames

hey! how are you feeling?

Aimee Popovacki

not so good!

JustJames

oh no, pm me!

keychange

You are a kind person!

Bonnie

He loves me more than you! Hahahah!

ashmanra

I adore this tea. I plan to give it to my future son-in-law as a wedding gift soon, as it is precisely the flavor profile he likes, and the name is perfect! It reminds me of a tea he and my daughter bought for me when they were in Budapest. It is exquisite.

Ysaurella

thanks 4 the big up James :)
but you know the French tea houses were NOT frequently parfumeries (I think Nina’s is the only one – and I may be wrong but this is probably more a question of new business acquisition rather than an historical link – up to Laurent to tell us)

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87
drank Polo Club by Mariage Frères
381 tasting notes

struck by the sheer terror of midterms after nearly 2 decades i behaved very badly and broke into my birthday tea with the intention of piping this mate directly into my brain if need be for my exam yesterday.

the exam the night before had been a NIGHTMARE. because of the impairments i do my exams on a PC….. which halfway way through my psyche exam timed out, drop kicked me and ERASED all of my answers.

… …. …… they called a tech from the library and shuffled me to a different spot to keep working. they did not shuffle me far enough….. i heard every groan of despair.

‘the bad news is your work is gone and i can’t get it back…’ and thus a debate about what to do. i’ll admit it, i had a brief (although polite) moment where i lost my cool.

FOLKS! the option is exactly ONE! i need some quiet and i need to get the exam done. PERIOD.’ and i did, because there was no other choice. especially with an exam the next morning first thing.

thus, with the advent of a new exam and a palpable frisson of fear STOMPING through my heart, i broke into my birthday tea and grabbed this mate hoping it would turn me into a genius and that i wouldn’t have a repeat of the night before. it was a risk folks…. i have mentioned several times that i don’t tolerate mate well. it usually curdles my stomach and makes me jittery.

seeing as i’m sure you are all waiting with baited breath i will tell you about exam 2: my prof will hate me. i wrote and wrote and wrote. i am expecting an A, but i’ll settle for an A+, lol.

my glitches with mate? apparently only with ones from this continent.

this tea has marshmallow notes that soften a beautiful balance of fruit and flowers. very light in colour as well in taste. it is complex, but not complicated, and not the least bit imposing. beautiful, smooth, cleared the fuzz out of my head in record time. i will absolutely buy mate from mariage and dammann.

by far the best mate i have ever had. by leaps and bounds! and i will keep one in the house for as long as i’m a student.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec
yyz

Eek! Horrible to have to start all over again! Exams are stressful enough.

JustJames

agreed! hopefully i’m not completely cracked though and i did as well as i think i did on exam #2!!!

yyz

Fingers crossed, at least you feel positive about it!

JustJames

=0) true!

keychange

Oh god, reading this reminded me of all the horrors of writing adapted exams in the accessible tech labs at school. The computer would crash; the screenreading software would turn out to be a demo 40 minutes in; I’d lose my work and want to throw things. Good for you for keeping it together, because that’s legitimate melt down teratory. i’m glad the second one went better, but uggh ugggh ugh.

JustJames

oh no! there’s this hope that someone gets what you’re saying when this junk happens, but then you feel bad when they really really get what you’re saying.

i have been talking back and forth with my prof, the disabled student resource center has yet to report anything to her. all i keep screaming in my head is ‘SERIOUSLY??? GET IT TOGETHER!!!!’

OMGsrsly

Oh geez. In my befuddled state I thought your terrible experience WAS a nightmare! Kudos for making it through. You might want to actually mention to the centre that your prof needs to know about this kind of thing ASAP. I would have thought they would have been phoning your prof and cancelling and rescheduling your exam for when they had their act together.

keychange

Well, and the suggested remedies are never anything you’d want to deal with. Re-write the exam? Are you effing kidding me? go through that again because they’re inept and don’t ensure a method to back up stuff?

JustJames

my dear keychange…. we should discuss who the owner of the page that we are both on is, lol. shared custody do you think?

JustJames

update! i got my A+ on the one exam, but the nightmare situation? i got an A on that too…. must have been the tea!

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i find myself at a cross roads with this puerh. on one hand there are aspects that i find vastly superior, on the other i find some elements disconcerting.

i really like the fact that it isn’t musty as some puerhs i’ve tried lately are. there’s a healthy but not overpowering astringency that balances the flavours out so that i am certain i am drinking tea and i haven’t been whacked in the mouth with a moss pillow.

what i find odd are the smell and taste. it smells like popcorn, and it tastes like sticky rice. makes a certain amount of sense, it’s a rice shu…. but sweet rice in my tea cup is new for me and i don’t know what i think of it yet!

thank you very much to tao tea leaf for the sample. i always enjoy an opportunity to try.

no numbers, not yet. i’ll try another steep and see if i can come to a conclusion!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Stephanie

LOL moss pillow

JustJames

seriously, haven’t you had that experience with puerh? good flavour but then it turns into a fuzzy diffusion that tastes like moss?

Stephanie

Haha totally, I love the way you described it

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80
drank Happy Kombucha by DAVIDsTEA
381 tasting notes

this is THE WHACKIEST tea!

visually it’s quite lovely with the long umber tendrils curling among the black fingers of tea. kombucha….. i like the calorie free fizzy drink…. how would i like it in tea though?

for me this is a very honest tea. what i smelled is what i got…. which is great because the smell was awesome! the kombucha (which is a bacteria heavy fermented tea product btw….. i had to look it up) gives a great twang without any hint of bitterness which is perfect up against the pineapple and mango!

decisions decisions….. do i ship this off to ysaurella when the time comes? lol. just kidding.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec
Ysaurella

I don’t like very much mango if it could help you to decide ;)

JustJames

that’s the thing this is such an original tea that the mango is just part of one layer. even if you don’t like it it may be nice for you to try one of david’s teas hits, lol.

Ysaurella

if this DT tastes like a tea I would be happy to try it :)

JustJames

i know what you mean. no sprinkles, no fake colour….. this is a fruit tea with a kick!

Amariel

This was one of my first teas from DT. I haven’t had any in a while, but I do like this one a lot.

JustJames

we can share some when we meet up =0)

Amariel

Sure! I liked this iced, mixed with Toasted Walnut, a while back. I’m not sure why I haven’t gotten any of this in so long….

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drank Mom's Apple Pie by DAVIDsTEA
381 tasting notes

oops, nope, not for me. i got apple oatmeal and no cinnamon whatsoever. i will refrain from a number, but this was a full out miss from the david’s teas hit or miss tendency. i’m afraid it wasn’t even an apple cider. just apple powder in water…. i actually returned it.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 4 min, 15 sec
Aimee Popovacki

weird, lol people either love this one or hate it.. i love it.. i think thats why it went away for so long and came back… its not as sure of a thing as pumpkin chai

gmathis

Oatmeal…hmm…that might be tasty.

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81
drank Honey Bee by DAVIDsTEA
381 tasting notes

this blend gave me more than just an energy boost… it also gave me information and insight!

this is another of the blends i snagged for a return swap to Ysaurella in paris. it reminded me vaguely of a tea she sent me and i thought she might enjoy variations on a theme.

i had concerns actually trying it though…. i don’t tolerate the high levels of mateine in mate well and i am fairly certain i have the start of an allergy to rooiboos. HOWEVER there are exceptions to every rule. apparently i can handle the mate if it’s diluted and it appears i can tolerate rooiboos if it has a stimulant paired with it!

the tea, the tea: absolutely a bumble bee tea! warm, orange notes that aren’t bitter or overpowering. there is a fuzzy honey bee representation, and yet i do not feel as though i am drinking pureed bee, lol. it seems, somehow, to tap into my bee memory engrams. very cool!

thank you again to Ysaurella for giving me the excuse, and keychange for giving me the shove!

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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Profile

Bio

Time For A ReWrite!

A good friend of mine on here kindly asked me to do the Steepster world a favour and list my allergies front and center (fair enough, lol):

-COFFEE … rare, nasty, not even a bit funny if i’m exposed. (call me original)

-ROOIBOOS … is a new appearance. under certain circumstances i’m okay with it (ie if it’s GREEN and paired with mate) but because i have an auto immune disease i try not to poke at things.

*NOT an allergy, but an abnormality that drives my tea buddies bananas, i AM INCAPABLE OF TASTING CARAMEL AND TOFFEE. so i thought i’d list it at the top too. it’s very annoying. they smell great!!?

Hi! I’m James!

I’m a student: double major of human geography and psychology with the intention of chasing a double doctorate. (reading that over it occurs to me again that i must be crazy).

i’m a live and let live sort. i look and see alot of silver linings. my discovery of tea has only served to further that viewpoint. for me tea is art and nuance, watercolours and bold brushstrokes….

swaps are grand things! the element of surprise in a tea swap completely trumps forrest gump’s chocolate box life metaphor, lol.

favourites: french teas dammann freres, mariage freres and nina’s paris especially.

i have recently discovered a german tea company that has romanced me: tea gschwendner (sp?)

mandala teas is brilliant and a company i count on.

justea and tealet are companies i study because of both their exceptional products and and business models, as well as their work with farmers who are TOO POOR for fair trade certification. this is highly relevant to my studies.

90-100 i need more
80-90 i might need more, or it might be a respect vote
below 75? it was likely an oops buy. my evolution into french teas has vastly focused what i like!!

however, i’m always open to trying things.

dislikes so far: guayasa, darjeeling, most peach teas.

Location

Victoria, BC

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