91 Tasting Notes


Man, there is just the strongest scent of flowers coming off the brewed leaves of this tea. This is stellar. It’s backed by some nutty roasted flavors and hints of vanilla and cream.

The first infusion tastes slightly like wood or bamboo with a creamy sweet finish. There’s a healthy dose of mineral that is more noticeable if you drink it hot. Rolling the scent a bit in a Taiwanese aroma cup, it smells just like honey. Letting the tea cool gives you a much smoother, creamier cup.

Oh my goodness, I was not prepared for this. The second steeping of this tea is SOOOOO good! The taste is of honey and a very strong taste of flowers. I’m not tasting a lot of mineral this time, other than in the finish. There are tiny hints of the sort of camphor and spice notes I’m used to in Da Hong Pao but they do not dominate the cup. The taste is somewhat reminiscent of Yezi Tea’s High Grade Tie Guanyin, which is one of the best TGY I’ve had.

The third infusion is bringing out more mineral and char flavors, lessening on the sweet and mild ones. The fourth infusion brings out more fruity, floral and sweet qualities once again, perfectly balanced by the mineral and char tastes to give a really complex flavor.

I will definitely be buying some of this tea soon!

Anyone know why it’s “Shui Xian Da Hong Pao”? Is this a blend of Shui Xian and Da Hong Pao???

Flavors: Char, Cream, Floral, Honey, Mineral

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Terri HarpLady

Probably. I recall reading on the life in teacup website that sometimes Shui Xian & Rou Gui are blended together and called Da Hong Pao.

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Da Hong Pao is always such a pleasure for me. This may only be the third or fourth one I’ve had. I am immediately greeted by aromas of roast, cinnamon, cream, sugar, and cannabis. There’s a hint of pepper in the scent of the wet leaves. Might sound like I’m baking up some “magic snickerdoodles”, but I assure you this is far more magicaler. ;P

The flavor of the brew is stronger than the aroma. There’s a healthy dose of tanginess and tannin up front with undertones of mushroom and damp forest wood but the flavor falls off into a sweet roasty creme brulee kind of flavor thing that lingers in your mouth for a long time. It gets sweeter as it cools. The scent in the empty cup is very much like cinnamon with hints of creamy vanilla pudding.

The second infusion is more complex, less tangy, more dark and hearty. The tones of mushroom are more evident, and there’s an autumn spice kind of thing going on that reminds me of chrysanthemum. That roasted taste really sticks to the walls of your mouth, but man is it good. It finishes clean, certainly not dirty. The third infusion is more mellow yet and the flavors are creamy, roast, soft, with nice spice notes still reminding me of chrysanthemum. This is pretty good stuff. Not mind-blowing Da Hong Pao, but a good one!

Flavors: Char, Cinnamon, Creamy, Roasted

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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While this is certainly a fine quality tea, this was not my favorite of the recent Mandala Sheng Puer Sampler (which also had Wild Mountain Green, Autumn Song, and Heart of the Old Tree)

It tastes to me just like an aged Ya Bao, but with a stronger flavor and a hint of smoky finish. If I had to pick apart what Ya Bao generally tastes like to me (and thus, this tea as well), it is usually a strong note of cedar and some light notes of dried fruit, maybe apricot.

It’s a great tea, but I prefer the lighter buds to their bolder Puer cousin here. That said, if you loved this tea try some Ya Bao. I think you’ll like that too.

And after saying that, I fully anticipate at least a person or two saying this tastes nothing like Ya Bao to them, because tastes seem oddly differently like that.

Flavors: Cedar, Dried Fruit, Smoke

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
91 tasting notes

This is by far my favorite of the Mandala Sheng puer I have tried (which are the four that came in their recent sampler).

The initial steeping is very light and creamy with a taste that reminds me of golden raisins and something creamy like plain rice pudding (not the spiced kind). A couple steepings in the dried fruit flavor is more prominent while the creamy quality backs off. There is a very nice clean mouthfeel to this tea. In the third or fourth infusion there is a very noticeable vanilla note in the aftertaste.

Of the four samples in Mandala’s recent Aged Puer sampler pack (Heart of the Old Tree, Wild Monk, Wild Mountain Green, and this one) I may end up purchasing a brick of the Autumn Song to age. It seemed the most delicate of the bunch. Very smooth. I really enjoy it.

I flash infused this in a gaiwan, using only around 7-10 second steepings until around the fourth or fifth, at which point I started adding a few seconds each time.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Raisins, Rice Pudding

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I must now confess that the world Sheng Puer remains a mystery to me and I am a mere neophyte. I think my initial idea of what Sheng Puer is was quite misguided, as my first Sheng Puer experience was with Moonlight White from Jingmai, and the next few I had were equally sweet and mellow types. I had heard people mention things about Sheng Puer being bitter and wondered what the fuss was about since all the ones I had had were very sweet.

Fast forward to the Raw Puer sampler from Mandala tea I received the other day and I finally realized what people were talking about, but look for more on that on my other reviews, this one is about the Fengqing 2006 cake from Teavivre.

It may well be that one of the primary appeals of Sheng Puer is that the sip starts subtle, becomes somewhat bitter (or quite a bit), then recedes to a sweet finish. I don’t personally enjoy bitter flavors, so I would typically not choose to drink a bitter tea more than one time to evaluate it. With Sheng Puer, though, it is not all bitter, so the bitterness presence adds some interesting contrast with the rest of the flavors. Maybe the finish wouldn’t be so sweet if not for that bitterness mid-sip? Perhaps there is a benefit to having that contrast. It makes for a more dynamic experience as opposed to teas that are just naturally sweet throughout (though you won’t hear me complain about those). ;3

This Fengqing Puer has a sweet start, and if you brew it light enough, the bitterness mid-sip is not all that detectable, if at all, but you have to use very quick infusions to achieve this. The sweetness is a syrupy kind of sweetness, but not a thick one, something like light agave nectar. There are little notes of camphor and spice in the aroma, especially as it cools. There’s a hint of smokiness at the end of a sip, but it is subtle. I really enjoyed this tea in later steepings, where it became more more sweet with delicate notes of bamboo and hardly any trace of earthy or bitter flavors, but to achieve this I did flash infusions in my gaiwan, only steeping it for 5-10 seconds each time. I only used 3 grams of leaf for a 100ml gaiwan, which is less than some puer drinkers like to use, but I find if I use more it is quite bitter to me.

Flavors: Bamboo, Camphor, Nectar, Smoke, Sweet

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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The first infusion tastes light and creamy with hints of vanilla and raisin, and the second is similar but with a subtle tanginess to accompany, a bit like ginseng. The predominant flavor is of dried fruit, particularly raisin or dried apple. The third infusion I may have overbrewed a bit; it had a lot of that tanginess. By the fourth, the flavor is more mild again with some hints of vanilla and raisin, much like the first but more full and round. As the infusions go on, they continue to be full and rich and slightly tangy… a little more earthy as you go with some notes of hops popping up late in the session. I was able to push more than 10 very flavorful infusions out of this tea. If you are adventurous enough to make it that far, the 10th steeping or so tastes like onion rings from Sonic Drive-In… slightly sweet, fried, and every so slightly oniony. I’m not joking. I love it. 12+ infusions it has taken on a chamomile fragrance. Very interesting progression with this tea.

Flavors: Dried Fruit, Raisins, Tangy, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

ok, let’s see if steepster will let me comment this time grumble grumble…anyway, I am definitely going to have to have a very long session with this tea to see what fun things I can taste in the later steeps.

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I’m surprised I am the first to review this tea, and this should be a little interesting because I’ve been developing a Gongfu brewing method for Darjeeling tea lately, so this tea was one of my Guinea pigs for that.

The first infusion is a honey-gold color with a sweet, mild flavor and a clean mouthfeel. There are slight aromas of oats and malt and the flavor is a nice all-around mellow sweet taste with very subtle hints of spice. The signature muscatel grape aroma that Darjeeling is known for is very present when smelling the wet tea leaves, but as of the first infusion, I’m not detecting it yet in the brewed tea.

The second infusion looks like a citrine crystal caught in sunlight. Now I can taste some floral notes and the muscatel that the leaves were hinting at and a little hint of tannin. There’s more depth and boldness to the flavor, but it is still overall sweet. there’s a lasting sweetness and tang on the tongue which accompanies the hint of dry texture from the tannins.

Third steeping is even richer in flavor. It’s become more difficult to describe but it is starting to taste more like a black tea with a bit more of the tannin and malt flavors and the accompanying sweetness more in the background. It has a very full mouth feel that feels heavy and thick in the mouth. There is very little dryness or bitterness in the finish.

The fourth steeping is very rich and mellow with notes of butter and oak along with the muscatel and subtle hints of floral. The fifth steeping is starting to mellow out some and has a similar flavor. I could keep going with this tea, and I imagine doing so will produce even mellower brews from here on out.

All in all this is a nice Darjeeling if you’re looking for something very thick and buttery feeling. That was the most prominent feature to me that I think would make this one appealing. It’s not quite as floral as some others I’ve had and the muscatel note is not as strong. It’s really sweet in a sort of honey-like way, rather than in a light way like nectar or sugar. There is very little drying or astringent quality to this tea. It leaves a long-lasting flavor in the mouth.

Flavors: Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Oak wood, Oats, Spices

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I can’t compare my tasting notes to yours since I brewed this western style, I really need to try Darjeeling gongfu, but I think I so set in my ways that I always forget.


I never gongfu Darj. Interesting


If you are interested in trying it, I use 2.5g of tea leaf per 100ml of water, brew it at 185F and use flash infusions. The first infusion was 10 seconds and the next couple after that were a quick in and out. After that you can start adding time as you need to.

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Interestingly, the leaves have an earthy smell to them that reminds me of ripe Puer tea. After the first infusion, the leaves smell a lot like grapes or wine. The first infusion has a soft, velvety mouthfeel, with a creamy kind of mild sweetness that fades into an earthy taste and hints of cinnamon.

The second infusion is mellower and has more of a classic black tea taste, earthy, woody, dark. The third is more of the same and a touch more tanniny. The first infusion of this tea was really the most complex so far. If it produces any more that are really interesting I’ll update the review, but for now I am going to finish it here so I can relax and enjoy the tea.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Creamy, Earth, Grapes, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This tea tastes very green in the vegetal sense, and there are bean-like flavors present. If I didn’t know any better I might think this is a Chinese green tea. It has more of that flavor profile. There’s a nice sweetness to it and it is lacking the ocean and algae flavors I tend to encounter in a lot of Japanese green teas. There’s this subtle tang on the back of the tongue that is really interesting to me. It kind of reminds me of the tangy feeling of ginseng on the tongue. There is no bitterness whatsoever and the finish is very clean, not drying at all.

The leaves of this sencha are very long and unbroken. There seems to be a lot of care in their production and handling. Often I encounter senchas with very small and broken up pieces. It makes for a cloudier brew and can be a bit of a mess, but this sencha brews up crystal clear with a ghostly pale green tinge. There are many factors in brewing this tea that make it clear to me these are very high quality leaves, and as this is a sample from a friend I have no idea about the source, company or price at this point.

A second infusion yields a heartier brew with a nice sweetness to it and some interesting notes of cinnamon, camphor, or clove… something on that spiced spectrum. The flavor is just wonderful. This is the best sencha I have had to date. I find nothing lacking or “missing”. There’s nothing I can imagine that would improve this tea for me. It’s not the kind of flavor that knocks my socks off, but it is pristine, and that is saying a lot considering I’ve had this tea in a tiny ziplock bag for at least a couple months, so it has not been stored the way sencha aficionados would suggest you need to store it. It has maintained great qualities despite not being kept airtight.

I brewed this tea in a gaiwan. The first infusion was at 158F and I increased it to 167F on the second infusion and 176 on the third. This gentle way of brewing Japanese green teas has never done me wrong. As for infusion times it was 1 min, then 20 seconds, then 30 seconds.

The third and final infusion I drank was even more mellow, with similar flavors to the second infusion but a sort of “bready” taste in the background. This tea is very comforting. I had meant to drink it on a wonderfully warm and sunny day in the summertime to do justice to its name, but I kept forgetting about it and finally just got to it here in the crisp, cool beginnings of Autumn.

I can feel the sunlight and warm breeze and smell the green leaves, regardless.

Flavors: Beany, Camphor, Clove, Sweet, Vegetal

155 °F / 68 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

nice review! I thought this was really good as well.


Thank you! It was definitely an unexpected treat!

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Yahoo! This is some good houjicha!

Sweet and mild on the palate, it has a really nice creaminess to it and the roasted flavor is warming, calming, delicious! There’s a bit of a dry finish, but other than that I have no complaints. The leaves after one infusion smell like blackberries among the roasted aromas. There’s a nice sweetness in this tea. I may have trouble describing the notes, as houjichas do not tend to be really complex in my experience, but it has the expected flavors of toast, malt, hay, a bit of sweetness. In this case there’s a kind of cream taste accompanying it, and if you extrapolate that flavor, I feel like it could be almost a butterscotch note. Though if you contemplate this tea a little differently you could almost get hints of dill pickle brine. It’s all subjective. The mouthfeel itself isn’t so creamy, but the flavor is. Anyway, I really like it.

Flavors: Cream, Hay, Malt, Sweet, Toasty

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I’m a dedicated student and practitioner of Gongfu Cha and you can almost always find me brewing my tea in a gaiwan. I tend to stick to straight teas and scented teas rather than flavored tea blends with lots of non-tea ingredients. I dabble in tisanes and blends from time to time though.

To me, tea offers a time of peace and reflection in solitude, or sharing and enjoyment with friends. It has become a huge part of my life lately.

Aside from tea, I’m a novelist and creator of all types. I love to cook, create music, write, draw, decorate, and do just about anything creative I can get my paws on. I’m a sandwich and sushi chef and an aspiring beverage artist.

I am really interested in Asian cultures and have a much deeper interest than my shameless love for anime and Japanese video games.

I’m a friend to animals of all kinds. I couldn’t live in a world without animals. Conserving and respecting them is very important to me.

But I am mostly here on Steepster to talk tea! Let’s enjoy the world of tea together!

Tea Ratings:
I use the full scale
0 = Terrible
25 = Uninteresting or harsh
50 = So-So, I’m indifferent
75 = Enjoyable
100 = Incredible!


Kansas City, USA

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