85
drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
20 tasting notes

Thanks to Terri HarpLady for the generous sample of this! I got to try it in both Western and Gong Fu styles, with some left over.

Brewed Western style (3.3g/8oz./208F/10 sec. rinse/1 min. pause, then 1/2/3/4/5 minutes), I smelled cocoa powder and tasted wonderful spice notes accompanied by a stimulating citrus essence that felt lively on the tongue in the first two steeps. The later steeps brought similar, although muted, tastes along with just a hint of Meyer lemon in the flavor.

Next I tried Gong Fu style (5g/100 ml/208F/15 sec. rinse/1 min. pause, then 15/15/20/25/30/45/60/80/105 seconds). A honey and lemon aroma coupled with a strong note of Meyer lemon dominated the first steep, which came across as being quite tasty. The middle steeps saw a shifting interplay of spices, citrus liveliness on the tongue and sweetness which were very enjoyable. The last couple of steeps saw an increase in the spice, but not to an objectionable level.

Of the two methods, I thought the Gong Fu preparation allowed this tea to show more layers of flavor, but if I were in a hurry I would not hesitate to steep it Western.

I’m just beginning my exploration of Chinese black teas so I’m not sure where this would rank in terms of other well known ones. Overall, however, it’s a very nice tea.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Terri HarpLady

Yay, glad you liked it!

Garret

What a nice review of this tea! Thank you for that. Funny, I see in your bio that you were a follower of the Grateful Dead as I’ve been listening to alot of live dead these last few days. I saw them alot between 86 and 93. Yes… some good seeds were planted and some good seeds were watered during that time. It’s how I got into Eastern philosophy, bodywork, meditation and TEA!! Hope it did you lots of good, too, my friend :)

TeaExplorer

It did me lots of good, but in a different way. I was in a period of stress in my life and the shows were an oasis of peace. In addition, the sense of community was overwhelming. For instance, I traveled to the show at the Richfield where Vince Welnick was playing his first gig with them. Had all sorts of travel mishaps and arrived 20 minutes after the start of the show without having had lunch or dinner. After the show my blood sugar had tanked and I was shuffling around the parking lot, having lost my traveling companions some hours earlier, when a random guy came up to see what was wrong. He got me a Gatorade and an apple, then brought me back to a dorm at Akron to crash. I woke up in the morning on the living room floor with about 20 other refugees from the show. We became friends and he sent me a T-shirt he had made (Dr. Seuss: “I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees”). Years later I’m walking down Duval in Key West wearing the shirt when a guy stops me. “My friend made that shirt” he says. Turns out he was one of the dorm mates from the floor I had crashed on years earlier, and in that moment my experience came full circle. I have a number of stories like that and they all center on the communities that would spring up around the shows. I took that spirit with me and applied it to the community around me back home. Not everyone was receptive, but the practice of opening myself to the people and the world around me was life changing. I feel a sense of that here on Steepster, where people are willing to give and share openly without judgment. It’s a rare thing on the Internet.

TeaExplorer

Oh yeah, about tea … There are a handful of companies which seem to offer the very best of what they can source such that I have no hesitation trying something from them which is new to me. Mandala is one of those, along with Verdant and Butiki (and probably others I have not discovered yet). I tend to want to get to know a tea before logging it, which could take anywhere from days to a month or more, so my logs tend to be sparse. I’ve got a dozen Mandala teas in my cupboard (not counting samples from swaps) and some of those will always remain on hand, such as the Phatty Cakes and Special Dark. You have a knack for this … keep up the good work!

Terri HarpLady

Applause to everything you said! I especially love the bit about the t-shirt. Life is awesome, & we’re all connected!
:D

Garret

I love stories like that one, my friend. It still happens to me. Even here on Steepster :) Thanks so much for sharing that one with us. And wow, thanks for the kind words about our humble company!! That means a lot to me.

With Dead scene, I definitely got opened up to the possibility of community, for sure. And while community isn’t always perfect, not trying for community is a far less appealing option, for sure!

Garret

the dead scene, I meant.

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Comments

Terri HarpLady

Yay, glad you liked it!

Garret

What a nice review of this tea! Thank you for that. Funny, I see in your bio that you were a follower of the Grateful Dead as I’ve been listening to alot of live dead these last few days. I saw them alot between 86 and 93. Yes… some good seeds were planted and some good seeds were watered during that time. It’s how I got into Eastern philosophy, bodywork, meditation and TEA!! Hope it did you lots of good, too, my friend :)

TeaExplorer

It did me lots of good, but in a different way. I was in a period of stress in my life and the shows were an oasis of peace. In addition, the sense of community was overwhelming. For instance, I traveled to the show at the Richfield where Vince Welnick was playing his first gig with them. Had all sorts of travel mishaps and arrived 20 minutes after the start of the show without having had lunch or dinner. After the show my blood sugar had tanked and I was shuffling around the parking lot, having lost my traveling companions some hours earlier, when a random guy came up to see what was wrong. He got me a Gatorade and an apple, then brought me back to a dorm at Akron to crash. I woke up in the morning on the living room floor with about 20 other refugees from the show. We became friends and he sent me a T-shirt he had made (Dr. Seuss: “I am the Lorax and I speak for the trees”). Years later I’m walking down Duval in Key West wearing the shirt when a guy stops me. “My friend made that shirt” he says. Turns out he was one of the dorm mates from the floor I had crashed on years earlier, and in that moment my experience came full circle. I have a number of stories like that and they all center on the communities that would spring up around the shows. I took that spirit with me and applied it to the community around me back home. Not everyone was receptive, but the practice of opening myself to the people and the world around me was life changing. I feel a sense of that here on Steepster, where people are willing to give and share openly without judgment. It’s a rare thing on the Internet.

TeaExplorer

Oh yeah, about tea … There are a handful of companies which seem to offer the very best of what they can source such that I have no hesitation trying something from them which is new to me. Mandala is one of those, along with Verdant and Butiki (and probably others I have not discovered yet). I tend to want to get to know a tea before logging it, which could take anywhere from days to a month or more, so my logs tend to be sparse. I’ve got a dozen Mandala teas in my cupboard (not counting samples from swaps) and some of those will always remain on hand, such as the Phatty Cakes and Special Dark. You have a knack for this … keep up the good work!

Terri HarpLady

Applause to everything you said! I especially love the bit about the t-shirt. Life is awesome, & we’re all connected!
:D

Garret

I love stories like that one, my friend. It still happens to me. Even here on Steepster :) Thanks so much for sharing that one with us. And wow, thanks for the kind words about our humble company!! That means a lot to me.

With Dead scene, I definitely got opened up to the possibility of community, for sure. And while community isn’t always perfect, not trying for community is a far less appealing option, for sure!

Garret

the dead scene, I meant.

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Bio

I’m fairly new to the world of fine tea, having begun my exploration in earnest in mid-2013. I had given loose tea a try a decade ago but what I chose was not to my liking and I never finished the couple of hundred grams I ordered.

I’ve spent most of my life as a coffee drinker, and have studied and practiced the art and craft of coffee roasting for the past decade. I drink coffee until about noon, at which point my palate needs a change.

This eventually led me to try good quality tea one more time. The Internet is a great resource and I got pointed in a more solid direction this time. I started at Upton Tea with mostly black teas, a Jasmine-scented green and samples of some flavors. I’ve been enjoying three or four cups a day.

Then I stopped into a tiny Chinese restaurant in rural Pennsylvania and in response to my request for hot tea the proprietor brought me her personal Pu-Erh, which had just arrived from China, in a portable Gong Fu teapot. OMG … I found something new to obsess about! She kept bringing me hot water and I did multiple steeps until I could swallow no more. My research on this tea eventually led me here.

I’m a voracious reader and can consume a book a day when I have the time. I’ve been an obsessive geek since childhood and that spills over into all areas of my life, driving me to try to attain competency in more areas than I can count, especially technical subjects. I once took “The Visual Display of Quantitative Information” on vacation and my wife asked why I wasn’t reading something fun. I had no idea what she meant.

I love almost all genres of music, but am most fond of Jazz (Miles’ Blue Period, Mingus), Delta Blues (Sleepy John Estes, Son House) and 80’s British alternative rock (The Smiths, Bauhaus, The Pogues). I also followed the Grateful Dead for a short while. Yup I’m getting old, but then 50 is the new 30, right?

I hope to make some of your acquaintances, and swap both knowledge and tea.

Location

Palm Bay, Florida

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