2855 Tasting Notes

drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
2855 tasting notes

I really do love this tea! First off, just looking at the leaf is mood enhancing, as it is a beautiful reddish black, with some orangish tips here & there. The warmed aroma is heavenly. The tea itself is so mouth filling & satisfying, with a long linger.
Today I went with 4 minutes, with a 6 minute resteep. Usually I go with 3 min with a 5 minute resteep, which I like better. Next time I need to try 1, 2 & 4 minute steeps, which is actually what Garret recommends. I’ll need to get more of this…again! :)


I had it for breakfast myself – sitting out on my porch swing with my dogs. I really, really love this tea.

Terri HarpLady

That sounds like my kind of breakfast setting! :)


It was perfect – the mornings are getting warming but not hot yet and my porch swing is my happy place and it was just dawn. That tea made it PERFECT


warmER* (bless my heart)


Lol, terri, it seems that every time I read one of your notes, I run to my stash to see if it’s in the cupboard…luckily, this one is, yay!

Terri HarpLady

Yay! :)
That just shows we both have good taste, right?

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This morning’s black tea gongfu session was with this one.
5G + 4oz X 15/30/45 sec/1min/2min/1min…

This started out lovely – a warm crusty bread, honey, malt, bee pollen…
But I increased the steeping time to quickly & it became bitter. When I backed it off, it was more enjoyable. In previous gongfu sessions with this tea I went with shorter steeps of 15 second intervals, & I’ll hopefully remember to keep it that way in the future, with this one!
A lesson learned :)

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Final tea of the day, I reached in the sheng box, & this one came out!
The initial aroma of the warmed leaf was sweet & a little fruity. It brought nectarines to mind for me, although I can’t say that it actually smelled like nectarines.
I didn’t actually document my steepings on this, but I started with 4G, rinsed, & kept it short for awhile. The primary taste I’m getting is Grape peels, with a little bitterness, but as I said before, my allergies are horrendous right now, so I can’t really tell you if it is bitter or not, & my guess is that it is not. But it does have a bright grape/citrus edge to it. Otherwise, it’s smooth & a little sweet, kind of spring like, if that makes sense.
I’m several steeps in now, & picking up on a floral quality that reminds me of Lavender, kind of. And also apricot – kind of tangy!
This is from a sample that our awesome friend Garret sent to me awhile back. I have just enough for one more session, so I’m putting it in the official sipdown cannister, where I’m collecting teas for my upcoming Sipdown Extravaganza!.

Add on: The energy of this tea is very ‘open’, as in opening of the chakras & such. I can feel my energy field clearing, something I really need today. Gratitude. Breathing deep.

Day 2: Revisiting this yixing somemore today, after a quick rinse. It’s light & fruity & I love it.


Yum! Want!


Added to my list!

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I made a pot of this one to share with my first student of the day. That was hours ago, but it was delicious & satisfying: Croissant, sweet potato, rose. Smooth, sweet, delicious.

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It’s been a long busy day, with students, rehearsals, more students, & it’s time to post about the teas I drank.
This morning I continued my new gongfu protocol, of starting the day with a gongfu sessions, & this was the tea for it.
5G + 4oz (rinse) X 15/35/45sec/1min/2/3/4/5

So, the earliest steepings started out as toast & honey, with a little bit of a creamy vanilla mouth, but this quickly began to morph into a grapey bright oral sensation.

At 1 minute I was drinking a mix of Dark Ale & Dark Bittersweet choclate, with an almost coffee-like quality.
At 2min the bitterness faded a bit, but there was a tangy grapiness to the tongue, & kind of Hoppy Spiciness.
3min – Wood, grape peel, I didn’t care much for the direction thing were going.
I sipped a bit of the other cups, but honestly had lost interest at this point.
To be fair, I have enjoyed this tea before, & some of my loss of interest might be due to allergies & the effect that they have on my tastebuds. My favorite steeps were at 30 & 45 seconds, & maybe next time I should continue with 15 second intervals.

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I just realized that I never got around to mentioning that I drank this Shu earlier today. I have really enjoyed the Xingyang workshop teas that I got from Verdant awhile back, & this is one of them. I went with the xingyang workshop steeping suggestions:
5G + 4oz (rinse) X 2min
This makes for a potent cup!
The first steep is bold with an almost coffee-like bitterness, but it is also sweet, & reminds me of boston brown bread. I can’t really think of anything else to say about it right now, but I’ve reviewed it several times before.

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Tieguanyin’s remind me more of spring than green teas do. With their golden liquor & light florals, they are like springtime in a cup. This one is no exception, but it also has a sweet buttery quality & a rich corn-like aroma.
5G + 4oz Gaiwan X 3rounds of 3 sec, 3 rounds of 6 sec, 3 rounds of 12 sec

I love how each of us can have our own tea esthetics, & my current setup for tieguantin includes 3 of these cups & the matching Gaiwan.
I steep the tea in rounds of 3 sets, pouring a little of each steep into one of the 3 cups, & the remainder into a pitcher. Then I drink from each cup (they are tiny, like 1 nice sip each), so that I can taste how the tea changes without having to drink an entire cup. Once I’ve enjoyed all three, I go sit somewhere with the pitcher & sip their combined remainders. Then I come back for the next round. I didn’t used to do it this way, but I really enjoy this process.

So this tea is recommended for 18 steeps. I have to admit, I got bored after 6, lol


Wow, 18 steeps. I don’t know how I feel about that sort of commitment haha!


Terri – I like your approach to steeping this and will give it a try to see how it compares to the more traditional method – Thanks!


I do the same for TGY, maybe adding a few grams more, piggy me. I steep the 3 rounds but use a hand made cup to drink all 3 steeps at once. The honeysuckle yellow liquor is so inviting and definitely reminds of a spring morning. Thanks for sharing your process.

Terri HarpLady

Courtney, I only made it through 9 steeps, lol.

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Just polishing off the last cup of a pot of this one, which I’ve been enjoying while working with a student. Today I swear I taste a hint of cinnamon, plus sweet potato, & cream.

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My green tea of the day. I used to drink a lot of this one, & actually I still like it. It’s the best tasting cherry tea that I know of, as most of them tend to taste like cough syrup.
My cherry tree is blooming, but in reality most of that tree is dead, & I plan to have it cut down, probably this weekend. It’s a very tall & old tree, & when I first bought this house I had no idea that I had fruit trees in the yard. When that first spring came, I looked out my kitchen window, & saw red cherries on the tree! I ran out there & picked a bunch of them, brought them in & was SO excited, until I started cutting them open & realized that there was a worm in every one :p

The following spring was the beginning of one of my gardening rituals (yes I am a weirdo). When the tree bloomed, I had a picnic under it with a plate of sushi & a pot of this this tea. Afterwards, I made a declaration to the tree, the local bugs, & birds, expressing my gratitude & good wishes for a bountiful harvest, welcoming all to enjoy the wondrous fruit, & a request that the lower branches of fruit be reserved for myself & my family.
I swear to you that this actually worked, & we were able to harvest fruits that were mostly free of worms for several years. Then the tree started dying. This year there is only one flowering branch, the lowest one, & the rest of the tree is dead, with branches falling off.
I may plant a couple of dwarf cherries in the next week. I just have to figure out where.


What a lovely story! I’m sorry that your tree will be cut down, thougn.

Terri HarpLady

I had 2 apple trees when I moved here too. They were really old, & one of them died a few years ago, along with a really ancient white oak (that cost me $3000 to have cut down). I cried the summer the oak tree died, it was so magestic. I have 3 other oaks, & they all seem happy & healthy though :)

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Another morning of drinking a quality black tea gongfu session!

5G + 4oz (rinse) X 15/35/45/sec 1/2/3/4/5 min

This is a lovely malty & sweet cup! The earliest steepings featured a creamy vanilla sensation, which quickly transformed into a rich toasty flavor & a thick mouth. This one shares some qualities with the Jinggu Golden strand that I drank yesterday, as if they were brothers, but of course, it has a personality of it’s own. My favorite steeps were by far the during the first 2 minutes, as the unfolding of a tea & it’s flavors & sensations excites me, but even the last cup had value, with a creamy kind of flavor.

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I’m so excited to have found this community! I’m a self-employed Harpist (acoustic & electric – Originals, Classical, Rock, Jazz, etc) & Singer/Songwriter. My days & nights revolve around teaching at home, playing gigs, gardening,& fixing awesome food to eat. My schedule is different everyday, but I just go with the flow, & I sip a lot of tea!

My love of Tea began with Herbals back in the 70’s. One of my favorites was a licorice blend from House of Hezekiah, an old tea shop in Kansas City. There was also a tea with mint, rose petals, chamomile, etc called Nuclear Casual Tea.
In the 80’s I gave up caffeine, chocolate, alcohol, (& a few illicit substances…), and brewed medicinal blends & tinctures to support 4 pregnancies (all children born at home). In the 90’s my love affair with green teas began when I discovered ‘The Republic of Tea’. Their beautiful teas & packaging inspired my original song, “TeaMind”, from my CD “Zen Breakfast”. If you’d like to hear the song for free, drop by my website.

In general, I drink my teas straight, but occasionally I add a pinch of Stevia & maybe some coconut or almond milk (I’m allergic to dairy, gluten, & various other things & avoid most sweets.)

I’ve explored a variety of teas:
Whites tend to be a little bland…sorry
Oolongs – wonderfully sensual
Roobios – I’m not a fan in general
Puehr – a fairly new direction for me
I’m not a huge fan of flavored teas, but I do make exceptions, & I’ll try just about anything once.

And Black Tea, Oh how I love thee!!
I am on a quest for the most wonderful breakfast cup! I will find you, my Love!


St. Louis, MO



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