1943 Tasting Notes

drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
1943 tasting notes

This was a free sample included in my Christmas order from Mandala Tea. Thank you, Garret!

It is tea party day! We didn’t have a tea party last week since it was the day after Christmas, and I wanted today to keep the holiday festivity vibe going! My middle daughter made a pan of brownies with freshly ground whole wheat, which makes really yummy fudge brownies, and we served it with homemade vanilla ice cream.

I also served Bonne Maman Fig Preserves. Ysaurella said she liked it best with goat cheese but I have none at this time so I served it with my warm homemade cheese spread that has a bit of onion in it.

I told youngest I would make this pot personally because I couldn’t believe we were going to get enough strength in a black tea in just one minute, but at one minute the color was nice and dark and the aroma was strong, so I did pull the basket.

I think this was the favorite tea of my guest today. She said it left behind a creamy feeling and had the most enduring aftertaste of our teas today. There is something rather unique about the aroma and flavor of this one that I couldn’t quite pin down and I hope someone more experienced will be able to describe accurately. This is fruity without being sharp, not a Darjeeling type of fruitiness but rather a baked fruit that has been mellowed and sweetened by the heat of baking.

It paired nicely with our food. We drank it without additions and it was sweet and smooth.
I look forward to trying further steeps of this!


Good paring…I was going to ask Garret about a puerh that might be like the 2009 Menghai Red Aura…wine like in flavor and smooth, but more ripe and jammy with sunshine in it but not a lot of cedar, redwood or pepper (I was thinking about a Paso Robles Zinfandel). So, if he’s nosing around here…ahum…let me (us) know!

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I saved my leaves yesterday because I suspected that this one was a good resteeper. I was right! The second pot is still going strong and makes me wonder if this might even go three steeps western style.

The brew is light/medium orange and the flavor is roasted walnut with some sweet notes. Very nice!

Thank you, Nuvola Tea, for letting me try this!

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This tea intrigues me most out of the new samples sent by Nuvola Tea for review.

I have never heard of a black oolong. I read their description that it is black tea made from oolong tea but I am still a bit in the dark. Is it black tea produced from a varietal that is normally used for oolong? Were the leaves first subjected to the processing for oolong tea, then for black tea?

I decided to go middle of the road with this one, using 194F water and giving it a little less than four minutes to steep.

The aroma is very fruity, the tea a medium orange color. The taste is a bit befuddling, but good. It mixes the flavor of a light black tea having fruity notes with the flavor of a dark roasted oolong. The sides of the tongue really sense that roasted oolong aspect. There is a nice sweet aftertaste.

I decided to see how it goes with food – snack, actually, and specifically pumpkin roll. I am pleased to say it went well, and now I notice that there is a smoky bottom to this tea, the roasted aspect becoming more obvious when pitted against the sweetness of my dessert. Nice pairing! Thank you, Nuvola Tea, for the opportunity to taste this!


Using the oolong varietal, as I understand it. Bit like how Shang Tea sells black tea made of leaves normally used to make white tea.

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drank English Breakfast by Harney & Sons
1943 tasting notes

My tin is getting dangerously low, and I bought the one pound bag! It is almost gone…

It is finally a really cold morning here. I needed some warmth to look forward to after breakfast. Tea is almost always after, rather than with. This one is especially yummy today.

There is a taste and texture I get from some Keemuns and from Teavivre’s Fengqing Black Dragon Pearls. It is almost as if a dark cocoa powder is being dragged across your tongue, and that is a good thing! I guess it doesn’t sound that way, but it is, because it is a chocolate-y but dry but not an astringent feel that is going on. It catches your attention if you are distracted by other things and says, “Hey, appreciate me here!”

This is really hitting the spot this morning.


Do you think this one is similar to the HRP Royal English Breakfast, or is there another Harney which is most similar? Love the strength and flavor of the Royal, but would like loose :)


I feel that this one is smoother, Jacqueline. The Suoreme English Breakfast is more similar to the Royal Englsih Breakfast. This one is pure Keemun. I will get some on its way to you today! I am ordering another pound and a pound of vanilla black as well! Also, I want you to try Hugo Tea Organic Mornings Journey. I think it is right up your alley. Thomas would want you to have some.


Wow, I just looked back at this and saw all those typos. Where is autocorrect when you actually NEED it? LOL!


I will send you some Mountain Rose Herbals in exchange! xoxox


I need to find out if Hugo has a storefront, since they’re in my state. We don’t head that direction very often, but I’m sure I could find an excuse….


Check out their Facebook page! It says you can buy their tea at Mildred’s in the crossroads. Not sure if that helps, I am guessing it is in Kansas City.

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Today for lunch I made turkey panini with sautéed onions, lettuce, Raspberry Enlightenment from Penzey’s, and mozzarella cheese. As a side dish I had rotini noodles with Double Devon Cream, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheese. To me, that meal screams for a good, stout Chinese black tea, like Keemun Hao Ya or Fengqing Dragon Pearls. But hubby doesn’t go for many black teas…yet. His favorite black tea is Ceylon, and even then only certain Ceylons will do.

He liked this one very well, and drank three cups to my one. I really wanted some tea after lunch so I tried resteeping the leaves, something I don’t do with just any black tea because so many come out weak. This was definitely weaker, but still very enjoyable.

Side note: the puppy we are fostering because she was hit by a car is doing well and should be ready to go up for adoption in a month or less. The puppy I keep on Tuesdays is staying with us indefinitely now since his owner is in the hospital having tests run. So every bite I eat, every sip I drink, is watched by three pairs of eager eyes…

Josie Jade

My Mom stayed at my house over Christmas. With our own dogs/cats and then the foster dog and foster cat, we had 5 dogs and 3 cats. That’s a lot of eyes watching as we ate our Christmas dinner, hahaha! Good luck with the foster pups!


Thanks! The vet says little Rosie will definitely keep her leg, so that was great news! We will probably have her until near the end of January.


I have some Raspberry Enlightenment too! I’ve only used it in a chicken dish so far. Have you used it in other dishes that you like? I want to try the salad dressing :)


..and three pups! Your cup runneth over :)


We have used it for a dip with Lil Smokies wrapped in Crescent Rolls, our version of pigs in a blanket. I have also put it on turkey and ham sandwiches. A deli in Raleigh outs apple butter and it was so good that I thought RE would be, too, and it really is. Hubby likes it! That is the only way I have used it so far, and I am almost out!

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drank Almond Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1943 tasting notes

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drank Cheesecake Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1943 tasting notes

I had a matcha marathon! This was one of the flavors in my latest order that I had never tried. (Two were refills of old loves!)

I like cheesecake but I don’t love it unless it is the kind I make myself. I don’t want it dry and dense, or heavy. I actually prefer the easy, super creamy kind that has a sour cream, sugar, and vanilla topping on it.

One of the main aromas that hit me when I opened the pouch was vanilla. That is great, because I love vanilla!

(By the way, I haven’t seen anyone address the best way to open these pouches to prevent the loss of any precious matcha powder. These pouches are vacuum sealed so tapping it lightly on the counter is not going to jiggle the powder down lower. If you start cutting or tearing the pouch from the side a little poof of your matcha might escape, or even more.

There is a little half circle notch on top of the pouch. Make a tiny cut right there with scissors, just big enough to allow air to enter the package. Now the matcha powder will obey the call of gravity and go to the bottom of the pouch so you can safely cut a larger opening and pour it into your container without losing any!)

So on to the tea! We made hot matcha lattes and they were excellent! I think this would be awesome for mixing with MOST other flavors, too, to lend its creamy vanilla goodness. I really want to try this as a cold latte tomorrow. Almond matcha is still my favorite of all (right now!) but this is running a close second, maybe tied with butterscotch!

You can buy it here: http://www.redleaftea.com/matcha-tea/cheesecake-matcha.html


Have you ever tried Japanese cheesecake? It’s much lighter but still super creamy: http://en.christinesrecipes.com/2011/02/japanese-cheesecake-fluffy-creamy.html


I don’t think I have ever had that! I think one of my kids may have had it, though. Maybe I should give the recipe a try!

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I chose four puerh teas for Christmas from my hubby. Three were shu puerh, and one was a sheng.
Furthermore, this is a very young sheng. I chose it because I thought it would have tons of potential for aging based on its origins, and I confess also because the paper wrapper is beautiful and I love that a friend of Garret lent her talents and designed it!

I think the papers wrapped around puerh are beautiful. Perhaps they also look exotic to me because the language is completely mystifying! There are no letters we can pick out similar to ours, so no hope of finding a word or two similar to English or other languages we may speak. The message on the wrapper is a complete mystery to me! I save my wrappers because I hope to one day cover a tea chest in them.

Concerning wrappers, I also will probably never qualify to be a puerh con artist. You know, those people who buy expensive puerh, keep it, and wrap the nice wrapper around a cheap puerh and sell it for a lot of money? Well, I wouldn’t, but I also couldn’t, because I can never get the wrapper back on the cake with the beautiful tight pleats that it had to begin with! Deft and nimble hands wrapped these cakes! Maybe with practice….

I took Garret’s suggestion and poured some boiling water into my little pot. After the pot had warmed a moment, I poured out the water and added the leaf to the empty pot. I put the lid on for a few seconds and then lifted it and sniffed. Root vegetables! Rutabagas, I think! I am going to try this with a lot of my teas.

I gave the leaves a thirty second steep. There is still the root vegetable aroma, but it is milder and it isn’t “biting” at all. The liquor is a pale golden yellow. The flavor matches the aroma rather well. I am drinking the third steep now and there has been no diminishing of flavor. I think this would also be great with food.

I am really excited to be moving forward in my puerh journey. I hope to live a long time so I can try this tea over many years and see how it matures. I must say it is a well-behaved child, though. :)

Thank you, Garret and mrmopar, for helping me choose my Christmas tea!


Glad to read your notes Puerh Sis’tah! Such an interesting part of the tea world so we’ll have to share more samples and notes. Garrett should do a live chat!


I feel like we should have a place like one of those hep cat poetry bars! Heehee!


Save those wrappers when you’re through…there’s got to be a pu-erh-gami crafty thing you can do with them!


Grinning at your pun.

I have a bit of puerh in my sample box but haven’t gotten up the nerve to try it yet. I probably need to. My big sis is really into it and I suspect she’ll be sending more samples. It’s nice to know there are friends treading the path ahead of me.


MsWhatsit: Try it! I bet you will like it! I started with a fishy smelling tuo Cha from A Southern Season, a shu puerh that smelled bad but tasted okay and it did wonders for the tummy. Their loose puerh was better, but then I tried Teavivre’s Puerh and went WOW! The loose and the mini Tuocha I have had from them are very good. I like these from Garret a lot, too!


I am happy you enjoyed this tea! The experience of being at the farm where this was grown was truly satisfying. Super remote area, very high-altitude. It is exciting to see what has already happened to the flavor in just a short time since its pressing! Most customers are brewing it up as a green tea with lower water temps – 175,185… when in China we were brewing it up with a full boil and that makes for a whole other experience from the same leaf.

As far as “fishy” and “mushroomy, briny” smells issuing from some ripe pu’er, that can happen…. though if the leaf is well produced, that smell goes away not long after production. If tea is poorly ripened (as well as stored improperly) that smell may never dissipate.

@Bonnie – a live chat? How about a LOVE chat :) ? As in I’d love to do a live chat!!! How to do it??


I’ve done it with another group in Google Chrome Live Chat where there’s a time set and invite sent. You just join in and everyone can see each other at the same time. The topic was selected ahead of the meeting. People joined in from around the world. All free! We did this on Sunday at 3pm because of time zones.


Ok Garrett! Now everyone knows that you have a thing for Puerh lovin older women! (or maybe just me) Ha! Make the rest of you jealous!


Hmmmm… Bonnie, I’m not sure if I know of any older women on here!! Y’all seem young and spry to me!!! Happy New Year to you!! May 2013 see you feeling great and experiencing all the joy you can stand!!! Many hugs and bright blessings!!


Happy New Year Garrett!


Mswhatsit, I’m still a pu-erh rookie too, but I’m wimping into it by leaning toward flavored pu-erhs. Sort of like training wheels.


That’s right, Garret! We are bright and sassy like a young sheng, but smooth and mellow like a mature pu! :D

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drank Almond Matcha by Red Leaf Tea
1943 tasting notes

I debated long and hard about getting the almond matcha. I love almond scent in hand lotions and such, but my mother never ever used almond extract and I never had anything flavored with it until I was grown. I have never had marzipan that I can recall though I had a marzipan chocolate bar that was quite good that my daughter picked up in Budapest or somewhere.

When I was young, I became friends with a man who owned a Chinese restaurant. He served a dessert drink called Toasted Almond. If I remember correctly, it contained Amaretto, Creme de Cacao, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, a bit of milk, and ice shavings tossed in a blender. There was possibly a bit of sugar added. Bottom line – it was intoxicatingly delicious. Literally. Because there was alcohol in it but it was so good you wanted to have three in a row, which fortunately I did not do.

Yesterday, my bestie and I had a matcha marathon! I got a bamboo whisk and an aerolatte for Christmas so we were experimenting. We made an almond matcha latte – just cold milk, a spoon of Turbinado sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of matcha. Yummy!

Then my son and his girlfriend came. I amped it up for them. This is how I made two servings at once: Two scoops Breyer’s Lactose Free Vanilla Ice Cream (because it tastes sweeter due to the lactose being broken down), milk, a tablespoon of sugar,
and a teaspoon of almond matcha.

One second their glasses were full, the next – empty! They said it reminded them of an expensive dessert drink they had at a fancy Italian restaurant near where my son lives.

I think I have found my favorite matcha flavor! I am so glad I bought the large as I have a feeling this drink is going to be much in demand throughout the holidays! I chose Robust flavor level, as always! Here is where to get it:



Have you tried the amaretto?


No, should I? I think this one is already amazing! :) I have had two lattes today already!


Thanks for sharing your experience. Macha is another one of those things I’m gathering up my courage to try.


DO IT! DO IT!!! My suggestion is to start with strawberry and caramel matcha. Those two are spectacular!


Oh, yes! Caramel! That is my hubby’s favorite and I love love love the way it smells.

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Another Christmas tea! Yay!

I started this one last night. I used Granny Stella’s tomato knife to work a chunk about the size of a teaspoon off of the brick. I notice this is called an iron cake. I haven’t heard that term before, so perhaps Garret and/or mrmopar will enlighten us?

My husband and son joined me drinking this one. They would have bailed on me if there had been any fishy odor. This tea has none.

I steeped this for forty seconds at first, increasing to sixty seconds for the fourth and fifth steeps, which is where I am right now.

The color was deep at first but not inky black. This is a medium strength flavor, not knock you down powerful but not subtle either. It has the horsey profile I like.

I am such a newbie at puerh that I have trouble distinguishing between the good ones. I can tell a bad one easily enough! I am trying very hard to learn to distinguish between cedar, mushroom, earth, leaves, and wood.

The main thing that came to my mind as I drank this was “nature.” Not wilderness nature but perhaps a large farm bordered by woods with fields of grazing horses. There is the horse farm scent to this, but added to it are leaves crunching underfoot as you walk, breathing in fresh, clean air. Sometimes I get a hint of caramel in this one. Steep four had a little cedar oil richness coating my mouth. Steep number five is still going strong so I will probably continue working with this teaspoon of leaves, and soon I will try it with more leaf and shorter steeps.

Of the three teas I have tried from the Mandala order, they are all very good and I would not be able at this point in my puerh education to tell them apart if I were drinking them “blind.” But I can say with certainty that I enjoy drinking every one of them and look forward to sharing many cups of these teas with family and friends.


What matters is that you’re enjoying your journey into puerh! I look forward to reading your reviews for when i decide to start down that path :)


Like you, I can’t tell the good ones apart. I did recently revisit some of the first that I really liked and found them now to be lacking. I guess there is hope for us.

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I am a music teacher and homeschooling mom who started drinking loose leaf tea about five years ago! My daughters and I have tea every day, and we are frequently joined by my students or friends for “tea time.” Now my hubby joins us, too. His tastes have evolved from Tetley with milk and sugar to mostly unadorned greens and oolongs.

We have learned so much history, geography, and culture in this journey.

My avatar is a mole in a teacup! Long story…


North Carolina

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