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Recent Tasting Notes
This tea just looks tasty. I opened up this packet and reveled long slender luscious chunks. These large leaf beauties give off a strong old stained wood scent. I picked a generous amount off from this tightly compressed brick, and I popped it in my warmed yixing. My little teapot filled my tea room with a hearty earth vegetable and forest floor scent. I washed this tea for slightly longer to allow it to awaken. I used scorching hot spring water to awaken this long docile brew. The steeped leaves give off a camphor scent mixed with aged cask rum. The liquor was a deep muddied orange and thick. There was a hint of bitterness in the initial sip. I enjoyed deep delicious menthol and wood tones. The flavor resembled what I imagine an eucalyptus tree would taste like. This soothing flavor followed up with a Novocaine sensation. The sip then ended with an all encompassing huigan that lingered well after drinking. My entire being was well pleased. Then, the qi began to set in. This was by far one of the most powerful brews. I was hit with a force alike a truck. My whole body became filled with such energy, yet I was unable to move. I was all giggly and my head became buzzed. I could feel my muscles soothe and unwind. I was finished by the second steeping. I actually had to step away (crawl more likely) from my tea table and search for food. I returned after an hour and continued my ceremony. The sweet aged sip brought me right back to buzzing. This brew is incredibly juicy and replenishing. The tea stood up for a great many steeping. I am so grateful to have tried this, and I’m glad I have more to share with people. I highly recommend this brew, for an intense and enjoyable gongfu session.
Flavors: Camphor, Dark Wood, Eucalyptus, Forest Floor, Menthol, Moss, Sweet, Wet Earth
This tea is where it’s at! This brew was a deep and resounding brew for me. The dry leaf had a strong white grape and wet wood scent. The colors even remind me of an autumn day. The cake has long strands of light brown, gold, and muddled green. I warmed this up in my brewing vessel. The aroma of maple syrup and apple trees came inside. I washed this treat and began my brewing. The steeped tea gave off a bitter green scent, but it had a sweet graham cracker crust undertone. This tea was surprisingly juicy. The huigan was thick and lasting. This brew gave me a strong mouth feel with slight fruity tones. This soothing liquor was all covered with a light oak tone. The qi was smooth and steady. I enjoyed this thoroughly. The scent, colors, and all around feeling from this tea is of an autumn day. This will be perfect for an October sunset in the future.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Graham Cracker, Maple Syrup, Sweet, White Grapes
This was a beautiful tea! I was craving a decent Jingmai, and I remembered getting this. I broke off some generous chunks and stuck them in my yixing. The dry leaf was smoky and a deep hickory scent. This gorgeous leaf consists of long dark green tendrils. Its slightly compressed which is a good sign. I warmed up the leaf and gave them a whiff. There was a sweet brown sugar barbeque aroma rising from my teapot. I eagerly began brewing. The steeped leaves carried the same smoky tone, but it was like roasted greens. The flavor was just as tasteful. I could take in dark wood and sea salt caramel. This was a full bodied and aromatic brew. The only problem was that this tea tapered off rather quickly. It made for a short gongfu session. Nonetheless, it was very enjoyable. There was a prominent lasting huigan and the qi was quite potent. I am very happy to have more of this to share.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Dark Wood, Salt, Smoke
I did a side by side comparison with the 2012 Wild Monk. They both look close in resemblance. The distinguishable difference is that 2014 is loosely compressed and seemingly larger leaves. This trait is only due to it not being stored for as long. The leaf smells of sweets and lightly woodsy. I placed this inside my warmed yixing to awaken it a bit. This sweet aroma became stronger and changed to that of a dock at the lake. I washed the leaves once to prepare for brewing. The steeped leaves became strong and bitterly scented, like that of fresh kale and seaweed. The flavor was drastically different from its older 2012 part. The initial sip was very dry and with some sharp bitterness. This stricking flavor was covered with a smoky and purple arugula taste. There was a slight sweet undertone, but it was otherwise nonexistent. It was interesting to see what just a couple years can do to Sheng. I do enjoy a sharp puerh, but this was just too dry. I’d love to give it some age though to enjoy it more thoroughly. My vote will have to stick with the 2012 version for now; perhaps, this idea will change in a couple years.
Flavors: Bitter, Kale, Seaweed, Wet Wood
This tea hasn’t been released yet. I was lucky enough to be able to try it first. This is soooo good. I haven’t been home much, and I haven’t had time to review lately. I am finally able to sit back and spend time with my yixing.
This tea consists of loosely compressed dull green and platinum leaves. I can spot some long golden strands as well. The dry leaf carries a a sweet warm grass and fruity aroma. I knew this would be a great start for me getting back into rou-tea-ne. I warmed the small chunk up in my yixing. The tang scent of molasses and wet oak wafted up in my tea room. I washed the leaf once and prepared to brew it up. The steeped leaves have a smokey and bitter greens aroma. There was also a sweet apple cider scent lingering inside my brewing vessel. This Sheng is pure candy. The initial sip had a full bodied huigan and lasted for some time. There is a slight hint of dry bitterness in the aftertaste, but It was covered by a sweet maple syrup and honeysuckle flavor. This tea stands up well against multiple steeping. The brew kept consistently sweet and full bodied. This was delicious, and a great start to my puerh binge. The qi was slow starting, but it came over and kept me up. I loved this, and I am so happy to be able to try this before its debut.
Flavors: Fruity, Maple Syrup, Oak wood, Sap, Sweet, warm grass
I got this as a sample from a Mandala order. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I looked up other reviews on this type of tea and went from there. Gongfu, used the whole sample (about a tablespoon I guess? I forgot to weigh it) and water at 175. First steep two minutes. The aroma is absolutely lovely. Fruity sweet. The flavor is also sweet initially, with a slightly bitter aftertaste and lingering mouthfeel. I don’t know what it is with me lately and thinking green teas smell/taste of mangoes, but there it is, and so much for my one-dimensional palate.
I’m in a experimenting kind of mood, so I’m going to do a shorter steep at a higher temp. 30 seconds at 185: oh, that’s much better! Hardly any bitterness now. If I hadn’t screwed up the first one and had just gone with 30 second steeps, I’d be at 7 right now. I feel very relaxed and mellow; this is a nice tea to come home to after a stressful day. I would add this tea to my wishlist, but alas I do not see it on Mandala’s site. It reminds me a a little bit of Mandala’s Valley Peak green tea, but it lasts much longer.
EDIT: Today I learned that Bi Luo Chun and Green Snail Spring are one and the same!
I’m actually new to raw Pu’er (sheng). My only other experience with Sheng was 2012 “Heart of the Old Tree” (which I found too bitter – likely too young). I was beginning to wonder if Sheng just wasn’t for me.
I was actually rather pleased, however, when I tried this tea. I had none of the bitterness issues, and I found that the tea continued to perform for many infusions. I stopped after 5 infusions, but that was just because I’d had enough tea – I’m certain the leaves still had more to give. Here are my tasting notes…
5 ounces of leaf, boiling water.
Two 10-15 second washes.
First infusion (25 seconds)
Nice light-brown colour. No bitterness. Pleasant aroma. Tobacco taste? Perhaps – but not in a strong, objectionable way. Pleasant flavour.
Second infusion (40 seconds)
Now a little darker – a medium brown colour. Detected more notes of cedar. Maybe a little bitterness sneaking in? Still pleasant.
Third Infusion (40 seconds)
Light brown colour. No bitterness at all. Flavour is still pleasant, but I couldn’t pick out any distinct flavours – just pleasant…I think I’ll have to move to a longer steep next…
Fourth infusion (1 minute 20 seconds)
Medium brown colour again. Cedar notes coming through again, although the flavour is clearly more “blunt” than at the beginning. Still fairly enjoyable.
Fifth infusion (1 minute 30 seconds)
Medium brown colour again. Again, still fairly enjoyable.
The flavour still has a “brightness” to it compared to “regular” (non-pu’er) black teas at these later infusions. This tea is making me think I might become a Sheng drinker yet.
Okay, this time I’m drinking it again, but with less water and between 4 and 5 grams of tea leaves. I tasted the milk MUCH more this time with the vegetal notes. I also get a little bit of walnut. I still prefer the Milk Oolong and the Tie Guan Yin, but I am enjoying this tea a lot more right now.
Flavors: Milk, Vegetal, Walnut
Pretty green, and herby. I taste the milk aspect a little bit, but it loses out to the sea mist tone. Enjoyable, but I prefer the treated version of this one and the Tie Guan Yin. Some one newer to teas would probably not be able to taste the creamy notes, and mistake it for a green tea. You honestly have to be able to taste more nuance or have a more vivid imagination to fully enjoy this one. I’d probably say that you should try it for a better understanding of the difference between the treated and untreated Jin Xuan, so educational and fun, but again, I liked the other teas more.
Flavors: Creamy, Herbaceous, Seaweed
I enjoyed this one equally to the Milk Oolong. The smell and even the taste distinctly reminds me of plumeria. I have yet to taste a Tie Guan Yin with this sweet, floral purity. I am so glad this came as a sample, and thank you again Garret for this wonderful tea. I didn’t expect it to be so creamy and aromatic, yet so subtle. It instantly clears my head, and deceives me into relaxing though it can probably keep me up all night long. I was very tempted to try it western style, but I decided against it and savored it Gongfu. The last steeping was the only one that lacked the flavor that I liked.
If I were to buy from Mandala again, I’m not sure if I would pick this one or the Milk Oolong. I’d honestly buy both if I can. But hey, I love the smell of plumeria making my inclination not so partial.
I’d highly recommend this tea for anyone who likes light florals, greener oolongs, or who wants to meditate to something great. To a newbie, it might be an eye opening experience or a highly floral green tea.
Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Sweet
Today was great until 2pm when I got a headache. It is now 10:14pm and I still have it.
Pulled this out for 14 steeps while cooking:
Headache… this was great, very powerful taste for a sheng with beautiful leaf. Some dark green with red/brown tint. Overall one of the better shengs I have had.
an ok tea
when I smell the leaves dry, I smell pepper and spices.
when I smell the leaves wet, the smell is intensified.
when I smell the brewed tea, I smell pepper and spices.
when I taste the brewed tea, I taste pepper and spices.
i rate this a 75 because I am not really into black teas.
many thanks to Scribbles for this ok tea sample :)
Flavors: Pepper, Spices
This is a tea I was saving up for, and I am really glad that I went ahead and got it. All the flavors and tasting notes are definitely present; the first thing I smelled opening the bag was toffee. The first brew, which I steeped for about 24 seconds, was the best having the full, floral, buttery, creamy, vegetal, sweetness that is constantly described. The following tastes accented the vegetal tastes more making it taste more and more like a lighter green tea. This is only the second time that I’ve used the Gonfu style after applying to a Wu Yi Rock Oolong, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much flavor this tea had. I typically like fuller bodied teas, or teas that have a more complete flavor profile. Though Mandala’s Milk Oolong is lighter with a Gongfu style, it’s flavor profile has that completeness making it a truly unique experience. Thank you Garret so much! And thank you so much for your nice note with the Tie Guan Yin and Jin Xuan samples.
With all that said, this tea is primarily for some one who has really sensitive taste buds, or in other words, an amateur to a more experienced connoisseur. Also, not for some one who purely likes western black teas or more British styles with lost of cream and sugar. The sweet creamy notes may or may not off set that preference, but to the majority of the population, I don’t think it would.
I will definitely get this tea again, but I’m not sure I would in the near future because this is a more expensive tea. I realize that I am paying for something that is of a high, rare quality to be enjoyed for hours and steeps on end-it’s paying for the unique experience. And that is an experience to be savored.
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Grass, Milk, Sweet, Toffee, Vegetal
I really wanted to like this tea, but the more I drink black/red teas the more I like my cocoa-y…
Unfortunately, this is just a black tea with no real notes to pick out. Smooth, for sure, but doesn’t stand out. I do like how it is pure and not dry nor bitter.
Also: After this person near me has asked 4x to come drink tea with me and then cancelling they told me they are not interested anymore… I really dislike how I put a lot of time and set aside teas for them, but they just don’t take it serious after stringing me around.
First steep is grassy and mineral. Second steep is more grass please let me floral still mineral. Third step is sweeter a little less mineral and nice and grassy.
Second try tonight. No rinse this time. Surprisingly less mineral and more sweet. Still grass. Notes like a sencha. Second steep. Floral notes and something I can’t quite pinpoint.
Hm. Could have sworn I tried this one previously but I don’t see it. This was a generous sample included by Garret in my recent order. Delicious, smooth, darkly sweet and fruity with a significant amount of malt. This one was sipped over the course of the entire day and it was equally tasty once it cooled off.
I drank some 2011 white buds from Norbu yesterday so I pulled these out to compare with today.
I find this to have a stronger taste, but not in the good way. There is a wild element to this tea that showcases the way that it was created, but tat is not a taste I like. Some people may like that really earthy notes within the tea that make it taste alive… but I want a smooth hot liquid that has a complex taste that doesn’t make me think about the process the tea went through rather what is happening in my mouth.
This might nice, but it isn’t my favorite white/silver bud tea that I have had