Mandala Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

80

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

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

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drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
550 tasting notes

My last sample from the raw sampler. This one tested my patience. That artichoke vegetal bitterness I usually get in sheng started on steep two and lasted for a bunch of steepings, rather than the usual 2-3. Once it faded, there were some nice citrus and green bell pepper notes, as promised by the description, but pretty mild in flavor overall. The texture was nice and smooth. I’m glad I got to try it, but again, I think Heart of the Old Tree wins out.

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90
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

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

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98

Brewed Western-style. 15 second rinse. Steeping times: 30, 45, 60, 90, 120.

Leather dominates the dry aroma. The leather is intensified in the wet aroma, and notes of tobacco and a scent of moist forest soil also appear. After the second infusion, these disappear, replaced by chocolate.

The liquor has the color and consistency of coffee. A thick, creamy texture. Full-bodied. The first and second infusions taste like milk chocolate and cocoa. Leather returns in the later infusions. Old leather-bound books comes to mind. Fire smoke lifts from the liquid and rises to the roof of my mouth. The flavors also shift further away from the sweetness and become bitter, a light bitterness present in good quality black coffee.

This rich shou is incredibly comforting, even when the weather’s warm and a little humid (cold, no, come back, it’s autumn now). I felt like I /became/ the pu’erh. I was really looking forward to trying a Phatty Cake. It obviously lives up to its reputation. I wanted each cup to never end.

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cheri

I think the texture surprised me the most. It really is creamy.

KiwiDelight

It’s one of the creamiest tea ever!

Cheri

I’m definitely enjoying it this morning.

Cheri

(well, I guess it’s afternoon. I haven’t had lunch yet, so I’m all discombobulated.)

KiwiDelight

ALL DAY LONG! I had three cups last evening.

TheTeaFairy

Great review, love this tea!!

KiwiDelight

Thanks! I just had to get a cake.

Cheri

I got one, too.

madametj

This one was soooo good but it gave me THE WORST tummy ache ever. I’m starting to think I’m allergic to tannins or something :(

KiwiDelight

Oh nooooo! Just this shou? Hopefully? Stomach aches feel so terrible :[

madametj

I’ve gotten stomach aches from shoe lots of times (still trying to figure out why), but this one was much worse than any of the others. And this time it wasn’t on an empty stomach either!

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YAY! I’m happy that Mandala did a raw sampler. Thanks for doing that Garret! I’ve been looking forward to trying this one in particular.

This is a bold, fruity and floral young sheng! It has plenty of qualities I love in a sheng, including a great energy. My only complaint is that it does have just a tiny bit of bitterness if brewed the way I typically like mine. Don’t let that scare you though, this has PLENTY to offer! YAY! Sheng-a-licious!

TheTeaFairy

I love this one!

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My first to try from the pu’er sampler I got awhile ago.

Rinse, let rest for 10 minutes, rinse, then brew for 20 to 30 seconds.

Brews a dark reddish brown color. Initially smells dark and earthy but becomes sweeter as the leaves sit and are resteeped.

Tastes very creamy and rich, and reminds me of rice pudding. Quite enjoyable.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
mrmopar

The rest period really helps especially in shou I think.

caile

I learned this from reading your notes! :)

mrmopar

Yeah I think shou really responds to this well. I guess it allows the leaf to absorb the moisture. Now if I can only learn how to break a cake right… :P

caile

Haha, I haven’t actually ever had to break a cake yet.. ;)

mrmopar

Soon….Soon…..

caile

Well.. at the ‘speedy’ rate I’m getting through these samples, it may be awhile yet. :)
Although, I do have a cake of mandala’s wild monk, but I am waiting a bit before I try that.

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87

Another yum tea from Mandala. This is smooth and yummy. It’s less sweet, but has some nice leathery and almost coffee notes.

I don’t know why I didn’t try this sooner. I did two rinses, and then it was ready to rumble. I’m on the 5th steep and still going strong!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML
boychik

I knew you gonna love good shou !

Sarsonator

Indeed! I am drinking more shou than sheng, lately! LOL

boychik

I start doing what Cwyn does. After sheng session I have to have some shou. Otherwise I get stomach ache. This happens only with young sheng.

Sarsonator

I haven’t had that issue, but I at least know what to do if I have a negative effect on thw future!

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87

This is a very tasty tea with the caveat that it still has a lot of fermentation flavor left. If you don’t mind a little fermentation flavor it is an excellent tea. There are some complex notes including chocolate or cocoa notes. It will be a while before this tea develops complex date notes. Its pretty good.

I steeped two mini tuochas, about 10g in a 350ml yixing teapot with boiling water. I gave it one rinse and then steeped it for 15 sec, 10 sec, and 15 sec. I was going to give it a second rinse but the first rinse was dark enough so the tuochas had broken up. It did not require two rinses.

Flavors: Cocoa

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
466 tasting notes

My western infusion brew parameters that I usually use for my Milk Oolongs did not work well with this one. I will have to infuse for a shorter amount of time in the future.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 13 OZ / 375 ML

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Another tea from the raw sampler. This one was much more enjoyable up front, but too mild for me in the later steepings. I did a 10-second rinse and then steeped 10/10/15/15/25/25/35/45sec/1:30/2:30/5min. In the early steeps, I enjoyed mild camphor, fruity, and even a bit buttery notes. There was a bite to a couple of these steeps. After the bite receded, I was left with a mild sweetness, but nothing too exciting. I think I like Heart of the Old Tree better. Not bad, and certainly, the first steeps were good, but not memorable to me.

boychik

I want to try it w/ boil water. What was your temp ?

Tealizzy

I used 195 degrees. Good luck!

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91

My head hasn’t been quite where it should be at lately… So I’ve been drinking lots of shou.

For some reason, shou helps me find my balance. I’m very passionate about it, and wish to convert as many people as I can to it.

It gets a bad wrap sometimes. But once you get passed the misconceptions and open your mind to it, it’s so rewarding…

Of course there are bad ripe pu’erhs out there and you must find the right ones.

This is the right one.

So smooth and warming. Not heavy on the earthy and leathery notes, perfect shou to try if you’re a little afraid of them.

Temple Stairs is a go to tea for me, and tonight I’ve been sipping on both the tuocha and the loose version of it. (Thanks Sarsita for those cute mini tuos!)

Thank you Mandala for helping me find my centre tonight…

Terri HarpLady

This really is a nice little tuo :)

AllanK

I bought that last week, maybe I will try it tonight. Sounds good.

TheTeaFairy

Glad you like it too Terri :-)

Allan, can’t wait to find out what you think of it!

AllanK

Tea Fairy, did you buy the Temple Stairs cake too? I am waiting to try that too, got it with my order.

boychik

I’m the same way. When in doubt I drink shou! Any kinda pains or blues I drink shou! Not demanding and so much comfort it brings

Tealizzy

I’ve noticed Shou has that effect on me too. Is there a difference in the flavor between the different forms of this tea? Or are they all about the same…just the tuocha being more convenient?

TheTeaFairy

Allan, I did not buy ttge cake yet…

Boychik, right you are :-)

Tealizzy, I prefer just a little bit more the loose version, but not by much…they are very similar, but the loose one seems a little more flavourful to me. And yes, the tuochas are so convenient:-)

Tealizzy

Thanks, TTF! I have this tea on my wishlist from trying a sample of the cake…I’ll have to check out the other forms!

Garret

HI!! Temple Stairs!! I climb them every morning before meditation and yoga!! Love this tea.

Here is my take on what I have found over the years with loose vs pressed ripe tea: In the first year or two, I find that the loose ripe develops more quickly in depth, flavor, clarity. But after 2 to 3 years of being pressed, the cakes develop more complexity than the loose ever will.

Of course, there are a few considerations, first of which is the overall quality of the leaf and original ripening of it. Compression and quality of storage conditions will also affect how a tea ages. But for the most part, I find loose more appealing for year one and two. After that, it’s cakes all the way!

These mini’s are impressing the heck outta me already. Glad that I had 10,000 of them pressed!

And I agree about ripe tea and its soothing qualities. You just can’t go wrong with a good ripe tea, in my opinion. Does that make me sound like a typical “shou” salesman?

Terri HarpLady

Only if the Shou fits, Garret ;)

TheTeaFairy

Lol, you are everything BUT a typical “shou” salesman Garret, that’s why I adore doing business with you :-)

Sarsonator

I know I’m late to the party, but 10,000 mini shous?? That’s so awesome, G!

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86

-Dry leaves: Medium sized leaves, warm brown with a spicy-sweet aroma. They’re covered in little silver hairs that give them an almost holographic look

-1st steep: Soft yellow infusion with a sweet and savory tastes that lingers in the mouth long after drinking. Unique taste that reminds me of green pepper, accompanied by mineral, molasses, and wet moss notes. Slight bitterness, but still pretty mild.

-2nd and 3rd steeps reveal more sweetness. Notes of muscadine grapes, rich soil, and something reminiscent of white cake.

-Around the sixth steep a menthol/cooling effect becomes noticeable, and a slight mushroomy flavor. Unfortunately the leaves are beginning to loose some of their strength already. I squeezed out ten infusions, but the last few were pretty weak.

-Spent leaves are slender and olive green. Plump stems with less defined veins. A good number of the leaves have browning/damaged edges

-Overall a nice sheng with a good amount of flavor and power, but burns through it’s stamina quickly. Like the other sheng that I’ve tried from Mandala it is fairly mild and has nice a nice cha qi.

Flavors: Green Pepper, Honey, Mineral, Peat Moss

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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100
reviewed Smart Soak by Mandala Tea
420 tasting notes

Today, I finally got around to using this. It works so well. I got tea stains off of two mugs, and two travel mugs. In fact, the only stains left were those where the smart soak didn’t reach. Very glad this works so well.

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Sweet. Creamy. Really good.

I was distracted by work this morning and let an early infusion go longer than planned. Then all other infusions had to be long, too. I had a couple of really long ones at the end. The last was maybe half an hour…possibly longer…and it was just sweet. So delicious.

KiwiDelight

Woah, this tea is sure endurable.

Sarsonator

Wow, that’s kind of amazing!

Cheri

It was delicious. Not really hot by that point, but it tasted tasty.

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I had this one today at work. It’s been a bad week or three so far, crazy busy. I guess it’s not a horrible thing that Steepster has been having issues, because I haven’t been tempted to spend too much time on here.

Anywho, this tea.

I was busy, so I don’t remember a lot. The first few infusions were strong, but kinda sweet. Then it got a lot mellowed, but still delicious. I went from 20s all the way up to 8m before deciding this one was pretty much done.

I liked it a lot. It kept me company. I don’t remember details, because I was too distracted by all the rest of the crud going on here in the office, but I know I really liked it.

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91

This is an excellent sheng puerh with almost no bitterness and notes of honey and apricots. I added a very small amount of sugar to this tea which may have helped bring out these notes. This is extremely good tea. The good news is I called Mandala Tea, they are not near to running out. It will still be there when I get around to another Mandala order. This tea had a nice golden yellow color. The spent leaves have the aroma of apricots.

I steeped this tea 7 times in a 150ml gaiwan with 200 degree water and 6g leaf. I steeped it for 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec, 1 min, and 2 min. There is still more left in these leaves but I have had enough sheng for today.

Flavors: Apricot, Honey

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 150 OZ / 4436 ML
AllanK

Thank You Sarsonator for this sample. It was good.

Sarsonator

Glad you liked it, A! This is actually one of the first shengs I tried. I’m glad to hear that there’s some stock of these cakes because I definitely need more! :)

AllanK

I want one too but it is expensive, I don’t yet know if I will buy one. In any case I plan to wait.

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84

Got my sampler today! I greatly enjoyed the 2012 Wild Monk maocha that I tried a while back (the leaves in my profile pic came from it) and I’m excited to try the new batch as well as the other offerings.

Dry leaves: Medium-small leaves have a peppery aroma, light brown-green color.

The first steep is very pale and clear. Mild taste with a nice round mouthfeel. Bready rye flavor balanced out by tastes of olive oil, fresh camphor, and a slight nectarine sweetness. Little astringency, bitterness is nearly non-existent.

Second and third steeps reveal more sweetness and tastes of glutinous rice, honeysuckle, and minerals. Cha qi becomes evident in later steeps, and I would consider this tea pretty strong in it. The tea provided me with eleven infusions, and I might have been able to squeeze out one more.

The spent leaves are very attractive. Medium-small size with a few budsets, but mostly single leaves. The leaves are delicate but have nice thick veins and a rounded tip.

Overall this is a nice clean tea with good stamina, but a bit too mild for my tastes. Very similar to Yunnan Sourcings Ailao shengs.

Flavors: Camphor, Honeysuckle, Olive Oil, Rice, Rye, Stonefruits

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 150 ML
Kirkoneill1988

What does honeysuckle taste like?

tperez

Sort of like honey but lighter and more floral. Hummingbirds love it lol

Kirkoneill1988

interesting :)

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85
drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
77 tasting notes

It has been a while since I’ve had an unflavored black tea and this is a tasty one to come back to. Although I probably shouldn’t be drinking this right before going to bed..

It smells like any other black tea but it’s flavors are much deeper. It has an underlying sweetness and chocolate to it with a nice mouth feel. Not too bitter. I highly enjoyed this and I’m going to resteep those leaves in the morning for my commute.

Preparation
4 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

This really is a lovely tea :)

Megan

Had it again this morning! Soo good.

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I had a nice session this afternoon with this tea. I’m trying to enjoy some good stuff before I travel tomorrow. I’ve got my little travel bag of tea to take with me…all sample sachets that I keep around for such an occasion, but it’s going to be hard to be away from the good stuff!

This tea was very nice. I did one 10-second rinse and then 10/10/15/15/25/25/35/35/45/1:15/1:45/2:30 steeps. Overall, this is a nice and sweet, juicy tea, with some tobacco in early steeps, and later, some sweet grape notes. The tea became a bit bitter in a couple of the early steeps, but the bitterness didn’t stay long…it wasn’t terrible either…reminds me of that pungency you sometimes get when eating artichoke leaves. I enjoyed it and I can’t wait to try the others in the sampler!

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91

A great Shou featured by Mandala in a limited time sampler, very balanced, smooth and mellow, easy to drink from first steep to fourth. Chocolate and malt notes, along with leather and wood in early steeps. I would recommend this to people (like me) that are new to Pu-erh.

Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Leather, Malt, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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93

My plans for today have been dashed because I’ve been feeling sick all day, though finally feeling better after sleeping too much this afternoon. I thought a nice cuppa would be good and I haven’t reviewed this yet. :)

Lovely tea from Mandala! The leaves are long and lightly colored, and they smell like spicy cinnamon in the bag. I decided to steep this for 60 seconds according to package directions and it is soo yummy. I may have overleafed this slightly but it’s good this way… I got a mild, sweet infusion that is devoid of astringency and perfect to sip on plain. Truly does taste like caramel and I am picking up that cinnamon note in the brewed tea. This is terrific plain but was also good with the addition of some unsweetened soymilk. I’m hoping I feel better tomorrow and a little more energetic. This is yummy, though I haven’t had a bad tea yet from Mandala!

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
121 tasting notes

Got this from a while back but only had it a few times. Lovely, buttery texture. Lightly floral and slightly vegetal with a hint of savouriness.

To be honest, since I got this I discovered that I’m not a huge fan of floral notes in my teas (which is why I’m choosing to not rate it). Otherwise, this is an excellent tea for lovers of Anxi tieguanyin. Personally, I find it a bit too green for my taste, but I’m glad to have tried it. I do like the texture.

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drank Black Pearl by Mandala Tea
532 tasting notes

I got this as a sample in my last Mandala order. I don’t remember when that was, but it’s been a while. 5 pearls. I put them all in my larger mug and steeped it for 2 minutes. Took the steeper out. Then forgot about the tea. So I’m drinking it now luke-warm and I cannot say that I like it at all. I added milk and sugar and it did not improve. There is just something that’s triggering the face scrunch when I drink it. Can’t quite put my finger on it.

Avast!

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec

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