Mandala Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

Sipdown of the 2012 batch.

Tastes different from the cake form. Some notes seem stronger, in some way, but other notes (like the light smokiness) seem to have disappeared. Still pleasantly sweet and crisp. I think I prefer the cakes, but this is still very good!

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81

I got this in my Ripe Pu-erh sampler from Mandala. It has a wonderful complex earthiness, hints of leather, cream and oak. I did a 15 second rinse followed by a 15 second steep, 30 seconds and so on. I liked this sample, but Phatty cake is still my favorite – that may simply be by virtue of being my “first”. I would like to try this again, I started it late in the day and only got 2 steeps. :-(

Flavors: Cream, Earth, Leather, Vanilla, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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89

Nice big golden leaves that fill your mouth up with caramelie goodness. Leaves a slightly but not unpleasant dry mouth feel afterwards. This tea is not woodsy or grassy at all, but is instead more like dark honey, sour cherry, or a smooth liquor. It tastes as if it should be drunk while wearing a silk robe while sitting in a red leather chair with mahogany wood floors. I’ve always imagined it as a suave, luxury tea.

Flavors: Caramel, Cherry

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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90

I bought an ounce of this not expecting much because it was a cheaper tea ($4.50 an ounce) but I really enjoy this tea! I am a big fan of Keemun black tea and this is very similar. I believe the Chinese have the best black tea. This one does not disappoint, I trust this source being that it comes from Yunnan. All high quality Yunnan black tea have a honey/sweet potato taste, this one has this plus a very light smokiness.

Flavors: Honey, Sweet Potatoes

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec

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92

Very relaxing green tea. Its very light and high quality. An everyday type of green tea.

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98
drank GABA Oolong by Mandala Tea
30 tasting notes

I was very impressed with this tea, its a very complicated tea in that it produces many different floral notes using the gaiwan. It was a medium oxidized tea which I found it was a nice balance. Very high Quality and relaxing beverage. I haven’t tried every sing oolong tea but this one is my favorite.

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85

From the unflavored TTB.

I was using this oolong to test out my new gaiwans and wasn’t sure what to expect. The floral is light – jasmine/honeysuckle – but a bit of almost savory and spice element to it with a sweet vibe in the background. I’m more partial to a more floral or heavier oxidized oolong, but I found colored species to be a fun sip.

BTW, the leaves are intact and HUGE. Just like Mandala’s milk oolong. My gaiwan was quickly an explosion of giant leaves.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 tsp

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97

This tea is good. I am getting sweet flavors (not meaning sugar sweet). I can also taste some of the other notes on the list such as the flowers note and the molasses. There is also an aged flavor to it that wasn’t present in the 2014 Wild Monk. This flavor is slightly earthy in a different sort of way than a ripe puerh. This is not a strong earthy flavor but a mild one. It was strong in steeps one through three. By steep four it is weaker. The tea is more smooth. By the fifth steep, all bitterness is but a faint memory, the earthy flavor has nearly dissipated. By the sixth steep that earthy flavor is all but gone. On the seventh steeping I get notes of butter and cream, no more earthy aged flavor. On the eighth steep I still taste a strong aftertaste, it is good. I am doing longer steeps now. The ninth steep is perhaps the tastiest sheng I have had. I hope the 2014 Wild Monk becomes this good in two more years. On the tenth steep now, just smooth, no bitterness, no earthiness or aged flavor, none at all, not a hint. Steep eleven is like steep ten, smooth and sweet. Even though this is the eleventh steep there is still an aftertaste to this tea. For the twelfth steep I added fresh raspberries and had raspberry cream sheng, very tasty. After twelve steeps I am all shenged out. I have enough of this sample left to do this two more times. Thank you Sarsonator for this sample. It was good. I wish this tea was still available.

I steeped this twelve times in a 140ml Yixing teapot with 200 degree water and 5g leaf. I steeped it for 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, 2 min, 3 min, 4 min, and 5 min. Even in the twelfth steeping the tea did not get much weaker, only better.

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Molasses, Sweet

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 140 OZ / 4140 ML
Sarsonator

Glad you like it, A! I wish I had more to share, but I didn’t buy nearly enough!

AllanK

We will see if collectors make it available for an exorbitant sum. Thanks for the sample.

Sarsonator

I’m not paying an exorbitant sum LOL
I love it, but there are other shengs in the sea :)

AllanK

There are many shengs including Global Tea Hut which I will get to try. I bought the subscription and their email said I would get the September Puerh issue.

mrmopar

I have one aging I guess in 10 years I will offer it for sale….

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Yay! Another puerh to try! Garret included a sample of this tea in my last order. Thank you!!

I’ve been drinking this tea all day…I’ve probably steeped it 20 times by now. Telework days are good for that. I might have to invest in a portable gaiwan set to take to the office with me so that I can enjoy puerh there too, but limiting my sessions to days when I’m at home keeps up the excitement, so maybe not. ;) Plus, not being able to drink puerh at work will force me to drink the other teas in my cupboard! I think pumpkin chai might be on the list for tomorrow. :)

In the first few steeps, there was a strong tobacco note, but that faded into a nice smooth sweetness that goes on and on forever! It’s definitely a fruity sweetness, a stone-fruity sweetness. Yum! It’s got this thickness to it, like nectar. Double yum! So glad to have tried it. Puerh FTW!

mrmopar

This has a “spicy” note for me on the years I have tried. Very good tea.

caile

I have this but haven’t had a chance to make some yet – I’m looking forward to it. :)

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97
drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
45 tasting notes

mushroom and chocolate what could be better? That’s what I am getting from this tea. Its about to be very very hot out but for this moment hot tea is good and puer seems both hot and cooling to me. This sample from the riper sampler mandala sent out. I sent one to my sister too and so across the country we are sipping together. Once the weather cools I’ll be drinking a lot more of this! The head pains are clearing and now I’m ready for my day! Brewed gongfu style.

Flavors: Chocolate, Mushrooms

Preparation
1 tsp

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76

Beautifully smooth and creamy. Just made butter tea with it, and now I’m jittery though. This has never happened before. RAAAAWRJkleeeeeee

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80

This ripe puer starts off pretty burly, with mushroom and wood notes. It then segues toward a little bit of spice and finally settles into a whiff of butteriness with those wood notes and maybe a touch of dried fruit. Thanks to Garret from Mandala for including this with my order.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 120 ML

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90
drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
224 tasting notes

I have to admit. I got this tea awhile ago and have had it a few times, but never left a review. It was just one of those teas that had so many good reviews. I didn’t really get it ,and so wanted to try steeping it many different ways before doing my review. I originally tried this with short steeps. I remember it was good but didn’t get any chocolate. This morning I did a long steep – 5 min. The first 5 min going to Hubby since he’s enjoying it now too. After having some amazing black teas from WP that have a chocolate flavour, it made me appreciate this tea and how it is different. No , not like the chocolate from the black tea but definitely chocolate notes—dark cocoa more like. This tea has an earthy flavour like other ripe puerhs, but not anywhere near as pronounced. I didn’t get any mushroomy flavour from it either. Very smooth. This is the kind of tea that slowly works it way into being one of your favourite cups. It didn’t knock me over right away when I first had it; but I enjoyed the many times drinking it ,and working through the tastes in my head.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Stephanie

I love a long steep on this one, Mmmmmm…

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There are a couple tea pages for Temple Stairs, but not specifically for this version, so I added it.

Thank you Garret, for adding this sample to my order!!! I’ve found that I need to drink puerh early in the day or I’m up all night! That last sheng I had really kept me up! Today I have a scratchy sore throat, but I don’t feel sick. I need a good tea to help soothe it! I wasn’t sure I should try a new tea with a sore throat, but I did it anyway!

I like the samples from Garret, as they’re already portioned out, and I don’t have to think about how much leaf I should put in the pot…I just dump the whole sample. I might need to invest in a small scale…any other tricks? I’m trying to remember how the perfectly portioned out samples look in my little pot and then I’ll just copy that amount.

Two 15sec rinses.
30sec: nice earthy, cocoa, a bit leather/cedar notes.
45sec: similar, more leather/cedar…maybe a hint of mint or cinnamon? Something that has that effect.
1min: smooth, very dark, it’s smoothing over my sore throat. It also feels like it is clearing my nose out. Interesting. I just love the color of ripe puerh…that red hue is awesome.
1min15sec: ooh, smells sweeter…I just stuck my nose it it like a dork! Haha! Oops! This tea is having a major calming effect on me…I feel so blissful right now!
1min30sec: that sweet smell is like caramel-sweet, not fruity-sweet. Mmmm!
1min45sec: definitely a light caramel sweetness coming through and the earthy flavors are fading now.
2min30sec: light caramel, hint of cinnamon.
3min, 5min, and 7min steeps: caramel sweetness.

Overall, very enjoyable, and I wouldn’t mind some more of it!

I love how I can just drink any puerh now and enjoy the experience. There was a time, not that long ago, when I dumped cups of puerh! I know, the horror!!! I think Garret, and Angel at Teavivre, can take the credit for that renaissance in my tea journey. :)

boychik

scale will change your life. you will be surprised 3g for one type of tea or the other completely different. Also some puerh has lots of caffeine and another will make you sleepy. you never know. i had one shou last night, after 2 gongfu cups knocked me out. Slept like a baby ;-)

Tealizzy

Nice! I think you’re right about how some puerhs affect you differently. This one made me so happy and relaxed! Any recommendations for where to get a scale?

Sarsonator

I don’t get much energy from the shous I’ve tried so far. Sometimes shengs really get me buzzing though! I got a small digital postal scale on amazon for like $10. Works awesome!

Tealizzy

Thanks, Sarsonator…I just wish-listed one on amazon. :)

Tealizzy

Thanks, looseTman! That looks like a great option!

looseTman

You’re welcome. We’ve had our scale for over a year and couldn’t be happier. It’s much easier to make a consistent cup of tea no matter the size of the tea leaves. It’s not easy to measure large leaves with a teaspoon.

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100
reviewed Smart Soak by Mandala Tea
222 tasting notes

Perfect.

I got the water super hot in my kettle, then soaked my white and badly stained teacups for 15-20 min with this awesome powder. Took a sponge, wiped them out, and they look brand new. No lie. Even my boyfriend noticed and he’s not exactly Captain Observant, ifyaknowwhatImean :p

I reused one bowl of solution for all 8 teacups. One cup had to be soaked and wiped twice, but none needed scrubbing. This stuff is amazing. Period.

Ubacat

I’ll have to get some of that on my next order. I use Pollident tablets but they take a few hours to clean.

Sarsonator

I got a small bag to try, but when that runs out, I think I’ll be getting a larger size. Be aware that at first it may not LOOK like the stain is gone. Do not be alarmed. Just grab a sponge and wipe. I was a little disappointed at first because I thought it wasn’t working. But oh yeah… it was working. :)

Garret

Key for smart soak is HOT water! 160 degrees or above – really gets it fizzing and lifts the stains right out. If I didn’t have the Smart Soak, I’d have quit the tea biz a long time ago :) For our instore samplings and tastings, clean tea gear is a MUST. This makes it super simple. So happy that others are finding it as useful as me. Happy teatime!

OMGsrsly

This is definitely something I need to pick up. Even the “unflavoured” denture tablets smell minty, and that is not a flavour I like!

Angrboda

I use ordinary baking powder (baking powder, not baking soda) and boiling water. Fizzes like a mad things, so do it in the sink. Leave it a couple of minutes, wipes right off with a sponge. Mind you, I can’t remember the last time it was necessary. The dishwasher rarely fails me.

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88

Garret sent me a few of these mini tuochas with my order.

I’ve been looking at them sitting there for a while, but I was never brave enough to try them, or any of the ripe shou that I got from him in the sampler. Nope. Terrified.

I tried these today.

I am in love.

I did two rinses and then tried the third infusion. I didn’t like that one very much, and I dumped it about half way through.

But after that….

YUM!

At first, it was black, like a dark roast coffee black. Deep, dark, and so rich. Almost creamy. Earthy.

Then it mellowed out. Still rich and creamy, but not to heavy. Delicious. Amazing.

Oh, and did I mention that I was kinda really tea drunk by this point? I just kept gulping it down as fast as I could.

Tea Drunk. At work.

Fortunately, it went fine and dandy, no problems.

The tea did calm down more through the later infusions. It did get almost sweet, which surprised me. REally nice.

I was sad when the final infusion (I wish I’d counted, but I was distracted with work and drinking tea) of 8 minutes was weak. I knew that was the end of it, and stopped there.

I will be buying more of this. So Yummy!

Garret

hehe, I’m pretty much always tea drunk at work :) I’m so happy that you enjoyed these mini-tuos. In a year, they will change a bit. In two and three years, they will change much. I don’t want to wish time away, but I do look forward to tasting them then. Did you see that this is also available in 100 gram cakes?

Thanks for writing up your experience with them, my friend!

With gratitude,
Garret

Cheri

Well, I don’t think I could do it every day. Today, it worked…although part of that might be that I went out to lunch during the worst (best!) of it. I really enjoyed this tea. I hadn’t realized it is also available in a cake. Ooh. I might have to just get that and age it. It’ll age better than a mini tuocha, I think. And the minis for enjoying now. Hmmm…… I don’t need more tea. (But I want it. I will just put most of it in a drawer and age it…..hmmm…..)

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81

This is a very tasty shou puerh with a great deal of fermentation flavor left. There were strong chocolate notes in this tea as well as a very earthy flavor. I also picked up on the leather notes in it although I did not notice much of the list. Perhaps I was not paying close enough attention. I think this a tea with a lot of potential. That is why I will put this away and age it for a while before drinking again.

When I brewed this the first steep was over brewed because my brand new teapot was clogged from being seasoned. Also, it pours a little slowly. I adjusted the steeps downward and got better results. The first steep was very, very earthy. By the third steep the flavor improved. By the fifth steep it was markedly better. It should be noted that it never completely lost its fermentation flavor. I guess I have become accustomed to older, better aged shou puerh.

I steeped this 6 times in a 207ml teapot with 7g of leaf and boiling water. i steeped it for 10 sec, 5 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 30 sec, and 1 min. I had to adjust the time after the first steep because the tea was over brewed.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Earth, Leather

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 7 OZ / 207 ML
AllanK

Used a brand new Taiwan Clay Teapot for this brew.
http://instagram.com/p/s0qJJbTDbY/?modal=true

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100

This was from the $5 Ripe Puer Sampler. MAN this was some good shou! Such a strong, rich flavor. Reminded me of dark chocolate, just not bitter. It brews up pretty dark in color as well. The taste was much sweeter than other ripe puerhs I’ve had. It also had a really interesting savory smell that’s kind of hard to describe. Another review mentioned leather. Maybe that’s it.

I used boiling water in my 4 oz yixing pot and did 3 steepings (rinse, rinse, 5s, 10s, 15s). I soooo wanted to have more, but I didn’t want to go into caffeine overload (which is very easy for me). I’ll be saving this for tomorrow to enjoy again!

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Earth, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 7 g 4 OZ / 130 ML
Garret

I am so very happy that you enjoy this tea, my friend! This is one that I sit down to on a regular basis. There is mos def a leather presence here. I get that from this tea all the time. Thanks for writing up your thoughts on this! Grateful, Garret

boychik

I’m glad you like it. One of my fav

madametj

Yeah, well now I’m sad because I got a really bad tummy ache (lasting about 6 hours) after the tea. Seeing as this happens about 70% of the time I drink puerh I’m starting to think it just doesn’t agree with me in general. Really sad because it’s one of my favorite types of tea to drink :(

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91
drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
2 tasting notes

I’ve recently tried this tea and found it has very mild smooth taste, a little bit milky. This milky taste is not a matter of adding milk onto your tea but it’s so natural that it seems to be the part of the tea. I like drinking it in the morning as it helps me to wake up and get little positive (especially early in the Monday morning ;D) .

Flavors: Flowers, Milk, Wet Earth

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I couldn’t wait to try this one with all the amazing reviews and people worried it will be out of stock. Since I’m still new to the puerh world, I only bought a sample of this one, but still, it’s good for 4 whole amazing experiences, right? :)

I also used my new tawny dragon tea set to make this tea. The little pot is awesome! Pours so nice! The cup, and actually the pot, gets really hot to the touch, though. Fortunately the pot has a handle, but I have to let the little cup cool a bit before drinking. Now I know why it would be a good idea to have coasters for your teacups! Just looking at the cup relaxes me though…it’s color and shape has that effect.

There was a big piece of the cake in my sample, which I estimated to be about the right size for a serving, so I just plopped it into my tawny dragon and poured two rinses of 10 seconds each.

My first steeping to drink was 15 seconds. It came out pretty light. Very mild, slightly sweet, hint of tang, hint of smoke/camphor…whatever it is! ;) Creamy. I followed that up with a crapload of steepings, probably around 14 or 15, each 15 seconds longer until I hit 3 minute steeps and then stayed there. I did one last hurrah steep for 5 minutes too. I think I actually got tea drunk! The liquor was absolutely beautiful throughout…a pretty copper color. As I steeped, the taste became more astringent and then less so, turning into a very smooth stone-fruit tea. The astringency was kind of a lot at the beginning, which made me want to keep going to coax out the fruity note. It worked, but it took a lot of steepings. My favorites steepings were toward the end of my session. I’m thinking either I used too much leaf, or the water was too hot, or maybe it’s just me? Any recommendations for the best way to brew this one? I’d like to be able to coax out that fruity note sooner, if possible. Fortunately I have more leaf to enjoy!

Oh, and that tawny dragon pot has now become my new best friend…I might just start gong fu-ing everything now! Ha!

mrmopar

I hope this is in the Sheng sampler Mandala offers this month.

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87

I liked my sample of this less than the Phatty Cake II, I think given a few years with proper storage it might develop more flavors/improve. That’s not to say this is a bad tea, It just wasn’t as strong or complex as I hoped. I got 3-4 infusions from it. It has a nice woodsey flavor, fig, leather, slight astringent – but not off putting. I’m more familiar with wine tasting terms than tea – but this tasted “young”. very drinkable, but I’d love to be able to store this and age it..but I don’t have a good set up for that.

I did a 15 second rinse, rested the leaves for 10-15 seconds, infused 15, 30 and 45 seconds. last steep was much longer- trying to wring every last essence from the tea leaves! :-)

Flavors: Earth, Fig, Leather

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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94

This was my very first Pur-eh and I was in love at first sip. Complex notes ranging from earthy to a hint of vanilla, maybe a slight molasses flavor. the depth of flavors and complexity was amazing. I got 4-5 steeps from my sample packet before there wasn’t much flavor left. This I am planning to buy soon. :-) I did a 15 second rinse, let the tea rest for about 5-10 min, then did 15, 30, 45 second infusions. the last steep was quite long since it was loosing flavor, but still tasty.

Flavors: Caramel, Earth, Leather, Molasses, Oak wood, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

Receive a sample along with my last order from Mandala Tea, and finally had a quiet, rainy afternoon to enjoy multiple steeps of this wonderful oolong. Loaded up my guiwan, gave a quick rinse and then enjoyed watching the unfurling and expanding leaves do their dance. Wonderful aroma, subtle and slightly floral. Nice progression of flavors through several steeps, becoming sweeter and more creamy with time. A really nice Alishan Oolong.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Herbaceous

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 88 ML

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68
drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
183 tasting notes

Hm…this one is interesting. Not sure how I feel about it. Not a favorite, but it’s interesting.
Cocoa, chocolate, and earth are the main things I’m tasting.
Really strong.
I just have no idea how to feel about this one. xD Feeling a little stumped from it…but it’s interesting. Glad I got to try it. Maybe I’ll figure out what I think when I re-steep it.
Thanks for the sample, Sarsonator! :D

Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Earth

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