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Recent Tasting Notes
What a day. Wife is gone for 2 days at a business conference. Both kids had the day off from school. My 4 year old son had to get an abscess on his stomach lanced at 8am. Yup. The good news is that he handled it so well and has been in good spirits and very loving/cuddly all day.
So I decide to reach for this sample that was sent to me a while back with an order. Mandala is usually a pretty good bet when you want a good ripe. I went with a full boil, a 5 second rinse, and a 5 second first steep. The first steep felt very light and airy in my mouth. But for as light as it felt, the flavors were really nice. I detected some malty chocolate as well as some light cherry notes. But, calm down all you cherry cordial fans (myself included). Those flavors weren’t together when I detected them. More like, one sip reveal one and the next sip revealed another.
Second steep, 10 seconds. Earthy smoothness. Still light and airy. There is something on the back of the throat. A coating sweetness. Underhanded, not overpowering. But there.
Third steep, 15 seconds. First off, the smell of the wet leaves is unlike any I’ve smelled in a ripe shou before. I am not sure I can even really describe it other than there is this almost floral like honeysuckle, slightly spicy, sweetness. The liquor on this one has more of a musty taste. Not un-enjoyable but not as good as the first two steeps.
Fourth steep, 15 seconds. Held back a little on this one due to the flavor of the last steep. I think it was a good decision. The flavor mellowed out. Now we are getting back to some of the enjoyable flavors from the first two steeps. Light chocolate/cocoa flavor.
Fifth steep, 20 seconds. I am starting to see the bigger picture here on this one. When steeped correctly, this is a light, airy and smooth, consistent drinker. My review will probably stop here, until/unless something else drastically different jumps out at me.
Final Thought: Though this is pretty consistent from steep to steep, it is by no means dull, bland or uninteresting. It has some really unique flavors/and smells. It certainly feels and tastes like a higher quality tea. Very solid.
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Musty, Sweet
So happy to see this one included in the box. I’ve been meaning to order at least one of the yellow teas from mandala but haven’t had a chance to yet. I’ve been sipping on this over the course of the morning. I quite like this. It’s a little different from the other yellow teas that i’ve had but this is a nice one. The flavor reminds me a little of corn, slightly sweet and very buttery.
Got this amazing green as a free sample from Garret at Mandala Tea.
Let me start by saying that I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a groove with greens, and I decided to contact Garret before placing an order. He recommended several that may suit me and EVERY one of them turned out perfect, including this and a sample of Mao Feng green.
As for the tea: It brewed up with zero astringency very easily, with plenty of flavor in all of the 4 steepings I did, at various temps(155-190). Exceptionally smooth with vegetal notes on the nose, but not heavy in the taste. Became sweeter in later steepings, but had a wonderful balance of sweetness throughout, with just a bit of sweet peas or edamame.
Flavors: Peas, Smooth, Sweet
This was a really good mini tuo. It opened up completely on the second steep (5 sec) after a 20 second rinse and a 5 second first steep.
The main thing that I came away with is that it tasted very clean and silky, creamy, and smooth. A very easy drinker. I can see why they decided to put this tea into a mini tuo. It is a very easy toss, steep, drink type of tea.
Flavors: Creamy, Smooth
Phatty cake, phatty cake how I love saying phatty cake.
I had a sample of this from the time when Mandala was having its shou sampler set (In 2014 IIRC). Unfortunately for me this one was forgotten and neglected in its plastic baggie at the back of my tea box. After surviving through two moves and an equal number of years in a ziplock bag the flavors were slightly muted. I still get whisps of the wonderful flavours other reviewers have described but I definitely should have tried reviving it first by reintroducing some humidity. Still a good tea, but I wish I had enjoyed it sooner.
The bag was not marked with the year, so I just guessed that it was this entry considering that this is the one that is on the website (I think). So I hope this is in the right place.
This smells really earthy, and I was a little worried that it was going to taste “too” earthy for me. This was not the case, the earthy mushroom notes were there, but not overwhelming. There was also sweet, creamy notes. I found there to be a slight wood aftertaste. Delicious. It resteeps very well. The second steep was 6min, and then I forget after that.
On to the wish list it goes.
I drank this tea all day while working from home. It was a cold, rainy day, and this shu was both warming and energizing. While I like the loose version of this shu, for some reason the cake seems to be much more to my liking. Actually, this one is definitely one of my all time favorite shupus. The smoothness is just unparalleled. I must get a cake.
This went over amazingly well with both myself and my fiancee. What’s interesting is that she picked up flavors of coconut and mango (perhaps pineapple) while I got primarily butter and cream mixed with sweet asparagus. We both really enjoyed it and will be ordering this one again.
Flavors: Asparagus, Butter, Coconut, Cream, Pineapple
I didn’t think I would like this when I smelled the smokiness of the wet leaves. The roast seemed a bit strong for me. And I’m very congested from a sinus infection, so I couldn’t get anything subtle out of it like cinnamon notes. Still, I enjoyed drinking this tea with a little bit of sugar. I don’t think I’d buy it again, but I was glad to try it.
The smokiness is pretty strong — if it were even a little bit stronger, I think I’d find this undrinkable. So I’m probably never going to like dark roast oolongs. It’s a good tea, but I don’t know if I really gave it a fair shot with all the congestion. So I’ll hold off until I drink the last of it to give it a number score. I’d like to be able to detect a little cinnamon, at least.
Flavors: Roasted, Smoke
So I cold brewed this overnight. I’ve also had it hot. It is good hot, but it is great cold brew. It is amazingly refreshing. It develops a very sweet note with a hint of vegetal and honey. It brews pretty much no color cold. I was surprised to pull it out of the fridge and see no color. I expected it to have no flavor. I was very wrong. I think I will keep cold brewing this especially when summer comes around. You have to try this cold brew at least once.
Flavors: Honey, Sweet, Vegetal
After softening up the long, spindly leaves, and taming the more enzymatic aromatics, this turned into a surprisingly clean and peachy tea (the peach note pops out much more around the second steeping). The leaves are absolutely beautiful unfurled. I was given a sample of the pressed cake of this mao cha with my order from Mandala (thanks!), so I’m looking forward to comparing the two to see if there are any differences.
I didn’t write any notes while drinking this one, but this has got to have the strongest fruit taste of any sheng I’ve tried! To me the flavor like a mix of apricot, guava paste, and grape juice with some general floral, mineral and “sheng-y” notes. I don’t know how it would age, but it’s super mellow and enjoyable now
Flavors: Almond, Floral, Fruity, Mineral
Wishlist tea from dexter and my last puerh for today. I’ve been sipping on this one all afternoon – i prefer wild monk cake form, but it was nice to revisit this one over the afternoon. Steeped at cool temps for short infusions, a mild tea, with just a little sweetness to it. There’s some smokey notes, but not as strong with the cake. a slight bitterness in later steepings but overall very enjoyable. thanks dexter!
Final Count: 124 (since i doubt i’ll get more sipdowns in tonight if i have more tea.)
I wish I had rinsed this before the initial steep. Maybe that would have changed my opinion a bit. I don’t like it very much. I’d go as far as to say that it’s my least favorite of all the oolongs I’ve tried. I steeped it at 195 (as recommended) for 30 seconds, and oh my it’s bitter. Bitter and vegetal, and not even slightly sweet or buttery. This is the kind of overwhelming vegetal taste that I hate in some of the Japanese green teas. I’m surprised no one else has mentioned smokiness because it seems kinda smoky to me. It’s got the vegetal qualities of a green tea with the bitterness of a black tea, and this really does not work for me.
As oolongs go, I prefer one of two flavor profiles so far: 1. floral, peachy, sweet and sometimes buttery or 2. roasty and nutty (light or medium roast). If I want to taste raw kale or spinach, I’ll put them in a gross smoothie. Not a fan of this one. And I’m disappointed because I actually did pick up the aroma of butter when I smelled the wet leaves, but I don’t taste it at all.
Flavors: Bitter, Kale, Seaweed, Smoke, Spinach, Vegetal
I’m a big fan of dian hong! Morning Sun brews up a strong up which I like. I used roughly 8 oz of 200 F water for 1 heaping teaspoon. I wanted to be careful about the steeping time and did 90 seconds for the first steep. It was a strong, aromatic cup without much astringency. The amber color infusion tasted like honey, dark fruits, and malt. I could taste dark cherries, chocolate, and toasted walnuts.
Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Walnut
From the first moment I cracked the bag, I knew I was going to like this tea. It smells sweet, floral and fruity. Tasting the first steep I got just a hint of cloves and lemon, with a buttery slightly sweet finish! The second and third steepings have more fresh, green flavors but retain their buttery goodness. There is a clean tannic finish that comes out especially in the second steeping.
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cloves, Fruity, Grass, Lemon
I’ve been looking forward to trying this tea for a long time. I finally ordered a batch from Mandala! It smells like flowers and pineapples. It’s got a sweet orchid flavour to it. I tasted notes of cream, caramel, and tropical fruits! This tea is a special one to be sure.
Flavors: Caramel, Cream, Orchid, Pineapple