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Recent Tasting Notes
Since I found Black Beauty hiding among my samples, I wanted to try MzPriss’s intriguing blend of Black Beauty and Special Dark. I have mixed feelings about SD. It’s a little too intense for me, which means I usually add cream and sugar to it—a TON of sugar by my standards, or else I’m left with a charred taste in my mouth. SD has excellent qi, though, so I drink it to keep my bones warm during the winter. I never feel cold when I leave the house with a tea buzz!
For this blend I used 13-14oz of water. I combined about 3/4 of a tablespoon of SD and 2 teaspoons of BB in my infuser basket, then rinsed for 5 seconds. I steeped the leaves for 4 minutes. You guys. You guys!! This really good. It’s thick and decadent like chocolate cake. There’s an earthiness to it and the mild taste of stone fruits—presumably from the BB. The deep, resonant dark chocolate notes are backed by a syrupy honey-caramel sweetness. It’s not at all bitter, though the brew is very intense. (I mean VERY.) It leaves the taste of chocolate cake in my mouth with rich, roasted overtones. The first thing I thought when I took a sip was “…coffee?!” No, it doesn’t quite taste like coffee. It’s better than coffee. It’s the deep intensity and the roasted qualities of the tea that bring it to mind. As expected, my entire body is warm. Even my feet—and my feet are always cold. I feel like I could walk out in 40 degree weather with a t-shirt and stay warm for at least five or ten minutes. At least until the tea buzz wore off! I definitely need to brew some of this for my boyfriend. I’m desperately trying to convert him from coffee to tea, and I think this might help my case. Fingers crossed. Mua ha ha ha ha.
Flavors: Cake, Caramel, Chocolate, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Herbaceous, Honey, Malt, Mineral, Stonefruits, Sweet, Thick
Wow, does the leaf has a strong scent! From far away it is cotton candy sweet and with your nose in the back it is pure buttered popcorn, maybe a little coconutty.
First infusion: 195 F, 20 seconds. Maybe I steeped a little light (only western style is available to me), but the sensation of the creaminess of chewing on unflavored coconut is filling my mouth! There is a very slight edge of toastiness, like I’m eating a coconut macaroon. Soooo good! The sweetness is not as strong as the Tea Ave magnolia oolong I reviewed last week, but still very present and lingering for a short time.
Second infusion: 195F, 20 secs. The leaves have unfurled now, and I’m smelling a few more vegetal notes, like collards in butter. Overall the whole tea is much more buttery, and the sweetness lingers a little longer. Vague astringency exists as this cools.
Third infusion: 195F, 45 secs. The butter is now balanced with the sweet and vegetal, like sweet cream butter over fresh spring peas. Very flavorful cup.
Fourth infusion: 195F, 1 min. The buttery-ness is fading a this point, but still around. The sweet is showing more of its face, but overall the flavor is simplifying. Oh, sweetness, you are my friend. This infusion is much more like my other milk oolongs. I think I like it more solely based on a familiarity bias.
I will be taking these leaves home with me to cold brew, and will report back.
Update: Cold brewed, this teas smells quite sweet. It is actually kind of strange, since the butter flavor is back, and cold butter, especially when it feels like it is coating your mouth, is not the most pleasant sensation. I don’t know if I will cold brew this regularly, it was good for a few sips, but the 12 ounces I had were too much for one sitting.
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Peas, Sweet
This was a sample in my last Mandala order! I can’t believe it took me this long to try it.
First steep: 1min 30sec
Second steep: 1min 45sec
Third steep: 2min
Wow, this tea is intensely sweet! I usually add a smidge of sugar to my cup but the first steep was almost too sweet to drink. It has a very soft, smooth texture. It’s silky without a hint of astringency. The tea is gently floral, medium bodied, and has the taste of both honey and dark chocolate. There is also the suggestion of fruit but it isn’t fully developed yet. It really emerges in the second steep as a thick, jammy sort of flavor that’s like stone fruit and apricot. Cocoa and roast are the notes that follow. This tea is also earthy in a way that’s herbaceous—not like wood, or leaves, or mushrooms. It leaves a mineral note on my tongue after sipping. There are similarities between this tea and a high quality Keemun, but it lacks the characteristic smoky notes and is more honey/caramel than sweet potato. In my final steep cocoa, roast, and apricot are the dominant notes. There is a delicious syrupy caramel-honey finish that makes my tongue tingle like I’m sipping something carbonated. That completely caught me off guard. I’ve only experienced it maybe once, or twice with different teas. It has an indescribable “bubbliness” to it. Mineral and stone fruits remain in the aftertaste, though my tongue is still tingling. This tea was absolutely delightful! I’ll have to pick some up in my next order.
Flavors: Apricot, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Grain, Herbaceous, Honey, Jam, Mineral, Roasted, Smooth, Stonefruits
Thanks again, Garret, for the sample!
This mao cha has a heavy smell of smoke, or smoked meat. After a rinse there are some green vegetal notes coming through in the aroma and still a good amount of smokey smell.
The taste of the first infusion is a bit light, a bit of a tart fruit like flavor, reminds me of the smell of hedge apples or the taste of an underripe pear.
By the second infusion, the leaves have released some sweet citrus aromas and a bit of floral. This cup tastes more buttery and citrusy, and smells a little smokey still. As the tea cools there are hints of anise and pepper in the flavor.
The third infusion has a sort of alcohol taste in the aftertaste. I can’t decide if it’s like having a dry white wine or more like hops in a beer, but it’s one of those. There’s still a bit of smokiness as well.
The fourth infusion is a little creamy with wood notes and smoke.
Overall, this tea has a lot of changes from one infusion to the next. It isn’t really the type of flavor spectrum that I seek out, but it’s an interesting tea nonetheless. It seems like one that might age well.
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Pepper, Smoke, White Wine, Wood
I chose this as my first tea to try out of my AMAZING box from Dexter (THANK YOU!). Since she thinks so highly of this tea, I had to give it a try… and I am so very glad I did!
It’s so roasty and full bodied…so rich and decadent.
There are honey notes and almost fruity qualities, too… It really is just absolutely marvelous. Tobacco and dark roast coffee I’m also picking up… So good!!
Yup. This is getting added to my restock list. :)
I can’t thank Dexter enough for sending some my way to try!!
ETA: After my second steep in my gaiwan, I had to go fold some laundry. During this break between steeps, I really noticed the chocolate note left in my mouth… It’s really fantastic! yes… definitely purchasing this one at some point. :)
I can’t thank Dexter enough for sending some my way to try!!
Thanks, Garret, for the sample!
An initial rinse of these dark leaves reveals a very fresh, cool scent that smells like sweet dough and mineral. There’s also a nice scent of petrichor, the smell of the air when it rains. A very faint hint of vanilla whispers by.
The first infusion brings out more aromas, this time of sweet cocoa and hooka smoke. The infusion is a gorgeous dusty rose color. The flavor is very delicate and sweet. It doesn’t have the mustiness of a lot of ripe Puer teas. There’s a cooling sensation or hui-gan that stays in my mouth long after finishing the sip.
After the second infusion, not surprisingly, I’m getting rose on the nose. I felt something very “rosy” about this tea. Apparently it’s not just the color. By this infusion, the brew is a deeper color, reddish. The flavor is not as sweet this time. It’s got a bit of wood or leather quality to it now, but it is still very smooth and enjoyable. It really leaves a lasting taste in the mouth. There’s a very buttery flavor that coats the gums. You can lick it off of them and taste it very distinctly, an interesting quality I’ve never noticed in a tea before.
The third infusion is rich and again somewhat sweet. It’s mellow. This is the cleanest tasting ripe Puer I have tried.
I pushed my 4th infusion a little bit longer to see what this would taste like with a stronger brew. I’m not noticing anything different. It has consistently good flavor. In fact, I think it tasted better when brewed a bit more delicately.
This is a very enjoyable Puer tea and a milder one. Some ripe Puer tea I’ve had that was mellower tasted bland and uninteresting, but this one is truly relaxing and shines in its subtlety. This is exactly the right kind of tea I’d need to relax after a long day.
Flavors: Mineral, Pastries, petrichor, Vanilla
This is a nice cup of tea. It is a lighter smoked Lapsang but definitely a smoked one. The smokiness was a little too strong for me so I added some unflavored non dairy creamer to it.
I brewed this once in a 20oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 1 min.
free sample of this one in my latest mandala order – the rest is off to omgsrsly since it was a semi joint order lol and she can always share with folks out there if she doesn’t like it. this is a GREEN ooolong. it’s not like a milk oolong..but there is a creaminess to it that iam a fan of. that being said, i won’t need to order this since oolongs, they’re not for me most of the time…but i can say that this would probably be nice for an oolong fan!
First steep: 1min
Second steep: 2min 15
Third steep: 4min
It brews up a lovely clear reddish gold. The body is light to medium, and it’s incredibly smooth. It opens with notes of honey and hay. Almost floral, but not quite there. By the end of each sip it’s transformed into a silky, pudding-like concoction of chocolate, malt, and fresh bread. Very distinctly a Yunnan tea. It has its own natural sweetness, with zero astringency. (And pudding mouth! Woah.)
The second steep brings out notes of sweet potato. The initial flavors are brighter, more “brassy” and almost citrusy. It’s still followed quickly by malt, bread, and a touch of cocoa. Less chocolate here. Hardly any at all. The malt is still strong—pudding mouth, again. I prefer to drink it after it’s cooled. The nearly citrus flavors fade and it’s liquid malt-honey-bread.
Third steep was much the same as the second. (Perhaps a little less malt, more honey.)
It’s certainly a lovely tea. Not one I think I’ll be craving often as I tend to like darker, heavier, chocolatey black teas lately.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cocoa, Hay, Honey, Malt, Smooth, Sweet Potatoes
I received my latest Mandala order today!!!!! I’m so excited – yeah, yeah, yeah – the teas look great – I’m sure they are going to be amazing – but the tea table – OMG I had no doubts that it was going to be beautiful, but it is SPECTACULAR!!! LOVE IT!!!!
Soooooooooo – I decided to break it in with one of the samples that Garret so generously included with my order. (Ok I might have requested this as a sample, and am very grateful that it ended up in my package – you guys are the best!!)
I’ve been wanting to try rice scented mini tuo’s for awhile now but couldn’t really decide if it would be something I would like or not. So tonight is the night….
WOW in your face rice – the first two steeps were just over powering rice flavor. OK – I don’t like this – lets modify steep parameters – MUCH shorter steep time – less rice, but still too much for me – fourth steep – flash steep – better, I’m still not crazy about this. fifth steep – added a bit of time on – I think I would like this if I could get past the smell – I think I wrecked it for myself by over steeping the first few and now I can’t get past it.
This is really strange to me – it’s like drinking plain white sticky rice. I think I was expecting earthy shou pu’erh with a hint of rice. This is liquid rice with a hint of mushroom – I’m not really getting much pu’erh at all.
I have a second tuo and will try it again in a couple of months and will rinse it several times and keep the steeps incredibly short and see if that helps.
I’m sure some people really like this, I think I should like this, I would like to like this…. Maybe it’s just so far from what I was expecting that I can’t accept it for what it is.
I will try it again – but this is one I’m REALLY happy to have gotten to try before I bought a ton of it. Thank you so much Mandala for that opportunity. :))
I’ve been meaning to do a Mandala order for sooooo long… But with Butiki recently closing all of my money the last few months seemed to be leaving my pocket and doing a very fast and very happy jig over to Butiki… And then one day…. Dexter posted some pictures of some amazingly beautiful and unique walnut tea trays Mandala had recently acquired and I knew my time of avoiding an order to save my credit card was over!!
This tea has been on my wish list FOREVER!! So of course it had to sneakily be added to my tea tray order (along with so many other goodies!) and of course I tore into the bag as soon as my order arrived… Well as soon as I’d stoped drooling over my new tea tray… (Thank you so much again for sharing your beautiful find Dexter!!!). The dry leaf scent of this tea is unbelievable!! I’m talking coconut milk mixed in with a rich , heady condensed milk scent! And the taste? Mmmmm, I’ve died and gone to tea heaven! The milky flavor doesn’t quit, steep after steep, it’s still present, just more subtle as the tea morphs from creamy and nutty to a more floral flavor right at the end.
This will be my milk oolong yard stick from now on, the tea that I hold all other milk oolong in comparison to! I hope I can find something else that’s just as good, but if not, I’ll be more than content with this little gem never ever leaving my cupboard!!
When wet, the leaves expanded wonderfully. I always love checking on them right after the wash, when the creases of the leaves are glowing with a brilliant light green, juxtaposed to the now dark forest green of the curled leaf faces. Normally when I check the leaves, I tend to count or pick out the leaves that are completely whole. This time, I was counting the leaves that were incomplete. The smallest leaf chunk was about the size of a dime, and there were only 3 loose stems. Considering this contained the bottom of the sample, I’d say that’s quite impressive. Most leaves were 1.5 to 2 inches, a smaller pile was between 1 and 1.5 inches. Most leaf edges were intact and the veins were clear against the leaf face. Bruising was minimal, mostly around the edges, but about 3 leaves out of about 40 were very bruised. Otherwise, every leaf looked pretty much the same.
The wet leaf aroma was like candied soy beans (is this a thing?) and snap peas. They smelled somewhat fresh and bright, with some darker undertones like over-boiled broccoli and stone. At some points, they became yeasty-smelling and biscuity. Much later on, they took on aromas of freshly cut grass, melon, and tiny hints of fresh mushrooms.
My main criticism was that it didn’t taste like Pu’er. It is a VERY good tea but it is not what I expected, which let me down quite a bit. I would still recommend to anyone, even though they are sold out.
Thank you so much, Beorhthraefn! This is an odd little white tea. The leaves are actually white, green, and black in color, all very long & wiry. The description says this one almost changes to a black tea with age, so I was hoping I could save half the sample for later, but there was enough for one steep session. The flavor is great, similar to a bai mu dan at first, while the flavor is lighter: hints of sweet lemon, very very sweet. Subsequent steeps remind me of BUTIKI’S WHITE RHINO. Possibly my favorite white tea, and I would imagine many people would be looking for a replacement. Try this one! Anyway, the flavor gets a little more difficult to describe, it smooths out, becoming a little darker, losing the citrus. Maybe hints of dried grass. I really like this one… I wish I could describe it better. Happy to have tried this one, but I would have loved to try it later. Hopefully Mandala is still selling this one when my White Rhino runs out.
Steep #1 // 30 min after boiling // rinse // 1 min steep
Steep #2 // 25 min a.b. // 1 1/2 min
Steep #3 // 20 min a.b. // 2 min
I am not sure whether to call this tea sweet and malty or malty and sweet. One note is slightly more powerful than the other, not sure which. It is not one of those malty teas where all you taste is overpowering malt. I like this tea. It is good.
I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 1 min.
Flavors: Malt, Sweet