Mandala Tea

Recent Tasting Notes


Thank you for the trade a while back, TeaTiff! Only a couple left to try from that swap months ago. (Only?! Sheesh.) The leaves here looked exactly like the flavor I was looking for today. Something like a chocolate malty Pearl. They look like the leaves used to make pearls – wiry black with hints of gold. I used two teaspoons of leaves. The flavor is honey, malt, dried grass, tiny hint of chocolate. The flavor here wasn’t quite as pure chocolate as I was looking for, but it’s still a very nice cup. The aroma is amazing. And the resteep was just as good. The leaves looked kind of spent after the first cup (like they might taste oversteeped and oaky… not so!) I kind of expected a brisker tea, but I’m just glad two teaspoons wasn’t too much. This tea is lovely but I’ve had a couple better types like this in the past.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // 10 min after boiling // 2 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min

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A sample I’ve been saving, from Dexter. :) Thank you!

I rinsed it from my regular kettle, then let it sit while my Zojirushi thermos thing came up to temperature.

20s: SMOKE. OMG, the smoke. Wow. It smells super duper strong, but the colour is quite pale. The taste isn’t super smoky, it’s a little astringent and carby and… almost a touch sour.

30s: Still smoke. Still super pale. IDK if I really love it, but it’s really neat. The sour/bitter/astringent (I can’t tell!) flavour makes it interesting and also turns me off a bit.

I lost track of time, about 1 minute?: Still smoke. Still super pale. Starting to get sweet, along with the previous flavours. I breathe smoke still, but I don’t really taste it. It’s weird.

And honestly I’m kinda bored with writing this now. I think I’ll just keep slowly drinking my tea, and I’ll make any astounding updates later. ;)

I drank almost 1/4 of my steaming root beer float eggnog latte while this next cup steeped. Whoops. Still drinkable but green and bitter. A green bitter. Does that make sense? Different from a black tea bitter. Or even a green tea bitter.

I had another way oversteep that I had to dump. :(

The steep I’m currently drinking is sweet and a lot softer. I still smell smoke, but the flavour has changed a lot. It’s fresh and… reminds me of fresh dried alfalfa. :)

4 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

Interesting – I don’t find this smokey, but I know others do. I LOVE it – sorry you are finding it sour/bitter/astringent. Oh well you got to try it. :))


It’s really neat, and I’m totally drinking it ALL. That is seriously rare for a multi-steeper like a puerh or oolong (shh…). So it’s not that I don’t like it, it’s that I find the flavours really odd. It’s the sour/bitter/astringent flavour of TEA. Like, fresh crushed leaves. A potted plant. Something like that.


i heart this one… and i DO get the smokey notes lol


for me it was like roasted peppers and nectarines


Roasted peppers omg. Yeah. A little sour and a touch bitter from the skins. And smokey and becoming sweet. Hmm.

I think that as this mellows a bit more it’s gonna be amazing. But as I said, I drank it all except that one serious oversteep so I did like it. :)


@OMGsrsly. You just have to “exercise” your palate. soon you will be an expert ;)))


i need to figure out w better way to store my puerh….


I still feel very new to Puerh! The one I really really like is super earthy and mushroomy and wet foresty. This one is sooooo different. :)

Sil, Dr. Seuss is the best.

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drank Yunnan Beauty by Mandala Tea
129 tasting notes

I’ve had this oolong for a while and figured it would be time to revisit it.

The dry leaf smells lovely. Fruity and just a hint roasty.

Very smooth, with a honeylike sweetness. There’s a hint of fruit lingering in the background as well. I seem to be in the mood for lighter teas over the past few days— normally I prefer strong teas that pretty much yell “HI THERE” at my tastebuds with its roastiness/earthiness/smokiness/leatheriness/‘heavier’ flavours (looking at you, Special Dark and Jade Dew). Anyway, this really hits the spot for me this evening.

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This sample was a gift from an anonymous Steepster friend! I’ve really enjoyed Mandala’s black teas so far, so I’m happy I get to try another one. This is sort of a flowering tea, the long Yunnan tea leaves are tied into a cone shape which then unfurls into a little blossom when it’s steeped. The cones are a little over an inch high, and striped with black and gold. The website recommends 2-3 cones per 8 ounces of water, so I used 3 cones and then used about 10 ounces instead just to be sure.

When I looked into my steeping basket, there were cute little anemone-like creatures in there! This is a simple but yummy tea. It’s quite malty with a thick and smooth texture. There’s a little bit of that Yunnan savory note, but there’s also a touch of dark and sweet molasses. Tasty and very easy to drink! :)

Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Thick

200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 10 OZ / 295 ML

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I’m back from seeing my sweetie who was in Africa and quite the jet lagged traveler. On the trip home via BART I was thinking of what tea I wanted to have when I got home. I was thinking green tea but ended up with this green oolong instead.

I’ve had this in my stash for a few months now but somehow haven’t gotten around to doing a review. Tie guan yins always remind me of spring and I was thinking I should drink this one soon while its still fresh.

I did 3 steeps but wanted to stop there because I’m a bit worried about caffeine so late in the afternoon. It’s a lovely tea which reminds me of vanilla and cream in the first steep, the later steeps brought out an essence of lilac and butter. I’m not getting the bittersweet notes for some reason, it seems just sweet and buttery to me! Somehow it feels relaxing and uplifting at the same time. I will need to try cold brewing it as well.

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Rock Oolong by Mandala Tea
183 tasting notes

Received a sample in my last order. I think this is the appropriate one to file on Steepster? The label says Da Hong Pao in parentheses.

Brewed gongfu-style with a ceramic gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120.

Wet leaf has a roasty, fruity (blueberries, starfruit), and somewhat smoky aroma. The liquor has a beautifully rich golden color, and is clear, smooth, and thick in texture. The high point was infusions one and two – roast and quite juicy. Thereafter, the flavors weakened slightly. They were simply present, nothing more. They did leave a nicely sweet and fruit aftertaste once I finished each cup though.

Overall, this dark oolong lacked pizzaz and complexity, but it was alright.

195 °F / 90 °C 7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Another sample from miss anonymous! I was happy to see this one, as I’ve tried a couple of Mandala’s black teas before and found them yummy. This one looks like a lovely fluffy pure bud Yunnan. The buds are floofy and fuzzy and about half golden, half grey. I can’t comment on the scent because everything from this package seems to smell vaguely of cinnamon, teehee.

Steeped, it smells amazingly milk chocolaty with some stonefruit (oooooh chocolate-covered dried apricots?!). Taste-wise, it’s very light. I can definitely taste that creamy milk chocolate flavor, but there’s also a light savory taste that I generally find in Yunnan teas. It’s an interesting combination! The stonefruit, specifically apricot, is also quite present, especially near the end of the sip. Yummy!

Flavors: Apricot, Chocolate, Malt, Smooth, Thick

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML

Hmmmmm that sounds awesome – may have to place a Mandala order soon.
Happy New Year Cameron!!!

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I have been drinking this tea all day and finished off the rest of my sample in the gaiwan. I had it in the morning, went shopping for a ton of house things (boxing day sales, hurrah!) had some in the afternoon, before dinner, and now I combined 3 steepings for a mug before bed. This tea has staying power! It is also delicious, woody and fresh, calming and good. Most pronounced is a woody flavor to me, with a tiny bit of caramel sweet coming out. Just a bit though. Mostly fresh, wet wood after the rain. I am digging this, and am very happy I still have some mini tu’s of this tea! Oh, and these last 3 steepings combined have led to a much more pronounced sweet flavor, smooth, mmmmm perfect for before bed.

Loving Mandala’s puerhs! If I ever let myself buy tea again (still working on sipping down teas/samples for the new year) I might add a bit of this to my order. Thanks Garret, for the free sample!!

Flavors: Caramel, Wet Wood, Wood

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This is a fun tea. Not as sweet as the big red robe Mandala offers but just as roasty. Wood flavors and maltiness. Mineral taste as with all yancha. I can’t place the sweetness. It’s a nutty sweetness. Faint.
However you can play with this tea. Lots of leaf with flash brews or less leaf and longer brews. Gives very different liquors.
Nice Amber caramel color. Smooth finish with a little lingering malt on the back of the tongue.
Not much change from brew to brew using gongfu style.
(This was my first review so bare with me). :-P

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This is the other sample that came with my tray! I gong fu’d it and it was oh so buttery! Yum! I also got a hint of vegetal and floral at the end of the sip, but the butter really stood out. Would definitely drink this again. :)

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drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
672 tasting notes

I got a tea tray for Christmas! My first! And it’s beautiful! I put it on my wishlist, and my secret Santa (my grandma) got it for me! I was worried too, because when I looked at the site recently, it said it was sold out! My grandma’s got great taste! :D Of course the amazing Garret included a hand-written note and two tea samples, one of which was this beauty!

This tea is so fruity! It reminds me of TeaVivre’s nonpareil yunnan dian hong ancient wild tree. It’s also nicely malty with some honey notes. So good, and so pretty! Here are some pics of my session:


that is a gorgeous tray!


Thanks, Nicole! I just saw that Dragon Tea House also has it if anyone’s interested.


It’s beautiful. Your grandma’s got really great taste!




Gorgeous tea tray! I agree that she has great taste.

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Had this in the afternoon but after after dinner and a few issues getting things accomplished on steepster…that’s all i have for you folks. more to come next time i drink this.

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I’ve tried this tea multiple times now and I feel it’s time to finally do a review on it.
I used this sample with my yixing pot exclusively reserved for shou puerh.

This tea is compressed pretty tight it was hard to pry the leaves apart by hand.
A nice mix of small to large leaf mostly smaller to medium sized leaves were noticed.

After I added the leaf to my warmed up yixing pot, I washed the leaves about twice.
This helped open them up and infusion with minimal steep times.
I started off gradual 3/5/8/10/15/20/25/30/60/120

A very mellow that sho wasn’t overly fishy in my opinion.
I found this tea had a gentle warmth.
It certainly helped wake me out of my sleepy morning.

Flavors: Creamy, Nut Fruits, Smoke, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank GABA Black by Mandala Tea
672 tasting notes

I had absolutely no idea what GABA was when I tried this sample this morning. I had a very long gong fu session with it and it was really enjoyable. It was malty, roasty, a bit fruity honey, and a bit of a tang. I really liked it! So now that I know what GABA is, I can actually say that this tea did have a calming effect on me. Feeling very zen and caught up on work right now. :) Love it! This is going on my wishlist for sure!


I liked that tea, bought 4 ounces of it.


@AllanK- nice! Definitely a good one.

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drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
448 tasting notes

This tea is certainly one of the best oolong teas I have ever tasted. It tastes strongly of coconut and berries or fruity notes. There is only a hint of that characteristic oolong bitterness. This is damn good tea. I will have to buy more when I use up my coupon for Mandala tea.

I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 2 tsp leaf and 190 degree water for 30 sec.

Flavors: Berries, Coconut, Fruity

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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This is a fairly sweet green tea with notes of cream and honeysuckle. There is also a strong floral and vegetal component to the tea as well as a slight sour taste. Lat night I drank rooibos in the hopes of getting to sleep. I couldn’t sleep a wink, I think because of caffeine withdrawals. Ironicallu, lack of caffeine can cause sleeplessness. Hopefully there is enough caffeine in this to keep me from going through withdrawals but not to keep me awake.

I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 4 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 1 min.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Honeysuckle, Vegetal

175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

I couldn’t sleep last night either!


I am thinking of giving up on giving up on caffeine. If no caffeine makes it impossible to sleep at all, better off a green tea with low caffeine and no withdrawal symptoms.


Have you tried hojicha at bedtime? I have it about every night and it doesn’t affect my sleeping patterns.


No I haven’t but I think most greens have less caffeine, at least that is what my gastroenterologist says.


Yes, and houjicha supposedly has even less because of how roasted it is. Kukicha (and hoji-kukicha) are also good because apparently the twigs/stems don’t contain as much caffeine as the leaves.


Maybe you could just drink caffeine in the morning. I find if I drink some later in the afternoon it does give me problems.


That was exactly what I had done the night I had complete insomnia, I stopped drinking caffeine around 12 or 12:30 in the afternoon and didn’t sleep a wink. Last night with a green tea I slept good.

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This isn’t bad, but it’s not as good as I hoped. I like Special Dark a whole lot better.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
3 tasting notes

Mandala Tea sells several excellent loose leaf puer teas, and this one is my personal favorite of the bunch. Can be made strong but still remains perfectly smooth with no overpowering flavors. One of my current favorite teas ever, and maybe the best one I currently have in my rather extensive tea drawer. Leans quite far towards the dry & woody side of the puer taste spectrum rather than damp & earthy taste that is more common. An awesome tea if you prefer this flavor profile.

Flavors: Cherry Wood, Oak wood, Sawdust, Wood

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 9 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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The scent of the dry leaves is strongly floral. The taste is floral but less intensely so than the scent. I didn’t really get that buttery feel but I’ll try again with different steeping parameters. I did get the mild astringency at the end of the sip, though. It’s a very pleasant light oolong. If I can get that butter to come out, it will be a restock for sure.

Thanks, Garret, for the generous sample!

195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

The pleasure is all mine! The autumn crop will be in here next week, I think! Your sample was the spring. Glad you enjoyed it!

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drank 2014 Jingmai Raw by Mandala Tea
311 tasting notes


Had this tea awhile ago and I remember it being really rough with bitterness in the first few steeps. It did not appeal to me at all. Around steep #5 it mellowed out. The bitterness was gone and it was a strong apricot taste. I didn’t try too many steeps after that. Next time I have this I think I will start drinking it at Steep 5 and see where it goes from there. It just kept getting better!

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drank Lao Cang Mini Tuo by Mandala Tea
1015 tasting notes

‘Tis the weekend, and I decided I want to have many pu’erh sessions today, so I chose a tuocha for this task. It freezing rained here last night so the roads are a skating rink, therefore I am staying inside all day. Oh, and I’ll be worrying away about the bf, who got called out to work 3 days early and is currently in a cab on the terrible roads heading to the airport. Hope he makes it there in one piece! :(

Anyways, back to this tea! I am guessing this is the same sample I had as Tealizzy, as it is similar to the 2011 Lao Cang tu on Mandala’s site, but just brown writing rather than multi colored. I can’t find a year on mine, but at least it is a Lao Cang! So I did a 15s rinse and I bit the bullet and did a 1 minute steep as recommended. I always worry it will be too strong haha. The tea is super dark, and unfortunately I am writing this review as the cup has already cooled, so there isn’t much of a scent, just a clean, light smell.

As for the flavor, this is a satisfying pu’erh. It’s not crazy caramelly or bright or musty or woody like others, it’s a bit nondescript, but definitely not difficult to drink. It is SUPER smooth, a tiny bit savoury, a bit of a mushroom savouriness actually. There is a mild brown sugar note blending in nicely too, and a bit of a hay aftertaste. It’s tough to describe because there aren’t any stand out flavors, but it is just good. Quite good actually! My stomach also feels wonderful, and I have a sleepy calmness about me, not strong cha qi, just a light calming sensation.

Overall, to me this is a really good tuocha, even if it is not overly distinct. I like that even with the minute steep, it is smooth and soft, not overbearing, not too strong, and no caffeine jitters. This will be a perfect one to steep throughout the day! And don’t let my mention of it not being distinctive scare you off. I enjoy that it is just a lovely, smooth flavor, with everything blending together into an excellent tea.

ETA – I have also made a big decision…I am going to re-season my yixing pot. I hardly ever drink oolong anymore mostly due to the caffeine effects, so I am seasoning it with Noble Mark, a shu that I have enjoyed for a while now and doesnt give me negative caffeine effects. In hindsite, I definitely should have waited until I was further into the tea scene before seasoning a yixing, but I adore the shape of this one and it truly is my most beautiful piece of teaware. I realize this may not work with my yixing, but it will be better than it sitting in the cupboard forlornly while I brew my shus in a gaiwan lol. It needs to be used! Wish me luck :)

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Pretty damn yummy. Having a lovely Saturday AM tea party with my TeaFFs. I did very short steeps and this is very mild. A little earthy, but not outrageous. There’s a little sweetness on the end. Lovely Saturday relaxation tea!

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec

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