Mandala Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

I got this sample from Mandy a while back and I’m just now getting around to trying it.

I like it.

I like it a lot.

It’s creamy and floral. Sweet. Easy drinking.

I was just sad because I didn’t feel it lasted quite as long as I’d hoped.

I also don’t remember enough of it because I’ve been working all morning and it just went down nice and easy. (And yes, I’m just now getting to logging it. I’m a slacker.)

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83
drank GABA Black by Mandala Tea
64 tasting notes

A previous reviewer described this tea as grapenutty, and I agree. It tastes like what I imagine grapenuts taste like, I haven’t eaten them in two decades. It also has the slight taste of what I would describe as baked beans, slightly burnt. I steeped 6g four times in a 220 ml gaiwan with boiling water. First 15 sec, then 15 sec, 15 sec, and 30 sec. It is smooth and tastes a little like an oolong. It has a slight bitter aftertaste. Last time I brewed this tea I brewed it western style, this time I brewed it gongfu style. It definitely benefited from this steeping method. It was noticibly better than last time. The Gaba effect is there but very mild. Sometimes Gaba tea can have a serious effect today it was mild.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 7 OZ / 220 ML
mj

LOL grapenuts + baked beans….no wonder I didn’t like the GABA oolong I tried (it wasn’t Mandala’s)

AllanK

The reason to drink Gaba tea is for the effect. It is not as good. And baked beans is not an accurate description, just the best I could come up with.

AllanK

Not as good as regular tea I mean, they process it with nitrogen, changes the taste.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
113 tasting notes

Aroma: Damp earth
Liquor Color: Deep red
Liquor Flavor: Dark, rich, woody, bitter coca
Notes: This one was dark, and super rich. A little too much so for me but I can see why people like it. I’ll give it a whirl again with less leaf and take it from there.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec

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Aroma: Woody, deep, sweet, wet leaves, chocolate
Liquor Color: Deep rusty red
Liquor Flavor: Woody, smooth, light with next infusion the chocolate notes came out
Notes: From a person who doesn’t seem to like puerhs still, this sample changed my mind. It was so smooth, but light and the complexity of the flavors made me keep thinking what I’ll taste in the coming infusion. I could see myself drinking this.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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86

This turned out lighter than I was expecting. It smelled more earthy dry. Now I get a bit of malt and cocoa. The flavour is sweet and smooth.

I’m drinking this while watching Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (live action of the anime.)

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88

from the (Mostly) Unflavored TTB

Now this tea I like. I like it a lot.

Sweet, creamy, slightly nutty, slightly grassy, but sweet, very sweet.

Makes up for the last tea.

I’m feeling very dreamy about this tea.

https://www.flickr.com/gp/cheri0627/YB9H21

KiwiDelight

Now I’m sorry I skipped this one.

Garret

And it comes from a beautiful tea farm, too! Had the pleasure of being there in 2012 on a buying trip in that area. So happy that you are enjoying tea!!

Cwyn

Didn’t know Mandala has a Da Fang. Will try it sometime!

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92

It’s hard to think of a more pleasing sheng. If it were an actor it would probably be Tom Hanks—consistently very good, eminently likeable, almost no bitterness or rancor. It might not be the Daniel Day Lewis of teas, but sometimes all that intensity can be trying.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec
Garret

We are laughing quite loudly in the tea shop right now as we read and re-read this review. Oh thank you, thank you, thank you for that!!!

Doug F

Thank you for this great tea! It’s impossible to mess up and has the perfect mix of sweet and tart flavors.

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84

this is really resteeps from the other day. I put the leaves in the freezer until I could get back to it. I was feeling very slow moving this afternoon and then remember it so I poured a little hot water over it to wake the leave up and went on its much more mineral and mushroom flavors now and that quite nice for this sticky warm afternoon! Its not inspiring me to work much though so maybe I need new infusion of something fresh?

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84

Hmm somehow my note deleted itself. This was a surprise to me, I ordered the mandala sampler for 2 of the teas and this was included. Its a different Pu’er than I am used to, when rinsed the leaves had a strong mushroom scent but it quickly faded. The first brews were light and creamy with stronger vanilla developing and a slight sweet/hay taste. The first brews were not as dark in color as I expected either but the third and fourth were a bright brick color. At this point more fruit came to the palate, fig and plum as the vanilla faded. The final brews (5 and 6) the mushroom started to reappear. I was using half the sample with a 2 oz at a time of water and combing 2 brews in each small cup. This is a nice gentle Pu’er on a day when all other decisions were wrong this one was a good one, you can’t go wrong with it. Its the kinder glentler side of ripe Pu’er

Flavors: Fig, Hay, Honey, Mushrooms, Plums, Vanilla

Preparation
3 g 2 OZ / 59 ML

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from the (Mostly) Unflavored TTB

This started out with that tastes like smoke but isn’t smoke taste, kinda metallic, and quite smooth and creamy, a little sweet.

It ended up just being a really nice tea to drink.

I did lots of short steeps, starting at 10s, finishing up at 2m.

It’s been a long day at work, this afternoon off and on particularly frustrating and stressful, so I didn’t always pay the best attention to this tea. But I definitely enjoyed it, and I’ll drink it again.

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96

Thank you Kimquat for sending one of these to try! These AREN’T minis! I needed some caffeine for steam-vacuuming the house! This looks the size of maybe two of the typical mini tuochas. The flavor for all steeps were the same: delicious. This is my kind of pu-erh. It’s very dark and coffee like, and not just because of the color of the brew. Very rich with a touch of astringency but it’s also sweet with no pondiness at all. it’s very much like some of my favorite pu-erhs probably just for the reason that there is so much leaf here and I usually use too much. I like too much. Every steep was exactly the same.
Steep #1 // rinse // just boiled // 1 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 2 min
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3 min
Steep #4 // half a mug // just boiled // quite a few minutes

Cameron B.

Hah, Not-So-Mini. What a cute name! ^^

Veronica

I really need to make a Mandala order.

Tea Sipper

I don’t think these are available anymore when I went to look up steeping instructions.

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drank Pure Buds Black by Mandala Tea
368 tasting notes

from the (Mostly) Unflavored TTB

Slightly underleafed but I took all that was left.

I did the three shorter steeps directions from the package, 1min, 2min, 5 min.

Malty. And then it got somewhat bready.

The third infusion finally did I get this cocoa flavor.

I’m not sure how I feel about this one.

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95

Steeped this six times in a 220ml gaiwan. First 15sec, then 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 30 sec, 1 min. I used 7g of leaf and boiling water. This is really good tea. It is high quality ripe puerh with no vestiges of fermentation flavor. The tea broth is no longer at all murky. It has cleared. I found the notes of chocolate, baked bread, and berry. Sort of baked bread anyway. I just got this today with my Mandala order. It was an afterthought added to my order over the phone the day Garret shipped it. It is good.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Berry, Chocolate

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 7 OZ / 220 ML
AllanK

Steeped it in my new Gaiwan. Photo came out a bit dark.
http://instagram.com/p/rqB_umzDQt/?modal=true

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85

My first tea from my first Mandala order. (I like their name, it makes me think of art.) Anyway, this smells like what I associate with pu-erh- dark and earthy.

The flavour has a bit of spice and minerality. It’s a very rich and smooth too. My brewing method is what I would call ‘Western electric kettle- single serving mug’.

Flavors: Earth, Mineral, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 30 sec
Garret

Tea-riffic! What a pleasure to have gotten some teas out to you, my friend! The PCII is interesting tea. I just did a session with it the other day. The leather notes are very strong in this one.

I had made some of this for a fellow tea importer/seller. He took a smell, took a sip, took another smell and said “ancient wisdom!” It had reminded him of his favorite part of his college library where they keep all of the old leatherbound books.

Lariel

‘Ancient Wisdom’- I like that. I forgot to mention the leather notes.

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I’m on a pu-erh kick right now, thanks to the wonderful ripe pu-erh sampler box from Mandala.
Going with this one today has been incredibly lovely… I think I’m on my fifth infusion, but I’ve been losing count with these Mandala samples because they resteep so fantastically well… I’m talking ‘drink all day and into the night’ type resteep here…
Boychik once brought up the plum pudding qualities of pu-erh, and this one right here is that exact type…. Creamy, velvety smooth, vanilla dancing around with the warm dried fruit notes, hints of spice…. This tea literally wraps its arms around you and gives you a giant hug (and, I sorta needed that…).
I can’t thank Garret enough for offering this sampler… these teas have made my week! :)

Garret

happy again! Thank YOU!! Your review made me smile. And giant hugs are always a good thing, am I right?

boychik

Hugs :)

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drank Cloud and Mist by Mandala Tea
368 tasting notes

from the (Mostly) Unflavored TTB

I wanted this tea to be great, but it’s only good. It might be because I probably underleafed due to the fact that there’s not much left and I didn’t want to be too greedy.

It’s fresh and kind of sweet. Refreshing. Beautiful aftertaste.

Work is lousy. I want to go home. I want people to stop freaking out.

MzPriss

Cheri – BE GREEDY! If there is something you want to try – please take enough to properly try it. It’s an ever-evolving thing and something else yummy will replace it.

Cheri

Okie Dokie. You may regret this. ;-)

MzPriss

Nah – I would regret you drinking underleafed tea. Have FUN with it :)

Cheri

well, it’s too late now, but I’ll keep that in mind with the other teas. (Although I’m now drinking another one that is also underleafed, but I took the end of the tea…..)

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100

I recieved a sample of this amazing stuff with my Pu Erh sample order, I was quite giddy because I have wanted to give this a try for a while. See I have a problematic teacup, it is vintage glass and for some reason even a thorough baking soda scrubbing won’t remove the stains. Lots of elbow grease will get it mostly clear, but it has this annoying film that I originally thought was mineral stains…I think it is actually damage from running it through the dishwasher. Good thing it was only 50 cents!

So into the mix my cup (and a spare glass cup that was starting to develop a stain) went! After a nice fizzy soaking all the tea stains were gone, my glass cups are clean! I cannot wait to try this on some of my stained white porcelain.

Sadly the weird white stains are still there, but I think they are there forever since I am pretty sure they are damage and not actual stains.

If you are in need of a cleaner that is not made from harsh chemicals, then I suggest this one. It gets the job done!

Marzipan

I have some glasses that became cloudy because of the dishwasher. Try a Mr. Clean Eraser.

Stephanie

Love those erasers, they’re magic!

mj

I use the magic eraser to get out stains on teaware too!

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

oooooh I will definitively get one! Thank you for the heads up :)

TheTeaFairy

Lol, I use it on ALL my stained teaware…it’s soft enough and works instantly, without having to scrub like crazy. It IS truly magic!

Amanda 'SoggyEnderman' Wilson

I think the whole not having to scrub aspect is probably my favorite!

TheTeaFairy

No kidding, me too! I was shocked the first time I used it on white porcelain, it took everything away, like real bad stains, in a second!

Garret

Hi Amanda! yay!!! So happy that people are digging this stuff. We use it EVERY single day in the tea shop!

As far as the white stains, that may be mineral deposits. You can use our “zojirushi water heater cleaner” for that. I use that for my water kettles, too. Works splendidly. Thank you for your review!!! Hi TF, Hi Marzipan, Hi Stephanie, Hi MJ!

TheTeaFairy

Hey garret :-)

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I’m only on my third infusion of this, so I may have to come back and edit to add…
Leather, mineral, and spice, with an almost smoky quality going on… So fantastic!
As with my other Mandala sample, I’ve only used about 3.5 grams in my gaiwan. My first steep was for 30 seconds, then adding 15 after that (that’s what I did for Noble Mark, as well…).
There’s still a velvet chocolatey-ness here, as with the Noble Mark, but the spice and mineral notes truly stand out….
I really can’t wait to keep drinking this. :)
Man, these Mandala tastings have turned into all day affairs! (I can’t imagine a better way to spend a day…)
*sample from the amazing Mandala Ripe Pu’er Sampler Pack

Garret

Wow! We seem to be drinking the same tea in the same sequence! Brewed up a session of this after yoga this morning! Loved it. This tea has changed so much since its pressing. Leather and plenty of it. One fellow tea importer named it “ancient wisdom” because it reminded him of the oldest section at his colleges library!

DeliriumsFrogs

Leather bound books! OH my goodness! That’s TOTALLY what I was picking up, but I couldn’t put my finger on it! Thank you—I love when someone figures out what I was thinking, but just didn’t have the words for. :)

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64
drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
149 tasting notes

I got this tea in a swap with a Pu-Erh expert, and it was my first dip into the lot, so perhaps I am grading this one a little too harsly.

My first notice was the large amount of sticks. I actually had to break some up to get them to fit into my cup. (like 3 inches long. I don’t even know how they fit into the bag).

Unfortunately I’m not a fish fan, the only sushi I can do is fully cooked, so the fish broth taste didn’t really work for me. There was a caramel menthol sweetness to it, and a smokey ness.

Reading the blurb on the website, this is a tea I would love to love, but unfortunately I can’t really see myself ordering any more in the future.

Updating my ranking to my new system.

Taste = 65
Price = 52.38
Representation = 75

New score of 64.12

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I received my sampler pack from Mandala yesterday (I may have let out a squeel upon opening the puffy envelope of goodness….). Deciding to try this one first, I chose to only use half the sample (about 3.5 grams) since in the directions it mentioned you could do this for a lighter brew. Pu-erh is still new to me, although I’ve loved it every time I’ve had it, and I feel like I’m still just getting to know what it has to offer….which, in turn, makes me feel like a newb and that I should take the ‘lighter’ route when offered (maybe I should get over that and just dive right in…I don’t know…).
I drank this tea all day…. ALL DAY. “One last time”, I kept telling myself, but that ‘one last time’ would be utterly delicious, and I’d go in for another ‘last time’.
The beginning was milk chocolatey with such a warm nuttiness, and always a fantastic aftertaste. Near the end (hours later), the woodiness in the infusions was brought forward, with that cedar note becoming much more prominent. So interesting, and so delicious.
Thank you so much Mandala, for offering a sampler pack at such a steal of a price!
I will definitely be coming back for more. :)

boychik

Yay! Glad you liked it!

Garret

This review just had me grinning from ear to ear. I am so joyful that you are enjoying this. Noble Mark has been my first tea of the day for over 2 years. And it just keeps getting better.

I appreciate you writing up your thoughts on this, my friend! From Rochester, MN to Rochester, NY I wish you great joy!

DeliriumsFrogs

Thanks for such a lovely comment, Garret! :)
Your tea has made my gaiwan incredibly happy (really. it’s like it’s been humming a tune and swaying ever so slightly, I swear…).
And boychik, I can’t thank you enough for getting me hooked on pu-erh! :)

boychik

soon you are going to say: Damn you, boychik! What have you done!

DeliriumsFrogs

Hahaha! Perhaps. But it would completely be said with love. lol

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I’m roasting San Marzano tomatoes & it’s 11pm.
I got up at 5am, & as soon as the tomatoes have come out of the oven & had a chance to cool down a little, I’ll put them in the frozen & go to bed.
Today was the first day of me actually having a day job (outside of 30 private students & various gigs), & really, it was kind of fun. It’s good to see all of the people I used to work with, & the kids in my class seem like nice ones. I started the day with a pot of Devotea’s 1910, then filled 2 – 20oz klean Kanteen thermal thingies (which keep your tea hot for 6 hours!!), filled one with Zhu Rong, which I enjoyed all morning, & the other with Verdant’s Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong, which I enjoyed all afternoon.
Then I came home just in time to teach private students for a couple more hours, & drank several steepings of this Shu, which Garret generously shared tuocha samples of.
I don’t have a lot to say. The rinse water smelled fishy, but the actual tea did not! It was creamy & chocolatey, & downright tasty. It also gave me a nice lift, as I was really dragging when I first got home.

Stephanie

I need to try Temple Stairs some day :)

Also MMMMM SAN MARZANOS!

Garret

Hi! These mini’s are super young (the pressing just happened in March) and the blend itself is quite young, too (fermented in 2013). I’m glad you got to try them. That rinse mushroomy, briny, sea water smell will dissipate quickly in the coming months. It’s pretty tell-tale that it only has that aroma in the rinse.

Had you tried the loose leaf version of this same blend? It is (for now) aging better than the pressed versions, but will be eating the dust of the cakes and minis within a year or two as far as complexity and flavor development. I’m excited about this tea.

I hope others are too, or I’ll be drinking it for this lifetime and the one after that, too :)

Wishing you great joy,
Garret

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92
drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
64 tasting notes

I received an 8g sample of this with my last order. I used the whole thing. This tea was good. I steeped it six times in a 160ml teapot. First 10 sec, then 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 30 sec, and 30 sec. I immediately noticed the chocolate notes. They were very strong notes of bitter chocolate in the first two infusions. The chocolate notes changed their character in the remaining four steeps. They took on the notes of half bitter chocolate, half sour plums/dates. This tea has no remaining fermentation flavor to it, the tea broth has cleared. I just bought another four ounces of this, and I had not yet tried this sample that Garret gave me with my last order.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Plums

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
AllanK

I brewed the tea in this great little pot. It pours really well. It was the first time using this pot.
http://instagram.com/p/rk13VoTDQW/?modal=true

boychik

The pot is gorgeous. i love the tray too. where did you get it?

AllanK

I bought it from a great EBay vendor called Streetshop88.

AllanK

That is I bought the tray from Streetshop88. I bought the Gaiwan from an Amazon seller called Ufingo.

AllanK

Said Gaiwan, meant teapot.

AllanK

Ufingo is a great seller. Here is a link for the pot. When I bought it I got a set with a Cha Hai and six 50ml teacups.
http://www.amazon.com/Ufingo-Brown-Beautiful-Kiln-Ceramic-Teapot-Type5/dp/B00CSDNZWM/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A22JKBTMGBNADE

boychik

OMG. i gotta get this teapot. I shouldnt show it to TheTeaFairy;)

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83

There is a slight roasted smell, along with some vegetal and floral notes in the dry tea scent. Dark green twisted and rolled leaves.
1tsp 8oz ~190F 30,60,90,120,135, 165
The first cup is floral, but more jasmine (which I like) than rose (which I don’t like), thankfully. There’s a ting of mineral. The second cup is a bit less floral, and sort of fresh kind of earthy. And there’s a nice light sort of creamy buttery texture, similar to a milk oolong mouthfeel.

The third cup is more floral than the second, more like the first. This cup seems sort of like honeysuckle (though that might just be the power of suggestion from the B&BW Honeysuckle candle I have lit). The next 3 steeps were all pretty similar to the last.

I think I’m growing a bit tired of green and green oolong teas (absolute craziness considering how they used to be my loves). This is definitely nice, but I think I need to take a break in order to fully appreciate it later.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Honeysuckle, Jasmine

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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