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Recent Tasting Notes
Thanks for sending a sample of this one a WHILLLE ago, Ali! As soon as I saw the wrapping of this one, I knew that another tea shop offered the same rice tuocha. Not sure which one it is now. But I also remembered it wasn’t the best rice tuocha. There isn’t enough punch to this ripe pu-erh for my tastes, neither is there enough rice flavoring. The rice drifts here and there. The pu-erh is too mild. It also definitely helped my appetite, as I ate way too many unhealthy things today. I don’t like the pu-erhs that make me hungrier! Three steeps tasted the same, but not tasty enough for me. Uninspiring. Now it’s gone! Took a peek at the Super-Blood-Harvest moon today. That sounds ridiculously terrifying.
I can see why this is so highly rated. I have considered purchasing it dozens of times, but given how much tea I have already and how much could end up going bad if I am not careful, I have abstained. Being at school from 7am-7pm doesn’t help much, given I do not currently have a method of making tea there even if I had the time. I am seriously considering bringing my cheap electric kettle there for those long days.
Anyway, this is fantastic and I appreciated getting the sample with my Smart Soak very much. It is super creamy and floral, and lasts what feels like infinite steepings.
Thanks to Nicole for the sample! I put the whole 4.5g sample in my 100ml gaiwan. Water mostly in the 90-95deg range. Steeps starting at 10sec, adding a few each time, then some longer steeps (using the “ignore it for a while, and then go ‘oh yeah, tea!’ method”).
The dry leaves are gorgeous, black with lots of gold. The wet leaves have a really rich, earthy and spicy smell. The liquor is a bit less sweet than I was expecting, malty and earth/woody and a little bit fruity. Quite a few steeps in, I’m starting to get a bit of a drying sensation in the back of my throat, but otherwise it’s fairly smooth. It’s good but not something I feel the need to buy more of. :)
I’ve been saving this brew for a cold morning and today is that day. I am huge fan of this company. I have never been disappointed. I opened the package to reveal long slender tendrils of black and gold. The leaf gave off an enticing malt and chocolate aroma. I placed a good amount in my warmed gaiwan and gave it a shake. The aroma that arose from my brewing vessel was delicious! I took in strong scents such as coco, dark wood, slight cherry, and almost a vanilla. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The liquor began as a tarnished gold and then it deepens to a bronzed crimson. The flavor was amazing! This brew gives a thick mouth-feel and is syrupy. The intial flavor is creamy chocolate that mixes well with a slight spice and caramel. The brew carries a burnt sugar aftertaste with a thick huigan. This tea gave me a decent qi that made the morning just a bit more beautiful. I can’t get over how amazing this tea tastes. The flavor lasts long after drinking, and it continues to give a thick coating on the mouth. I love this brew, and I know that I’ll be needing to keep it well stocked.
Flavors: Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Malt, Milk
If you have this tea I ask you to please make it to steep 6… it’s almost like some butterscotch candy was extracted and injected into the tea before it was plucked only to be detected when a tea has really been under stress of hot water multiple times.
Casually sipping on this and then came back to it for a sixth steeping which is rather long for an oolong and I, and B O O M out f no where it just impressed me with the complete new flavor that decided to come out of nowhere. It’s kind of rude for someone to hide when you play with their friend five different times, but whatever… I will forgive the green means to happiness in this case. This was much better than censored which is good to experience because I had thought that these type of oolong (oxidization and area) might not be something I enjoyed; fun to be proven wrong :)
I took these camping this weekend (with some other teas, but forgot the tea bags/strainer), and OMG. SO GOOD.
I could let them steep for ages, and in a 12 oz cup 2 of them gave me 3 good cups of tea. Plus, it was really fun pulling them out of my ceramic mug and holding them up (like kraken! or sea urchins!) when people asked me what I was drinking. :D
This is my first time enjoying a Puer tea pressed into the Jin cha mushroom shape. The dry leaves sitting in a warm gongfu teapot smell like earth and muddy pasture with little hints of musty mineral like the inside of a concrete basement or a stone cave.
After a rinse, the wet leaves smell like walnuts, wood, and mineral. The warm tea liquid smells like dough. On the first infusion the onset of the flavor is woody with hints of bamboo and a sweet background. There are some mineral notes, but it isn’t as earthy tasting as I expected it might be. The mouthfeel of this tea is incredibly juicy. It makes me salivate a lot and yet it also feels very wet and mouth-coating on its own.
In the next couple infusions, the sweetness is a bit less, and a wood flavor is what comes through the most. There are hints of root vegetables like beets. I accidentally let the fourth infusion sit for a few minutes, rather than the short 20-30 second infusions I started out with, so it tasted considerably more thick, but surprisingly not overbrewed or overpowering. There are slightly bitter earthy notes of cocoa or Pacific Rim region coffee now, but the drink is still quite clean and smooth.
The next infusion was shorter again and was pretty sweet again, really clean and not musty at all. While I seem to have had the experience that most ripe Puer tastes similar, I think what is beginning to make one stand out over another in terms of quality is the texture or sweetness of them, and with this one having a really nice clean, juicy texture, and a nice sweetness to it, I think this is really good quality ripe Puer… plus it comes in the shape of a cute little mushroom. It’s hard to say no to that! My only concern is that it doesn’t store as easily as a disc shaped Puer cake does and right now I live in a really small apartment with very little shelf space for more tea, so I’m not sure if the mushroom shape is really meant for me.
Flavors: Mineral, Walnut, Wood
My favorite thing about a great white tea is not having to add any sweetener to it! :) I only steeped this for maybe a minute, so it’s flavor is light and smooth. This was a sample, and I already have a stash of silver needle white tea, but I may have to consider switching tea shops.
Oh snap, this is fantastic!
Normally the touchas that I get that are ripe are super dark, but this looked like it was coated in dirt :)
^ that is a good thing
This tea was a little hard to break up so I just made a tornado in my gravity steeper with the water and this guy :p
The result at 15s was wonderful… however, I screwed up once again and started this after 9pm so I only made it to steep 10 or 11; better known as 4 bathroom visits (I was told it is just as accurate)
I hope to find more toucha to be this good :)
After dusting off my gaiwan I spent a good part of the morning enjoying this tea and ignoring the mile long to-do list I have sitting on my counter. I gave the leaves a quick 15 second rinse, discarded the water, and began with a 30 second steeping. The flavor was light, with hints of leather and molasses. Each time I steeped this tea the flavor deepened and the notes changed. What started out as leather and molasses moved into dark chocolate and slowly became sweeter. The later steepings reminded me of the Mexican vanilla beans I bought last year, they tasted of wood and vanilla.
You can read the rest of the review on my blog:
Thank you Garret for this tea!
I steeped it as instructed online: 5 second rinse, 1 minute, two, then four. I really like it. To me, it was very similar to Imperial Pearl by Mountain Tea because it had the same type of roasted character, but with a sweet aftertaste. I want to say there was some cherry in the second steep, but not quite. Honey perhaps? Both times had a wonderful earthy, floral character very similar to an oolong. Also surprisingly nutty, though it’s a considerably light black tea. The final steep reminded me of stone fruits and honey.
I steeped this again the full four minutes, and all the notes that I got from the Gongfu in each brew came at me at once in a balanced way. Definitely better western, and I was even able to brew it again for another four minutes and it tasted almost the same though it was lighter. It was spicy, and fairly complex. The Imperial Pearl from Mountain Tea and this one are almost the same in terms of taste, and both had a dried cherry flavor that lingered on the tongue for a while.
I had some jitters earlier today from a lack thereof working out. I naturally have a lot of nervous energy, and with a lot of tea, the caffeine can get to me….so yay! More caffeine. I noticed though, that this had a focusing effect on me. I wouldn’t say calming, but slowed me down a little bit and reminded me to breath. I see why this is taken before exams.
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Nuts, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet
Let’s see, so far I’ve tried David’s, Tealet’s, and both of Teavivre’s milk oolongs. So this is my fifth milk oolong, and wow, it’s nothing like the others. It’s SOOO buttery. When I opened the bag it smelled like movie theater popcorn. I didn’t really know what to think, but it steeped up beautifully. It’s very smooth and creamy, there does seem to be just a breath of salt in the flavor, but happily it doesn’t actually taste like popcorn. Also, you can get many many steeps out of it. A+
I’m not really a fan of Tie Guan Yin — the earthy chocolate notes paired with the floral just doesn’t do it for me. That said, I do think this tea is about the best a Tie Guan Yin can be — it’s very smooth and the lilac aspect is a nice surprise — so if you are into it, definitely check this one out. It has great longevity, I think I’ve done 6 steeps and it’s still going strong.
My gravity steeper was in desperate need of cleaning, so I ordered some of Mandala’s Smart Soak, and Garret kindly threw in some tea samples as well.
This one is particularly well balanced, a delicate mix of light cream, floral, and vegetal notes. Steeped, the hearty-looking leaves smell like something between steamed spinach and swiss chard, but this isn’t in the flavor at all, as the vegetal notes lean much closer to snow pea.
I tried to follow the instructions closely, starting with a 5 second rinse and then doing 30 second steeps. This worked very well, and I do get the feeling that this is a tea you have to be pretty precise about, and definitely you don’t want to get sloppy on it with the steep times. I think I got 6 steeps out of it before I had to run, and they were all flavorful, but my favorite was probably the second or third steep.
Of course it all tasted so much better with the steeper all shiny and clean again. That Soak really is amazing! Many thanks to AllanK and Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl for recommending it.
Additional notes: Enjoying this one again thanks to Nicole sending a surprise serving along with the other teas a while back. Definitely a good one. Though it doesn’t seem as deep in flavor this time, even though I used a little more leaves this time and tried to follow the same parameters. It’s overall deeper in flavor than you expect, since the leaves are so light. I think it’s the perfect balance of a light and dark black tea though, if that makes sense.
Another great sample from Nicole! Thank you! This one looks really similar to the Yunnan Sourcing sample of Black Gold that Nicole also sent. Hmm. There is plenty of gold here. It looks like a variation of a snail tea. Black and gold tight bundles that somehow artfully unravel into these huge leaves. The flavor is fantastic. The deep amber cup has all the characteristics I love in a black tea: at first it is floral or like wine, then there are slight pepper and smoky notes, while being malty, honey yet still rich. Hints of fruit. This is really somehow everything except a chocolate tea, which surprised me. It’s a very complex tea, very intoxicating and addicting. I think the favorite that I’ve tried from Mandala over the years. I probably didn’t need to use 1 1/2 teaspoons, one heaping teaspoon would do, but it was fantastic steeped this way anyway. Three solid steeps with none of that oversteeped oaky flavor some black teas tend to have. I’ll try the YS- Black Gold with these parameters.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons // 10 minutes after steeping // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 6 min a.b. // 2 min
Steep #3 // just boiled // 5+ min
This is Smoothness itself. I’ve never had any other tea that is this gorgeous and this silky. I admit that I’m still getting over the smell, but as I rinsed it three times, it transitioned into something closer to a mushroomy odor. I steeped it for 20 seconds and the rest Gongfu, the second 25, the third 30. The color is a very deep brown, with shades of orange, purple, and red glossing the liquid. The taste is exactly as described on here, there are notes of cocoa, some molasses, leather, mushroom, and bitterness. The bitterness overpowers the natural sweet notes in it, but as I re-steeped it, it got sweeter. Next time, I’m going to steep it more to see if it gets any sweeter.
I am so glad that I got this, though I admit the cake is bigger than I thought. Originally, I thought that I was going to have to budget more with my teas running out of gift income, but I found more that I totally forgot about. I still need to budget better, and have certainly bought too much tea, but this is a choice that I’m really glad I made. As a preemptive hangover strike for my twenty first, I think that I’ll be happily recovering with this embodiment of velvet.
As for my usual tidbit about general audience, this is for an experienced drinker, and one that should be used to introduce someone to Pu-Erh and Gongfu style of steeping. A newbie would have a hard time getting over the smell despite the taste being far different, which is also why Garret HIGHLY recommends rinsing for 5-10 seconds 2-3 times. It might be easier for a palette that’s not used to it with sugar, specifically rock sugar or maybe honey. I personally might start adding rock or raw sugar on occasion to really bring out the sweeter notes like cocoa, but I still can totally drink it on it’s own. Also, this is a tea that you should devote an entire day to because of the sheer amount of resteeps that you can get. It will serve your tea needs all day, which is another reason why I purchased this as a specific budget savor when I thought I had less of a disposable income (still technically do, but you know, tea addict).
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Leather, Molasses, Mushrooms, Smooth
Thank you for including a sample of this one, Nicole! The large wirey leaves have hints of brown to them. The brew is a pale brown. The flavor is pretty unique, but not strong enough for me (I don’t think I’ve slept very well in the last few days and I’m TRYING to avoid caffeine at night). There is a bright fruit flavor that is unique to this one… almost citrusy even, but mostly stonefruits. But it could be the tangy quality found in those ancient wild tree teas. Also, a bready fragrance to the dry leaf and hints of that in the flavor. Otherwise it tastes half like keemun and half like one of those Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong teas. (All three have a slight smoky quality to them.) I wish I could describe this one more, but I don’t think I’m quite awake while tasting. I definitely didn’t get chocolate notes – maybe because 1 1/2 teaspoons isn’t enough to get the chocolate notes but I used the entire sample I had. The second steep tasted almost exactly the same even though steeped completely differently.
Steep #1 // 1 1/2 teaspoons // 8 minutes after boiling // 1- 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // few minutes after boiling // 3-4 min
A good daily drink. Nothing too special from this cake though. A good sweetness after a slightly bitter few steeps near the beginning. Maybe apricot or peach notes, more dried than juicy. Slight astringency after the sixth steep, but a pleasant experience.
Flavors: Apricot, Dried Fruit, Peach, Sweet
This is something that I’ve been wanting to try for awhile. I’m so happy that I finally received some . They have an amazing aroma. These little golden cones carry a deep sweet malt and currant aroma. I placed two inside my glass tea pot. The liquor is lighter than most Yunnan reds. The scent is the same. This brew carries the amazing sweet bread, malt, and caramel aroma. The taste was fantastic. I can taste light fluffy baked bread, sea salt caramel, malt, and a sweet currant. The best thing about this tea is that it cant be over steeped. I left this in the teapot for longer than five minutes. The brew was still sweet and soothing. These little cones would be perfect for traveling tea. They have easy brewing parameters, and are so convenient.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Currant, Caramel, Malt, Sweet, Sweet Potatoes