Mandala Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

80

I got this as a sample from a Mandala order. I didn’t know what to do with it, so I looked up other reviews on this type of tea and went from there. Gongfu, used the whole sample (about a tablespoon I guess? I forgot to weigh it) and water at 175. First steep two minutes. The aroma is absolutely lovely. Fruity sweet. The flavor is also sweet initially, with a slightly bitter aftertaste and lingering mouthfeel. I don’t know what it is with me lately and thinking green teas smell/taste of mangoes, but there it is, and so much for my one-dimensional palate.

I’m in a experimenting kind of mood, so I’m going to do a shorter steep at a higher temp. 30 seconds at 185: oh, that’s much better! Hardly any bitterness now. If I hadn’t screwed up the first one and had just gone with 30 second steeps, I’d be at 7 right now. I feel very relaxed and mellow; this is a nice tea to come home to after a stressful day. I would add this tea to my wishlist, but alas I do not see it on Mandala’s site. It reminds me a a little bit of Mandala’s Valley Peak green tea, but it lasts much longer.

EDIT: Today I learned that Bi Luo Chun and Green Snail Spring are one and the same!

Garret

http://shopmandalatea.com/green-tea/green-snail-spring-organic.html

Bi luo chun is "green snail spring. Thanks for writing up your thoughts on this one. I really like this tea brewed up in the tea thermos aka “grandpa style”. Very nice.

Grateful,
Garret

curlygc

Ah, I didn’t realize it was Green Snail Spring! Sorry about that. Well, at least I know how to buy it now :-)

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86
drank 2007 Clouds and Fog by Mandala Tea
8 tasting notes

I’m actually new to raw Pu’er (sheng). My only other experience with Sheng was 2012 “Heart of the Old Tree” (which I found too bitter – likely too young). I was beginning to wonder if Sheng just wasn’t for me.

I was actually rather pleased, however, when I tried this tea. I had none of the bitterness issues, and I found that the tea continued to perform for many infusions. I stopped after 5 infusions, but that was just because I’d had enough tea – I’m certain the leaves still had more to give. Here are my tasting notes…

5 ounces of leaf, boiling water.

Two 10-15 second washes.

First infusion (25 seconds)
Nice light-brown colour. No bitterness. Pleasant aroma. Tobacco taste? Perhaps – but not in a strong, objectionable way. Pleasant flavour.

Second infusion (40 seconds)
Now a little darker – a medium brown colour. Detected more notes of cedar. Maybe a little bitterness sneaking in? Still pleasant.

Third Infusion (40 seconds)
Light brown colour. No bitterness at all. Flavour is still pleasant, but I couldn’t pick out any distinct flavours – just pleasant…I think I’ll have to move to a longer steep next…

Fourth infusion (1 minute 20 seconds)
Medium brown colour again. Cedar notes coming through again, although the flavour is clearly more “blunt” than at the beginning. Still fairly enjoyable.

Fifth infusion (1 minute 30 seconds)
Medium brown colour again. Again, still fairly enjoyable.

The flavour still has a “brightness” to it compared to “regular” (non-pu’er) black teas at these later infusions. This tea is making me think I might become a Sheng drinker yet.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec

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86

Okay, this time I’m drinking it again, but with less water and between 4 and 5 grams of tea leaves. I tasted the milk MUCH more this time with the vegetal notes. I also get a little bit of walnut. I still prefer the Milk Oolong and the Tie Guan Yin, but I am enjoying this tea a lot more right now.

And yesterday, August 24th, 2015, I liked it even more. The cream and butter qualities were more apparent this time than the last one. The tasting notes were the same, but more balanced and it resembled the Milk Oolong more but toned down (though that’s exactly what it is. I enjoyed every steeping and appreciated it more.

Flavors: Milk, Vegetal, Walnut

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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86

Pretty green, and herby. I taste the milk aspect a little bit, but it loses out to the sea mist tone. Enjoyable, but I prefer the treated version of this one and the Tie Guan Yin. Some one newer to teas would probably not be able to taste the creamy notes, and mistake it for a green tea. You honestly have to be able to taste more nuance or have a more vivid imagination to fully enjoy this one. I’d probably say that you should try it for a better understanding of the difference between the treated and untreated Jin Xuan, so educational and fun, but again, I liked the other teas more.

Flavors: Creamy, Herbaceous, Seaweed

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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This one is really changing, and like it, my preferences change from day to day and mood to mood. I’ve steeped it several different ways, and only once was I able to get the sweetness that made me love it in the first place. Even when I first sampled it, it was a weak orchid that changed into a sweeter lilac that reminded me so much of plumeria. I liked the Milk Oolong most, then this one became my favorite. Now, I prefer the Milk Oolong more again save one day of a singular, stronger brew. The cost of a gram per ounce or more is great, so I try to use less water for less grams or stay with it lightened. Even when this tea is fainter, though, I keep on welcoming it and it comes as an honored guest. It will always be a must try for anyone, but nothing will compare to the way it was when I made it sweet by accident. Perhaps I’m romanticizing the favored experience, but I swear it was just as sweet as the Milk Oolong was, tasting of plumeria, warm milk, and a dash of caramel.

Now, it’s been a few days, the smell has changed from orchid, to plumeria, to lilac, and back to orchid now. I miss the sweetness so much, but I couldn’t bring myself to add sugar to it. A stronger brew with more leaves and time is the best way that I can get it to be sweet again. The same wonderful notes pervade, with more butter and cream some days, more vegetal others, but a transformation of flowers persists. I wish I wrote down what I did when I rated this as a 98 because I still miss it. Nevertheless, this tea still does what a good Tie Guan Yin is supposed to do: provide serenity in a cup of purity. The plumeria smell remains, and I continue to think back to Hawaii when my life was more fortunate. A divine gift from the Goddess of Mercy indeed.

And now, I don’t know what to rate it. Some days it’s been a 90, others an 85, and unfortunately some days a 80 or 75 because of how faint I brewed it. I’ll keep on coming back to this one for I will be drinking it for days. For those of you who are trying to decide whether or not to try it, look down at my first review that is on the bottom of this particular review.

….but then I figured it out! Less water, hotter water just under boiling, more leaves! 15 seconds, then 30, then add fifteen subsequently at 1-1.5 grams per ounce. Sweet plumeria, you have returned!

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Still flowery and creamy, but not nearly as sweet as when I first tried it. I’ll double check my brewing, and try again. Thank heavens I had notes on it from before. More than likely I need more leaves and perhaps brew it longer. Is there a way to brew this sweeter, Garret? Or because it’s been a few months since harvest it loses it’s sweetness?

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Still one of my favorites, hands down. I actually like this one slightly more than the Milk Oolong now because it is slightly more floral and complex. Lilac, orchid, and plumeria are still prominent, with butter and vegetal relish.

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I enjoyed this one equally to the Milk Oolong. The smell and even the taste distinctly reminds me of plumeria. I have yet to taste a Tie Guan Yin with this sweet, floral purity. I am so glad this came as a sample, and thank you again Garret for this wonderful tea. I didn’t expect it to be so creamy and aromatic, yet so subtle. It instantly clears my head, and deceives me into relaxing though it can probably keep me up all night long. I was very tempted to try it western style, but I decided against it and savored it Gongfu. The last steeping was the only one that lacked the flavor that I liked.

If I were to buy from Mandala again, I’m not sure if I would pick this one or the Milk Oolong. I’d honestly buy both if I can. But hey, I love the smell of plumeria making my inclination not so partial.

I’d highly recommend this tea for anyone who likes light florals, greener oolongs, or who wants to meditate to something great. To a newbie, it might be an eye opening experience or a highly floral green tea.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Sweet

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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Today was great until 2pm when I got a headache. It is now 10:14pm and I still have it.

Miserable.

Pulled this out for 14 steeps while cooking:
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10152987343467361&set=a.10150201555322361.309460.714617360&type=1&theater

Headache… this was great, very powerful taste for a sheng with beautiful leaf. Some dark green with red/brown tint. Overall one of the better shengs I have had.

boychik

Sorry abt headache. i usually take Advil at first signs. If i dont nothing good happens ;( The meal looks yum

Liquid Proust

I try to not use medicine… I’m stubborn :/

The food is good :)
I wish I could teleport it to you all along with some tea

Stephanie

This was my first sheng love

boychik

ive noticed that some tea induce my headache. just dont remember which one lol. i sure wouldnt mind to eat it. i had very little food today. my fridge is dead since yesterday. i have a backup but its very old too. i have to wait 2 wks for the new one since its special order. Argh.

Liquid Proust

I’ve had that happen sadly… it sucks and it is hard to really prepare for such a thing as well.

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75

an ok tea

when I smell the leaves dry, I smell pepper and spices.

when I smell the leaves wet, the smell is intensified.

when I smell the brewed tea, I smell pepper and spices.

when I taste the brewed tea, I taste pepper and spices.

i rate this a 75 because I am not really into black teas.

many thanks to Scribbles for this ok tea sample :)

Flavors: Pepper, Spices

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 10 g 250 OZ / 7393 ML

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98

This one remains a one of my favorites. And when I thought I had no more income to spare, I found some I forgot about, and totally decided to get this tea. I said in the original review that I wouldn’t get this any time soon, but since I had the freedom to, this was one of the teas I had to have.

I actually tasted different notes this time, and different notes from day to day. Lately, I’ve been getting mango, caramel, peach, and coconut, but all of them so subtly there. I still do this gongfu, but I’ve experimented more and been steeping this a little more western style on occasion being equally good for different reasons. The flavor profile is still the same western having notes of cream, flowers, grass, butter, milk, sweetness, toffee, and vegetal. The floral aspect is now closer to a lilac. I still rinse it 10-15 seconds every time. I had some today with hotter water at about 200 F and it tasted like cotton candy in the rinse. Apparently, I prefer this one with hotter water. Who knew?

Oh, and for you people trying to decide whether or not to get this tea, look at my previous review. It’s something that you should try, but some may be turned off by the buttery aspect to it, or if you’re newer, follow the recommendations exactly on the website. It also may take some time for you to figure out the steeping parameters that you prefer to get the flavor notes you want for this tea.

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98

This is a tea I was saving up for, and I am really glad that I went ahead and got it. All the flavors and tasting notes are definitely present; the first thing I smelled opening the bag was toffee. The first brew, which I steeped for about 24 seconds, was the best having the full, floral, buttery, creamy, vegetal, sweetness that is constantly described. The following tastes accented the vegetal tastes more making it taste more and more like a lighter green tea. This is only the second time that I’ve used the Gonfu style after applying to a Wu Yi Rock Oolong, and I was pleasantly surprised with how much flavor this tea had. I typically like fuller bodied teas, or teas that have a more complete flavor profile. Though Mandala’s Milk Oolong is lighter with a Gongfu style, it’s flavor profile has that completeness making it a truly unique experience. Thank you Garret so much! And thank you so much for your nice note with the Tie Guan Yin and Jin Xuan samples.

With all that said, this tea is primarily for some one who has really sensitive taste buds, or in other words, an amateur to a more experienced connoisseur. Also, not for some one who purely likes western black teas or more British styles with lost of cream and sugar. The sweet creamy notes may or may not off set that preference, but to the majority of the population, I don’t think it would.

I will definitely get this tea again, but I’m not sure I would in the near future because this is a more expensive tea. I realize that I am paying for something that is of a high, rare quality to be enjoyed for hours and steeps on end-it’s paying for the unique experience. And that is an experience to be savored.

Flavors: Cream, Floral, Grass, Milk, Sweet, Toffee, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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A unique oolong. For whatever reason I thought oolongs were supposed to have creamy flavors but I’ve been learning that oolongs are extremely diverse. This is a very smooth oolong. Great grassy flavors. Slight floral but I find that more in the smell then the taste.

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drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
540 tasting notes

I really wanted to like this tea, but the more I drink black/red teas the more I like my cocoa-y…

Unfortunately, this is just a black tea with no real notes to pick out. Smooth, for sure, but doesn’t stand out. I do like how it is pure and not dry nor bitter.

Also: After this person near me has asked 4x to come drink tea with me and then cancelling they told me they are not interested anymore… I really dislike how I put a lot of time and set aside teas for them, but they just don’t take it serious after stringing me around.

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First steep is grassy and mineral. Second steep is more grass please let me floral still mineral. Third step is sweeter a little less mineral and nice and grassy.

Second try tonight. No rinse this time. Surprisingly less mineral and more sweet. Still grass. Notes like a sencha. Second steep. Floral notes and something I can’t quite pinpoint.

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98
drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
661 tasting notes

Hm. Could have sworn I tried this one previously but I don’t see it. This was a generous sample included by Garret in my recent order. Delicious, smooth, darkly sweet and fruity with a significant amount of malt. This one was sipped over the course of the entire day and it was equally tasty once it cooled off.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Garret

so happy that you enjoyed it. There is something about this particular vintage that is so pleasing even while it is so young. Normally, I like this tea best at about 1.5 yrs to 3 yrs of age! The wetter weather prior to harvest and the extra drying time required made this young tea quite special very early. I believe I’ll make some right now since you got me thinking about it!

Nicole

This was absolutely yummy. I have just enough left to try it in a gaiwan. :)

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I drank some 2011 white buds from Norbu yesterday so I pulled these out to compare with today.
I find this to have a stronger taste, but not in the good way. There is a wild element to this tea that showcases the way that it was created, but tat is not a taste I like. Some people may like that really earthy notes within the tea that make it taste alive… but I want a smooth hot liquid that has a complex taste that doesn’t make me think about the process the tea went through rather what is happening in my mouth.

This might nice, but it isn’t my favorite white/silver bud tea that I have had

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drank Ginseng Oolong by Mandala Tea
464 tasting notes

Tried this one out a few days ago but didn’t find anything particularly pleasing about it. Trying again and on this beautiful morning where that gorgeous MN blue sky is finally showing itself, I am finally tasting what I had hoped. Even so it’s still not quite as strong of an after taste as I like. Just a lot more faint then I am used to. Good base. Some creamy flavors and textures. Hay. Grass. After the ginseng oolong I had in China I haven’t really found one that compares. But unlike that one I think this one has a better leaf. And yea…. The resteepablility is amazing.

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drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
464 tasting notes

I’m multitasking while reviewing this tea. Sometimes need to get in what I can while the babe is asleep. Lots of good vegetal notes in this one.

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From everything I’m reading this should be a green oolong but all I’m gettin is woodsy and hay notes of a black tea. Garret I’ll contact you and see what you think. Its a good black, just not what’s on the package I think.

Garret

I will respond to your email and this message. I’m the one who would have bagged up your tea. I am hoping I didn’t mess up and give you GABA black. Can you tell me if the dry leaf looks black in color or maybe shoot me an email with a pic of the dried leaf?

Skysamurai

I’ll send you an e-mail

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93
drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
464 tasting notes

Garret you are running a wonderful company. The and written note is a wonderful touch that you just don’t see much of anymore. I was excited to see the tea but seeing the note gave me warm fuzzies.

Does anyone else have trouble with their Gaiwan being too hot? The water isn’t overly hot but I will like the liquid that come from it is hotter then it should be…

Anyway… this tea is amazing. I smell compared David Tea to this one and wow… David’s Tea almost smells fake.. It’s not as pleasing to the nose as this one is. And the flavor. OH THE FLAVOR! So much in there! The resteepablitly is amazing. I did a 10 second rinse. Used a gaiwan for the first few steepings until my fingers got tired of holding on to a hot cup. Now I’m sipping every 30 seconds from a teapot (pouring it in a small tea cup first… I wouldn’t drink it straight from the spout =p]. It’s holding up very well at 3 minutes in and still going…

Preparation
1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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77

GCTTB

These look so nice. Long spindles of leaf, mostly a nice golden yellow, and dwindling to black. The brewed scent is all smooth chocolate with fruit and a bit of a malty edge. Taste wise, the malt is actually strongest for me. That strong chocolate scent doesn’t quite follow through in the flavour. It’s definitely there, just not as much as that great smell would have you believe. Quality, enjoyable, but didn’t stand out to me.

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