Mandala Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

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
387 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
82 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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drank Pure Buds Black by Mandala Tea
902 tasting notes

Mmmmm! Thank you Cameron B. for the sample :)

I had a feeling I would love this one. It’s a very good black indeed. Nice and complex. My kind of tea!

Cameron B.

Its picture on Steepster doesn’t do it justice, either! :)

Stephanie

Agreed. It is a very CUTE tea!

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80
drank Green Gold by Mandala Tea
236 tasting notes

The leaves are twisted and sort of snail like , rolled into sort of speaks. With emerald green leaves with some golden streaks through out. Steeped it up according to the package directions. 1.5tsp 8oz water 175F for 1-2minutes, and got 4 steeps out of it.

This smells buttery and sweet. The tea is a bit buttery and nutty and a bit vegetal like edamame. A nice green, one that I’ll enjoy drinking down.

Flavors: Butter, Nutty, Vegetal

Preparation
170 °F / 76 °C 1 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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94

I just had to buy the ripe pu’er sampler from mandala. It arrived at a perfect moment. I just arrived home from a depressing day-I spent the entire day getting my tooth repaired right before a big birthday celebration. It felt like I got older and suddenly my teeth were fragile and the dentist was having issues and there was bad traffic etc. So that night I just looked at the samples but after the party I had to brew up year of the dragon. I was born in the eyar of the dragon! I used 1/2 the 7g sample in a small tea pot (western style). I rinsed and then brewed for 30/45/50 etc about a 4 oz serving at a time (so a mix of eastern and western styles) and ..wow the perfect thing! It has some of the hints of chocolate and vanilla from my birthday cake in the first brewing. It has that fantastic orange/brown color to the liquid which I love. The 2nd and 3rd brews still have the hints of chocolate and vanilla but with some cream and fruit sneaking in. By 4 & 5 its more fig and plum (or pear I couldn’t decide) and just a hint of mushroom. The last brewing was just light more scents than flavor but for @ 3 grams that was a long way to go! As a “dragon” I think I am going to have to own some of this in the future! it aslo helped to calm me down and sooth the pain and swelling in my mouth from the all day tooth repair. I have to be patient, try the rest of the sampler before I declare it my all time favorite ripe pu’er of course I have only tired a limited number of them but I could stop here! For those who like the dense thick pu’er this is not one of them, its lighter and glentler less “coffee like” than some, but that’s what I love!

Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Fig, Mushrooms, Plums, Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
TeaBrat

Dental problems are never fun but tea should cheer you up:)

boychik

Happy belated Bday!

bizbee1

dental problems and a birthday are a good way to feel old. OTOH the problems were fixed and I have a savings account for that stuff so I can be happy I found a new tea to love! Thanks boychik!

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92

Fairly loose compression on this one. The little 100g cake split clean in half with one insertion of the pu erh knife. Below boiling water temp, quick rinse and 10s for the first steep. As I was sitting down for the first cup something didn’t feel right. I took one sip, but felt compelled to dump the first steeping so I did. Second steeping around 15s. The color is very light like “did I steep this long enough” light… golden yellow. Dominant notes of grasses and straw with lighter notes of floral, perhaps lotus, and very mild bitterness. Perhaps it was expectation, perhaps it was the tea, but I definitely noticed a significant glowing, warming, expansion of the heart center more-so than from any other tea I’ve had which was pleasant. I was also dealing with some Snickers ice cream bar induced nausea which was quelled after a few cups. Remind me that ice cream is not in my best interest.

After my first steeping I noticed an aftertaste of honey while waiting for water to warm for more steepings. Subsequent steepings saw the grassy, straw notes fade while floral sweetness and honey notes came more to the forefront. Simply wonderful cha qi with the aforementioned heart center feeling as well as a calming, everything is fine in the world, sense. I’m really enjoying this one right now.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 7 OZ / 200 ML
Cwyn

Haven’t tried this one!

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84

Sipdown (149)
I was sipping this all day while we moved the last of our stuff back into the suite. Eeesh. It was such a long day but this was such a beauiful tea. Thanks Sil I didn’t get a chance to log it while I made it but it was great and quite tolerant to abuse. (Sorry tea – I kept steeping it for 8-10 minutes…)

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95

This tea is one of the best sheng puerhs I have ever tasted. I steeped this ten times in a 3 oz shui ping teapot. First 10 sec, then 5, 10, 10, 15, 15, 20, 30, 30, 30. I used boiling water. By the fourth steeping all bitterness was gone from this tea and it was smooth. It continued to hold its flavor throughout nearly all ten steepings, not falling off until steeping 9 or so. By falling off I do not mean it had lost all its flavor, just a little. I have two of these and am considering buying another or even a tong.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Sarsonator

Have you tried the 2012? It’s also very good.

TheTeaFairy

My favourite sheng…

AllanK

I was unable to get the 2012.

AllanK

Just ordered a Tong of this tea.

TheTeaFairy

That’s amazing allan, congrats!!! I’m a little jealous now…

AllanK

Actually, that makes two of us. I loved your review of the Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea, but when I went to order it they were out. I have to wait for the next harvest.

mrmopar

This is a really good one.

AllanK

It was without a doubt the best “young sheng” I have ever drank. I ordered a tong and was lucky enough to get their sale price. The sale was over but they neglected to change the price online. I thought the sale price had been lower. I would have gotten 15% off anyway because I had a coupon for the non sale items in my order.

mrmopar

They are good sellers too.

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From the Unflavored TTB

This was from last night, and unfortunately, I can’t remember a lot about it anymore. It was really nice. Fairly buttery. A little bit nutty.

And then once I got that pulled pork in my mouth, everything else was forgotten. It was GOOD. Moist, succulent, juicy, smoky, tasty. It just took a little longer than we planned is all.

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94

From the unflavored TTB.

The main reason I signed up for the unflavored TTB was the hope to try a number of pu-erh teas. Up to that point, I had had a few, but none struck me as very good, and I was hoping to taste some of the highly rated Mandala teas. Though I enjoyed some of them, I was mostly disappointed.

There were only two raw pu-erhs in the box. When I expressed great disappointment with wild monk sheng, kimquat suggested that I had made a mistake by brewing it at 200 degrees, and said I should treat it as a green tea. There wasn’t much wild monk left, but I took a small sample of this tea to try later, which turned out to be today.

I absolutely love the tea. I only have 2 grams, so I am doing 1 minute steeps of 3 oz. I also skipped a rinse (though was prepared to do so if the first cup tasted off).

1st steep: Very little nose. Tastes like a white tea but with a deeper, richer finish. Very good. I don’t detect any musty or off flavors at all. By the time I got to the bottom of the cup, the rich flavors were throughout the taste, not just the finish. 2nd steep: While the flavors are similar to the 1st steep, they are much richer and more complex, like comparing an orchestra to a string quartet. Very rich mouth-feel. I’m starting to see what all the fuss is about over pu-erh. This is a great tea.

Subsequent steeps had similar flavors but not the richness or depth of the first two.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 88 ML
Cheri

I had this one yesterday and I just loved it. I was disappointed with the amount of sheng in the box as well. I’d hoped for more, as I’ve just found sheng and I really like it.

mj

I liked your musical simile :)

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83
drank GABA Oolong by Mandala Tea
82 tasting notes

I finally got around to giving this the full gongfu treatment today. It tastes much better this way. It was a little bit sweet and a little bit bitter with that classic oolong bitterness that comes off tasting somewhat good. There is also a mild effect from the gaba, not as much as I would like.

I steeped this five times in a 180 ml teapot. I used 6g leaf and 190 degree water. I steeped it for 15 sec, 15 sec, 15 sec, 30 sec, and 1 min. I liked this much better with the gongfu treatment than western style. I picked a gaba tea tonight because my morning tea will be at 6 am tomorrow and I can’t afford to stay awake. Thankfully I am not feeling a caffeine effect tonight.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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83
drank GABA Oolong by Mandala Tea
82 tasting notes

This tea tastes relatively good. It is not the very best oolong. That being said the gaba in it can have a very relaxing effect. I steeped this tea twice in 190 degree water, first for 3 1/2 min the for 4 min. I used 3 tsp of leaves in a 16 oz pot.

It is slightly bitter and slightly floral in taste but not a strong bitterness or a true strong floral that is often found in rolled oolong tea. I am drinking it with a mixture of honey and sugar, no milk. The mild effect of the GABA is very nice after a particularly stressful week.

Flavors: Bitter, Floral

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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86

from the (Mostly) Unflavored TTB

so a while back, Garret had a huge sale. He tried to convince me that I needed to buy some pu’er from his sale. I thought about it and politely declined. I didn’t need another tea to be addicted to.

Garret, why didn’t you push me harder?!?!?!

So now I’m drinking Mandala tea and loving it. And wishing I weren’t on a tea buying hiatus because I’m in love.

There really wasn’t even enough of this tea – not quite a teaspoonful. The directions say 1T/8oz, and I’m doing s now writing up a grocery list for me. He needs me to go to the store because he wants to make his own bbq sauce for the pulled pork for dinner.

Garret

You make me sound like some kind of pusher :) So happy you are liking this tea. I am down to just a handful of the 2012 cakes I had pressed while i was in China in April of that year. The 2011 are now long gone.

I need to see if I can put together a 2014 pressing of the same material from this farm. So delightful.

thanks for posting your thoughts on it. Insofar as the pulled pork – do you deliver to MN?

Enjoy. With gratitude, Garret

boychik

You can get a sample for $5

MzPriss

@Garret – I believe I called you a tea pusher in my very first note on Dark Beauty. Just sayin’….

Cheri

Garret, you might just be a tea pusher. I’m an enabler, so that’s okay. We don’t deliver pulled pork to MN, but I will post a tasting note. Let me tell you, the backyard smells delicious right now.

Mandy

I think pepperoni and pulled pork smothered in some delicious BBQ sauce are two of the only pig products that I can eat without feel like I’m eating a human. IDK what it is with pig meat, but it tastes like what I imagine humans taste like. Bleh. My BF thinks I just had a pet piglet when I was little and my parents took him and made him for dinner and that I was so mortified that I blocked out the memory and that’s why I don’t like pork. Haha

If any og the 2012 cakes are left when I get off of my hiatus, I think I might need to get it. It sounds yummy!

Marzipan

Bwahaha Boychik!

TheTeaFairy

(Totally a tea pusher)

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95

So it’s not really the first time I’ve tried Wild Monk, but I guess I just forgot to report it the first time. The sweetish, familiar scent that I couldn’t pinpoint before… now that I’ve had the time to properly think and meditate on it, I was reminded of a time back in high school during our senior retreat, when as part of our trip, we visited a cigar factory. As I don’t smoke, that was the only time I was ever exposed to this scent before trying out this Wild Monk…

Reminds me of tobacco. Now, I always found that scent of tobacco quite alluring. I just have health concerns over smoking. So! This tea? It’s a godsend. I can enjoy something that tastes like tobacco, without having to smoke. And dare I say, again, it’s very sweet. It’s my second steeping now. Should be good to keep me up until I finish helping out with my niece’s first birthday party.

Thanks for this great sample, Garret! :)

Flavors: Smoke, Sweet, Tobacco

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 350 ML

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87

Steeped properly this tea is excellent. I steeped it three times in a 350ml Yixing teapot, first 20 sec, then accidentally oversteeped the second steeping, then 20 sec. My review is based upon the two steepings where my strainer didn’t clog and slow my pouring. It was naturally just a little sweet on the first steeping. It was fairly light bodied with pleasant notes of I’m not sure what. Couldn’t quite put a finger on the taste but it was good. I was slightly bitter in the second and third steeping. Overall I give this tea a high mark.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 13 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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This is for the loose leaf version… I hope this is the right place to post this.

3/4 of a tsp into a timolino and I’ve been drinking it at work for the past three days. =) Yummy.

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