Mandala Tea

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99
drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
2 tasting notes

One of the best teas in its class of Oolongs. And what I want to know is how? I have no idea how the same leaf and species can produce such wildly different flavors, but this is all butterscotch and cream. From the same leaf that gives me floral and honey, smoke and peat in other Oolongs. It’s amazing. I’ve dedicated my largest Yixing to its wonders.

Oh, and as for Mandala? There aren’t many vendors I can say I trust, but between the love notes they personally write to customers, the consistent quality of the tea, the way they take care of their growers, and all the research they do to… they’ve won me over.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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99
drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
2 tasting notes

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Drank this at work in the morning :)
Potent. Lasting. Taste of fermentation.
I would say that this has less chocolates than BuLang that I’ve had from ’10 / ’08, but the fermentation is quite strong in this. With that being said, this one is up to personal preference not only of taste but time of drinking.

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96
drank Black Beauty by Mandala Tea
978 tasting notes

The dry leaves are twisty and beautiful, smelling like burnt sugar and dark chocolate.
The preparation instructions state to brew at 208degrees, so I boiled the water and let it sit for about a minute and a half (I couldn’t wait any longer than that).
When brewed, the dark Amber colour of the brew is tempting me to take a sip and burn my tongue but I hold out and wait until it cools a bit.
The taste is roasty, smooth caramel and burnt sugar. Chocolate notes are there in every sip. In the background, there is slightly spicy and fruity notes. I really enjoy the complexity of this tea and that there is no astringency.

I am so glad that I finally put in a Mandala Tea order. What was I waiting for??

I resteeped for 4 minutes, but next time I think I would try 5 minutes.

I didn’t quite finish my last cup, so I put it in a water bottle in the fridge. It is also delicious cold!

Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Roasted

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp
Doug F

One of my favorites!

TeaTiff

Love this one! I debated picking up some during the sale, but will have to wait for a bit.

tigress_al

I can see this one becoming a favourite!
Good will power TeaTiff on passing up a Black Friday sale!

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Yours truly is immensely sleepy today, courtesy of the desire to get up early, basically resetting my sleep schedule because being nocturnal was getting tedious. Clearly I need more tea to wake myself up with, maybe keep myself awake with some painting, and then maybe a bit of reading or Minecraft. I have been busily stalking 4JStudio’s Twitter feed, they keep posting update teasers and I am super excited for new blocks to build with. The new biomes excite me too, but that means I will need a new world, or just wait til the Xbone gets to an affordable by me price and I can just expand my world. For now though, as soon as the update drops that means lots of building fun in my creative world.

This is a Shou after my heart, Mandala Tea’s Year of the Dragon 2012 Pu’er, specifically because dragons are near and dear to my heart, specifically my favorite dragon, Ben, even if he did spent the entirety of 2012 being insufferably smug since it was his year. Originally harvested in 2010 from 40-50 year old trees in Jing Mai, it was pressed in 2012, March 1st, 2012 to be exact. I felt myself lucky, because my sample of this Shou came with the Nei Fei, which I have kept stored away in a little box…for reasons. The aroma of the leaves is immensely earthy, it is rich and sweet with notes of pine loam, oak loam, a deep humid forest, and a tiny bit like prunes. At the very end of the sniff there is a gentle woodiness that reminds me of an old cedar trunk, with a slight crispness like the air before snow.

Into the elephant pot the tea went, after a rinse and the first steep the aroma is so earthy and woody. Like a mix of oak and pine wood that is both wet and dry, with sweet molasses and undertones of mineral and loam. Again this tea reminds me of a humid lush forest. The liquid is rich, woody notes of stems and loam with wet wood and a molasses sweet finish.

The first thing I notice from the first steep is how much it reminds me of a fallen tree, notes of earthy loam and wet wood combine with moss and mulch. It gently coats the mouth and goes from loamy to sweet figs, molasses, and a touch of prunes. The finish has a slightly bitter oak gall note, though the aftertaste is molasses and that lingers for a good long while.

Onward to the second steeping, the aroma of this one is still quite woody, but the woodiness mixed with a creamy sweetness gives the shou a bit of a vanilla quality. This mixes really well with the loam notes, sweet and earthy. The taste takes a note from the aroma and is quite sweet this time, it starts sweet, stays sweet, and finishes sweet. With notes of vanilla and molasses, figs and prunes, and a touch of honey, these notes mingle with pine loam and wet oak wood for a mellow and sweet sip.

The third steep had much in common with the second steep, as did the fourth. I did not notice much of a change until the fifth steep where the aroma and taste go almost entirely woody, with strong notes of wet pine wood, loam, and oak wood. It has a sharpness along with the molasses sweetness, this Shou is the right amount of woody and earthy in balance. I think I need to add this cake to my collection, because it turns out Ben likes it…which it would be weird if he didn’t, what with being a dragon and all!

For blog and photos: http://ramblingbutterflythoughts.blogspot.com/2015/12/mandala-tea-year-of-dragon-2012-ripe.html

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100
drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
978 tasting notes

This tea had been on my wish list forever. The reviews have always been raving about this tea. For whatever reason, I have never placed an order. When I saw that Mandala was having a pre-black Friday sale, I figured now was just as good of a time as any!

Boy, am I glad that I finally ordered this tea. This is by far the best milk oolong I have tasted!

I think that I did 6 steeps today. I didn’t do a rinse like some other notes are mentioning. The first 4 were for 20seconds each. These steeps were smooth and creamy with notes of coconut, and I find almost a buttercream icing sweetness. It is not overly sweet but just perfect. The mouthfeel is silky and full.
The 5th and 6th steeps are losing the creamy, coconut notes. Floral, fruity, green vegetal notes are making their way into this cup now.
If I would have had more time today, I would have continued to steep but caffeine really affects me if I have it after 2 or 3pm. I should have cold brewed the leaves for tomorrow but I didn’t think of it until the leaves were already in the garbage…sigh… Oops

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 tsp

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drank Nine Lotus by Mandala Tea
507 tasting notes

Very smooth. Grassy notes. Slightly nutty. Slightly sweet. The wet leaf smells so good. Slight marine/seaweed in the smell but not in the taste.

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drank Highest View by Mandala Tea
507 tasting notes

I need to do a quick confession. Think I ruined the pumpkin pie. We’ll see in 30 minutes. I’m sitting here drinking this tea thinking it’s not quite what I thought it was going to be. Nutty and grassy start with a surprisingly sweet finish. Leaves nothing in the aftertaste. Still I don’t mind it. Just not going to the top of my list.

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86
drank White Night by Mandala Tea
945 tasting notes

Bought two ounces of this with my Mandala order. It one tasty tea. It could be because I added sugar but a get notes of apples with this tea, tart apples. I think it would be sweet without the sugar.

I steeped it one time with 2 tbsp tea and175 degree water in my Teavana Glass Perfect Tea Maker/Gravity Steeper for 2 miin.

Flavors: Apple

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 0 sec 6 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Garret

Allan…. thanks! Try a longer 1st steep of 5 to 8 minutes. You can keep steeping after that, too. This stuff goes and goes! Enjoy!!

AllanK

Went back for another steep of about 5 and 1/2 minutes. Still good.

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85

I put like 4 steeps of this one into my travel cup thingie to take with me this morning, 4 steeps 10s, 10s, 15s, 15s all just poured together, it really damn good.
Yeah really damn good, this will make a good morning :)

Garret

I’m so happy you are enjoying this. I have incredible fond memories of buying this mao cha directly from the farmer right at his tea farm. It was wonderful. Thanks for writing up your thoughts! G

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82
drank Bamboogie 2015 by Mandala Tea
27 tasting notes

I have only had two samples of pu erh teas before buying this cake, and my tastebuds aren’t as experienced as many in here , but I have to review my teas. I had a sample in shop and enjoyed it. It gets 10-15 steeps. The earlier ones have a pleasant bitterness and the kater ones are a bit sweeter. Overall, I like it. Excited to try more pu erh teas! Oh, and the paper covering is awesome looking on these 2015 pu ehrs by mandala.

Garret

Yes! Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been steeping this with very short times to begin with. Pouring the boiling water over it and decanting the tea almost immediately, 5 to 10 seconds. Lots and lots of tea power in this one! Thanks for writing up your thoughts!!

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In my pursuit to try as many different teas as possible I somehow keep missing yellow types. But thanks to Garret and Manalas awesome sale I’m finally able to try some.

I’m amazed at how incredibly light this tea is. Honestly abit too light for my tastebuds. The dry smell is…. Indescribable. I have no idea of ehat to compare it to. Dry grass mixed with hay?

Infusion 30 seconds. too light for taste
1 min.-3 min. A bit of nuttiness. Truly this is a unique tea. They will need to come up with more descriptive words.

Preparation
1 tsp

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91

This is a very tasty ripe puerh with very little bitterness and a fair amount of fermentation flavor. I would say the fermentation taste went away by the fifth or sixth steep. It was a sweet puerh. I would venture to say notes of chocolate and it definitely developed a fruity flavor in later steeps. I should also note that the fermentation taste to this tea was very clean, I didn’t notice any fishy notes but I don’t always notice this. I steeped this ten times and it would have gone a few more. But on this my first real Sunday off in years I want to go on to a different tea, maybe the White Whale from White2Tea.

I steeped this tea ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 9.1g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, and 1 min. Judging by the color in the tenth steep I think this would go fifteen steeps at least.

Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 9 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
MissLena

Soo good!

AllanK

This was my first time trying the loose, I have the cake and that was good too.

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95

I was surprised that I had to put this one in the catalog. There was a 2014 in the catalog. I hadn’t known that there had been a 2014 version of this or did a person put it in the catalog with the wrong year? In any case this is an excellent tea. It is somewhat bittersweet at the start, thick with fermentation flavor. The fermentation taste was clean to me though, no fishy taste that I noticed. I would venture to say that there were some chocolate notes to this tea and some fruity notes in later steeps. I gave this tea ten steeps and I’d say it took about five steeps for the fermentation taste not to be a factor. This was an excellent tea.

I steeped this tea ten times in a 120ml gaiwan with 9.8g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse and a 10 minute rest. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 454 sec, and 1 min. The tea was still quite dark in the tenth steep. I would definitely go a few more steeps.

Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 9 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
Garret

The 2014 rating is for the loose material that had gone out in samples and was also available to customers prior to pressing being done. I bought plenty of the losse material as not everyone wants the cake. The ripened material for the cake is the 2014. Glad you enjoy it! I’m sipping some right now.

AllanK

So the loose tea is 2014, interesting but the cake is defined by the year of it’s pressing 2015. I think I understand.

TeaExplorer

I was the one who made the original entry, based on a pre-release sample before Mandala made a web page for it. I’ve updated the tea info with the words and picture from the new Mandala page, and modified the tea name to indicate the 2014 entry is the loose form.

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Sample from Sil. Thank you!

I picked this out of my sample pile, and then I was thinking about whether I should air it out or not, but then I decided to just go for it and try the tea. The piece I got is quite tightly compressed, so I’ve started with a 30 second rinse and a 5 minute wait.

15 second steep. Oh man, it’s been forever since I’ve had an aged puerh. Smells SO GOOD. It’s really tasty. Has some lovely sweet notes and doesn’t taste musty at all.

And now I have a cat on my lap and to lean forward and steep again would mean tipping the cat onto the floor, and I don’t feel like doing that right now. :)

Edit: I’ve had a few more steeps and I’m really enjoying this tea! Maybe now that I have the kettle set up, I’ll manage to drink more of the vast quantity of puerhs that I have…

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86

I got this a little bit ago, so I’ve been letting it sit in storage to get ready for brewing. I opened the jar and poured it out into my cha he. The leaves carried a wonderful aroma! This was a very fragrant shou. I could easily identify a dry hard chocolate tone with some slight fermentation. I was also picking up some cherry and red wood scents. I loved how intense theses aromas were. I warmed my gaiwan and emptied the cha he. The aromas began to morph. I was now picking up a warm petrichor and liquid dark chocolate. The cherries became more pronounced and resembled more like dark chocolate cherry cordials. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. I decided to go heavy with the leaf, for I like intense shou sessions. The steeped leaves lost their chocolate tone and was replaced by an aromatic ferment and wet wood. The lingering sweetness was of some fruit. The taste was something special! The liquor was a beautiful red coffee color. This drink was thick and syrupy! The taste began as completely filling and some intense drying sensations. The body was nice and full with a lot of flavor. I picked up some heavy wood, molasses, and fermented tastes. The chocolate was still present but lingered in the back to help curb the Bulang bitterness. The drink moved into more mineral tones in later steeping and a pleasant sour taste followed throughout. This brew has a lot of mouth action, with it beginning with a full and lubricating feeling and then the Bulang brings a sharp bite to alert the taste buds. I noticed a bunch a tongue prickling after each sip. I was able to pull at least ten steeping sessions out my gaiwan. The final sessions still brought a relatively dark liquor; however, the drink became more muddled with soil and wet clay tones. The qi is almost unnoticeable at first. The feeling begins in the chest and doesn’t blossom until after the session. I cleaned up my table, and then I was stuck with a heavy heart and nice head buzz. The force emits from the chest center and flows throughout the body. I really like this qi, and this is a nice brew for a morning starter. All and all, I enjoyed my session and this would make a nice daily drinker. This a great representation of young Bulang Shou, and it would be well to introduce to newbies and guests. This is an easy drinker and it lasts for quite some time.

https://www.instagram.com/p/-EtUI2TGcb/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

Flavors: Cherry, Dark Chocolate, Dark Wood, Drying, Earth, Fruity, Molasses, Wet Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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92

I had this at an earlier time, and it wasn’t as “wowing” as others made it out to be. So, I decided to let it rest for a little and revisit before doing a review, and I am so glad that I did…

The dry leaf has very little scent to it. I opened my jar and could only catch whiffs of slight fermentation and some dust; however, there was a light sweetness in the background. I placed a generous amount of these strands in my warmed gaiwan and gave it a shake. Then, the scent came forth! The strands gave off a sweet hot coco mix scent. I took in the dry cacao powder aroma. I could note a lingering milkiness behind this decadent scent. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The chocolate aroma became muddled in the steeped leaves. The outstanding tone were fruit and a mild bitterness. The chocolate tone wrapped around these fruit scents like little jam filled desserts. The taste was fantastic! The sip begins with straight dates. The flavor moves into some more raisin tones with wet tobacco. Then, there is a prominent fig note. I noted a light pleasant bitter tone in the aftertaste. The next drink brings on a sweeter atmosphere with brown sugar and light honey. I began to experience a nice head feeling with a warm stomach; The qi has commenced. This brew has a lot of complex tones. The chocolate began to show its face at the second steeping by appearing dry and slightly unsweetened. The next steeping brings on its true face by being presented as rich, dark, and heavy with some earth tones. This brew has a lot of mouth feeling and it fills the palette. The body is thick and smooth and goes down easy. The qi continues to build and is an ever rising focused feeling. I experienced plenty of mouth action and hair prickling. This is something I could drink all night. I love brews that hit you with a full body of flavors steep after steep. The brew morphs to heavy chocolate tones with some drying in the background; moreover, there is a smooth creamy texture that lubricates the mouth. This is a well developed brew, and I am glad that I awaited its recovery. However, the brew dies down dramatically at about the eight or ninth steeping. The brew grows watery, pungent, and consists of solely fermented tones. Personally, I have little appreciation for these tones, but I do know people that enjoy this. All and all, I enjoyed this session, and I will be squirreling away some. I am sad to hear that this was discontinued. I can now understand the uproar from the tea community upon hearing of this tea’s demise. Thankfully, it can live on from the other tea hoarders and I ;)

https://www.instagram.com/p/9BuJ7DzGbw/?taken-by=haveteawilltravel

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cacao, Chocolate, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Dates, Drying, Earth, Fig, Milk, Raisins, Smooth

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
boychik

Since some of us still hoard it we should go on a quest and find something similar.

Haveteawilltravel

A quest! #challengeaccepted

mrmopar

I await the highest bidder…

MzPriss

Very nice note. I’m glad you got to experience the magic. I love it too much.

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Pu’erh TTB 2015 Tea #7

Thanks AllanK for putting this in the box after I made the request. The 2012 Wild Monk still has a memory associated for me because it has continued to be the best of what I have tried in regards to the wild variation of sheng (with Repave as the non). While this may be smoother than the YS tea I had today and only a year old, the taste just isn’t as explosive as the 2012 was. This sample was exactly what I wanted before I shelled out lots of money for a few cakes; I still find it odd that a small ‘higher’ quality cake doesn’t seem to have the flavor that a cheaper cakes has. Maybe the price is for the material?

Kirkoneill1988

i find some cheap cakes to have a fishy smell/taste on top of the dui wui (aka fermentation taste)

Garret

Let’s get you some of the 2015 wild monk that just arrived and see how it compares for you.

Liquid Proust

I could buy a cake and split it up for some people :)
I’m waiting for that umpf that the 2012 had

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99

Received a 9.4 gram pre-production sample of this as loose leaves in my latest Mandala order. After three days of solid shengs, it was time for a shou. I spent half an hour waffling over how to best try this using several brew methods, but finally just threw the whole thing in my 100ml gaiwan and went for short steeps (5/7/9/11/15/20/30/60/120 seconds). That turned out to be a good choice.

Gave it a 5 second rinse, then let it sit for about 15 minutes. The tea was still opening up on the first steep, but steeps 2 through 5 were a rocket ride. The liquor was only medium bodied yet the flavor was intense. An incredible molasses sweetness was paired beautifully with a restrained Bu Lang bitterness that balanced the whole thing out. Around these two dominant flavors were notes of oak wood, leather and tobacco. Salivating citrus notes and hints of spice (felt more than tasted) popped their heads up a couple of times. The sensation was of a very clean shou with no off flavors. These early steeps had a heavy mouthfeel that felt like they coated my tongue, mouth and throat in rich shou goodness that lingered in the long aftertaste.

Steeps 6 through 9 tapered off in intensity and body, yet were very enjoyable. The Bu Lang bitterness tapered off a bit as well, yet remained present until the end. The sweetness became more like sugarcane. I caught a subtle note of chestnuts on the 8th steep.

I had a hard time sipping this tea because I could not pull my nose away from the cup. The aromas were intoxicating; powerful at first but significant all throughout the session. There was a super-intense sweet aroma that ran the gamut from sugarcane to molasses, with one steep having caramel and another pralines. There was also a strong, clean earthiness in the early steeps. I even smelled some cinnamon at one point.

I did two final steeps at 5 and 10 minutes, but they were pale shadows of the earlier session.

This shou really hit on all cylinders for me. The note on the sample bag said “soon in 200g cakes”. I hope soon really means soon. Assuming the final pressing lives up to the potential shown in this sample, this may be the best shou that Mandala has yet produced (no disrespect to the Original Phatty Cake).

Pix: http://instagram.com/p/9F40FTFi93

Preparation
Boiling 9 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
curlygc

A Bulang shu. I must admit, I am very interested.

tperez

That sounds realllly good! Mandala has some great shou

TeaExplorer

Hey tperez … Good to hear from you!

MzPriss

The name is AWESOME!

Garret

I am pumped about this pu’er. Thanks for writing up your thoughts on it. I scored enough of the material to press the cakes and still have 25 kg’s or so left to sell as loose leaf. The cakes have now been pressed and are readying for shipment following a little more drying time!! Cha hoooooo!!!!!

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85

Another nice medium-bodied sheng from Mandala with a spicy, sweet, mildly tart, and slightly citrusy profile. The aromas were hard to place in the early steeps, centering around tart / savory / spicy notes that I could not isolate. In the later steeps these became fruity-sweet, then tart stonefruits, green apples, and lemons.

I went with cooler water to try and bring out the sweetness, and short steeps (5/7/9/11/… seconds).

This sheng had an oily mouthfeel in a couple of early steeps, then became a rounded one in the mid-steeps. The spice note was not intense yet it was very present, if that makes any sense. In some steeps it was felt more than tasted, which contributed to a lively feeling in the mouth. I got a hint of pine sap in steep 4, but no smokey taste. When the sweetness made itself known it struck me as being similar to apples.

Not as energetic as yesterday’s 2014 Leaf Nei Fei, but still gave me a strong uplifting energy by the end of the 20th steep (which I did all in a single three and a half hour session … whew!). Mandala describes it as a feeling of “calm vibrancy”, which is pretty close to how I feel now.

Overall I really enjoyed this one, and will probably lay in a cake to age.

Leaf porn: http://instagram.com/p/9DSYJzli5Y

Flavors: Spicy, Sweet

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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85

A very nice medium-bodied young sheng with notes of pine, spice, citrus and tart stone fruits in the cup. On some later steeps I also picked up some Granny Smith apples and a faint herbaceous quality. The flavors were not too complex, but the aromas were! As the session progressed I smelled pine sap, split pea soup, cinnamon, apple pie, Meyer lemons, honeydew melon, lemon meringue pie and loquat. I did the session with fairly short steeps (5/7/9/11/… seconds).

The most outstanding quality for me is how this tea reacted with my Qi. After the first three steeps I had to walk away for a number of hours because I had so much energy I could no longer sit still. That happened again after the next four steeps as well, but to a lesser degree. I was able to finish the session (steeps 8 through 19) in one sitting since the energy had subsided a bit by then. This would be a good tea to drink when I have to get up and get things done.

Mandala notes that the tea is very young and not incredibly complex, and my session bore that out. As of this writing a 357 gram cake is only $37, so it might be worth putting one away for a few years to see what it does.

Flavors: Citrus, Herbaceous, Pine, Spicy, Tart

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Nicole

Those look very large. :)

TeaExplorer

Nicole — It’s deceiving. I should have put something in there for scale. Those are on the lid of my little 100ml gaiwan, which is 3 inches (7.5 cm) across.

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