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Recent Tasting Notes
GABA Oolong is like Milk Oolong’s older hipster brother. It has that same grassy sort of creaminess to it but it is more assertive with the bitter finish. Not unpleasant at all but a little too floral for my tastes. I think I have to be in a specific mood for this one as I prefer darker oolongs or milk oolong.
Flavors: Bitter, Cream, Grass, Vegetal
Black Gold is one of those teas from Mandala that I bought but never opened. Terrible. But it probably slipped through the cracks when I was on a pu’er kick.
I tried to brew this one in short steeps around a minute or so but this one was made for the morning. A good old kick in the pants before work. A long brew produced one of the best black tea experiences I have had in a long time. It’s malty. It’s chocolaty. Sort of sweet but sort of bitter at the same time. There is a molasses like sweetness to this tea. This will be my every morning tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Grain, Molasses
I brewed this in a 140ml unglazed clay teapot
15, 30, 45, 60, 1m30, 2m, 3m
After a rinse, the scent on the gaiwan lid was really interesting. Fruity, spicy, dark and roasty, so many things going on at once. My first infusion was fruity and sweet, really reminding me of hot chocolate. It’s got a subtle spiciness. In later infusions it starts to give up the roasty/chocolate flavor for for a milder sweetness that’s really nice. This one really does live up to the reviews. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some more of this ;)
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Dates, Roasted
Garret included this in my order as a sample. After the rinse the smell on the lid was intoxicating. Seaweed and honey comes to mind. I definitely taste a milkiness which a really nice. What I like about this tea is it’s floral but not like perfume. Drinking this doesn’t give you that Macy’s perfume section vibe which I notice from greener oolongs. It was good. Not something I’d probably buy (but that’s solely because greener oolongs aren’t really my thing and not because of the quality.)
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Seaweed, Vegetal
After a rinse, the smell on the gaiwan lid reminds me of chocolate and pomegranate. It’s really a magnificent smell. I stayed pretty close to Garret’s suggestion of tablespoon to a cup of water, adding a bit more. The first infusion was 30s and was disappointingly light. I didn’t really get much flavor. For the second infusion, I decided to drag the steep time out to about 50s. That infusion was not much better. At this point, I’m starting to doubt my brewing method or my tongue. I did a third infusion, giving it maybe 1m30s. Meh.
So, after consulting some tea forums, many people suggest a much higher leaf to water ratio than what I was doing. This time, I filled my gaiwan half way full (sorry about inaccurate measurements, I don’t own a scale)and after doing a flash rinse, infused it for 15s. MUCH BETTER. Sweet, milky, with a heavenly aroma arising from my gaiwan. Infusion two definitely brought out the cinnamon. Of course it’s subtle, and maybe I’m just imagining it, but regardless I am enjoying it.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Roasted, Stonefruits
Vegetal, floral bitterness and some fruity earthiness; tingly astringency with lingering sweetness. Later steeps become creamy sweet throughout.
Another great tea from Mandala. The dry tea has a lovely cocoa-like aroma, and it brews up to be unbelievably silky and smooth, light but substantial. The cocoa notes are a major part of the charm, in addition to a fresh petrichor and mineral notes. It’s not one of those black teas that are big-bodied or particularly malty, but highly worth savoring slowly. I enjoyed this even in spite of the intense summer heat today.
(On that note, I have been at my dream job for two months today—it’s definitely worthy of a nice cup of tea to celebrate!)
My, it’s been a while since I’ve tried a new tea…fortunately, this one doesn’t disappoint! Just opening the package gives off a lovely, baked-treats aroma. The tea itself has that same quality to it, less “milk” than “cookies that have a substantial amount of butter in the recipe”, but not overwhelming. As recommended, this was good for multiple infusions, with the fragrance lingering on and becoming more subtle, bordering on floral. The gradual unfurling of the tea from tightly-rolled pellets to unbelievably large leaves is also quite impressive.
I’ve only had milk oolong once before, in a blend where some coconut pieces were added. Even though it was long ago, this tea seems identical to the base of that blend, which I loved at the time. It’s a light tea, gentle as green oolongs go, and ideal for a long afternoon.
Thanks, JakeB! I wasn’t really paying attention to how this one was steeped, but it was my first and last of the leaves, so I thought I should make a tasting note for it anyway. Not too much flavor that I noticed, even though it is stored in a nice pouch… and I did wait a while to steep on the first steep. Steeped a teaspoon and a half of the leaves. Hints of peach, I suppose (and I’ve had some fantastic grocery store peaches lately. :D) The second steep isn’t very distinctive either, so I don’t think this is a very worthwhile tasting note.
Puerh Tea TTB. This is a very tasty tea. It had a moderate amount of fermentation flavor but it was neither fishy nor unpleasant. It was sweet with very little bitterness. Unfortunately I think this is long sold out at Mandala or I would buy one.
I steeped this twelve times in a 110ml Yixing Teapot with 9g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, 30 sec, 45 sec, 1 min, 1.5 min, and 2 min. I’d keep going with this one but twelve steeps is enough caffeine for me today.
Puerh Tea TTB. This is a fairly nice raw. It was bitter at first but got sweeter. Not sure if I would call it apricoty though. It was good. Had some color to the infusions once it got started. No qi to speak of. Enjoyable to drink.
I steeped this eight times in a 120ml gaiwan with 7.2g leaf and boiling water. I gave it a 10 second rinse. I steeped it for 5 sec, 5 sec, 7 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 20 sec, 25 sec, and 30 sec. The tea was not finished at eight steeps but I want to drink something else.
This tea isn’t ‘White2Tea’ quality, but it is delicious. This tea taste like Passion flower, honeysuckle and bee pollen. My mother has a huge garden in her back yard and actually grows passion fruit and honeysuckle. I harvest the flowers to make herbal tea, and this sheng reminded me of what that combination of pollen-powered flowers tasted like.
This sheng really shines in the first 5-8 steeps, but afterwards turns green and a bit bitter. Although this doesn’t hold out on great flavor on later steeps, it’s really good for what it’s worth.
I like this much better than Mandala’s other sheng, and is one of my favorites by them. I’d reccomend – to the least – getting a sample of this one.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Bitter, Green, Honeysuckle, Sweet
This was given to me by Whiteantlers through a tea swap. Thank you again.
This tea was a pretty good. It took me a couple of months to finally sit down and have a cup, but it seemed like a good time to have it. Despite the high temperatures in Ohio now (high 80’s), I’ve been staying inside in between shifts from work.
I must say that this is a pretty good tea. I like the depth of flavors within the tea (wood, earth, and a slight nutty finish). However, this depth/flavor doesn’t seem to last that long. I had approximately seven cups before stopping. I found that it lost its flavor after the seventh cup; which resulted in the “thick” water mouth-feel. There was a slight amount of flavor left, but it was subtle and the mouth-feel was strange.
Anyway, I’ll definitely keep this on a wishlist to purchase later. It could become a daily drinker, but I know that I’d only get about seven cup per tuocha.
I call it the “All Seeing Eye of Sauron.” https://www.instagram.com/p/BF6sZRfg-Y/?taken-by=s.gsanders1
Flavors: Earth, Nuts, Wood
This. This tea is fantastic! I was given this by a friend who highly recommended I try it. The dry leaf smells amazing! The small green balls carry a fragrant sweet aroma of fruits and candied syrup. I can pick up a lingering strawberry creme in the background. I warmed up my gaiwan with eagerness and placed these inside. The scent was so very very good! My first thought from sniffing the warmed leaf was an ice cream daiquiri. The leaf carries sweets, fruits, with a tiny bit of bitters. I swished the leaves around and then I was picking up more of a Neapolitan Ice Cream scent. This tea was just decadent. I washed the leaves once and prepared for brewing. The taste began as sweet and grassy with a vegetable base. The aftertaste of mango rose from the tongue and took over the senses. The brew became slightly astringent with a continuing dry grass tone and nice cream base. Later, the brew progressed into a sweet tropical fruit medley and smooth spring flora. The best part was with each exhale the taste of pineapple would wash over my taste buds. This really is a fantastic tea. The tea falters off after about four steeping, but it was still a nice fresh tasting tea. Honestly, this brew has me wishing I was in the Bahamas or something. It was just pure sweet and fresh flavors!
Flavors: Candy, Creamy, Dry Grass, Mango, Pineapple, Strawberry, Sweet, Tropical, Vanilla
This was a sample sent with my order. I think this is the one, as it’s a darker oolong than I’ve had. The leaves are a lovely dark colour. The taste was roasted and nutty with some sweetness. The floral tones was noticeable when I let it cool a bit. I made this in the gaiwan with a 15s rinse followed by two 40s drinkable steeps. Quite enjoyable.
Flavors: Floral, Malt, Nutty, Roasted
I completely forgot I had this. It was part of a shu sampler I bought from Mandala approximately a zillion years ago and promptly forgot I even had. I found it a few weeks ago while cleaning, and tried it a few days after and then never made a note of it here. Usually I wouldn’t but!!!! suprisingly, I really liked this. Not even a just “for a shu” kind of like. This is something I’d keep in my cupboard if it were still around. This is the first time outside of nuggets that I’ve actually gotten those rich dark chocolate notes everyone talks about out of a shu.
The leaves were a vibrant green. I brewed in the gaiwan, just under the boil with first two drinkable steeps at 40 secs. Beautiful flowery scent, I think lilac. A mild vegetal taste and buttery. Lovely. The liquor was a pale green. This was a sample included with my order. I’m glad, otherwise I wouldn’t have known about it. I nice surprise. Curious to see how the taste evolves over subsequent steeps.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Vegetal
~60ml porcelain gaiwan. 1 10-15sec rinse, let leaves sit a few minutes. steeps 5s, 2s, 2s, 5s, 5s, 5s, 10s, …
first steep — smell inside gaiwan lid sharp and bitter? with some fruit, perhaps. tea still light, but with a little buttery vegetal-ness, and some soft sweetness. very light hint of smoke.
second steep — smell inside gaiwan lid becoming that warm spicy vanilla(?)-y smell of sheng (at least, in my head that’s what it is), with a hint of barnyard. tea a little stronger, mild fresh-woody aftertaste, very light perhaps-smoke.
third steep — not much different, but with a stronger&longer aftertaste. should’ve probably given it a longer steep. aftertaste almost grassy? with dry-mouth feel. there is probably a name for that. interesting about the lid smells — half of the lid smells of warm spices, with maybe some tobacco; the other half smells thoroughly barnyardy. interesting that it’s split by (probably) which half contacted the tea on the pour.
fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh steeps — more tobacco-y, to me, and a bit bitter in back of mouth. or just… bitter everywhere. whoah. it’s like it’s climbing around the edges of the back of my tongue, even after the liquid is gone. almost a chewy sort of thing.
It seems to pretty much continue in that vein, with the bitterness becoming the primary. I’ve not until now had a tea like this; it’s very interesting.
Flavors: Bitter, Grass, Smoke