Mandala Tea

Recent Tasting Notes

85

Finally trying this mini tu! I really have not felt like reviewing new teas lately (aka all last week lol), but I will try to be better this week. I still have so many to review that I picked up on vacation! Ah, all in good time. Tonight, I was ridiculously craving a latte with eggnog lol, but my stomach doesn’t do well with milk, so I thought I’d be nicer to it and have some pu’erh instead. And I have so many mini tuochas to get to, might as well have one tonight.

This one has a barn, hay-like scent to it. Definitely like wet hay in a barn haha. I do not mind this earthy scent, mostly due to my new love of pu’erh, although I can see it being off-putting to some. I did a quick 15s steep as recommended, then a 1 minute steep. The tuocha is just starting to break apart at the end of this steeping.

The liquor is dark and rich and smells clean and caramelly. Mmmm, man I needed this tonight. As for the flavor, ahh this is so good right now. A ton of caramel flavors in this one! A clean earthiness, a tinge of smoke, maybe leather at the end of the sip, but this melds with the sweetness to lend a sugar like sensation on my tongue. I’m totally picturing caramellized, slightly burnt brown sugar.

Overall, this is rich, thick, and immensely satisfying. I feel like I am not quite adept enough to determine many flavours in pu’erh yet other than caramel and earth notes haha, but this is certainly enjoyable, even if I’m missing (or mis-interpreting) some of the flavours. Exactly what I needed tonight!

ETA – I did the second steeping for 1 min as well, and the liquor is super dark like coffee. I was worried it would be pretty strong, but it is still awesome. More pronounced leather and some wood notes and not quite as smooth, but still delicious. And its also making me quite sleepy and relaxed :)

Flavors: Brown Sugar, Caramel, Leather

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83

As I understand it, mao cha is what a lot of people in China drink as day to day tea. Not the aged shengs, not the freshly compressed shous, but just basic mao cha. This tea helps me understand why. The leaves smell of steamed spinach, and the somewhat thin, slightly dry liquor has a gentle mushroom odor, but tastes more like a moderate green. It was good for several steeps in the gaiwan, but I’m sure a mugful of Western steep would go down good as a daily draft. I think I understand mao cha just a wee bit better now.

Flavors: Green, Mushrooms, Spinach, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 5 OZ / 140 ML

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
1363 tasting notes

Today is a sad day. A childhood family friend who I used to play with during summers at my Aunts cottage died in a snowmobile accident. He was my age (32). Since I stopped hanging out at the cottage so much, I saw him only once every few years or so… in truth I didn’t know him well at all in adulthood, but my Aunt and cousin consider him a second son. They are family. I always regarded him fondly.
This is all so surreal. Larry was a good kid, he’s been riding since before he could walk! He knew all the rules and always took care to be safe. He never partied or anything like that. I’m so confused…

The tea: I need to try this again, preferably in my gaiwan. It was a little too thick for me and left me feeling unsettled- backlog from yesterday

Fjellrev

I’m so sorry, Indigo. :(

Lala

Sorry to hear about your loss. Sending you and your friends family prayers.

Nicole

So sorry to hear.

boychik

Sorry for your loss

Indigobloom

Thx guys. I think I’m still in shock

caile

So sorry to hear of your sad news.

Indigobloom

Thanks Caile xo

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84

Steep two: 2 minutes.

The tuo cha broke apart completely after the first infusion, which honestly I was glad for. I don’t know why but the whole piece just sitting in water unnerves me – it’s like it won’t distribute flavor evenly through the water. This is obviously not true but it’s something I’m visually going to have to get used to.

Anyway, the hay/pellet smell is back in the steeped liquor. It is still, thankfully, not present in the taste. The semblance is coffee is still really strong, and particularly so in the texture – it is a very thick, chewy tea. As it cools the hay/fermentation becomes present in the taste – boo. If I can get used to that I think I’ll be good as pu erh’s go. This is going to be a slow process but I’m determined – pu’erh is my final tea frontier and I really want to explore it as thoroughly as I have all the other types. More later….

Sil

hahahaha i have the same mental approach to that one lump sitting there!

JoonSusanna

Yay! It’s silly but sometimes it’s nice to know you aren’t alone with some things :)

Garret

HI! check out this vid of brewing mini-tuocha. May it be useful in making ripe pu’er a more pleasant experience for you, my friend! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdIW5jzwMCs&feature=youtube_gdata

With gratitude,
Garret

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84

Alright pu’erh. Let’s do this.

Recently I decided to try pu’erh and really learn more about it. I timed it perfectly with Black Friday sales, and this is the first tea I wanted to try from Mandala. I figured I’d go with a shou first since it’s darker and I do so love black teas.

Rinse: 15 seconds

Steep one: 1 minute. People mention the term “fermentation flavor”, but maybe that is what I think of (or what my boyfriend mentioned, and now I cannot un-think of) as hamster pellets? It’s kind of woody and hay-y. I’m so inexperienced with pu’erh that this smell is making me nervous. It doesn’t smell – drinkable. But I’m determined to try it, so I take my first sips. At first there is a small amount of this pellet flavor but there is also something surprisingly pleasant. Kind of coffee-like (a dark french roast), but without the acidity of coffee. This is very smooth. I can also get the dark cocoa powder notes. If the fermentation flavor ages out of this I think I will like it a lot, but it’s not bad as is.

I can see how it’s an acquired taste, though. As it is I’ve kind of had my fill with this and want to save the leaves for later. That could also be because I am super tired because I just finished my 12 hour night shift though. Oh well, to be continued in later notes…

Flavors: Cocoa, Coffee

Preparation
Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 6 OZ / 177 ML
Sil

worse case when you do later steeps… just have a sip and move on to the next one haha

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92

I enjoyed this one so much last night that I’m having it again this morning. It’s incredibly smooth and delicious. It morphs from steep to steep with some cups tasting deep and earthy while other cups are full of chocolate notes, hints of bread and honey, or leather and leaves. Every steep has been nice.

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92

This is good. This is so good. It’s incredibly silky with a woodsy/nutty flavor that morphs into something chocolaty as I sip. There’s earth and leather as the tea cools. Yeah, this is a good one.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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This is one of those teas that I’m glad that I was able to sample before committing to buying it. It’s was actually really good on the first steep and pretty good on the second steep, but after that I found it difficult to get a good amount of flavor out of it, even when steeping for several minutes. So while it does taste nice, I prefer my teas to have a lot more stamina than that so I doubt I’ll be purchasing this one.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 9 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
madametj

Oh, 150 ml. Lol

Garret

Yes… gong ting is the smallest grade leaf for ripe pu’er. Because it is not blended with larger leaves, the flavor will only work for a couple of steeps (depending of course, on leaf/water ratio and length of steeping times). Brewed gongfu style, this tea will go on for quite a while. Most customers are doing one or two western style brews with this one and it is quite a hit at the cafes/restaurants/coffee and tea shops we sell it to where they are only brewing once or twice.

When we get into blending this leaf with larger leaves, then you have the conditions for smaller leaves to give up flavor earlier and then the larger leaves (properly processed) will come to life and take over.

Fun, ain’t it?

Thank you for writing up your experience.
Garret

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79

A little while back, my sister went to the opening of a William Ashleys store and came back with a cute little teapot (http://instagram.com/p/wOp7cPvJV5/). I have been trying to think of the perfect tea to use in it first and today I finally recalled the flowering tea cones Sil gave to me a few months back. And so, I got to brewing (http://instagram.com/p/wOqO1avJXl/).

Now as I sip on the tea I am surprised at how good it is because usually I have found the flowering teas to be more about the looks than the taste. This one actually delivers. It has a slight astringency that underlies the taste but for some reason it seems to work in this case. It provides a nice contrast to the sweet maltiness and the fruity undertones of the tea. Yum.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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i got my BF order very late last night. no matter when I’m very happy. really hate to go to mail jail.
Man, i wish i wouldnt be so stubborn and just make it per Garret’s suggestion.
I made it my usual gongfu parameters. 5g 100ml porcelaine gaiwan 200F
rinse/ 10/ 15/30/ 60/sec
with this method i probably go with 20 sec next time.
this tea has absolutely gorgeous dreamy leaves. long, wiry, golden silver, fuzzy.
complex, tasty. I’ve noticed some malt and wine. Yes, this tea is kinda Keemun-y to me. i maybe wrong trying to get the perfect cuppa. and i did get it.
Also few minutes after i experienced very strong sweet aftertaste like when i drink some puerh .
Garret, i promise to try it your way next time ;)

http://instagram.com/p/wOnLsdBwh8/

http://instagram.com/p/wOn67LBwm5/

http://instagram.com/p/wOqTMxhwkW/

http://instagram.com/p/wOqdBxBwlL/

Preparation
5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML
Sil

drool…

Nicole

Nice pictures!

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85
drank 2014 Jingmai Raw by Mandala Tea
77 tasting notes

Another gift sample from “PUG”. Used a 100 ml Jingdezhen gaiwan, thin walled so not to over heat the leaf. One rinse then let it rest with the gaiwan lid on to allow for leaf expansion. The first 4 steeps were basically 5 seconds and then gradually added 5-10 second until the 15th steep then 30-40 seconds. 25 steeps and it started to peter out.
The aroma was not that big for me. New sneakers, hay a bit of pine nut. The flavor profile was also not that large. The pine nut and hay predominate for me ultra smooth with a slight astringency. Later the sweetness comes out to caress just when the astringency picks up, offering a nice balance. This is a good tea, but not showy or flashy, and when you have so many flashy showy shengs out there this one can get lost on your palate. I would brew this one for nubes who are expanding from greens to the pu erh world like my brother-in-law. Again not a bad tea just not a shiny jewel.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 10 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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73

This Puer starts out very strong and in-your-face, with notes of wood, cork, and cigar ash. In later infusions notes of ocean spray and clay emerge and in even later infusions it becomes more mellow and sweet with notes of tobacco.

It’s very dynamic from one infusion to the next, but I don’t think it’s really my tastes simply because of how pungent it is at the start. I used flash infusions and it was still rather intense from the get-go.

Flavors: Ash, Clay, Ocean Breeze, Tobacco, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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100

I can’t be the only one who has tasted this tea… But it doesn’t seem to be in the database, so…

I wish I had tasted this generous sample that was included with my previous order before placing my Black Friday order… This would have been on the order without a doubt. Mandala has so many lovely teas of this kind that I will admit I find it hard to distinguish between them. Not because they are so alike, but because my powers of description seem to be so limited!

This smells (and tastes) like a deep, dark chocolate and a savory broth at the same time. Like an 85% dark chocolate but without the winey notes often found in that. My husband thinks I’m crazy – sitting here with my hand wrapped around the top of this tiny cup, exhaling so that the steam fogs my glasses and then inhaling the scent of this tea! There is a dusty hay note in the background as the steeping time increases and a roundness that reminds me of not very sweet fruits. Not a bit of bitterness or astringency.

I really can’t tell you how much tea I used – half of the sample. I think about 1.5 teaspoons. I should get a scale to be more precise, I know. I steeped in my little glass pot and tasted at 30, 60 and more seconds. I think I prefer 60 seconds but even up to 5 minutes and more, this tea is simply wonderful. And the leaves are beautiful! Fuzzy wuzzy twirls of tea!

Update: If I slurp like you are supposed to the most magical thing happens and I start tasting the floral notes! Amazing!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML
Sil

i don’t think i’ve even seen this one on their site before… so annoyed i missed on our their sale…stupid vacation

Nicole

Haha! I made my order on my phone while on a road trip in the middle of New Mexico because it just had to be done! And you were somewhere nice and warm so it seems like a decent trade off. :)

Garret

I love this black tea, for sure! I’m a bit obsessed with it, perhaps. I am so happy that you are loving it. You are the first to review it because it is a new tea for us. I tried a sample of it and said “gotta have it.” Sil… shoot me an email and you know I’ll honor the sale price for you. That’s what we do for people like you. :)

boychik

i was abt to have a cup. just got it last night ;)

Sil

Garret – I don’t mind waiting for the next great adventure from your company. I have a few black teas I need to restock haha

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I received a sample of this with one of my Mandala orders.
I really shouldn’t be writing anything about this tea. I’m still pretty sick – not sure how true my taster is. I’m just tired of drinking lemon tea, ginger, honey etc. Desperately needed real tea tonight.
This is real tea. I’m finding it really malty, little yeasty (bready), hint of chocolate. It’s doing the trick. I have more and will try it again when I can actually breathe.
http://instagram.com/p/wKoDInOE9O/?modal=true
http://instagram.com/p/wKoOJLOE-R/?modal=true
http://instagram.com/p/wKodYEOE_t/?modal=true

Sil

i really like this…and they’re good for carrying around with you instead of tea bags.

OMGsrsly

I… still haven’t tried mine. I really need to get on that.

Tabby

Neat! I’ve never seen tea like that before.

ashmanra

Now I want some of these…

Sil

i’m actually only sad about not being able to get in on Mandala’s tea deal – trying to hold off on more puerh, but no qualms about buying tea…sadly i was on vacation heh

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100
drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
4 tasting notes

Simply perfect. Cup after cup. I hope to never go without this tea again, now that I’ve discovered it.

Preparation
1 min, 15 sec

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84
drank Green Snail Spring by Mandala Tea
442 tasting notes

This is a mildly sweet, somewhat floral, somewhat vegetal, tasty green tea. It also seems to have a slight sour note to it. As I have little experience with Bi Lo Chun teas I don’t know how it compares to others of its type. But it is good. If only it didn’t have this sour note. I wonder if that could be my taste buds? Could it be brewing temperature? Did I use slightly too much tea? I brewed it for the right amount of time. I picked up the greens in my latest order with Mandala and Teavivre because I have been told to cut down on my caffeine and there are nights where I just must avoid caffeine because of my work schedule. It is established that green tea has less caffeine than black tea, the science is not clear on puerh. Sometimes puerh keeps me awake, but that may be because of the tendency to resteep it many times and extract all of the caffeine.

I brewed this once in an 18oz teapot with 175 degree water and 3 tsp leaf for 1 min.

Flavors: Floral, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML
TeaBrat

Bi Lo Chuns are kind of sour and they remind me of artichokes

AllanK

I did not know Bi Lo Chuns tended to be sour?

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84
drank Green Snail Spring by Mandala Tea
442 tasting notes

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90

So far this is my favorite GABA tea – this one has an tasty sour dough raisin bread with honey flavor. The other GABA teas I’ve had were all green oolongs which are more in sour vegetal country. However, Black GABA appeals to me more as that crazy GABA flavor works better with the black base adding more comfort food feels, at least in my opinion.

This tea is also very pretty – it steeps up gorgeous, glowing and clear with a huge leaf!

Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl http://oolongowl.com/gaba-black-tea-mandala-tea-tea-review/

Preparation
Boiling

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84

Even though I have to be up at 5am I desperately needed a cup of tea. This was the first green I saw from my Mandala order so I picked it. I spent this evening at that most frustrating of things, dealing with a salesman over a new car. I used Truecar which turned out to be basically bogus. I think I saved a couple of hundred dollars, not what I was supposed to. They always find a way to put back your supposed savings. They use the strategy of wearing you down and to some degree it works. Thank god I only do this once a decade or so.

This tea is good. It is relatively sweet with a floral, vegetal taste. It also has a roasted taste that is not quite the roasted barley flavor of a wuyi oolong. It is a roasted tea.

I brewed this tea once in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and 175 degree water for 1 min.

Flavors: Floral, Roasted, Vegetal

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML
Stephanie

What did you get? I hate car dealerships.

AllanK

Subaru Forrester

Stephanie

I wanted one of those! A bit out of my budget at the moment, but maybe next time :)

drinkingteas

YS sells some roasted greens as well

mrmopar

Do like I do walk in tell them they have 30 mins to make a deal or walk on them. These guys play the sales game every day so they are better at it than we are. I just tell them my time is just as valuable as theirs and put the limit on them.

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reviewed Smart Soak by Mandala Tea
603 tasting notes

Whoa! Get ready to witness some stain miracles! This stuff totally works. If you love tea stained patina on your cups, stay away. If you have items you want clean, especially those with hard to scrub areas, this is the soak you want! David’s glass perfect mugs with those lids that have those impossible to clean under lips, Aladin travel mug with that lever basket mechanism, metal steepers, David’s travel mugs, super old Teavana gravity steeper, old steel thermos… all amazingly clean! I was able to get quite a few things cleaned with one quart and reheated it a couple of times to soak more items in it. It finally gave out on the gravity steeper and I had to make a fresh batch of soak. I wish I could post the before and after pictures because it’s such a drastic difference from dirty to clean!

The only thing that disappoints me about this product is that I can’t put it in my mouth and soak the tea stains off my teeth. Work on that, would ya Mandala? ;)

I should add that this came to me as a sample with one of their puerh sample specials. Thanks for that!

Kittenna

My travel mugs really need a good cleaning, as do my infusers. One day I’ll get some of this!

Dustin

I didn’t realize how dirty my stuff was until I cleaned it! Looks like I can add photos! Just added a before and after.

Garret

I’m working on one for the teeth :) Thanks for writing it up and for the photos, too!

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drank 2014 Jingmai Raw by Mandala Tea
422 tasting notes

I got home to a wonderful package fr AllanK.
I had to have this tea right away. So my usual gongfu parameters for sheng
5g 100ml porcelain gaiwan 200F
Rinse/ 3/3/5/5/7/10sec etc
This sheng is very creamy. Like fruity cream of wheat. I really liked first 5 steeps. Then it got a little more bitter and astringent . Also some sour notes creeped up. Nothing major, nothing unpleasant . I just wish it stayed the same as first steeps. I really enjoyed those.

http://instagram.com/p/wCvh-_hwuC/

http://instagram.com/p/wC2ArvBwsp/

AllanK

I’m glad you liked it. Did you find it strong?

boychik

Hard to say if its strong or not. I think you used more leaves and higher temp. I still want to try it @ 195F.

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Second to last I tasted in the sheng sampler. Brewed with the gongfu method in a gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 10, 10, 15, 15, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, 150, 180.

The dry aroma has notes of dried grasses, tree bark, and a hint of spices. The wet leaf aroma smells sweet and fruity – sugarcane, grapes, plums, brown sugar, cranberries, all in the following order as the leaves cooled. A pleasure to stick my nose the gaiwan throughout the session. Nearly addictive.

The liquor is pale gold, medium-bodied, clear, and smooth. Consistently mild with a lively and bright personality. Due to my palate not being suited for sheng, I mostly discern sweet dried grass, though it is a kind of grass that is not off-putting, and the taste becomes more sweet than grassy as the session goes on. A juicy aftertaste stays with me minutes after I finish each cup. And each next cup I look forward to having. At the eighth infusion, grape and wine emerge notes. I am enlivened and comforted during this gray, cold late autumn afternoon.

I enjoyed this sheng greatly. Definitely my favorite in the sampler.

Preparation
7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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From the sheng sampler. Brewed gongfu-style with a gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 10, 10, 15, 15, 30, 30, 45, 60, 75, 90, 120, 180.

The dry leaf aroma offers a delicate fragrance of fresh honey, while the wet leaf smells of green peppers, and then of bamboo and a thick conifer forest.

The liquor is golden, clear, thin-textured, and full-bodied. The session begins with a light grassy and prickly cup, and a peach aftertaste. Thereafter, a bitter green pepper note dominates. The fourth infusion, additionally, has walnut and pecans, and the beginning with the fifth infusion, is a sweetness underneath. I also taste a forest floor, the sort of forest that big and crowded with trees, the sort of floor that has layered beds of moss and dried and freshly fallen pine needles. The feel is light yet powerful.

Despite my words, this isn’t for me (well, it is sheng, but I felt the need to broaden my tastes with the sampler anyway). I can’t be appreciative of it unfortunately.

Preparation
7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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100

an update as I should have waited to write this in:

when I infused this tea the second time, it gave it a lingering iron metallic taste. I never had the tea suddenly change taste before. still tastes a little like boiled cabbage the same with the wet leaves.. but the leaves now smell like spinach too. for some reason it made the tea taste even better.

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