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Recent Tasting Notes
I am on my final cup of this tea and still have not logged a tasting note! Sad sad :( well now I will! Haha. This tea served me well, I had it quite often while painting, so that speaks to it’s relaxing, mood enhancing abilities quite a lot! I didn’t take detailed notes on this tea unfortunately, but I will log what I have noticed about it in this final cup.
I usually prepare my western steeped pu’erhs in a similar manner, 1 or two short rinses then a short first steep. This one I did two rinses, 25s and 20s, and then a steep of around 30s. This isn’t a pu’erh that necessarily needs a rinse, as it’s super smooth and not fishy at all, but the rinses make it a bit smoother and silkier for me! The cup smells faintly woody with a hint of chocolate.
The flavor is pretty good! This one is very much milk chocolate. It is difficult to even tell it is a pu’erh. I will admit, as tasty as milk chocolate/fine cacao is in a tea, it is not my favorite note. I like earthy, woody notes, and this one is very mellow in that department. There is a faint mushroom flavor to me, which I am enjoying :) It is very good, but in all honesty, my Noble Mark still holds my heart for favorite shu. This one is tasty, and I might re-order someday, but for now I will enjoy the ones I have in my cupboard.
Overall, super milk chocolatey, light cacao, silky smooth, and calming. Delicious, but my heart is still won over by Noble Mark for a favorite :) but will probably will meet again, Special Dark! Highly recommend if you want a pu’erh that is not very pu’erhy in taste (no fish, not much earthiness, if any, and not overly strong at all). Great for starters, and also, I could see that since this will be out of my cupboard, I will probably end up craving it haha. That tends to happen with teas like this :D very happy I ordered this!
Flavors: Cacao, Chocolate, Mushrooms, Smooth
Continuation of my earlier steepings..
Steep five: 2 minutes. This may have been a bit much, as the white grape skin astringency is back. This was quite drying on the tongue, and not as pleasant as when this occurred before. I’ll back off on the steep time for the next go around…
Steep six: 2 minutes. The astringence faded off again and now I have more of a grape juicy sweet tea. (minus additives, since I don’t really like additives in anything but black teas).
Steep seven: 3 minutes. There’s more of a mineral and floral flavor to this, now. Still good, and I know its got life in it yet but I’m suffering from a bit of flavor fatigue here. Also I’m pretty sure tea drunk is a phrase that applies here.
Definitely good stuff, and I have a feeling the more of the sheng pu’er I try the more I’ll realize just how good this is.
This was my very first raw pu’er. I needed something to soothe an aching stomach and even though I didn’t necessarily want to fuss with the gaiwan and steep times, I managed. For the tea.
So, 4 g. (half my sample) in my little Midori and a 15 second rinse, then a first steep of 15 seconds. I didn’t get much smell from the dry leaf, maybe just a vague earth scent . The taste is surprisingly tangy, and also buttery and green. It reminds me strongly of a green oolong, actually. The exception is a small fermentation taste as well. It’s not fishy EXACTLY – I’m thinking its what happens with age to the fish notes in less aged pu’er. Fascinating! And towards the end of this steep I’m also getting notes of florality. So far I’m liking this a lot more than any pu’er I’ve had before!
Steep two: 30 seconds. The leaf has become more earthy in scent. This steeping is much more fruity and astringent. It reminds me of the taste/texture of grape skin, actually. Sweet but also very drying on the tongue. The note of fermentation is gone from this steep.
Steep three: 45 seconds. More buttery and florality has returned to the tea, and the fruity astringence is gone. This pu’er changes very dramatically from one steep to the next. I’m glad that the astringence is gone though – I was worried I’d done the impossible and over-steeped a pu’er! I’m still amazed at how very oolong-y this all is.
Steep four: 1 minute. Nothing remarkably different about the flavor profile here. Still a light green tea and pleasurable to drink but I didn’t notice anything from the other few steepings. I’m keeping this around to finish up with dinner tonight because there’s a lot of life left in these leaves, so I’ll be back later to update this!
I will say that I think this pu’er may have shown me the light. It’s done wonders for helping my stomach feel better, too….
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Tangy, Wet Earth, White Grapes
Thank you for this sample, Beorhthraefn! I must admit I sipped this one a few days ago but I also had a terrible headache after I started the steep sessions, so I didn’t write a tasting note at the time. I had to write one though, since the sample is gone now. I used a teaspoon and a half for my eleven or so ounce mug. As a dry leaf, I’m surprised there isn’t much of a scent to these green bundles. Both steeps are light in flavor – fruity like pineapple, buttery but not getting to the point of savory. Sadly, looking at the total steep time for both sessions – a min and 45 seconds, these leaves probably had a lot more time to steep, but my headache was telling me to cool it on the caffeine and just go to bed. I should have tried this one another day!
Steep #1 // 10 min after boiling // rinse // 45 second steep
Steep #2 // 7 min a.b. // 1 min steep
I love a toucha. They are so convenient. Today I used a 90ml gaiwan. I don’t do rinses. The first cup was excellent. So smooth and gentle with a taste that reminds of digging potatoes in the dry soil. There was a much lighter background note of leather. The sip ends with a well rounded mineral taste.
The second and third cups convinced me I much prefer Western mug brewing. The tea is coffee colored and has a rough edge that distracts me from everything else that might be going on.
Fourth cup I steep for 10 seconds then poured it into my mug. Added enough kettle water to make an 8 oz cup. Yep, I like this. The roughness is gone and I am back to leather accompanied by earth and maybe sweet hay. This again finishes with the round mineral note.
I never know if it is rude if you don’t mention who sent you a tea or more embarrassing if you do. So let me just say Thank You.
This little sample from Garret must have gotten a bit lost in my huge collection of teas. I was searching for a green tea yesterday morning and came across this sample.
The dry leaves looked so dark. I would have taken it for a black tea or roasted oolong. The leaves were long and twisted.
This tea was a nice surprise. First thing I noticed was how sweet it was. Sweet, nutty & smooth. Then it’s got this mild roasted flavour to it. It’s nutty & sweet along with the roasted.I find with oolongs there’s a huge difference between a light oolong and a roasted oolong. I’m just using that example to explain how roasting changes a tea a lot. This was a surprise because all the elements I love in a green tea: nutty, buttery, smooth, chestnut notes, sweet – were all there along with the light roasted flavour….kind of like roasted chestnuts!
I just sorry it took me so long to try this tea. It’s really a great tea!
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet
Brewed gongfu-style with a yixing pot. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 5, 5, 5, 20, 30, 60, 120.
The wet leaf has a very enjoyable aroma, sweetly smelling of fertile damp earth and of bitter cocoa. The liquor is full-bodied, rich with notes of earth and sugarcane, and creamy in texture. Warming and comforting on this icy, rainy day.
This shou is not entirely clear, it’s a little cloudy, and remained so for nearly the entirety of the session. Also, I think it is best suited for being brewed Western-style. The leaf weakened only after the second steeping, hence the wide change in steeping seconds. Kind of disappointing. Because I only had enough for one helping, I’m not rating. Still, I do recommend.
I have to say, I don’t know what all the hubbub is about. Although Phatty Cake has a lot of flavor including tobacco and smoke, I’m not sure I like the flavor. I’ve always thought smokey flavor in ripe puerh was not so good. What I have found, is that smoke often turns to spice over time. This cake is already 3 or 4 years old and it’s still intensely smokey. That being said, it does metamorphosize quite a bit and has a lot of staying power through many steeps. None-the-less, I felt compelled to try it after all the hype although it’s out of my usual price range for a 100gm cake. Will enjoy this one but won’t buy it again. Very much loved the Temple Stairs I bought with it.
Flavors: Smoke, Tobacco, Wood
Another one from Nicole!
This one wasn’t nearly as strong as the other one I had. In fact I had to drink like half the cup before realizing what it tasted like. Guess that’s what happens when you are eating food and drinking a new tea at the same time. xD
But eventually I could pick the flavors out.
The main note I got was earth, which I really dislike in teas. But there was a decent amount of honey flavors to not make the earthiness too overwhelming. Which is good. But overall, I wasn’t a huge fan. Those nature flavors are just killer for me apparently xD
Anyway, happy to have tried more teas from Mandala though! Thank you so much, Nicole!
Flavors: Earth, Honey
Tried this one earlier this morning. Wasn’t totally expecting to like it since the majority of flavors it lists on here don’t appeal to me all that much for the most part. So I wasn’t overly disappointed by not liking it.
The taste reminded me mainly of wood and an almost leathery taste. It was so so strong. I wasn’t expecting it to be that strong. I know I didn’t over-steep it, so no idea what on earth went wrong. Or if that’s just how it is.
But definitely not my cuppa. Anyway, thank you so much for the sample, Nicole!
Flavors: Leather, Wood
I totally forgot I had this. That’s legit, right? I got it about 1.5 years ago and haven’t tried it yet…
1 tbsp for 1 (tea) cup.
20s: I’m going to call this a rinse. It smells like cooking meat. Savoury. Umami. Not in a good way.
http://instagram.com/p/x-J8l0x5AY/ (Is that enough bling for one cup?)
15s: It’s been about 15 minutes and finally the water heater is up to temperature. Time to get serious about tasting this. The smell makes me think of okra. Or roasted asparagus. Or the Labrador tea I had last night. Spicy and green. Still with a lot of savoury behind it, which I’m not expecting because the tea looks so light. It tastes green and spicy and thick. Still indescribably light.
15s: I’m really not sure how I feel about this tea. There is a lingering bitterness.
20s: Lots of lingering bitterness. Still savoury.
30s: Now there is an initial sweetness with a lingering bitterness. Still asparagus. And I need to stop. My tummy is becoming rather upset with me.
Thank you so much for sending a sample of this one a while back, MzPriss. It’s been a while. Maybe I’ve been avoiding this one, since if my palatte doesn’t like THIS raw pu-erh, I probably won’t like any of them. But nothing will beat the cocoa/coffee of ripened pu-erh for me though. I used eight grams (stated on the sample) for my eleven ounce mug.
Steep #1 // 25 min after boiling // rinse // 45 second steep
The rinse didn’t seem to break the leaves apart at all. Luckily, it’s very good! Completely different flavors from the few raw pu-erhs I’ve had. The flavor is very smooth – like a syrupy texture. There is also a slight buzzy quality, though I don’t have anything to compare it too…maybe when you eat too close to the edge of a pineapple, which is odd, since the flavor does seem a little like sweet pineapple. It’s very juicy, also a little creamy, hints of apple. Really, the best possible results of a raw pu-erh. I also love the name ‘wild monk’. The color of the steeped tea looks like a green oolong. Usually raw pu-erh is too woodchipy for me, and this is certainly the opposite of that.
Steep #2 // 18 min after boiling // under a minute steep
Hmm, this one certainly doesn’t taste the same. I always seem to have a problem with any steep after the first. I think I shouldn’t have steeped this one this hot or for a minute. The flavor was tough to figure out, but it was a little too strong for these lovely leaves. Almost like old tobacco and a bitey flavor. I HAVE to remember that with second steeps of raw pu-erh, the leaves get much more unraveled and they don’t need so much steep time.
Steep #3 // 30 min after boiling // under a min
Another cup that was a little too bitter. Such a shame to ruin this one! I know it was my fault… the first cup was so nice. It seems I can never learn with these pu-erhs. The first cup is always nice but with the following steeps, the flavors get a little odd. It is my fault, but they don’t seem to be very user friendly.
Nicole was awesome and sent me a bunch of black teas that I’ve been wanting to try for a while in our swap! I have only tried maybe two other teas from Mandala, but everyone raves about their teas, so I am eager to try more!
This is the first tea from the swap package Nicole sent me, and also the first black tea of the day!
Wasn’t super sure of it when I saw that one of the flavors was cherry. It seems like the cherry flavors I used to find it black teas have been replaced with woody tastes now.
But I was actually pleasantly surprised.
It smelled like wood as it steeped, and when I started drinking it cherry flavors started popping up! The flavor of this tea was a good balance of wood and cherry. And the aftertaste reminded me strongly of salted peanuts. No idea why, but it totally tasted like that. xD
It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t something I’d be wanting to try again. Glad that this was a small sample, so it wasn’t wasted too much on me. And I’m glad that I got to try it. Thank you for the sample, Nicole!
Flavors: Cherry, Peanut, Salty, Wood
Thank you for the trade a while back, TeaTiff! Only a couple left to try from that swap months ago. (Only?! Sheesh.) The leaves here looked exactly like the flavor I was looking for today. Something like a chocolate malty Pearl. They look like the leaves used to make pearls – wiry black with hints of gold. I used two teaspoons of leaves. The flavor is honey, malt, dried grass, tiny hint of chocolate. The flavor here wasn’t quite as pure chocolate as I was looking for, but it’s still a very nice cup. The aroma is amazing. And the resteep was just as good. The leaves looked kind of spent after the first cup (like they might taste oversteeped and oaky… not so!) I kind of expected a brisker tea, but I’m just glad two teaspoons wasn’t too much. This tea is lovely but I’ve had a couple better types like this in the past.
Steep #1 // 2 tsps. // 10 min after boiling // 2 min
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3-4 min
A sample I’ve been saving, from Dexter. :) Thank you!
I rinsed it from my regular kettle, then let it sit while my Zojirushi thermos thing came up to temperature.
20s: SMOKE. OMG, the smoke. Wow. It smells super duper strong, but the colour is quite pale. The taste isn’t super smoky, it’s a little astringent and carby and… almost a touch sour.
30s: Still smoke. Still super pale. IDK if I really love it, but it’s really neat. The sour/bitter/astringent (I can’t tell!) flavour makes it interesting and also turns me off a bit.
I lost track of time, about 1 minute?: Still smoke. Still super pale. Starting to get sweet, along with the previous flavours. I breathe smoke still, but I don’t really taste it. It’s weird.
And honestly I’m kinda bored with writing this now. I think I’ll just keep slowly drinking my tea, and I’ll make any astounding updates later. ;)
I drank almost 1/4 of my steaming root beer float eggnog latte while this next cup steeped. Whoops. Still drinkable but green and bitter. A green bitter. Does that make sense? Different from a black tea bitter. Or even a green tea bitter.
I had another way oversteep that I had to dump. :(
The steep I’m currently drinking is sweet and a lot softer. I still smell smoke, but the flavour has changed a lot. It’s fresh and… reminds me of fresh dried alfalfa. :)
I’ve had this oolong for a while and figured it would be time to revisit it.
The dry leaf smells lovely. Fruity and just a hint roasty.
Very smooth, with a honeylike sweetness. There’s a hint of fruit lingering in the background as well. I seem to be in the mood for lighter teas over the past few days— normally I prefer strong teas that pretty much yell “HI THERE” at my tastebuds with its roastiness/earthiness/smokiness/leatheriness/‘heavier’ flavours (looking at you, Special Dark and Jade Dew). Anyway, this really hits the spot for me this evening.
This sample was a gift from an anonymous Steepster friend! I’ve really enjoyed Mandala’s black teas so far, so I’m happy I get to try another one. This is sort of a flowering tea, the long Yunnan tea leaves are tied into a cone shape which then unfurls into a little blossom when it’s steeped. The cones are a little over an inch high, and striped with black and gold. The website recommends 2-3 cones per 8 ounces of water, so I used 3 cones and then used about 10 ounces instead just to be sure.
When I looked into my steeping basket, there were cute little anemone-like creatures in there! This is a simple but yummy tea. It’s quite malty with a thick and smooth texture. There’s a little bit of that Yunnan savory note, but there’s also a touch of dark and sweet molasses. Tasty and very easy to drink! :)
Flavors: Malt, Molasses, Smooth, Thick
I’m back from seeing my sweetie who was in Africa and quite the jet lagged traveler. On the trip home via BART I was thinking of what tea I wanted to have when I got home. I was thinking green tea but ended up with this green oolong instead.
I’ve had this in my stash for a few months now but somehow haven’t gotten around to doing a review. Tie guan yins always remind me of spring and I was thinking I should drink this one soon while its still fresh.
I did 3 steeps but wanted to stop there because I’m a bit worried about caffeine so late in the afternoon. It’s a lovely tea which reminds me of vanilla and cream in the first steep, the later steeps brought out an essence of lilac and butter. I’m not getting the bittersweet notes for some reason, it seems just sweet and buttery to me! Somehow it feels relaxing and uplifting at the same time. I will need to try cold brewing it as well.
Received a sample in my last order. I think this is the appropriate one to file on Steepster? The label says Da Hong Pao in parentheses.
Brewed gongfu-style with a ceramic gaiwan. 10 second rinse. Steeping times: 5, 10, 20, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120.
Wet leaf has a roasty, fruity (blueberries, starfruit), and somewhat smoky aroma. The liquor has a beautifully rich golden color, and is clear, smooth, and thick in texture. The high point was infusions one and two – roast and quite juicy. Thereafter, the flavors weakened slightly. They were simply present, nothing more. They did leave a nicely sweet and fruit aftertaste once I finished each cup though.
Overall, this dark oolong lacked pizzaz and complexity, but it was alright.
Another sample from miss anonymous! I was happy to see this one, as I’ve tried a couple of Mandala’s black teas before and found them yummy. This one looks like a lovely fluffy pure bud Yunnan. The buds are floofy and fuzzy and about half golden, half grey. I can’t comment on the scent because everything from this package seems to smell vaguely of cinnamon, teehee.
Steeped, it smells amazingly milk chocolaty with some stonefruit (oooooh chocolate-covered dried apricots?!). Taste-wise, it’s very light. I can definitely taste that creamy milk chocolate flavor, but there’s also a light savory taste that I generally find in Yunnan teas. It’s an interesting combination! The stonefruit, specifically apricot, is also quite present, especially near the end of the sip. Yummy!
Flavors: Apricot, Chocolate, Malt, Smooth, Thick
I have been drinking this tea all day and finished off the rest of my sample in the gaiwan. I had it in the morning, went shopping for a ton of house things (boxing day sales, hurrah!) had some in the afternoon, before dinner, and now I combined 3 steepings for a mug before bed. This tea has staying power! It is also delicious, woody and fresh, calming and good. Most pronounced is a woody flavor to me, with a tiny bit of caramel sweet coming out. Just a bit though. Mostly fresh, wet wood after the rain. I am digging this, and am very happy I still have some mini tu’s of this tea! Oh, and these last 3 steepings combined have led to a much more pronounced sweet flavor, smooth, mmmmm perfect for before bed.
Loving Mandala’s puerhs! If I ever let myself buy tea again (still working on sipping down teas/samples for the new year) I might add a bit of this to my order. Thanks Garret, for the free sample!!
Flavors: Caramel, Wet Wood, Wood
This is a fun tea. Not as sweet as the big red robe Mandala offers but just as roasty. Wood flavors and maltiness. Mineral taste as with all yancha. I can’t place the sweetness. It’s a nutty sweetness. Faint.
However you can play with this tea. Lots of leaf with flash brews or less leaf and longer brews. Gives very different liquors.
Nice Amber caramel color. Smooth finish with a little lingering malt on the back of the tongue.
Not much change from brew to brew using gongfu style.
(This was my first review so bare with me). :-P