Mandala Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

96

Bright green with depth of flavor. These small snail leaves brew to thick green leaves. A meditation to watch.

Flavors: Dry Grass, Green, Vegetal

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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96
drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
21 tasting notes

Toasty tea with long leaves that impress as they brew.

Flavors: Mineral, Musty, Toasty

Preparation
2 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

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100
drank Nine Lotus by Mandala Tea
21 tasting notes

Green tea at its finest. One or two leaves and a bud are visible on every leaf. Picked by munis who pray for those who will drink this tea. Smooth, mellow taste. Not grassy nor vegetal. A classic green tea that is sure to wow new and seasoned green tea drinkers.

Flavors: Green

Preparation
3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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50

This is another tea with two listings so I just picked one.

Unfortunately I didn’t love this one. Or, to be perfectly honest, any of the Mandala oolongs I’ve tried. This one is just a bit thin. In taste and mouthfeel. Overleafing/steeping gives a bit more mineral in the brew. There’s a bit of spice and bark but nothing noteworthy. Just a bland brew overall. Tried gong-fu and mug brewing, and both were insipid. Perhaps this was just a poor harvest.

Flavors: Bark, Mineral

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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86

If i’m ever going to get to 50 teas, i need to get my drink on with my puerh more often. I had been trying to get to at least ONE session a week but that sort of fell by the way side. So today i figured i should try. Pulled this one out because i am a mandala fan and can’t bring myself to use up my special dark. heh. This should make for a very enjoyable morning.

Garret

Too funny to see this just now, Sil! I started my day by climbing the Temple Stairs, too! I make wishes that it made for a good start of your day. Enjoy!

Sil

yay! thanks Garret!

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Going from the Bang Wei to this… utter disapointment. This tea is mouth damaging as it leaves a lingering astringency. Now 2012 Wild Monk was the best stuff as many of us know and I strongly believe that this isn’t the same material being pressed from a different year. Unless a few years changes a cake that much… I feel tricking into expecting a similar product. Maybe I’m wrong, but I have found a cake that I believe is much closer. This just wasn’t pleasant and I used a small amount at lower temperature. Its strong if you want that, but the taste is an undesired one.

tea123

Try more leaf?

Liquid Proust

Absolutely not going to happen. This is not something I enjoyed at 4g and I’m confident in my assessment on it. I’ve had the 2014,2015, and loose… they are all much different than the 2012 and were not very enjoyable. I had to have two different sessions to come to the conclusion with certainty because there is always random elements that could make me have a wrong impression or experience. In this case, I know this tea is not for me.

boychik

Wasn’t my favorite. i thought its only me. i couldnt get past 3 steeps. i used off boil and 5g for 80ml

Liquid Proust

Generally I go lower for harsh sheng so I dropped my temperature a bit… still no luck :/
No worries though, this is only one of many cakes to which all vendors experience; some I hate you, eh, okay, awesome, and thisisgoingtobeadrunknight type of cakes

Cwyn

Drain cleaner sheng. Might be good in a decade though.

mrmopar

Swap you for a bit to try.

Liquid Proust

@ boychik this is why we share, so we don’t feel crazy! @ Cwyn sometimes I imagine you owning a house where each room is host to a specific decade of pottery and tea. @mrmopar I’ll weight out what I have and send it your way (I may have the loose and pressed material)

mrmopar

I have had it in a cart considering it.

Garret

Glad I saw this.

Being from the same exact source area as the 2012 Wild Monk I would expect that this tea will mellow and become closer in character to the 2012 as it packs on some age. Of course the 2012 will change as well and of course, there will be differences in vintages of mao cha. This is why Pu-erh is referred to in China as the older it gets, better the taste/aroma. Ye Sheng cha changes alot in the first few years. It is intensely bitter and astringent in the first few years and then rather suddenly mellows quite a lot but with a lot of character. It’s only somewhat comparable to assamica (traditional pu-erh) in it’s aging as it’s a completely different varietal. Young purple leaf is going to act very differently and many customers are brewing it at green tea temp and up to 195. Give it time…

I will also add that there were plenty of people who thought the same thing about the 2012 Wild Monk at first, some still do. I’m not going to spend my personal money (and a pressing ain’t cheap) to press a tea that isn’t tasted by several people in the know. This 2015 Wild Monk pu’er is one of the hottest selling teas at Cafe’ Steam, a coffeehouse in Rochester, MN.

Different strokes, especially in a young purple leaf sheng. It’s why I write Purple leaf tea is very bitter in the first 2 years. Try a sample first to see if you are tough enough." It’s a whole different animal, this purple leaf stuff. The only thing that makes me not feel poorly after reading your review is that I’ve had all the repeat buys on both the 2014 and 2015 Monk.

Wishing you joy,
Garret

boychik

Garret, I still have some left ( it was a sample, beenghole) what parameters would you recommend ?

Liquid Proust

@Garrett Understood. For me, bitterness and astringency are a massive no no. That is why I rarely drink black tea and have a hard time with sheng because I am really picky. I’ve been drinking a lot of lighter stuff the suites my personal taste preference which will make this taste even harsher. For me, the difference is like tasting a cup of water and then a cup of straight black coffee; I have sensitive taste buds.

Garret

@boychik – Hi!! I’ve been doing a fun thing with the 2014 and 2015 Wild Monk… I do 2 to 3 steeps at 195 for 20 or 30 seconds, then I do one 2 to 3 minute steep at 195 (this will be bolder flavor) after that I’m back to 30 second steeps but with water near or at a boil and the sweetness comes out. The coffeeshops and restaurants we sell to are brewing the wild monk at 195 for 1.5 to 2.5 minutes, depending on the strength desired by the customer. I’d say most customers are brewing both at 195 and digging it that way. I also really love it grandpa style at 175, 180 in my tea thermos. So many ways to skin this cat :) Enjoy!!

tea-junkie

Based on this review and comments, I am going to buy this now. I love my everything strong. Straight black coffee, espressos, single malt scotch, dry as can be red wines. So I will definitely be adding this to my cart.

Garret

tea-junkie, if you are buying, I’ll include samples from whatever vintage of the Wild Monk that you don’t, including some 2012 from my stash so you can see what a few years does to the purple leaf. Also highly recommend the “Bamboogie” and “Heart of the Old Tree” for you. I look forward to knowing your thoughts on them. Grateful,
Garret

tea-junkie

@Garret I will take you up on those samples. I will place my order by this saturday. I actually purchased the “bamboogie” for black Friday and was shipped out when you received the RLBL. I just haven’t gotten to it yet. But I will soon. As for “Heart of Old Tree”, I have a cake of it and I love it. It is an awesome sheng!

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90

This is a really nice sheng. I’m really bad with the tasting notes still, and especially with the shengs which seem very complex and different in every sip! so maybe…. Apple, sweet graham-cracker almost, grape, some autumn hay. Really good!

The Qi also triggered a very strong emotional swelling which I’ve never felt with tea before, including other strong shengs/shous (i’m assuming it’s from the tea, because i’ve eliminated most other possibilities and it seemed to rise and fall along with the energy / caffeine ride).

I will definitely be ordering a cake of this when I get some more money saved up!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 100 OZ / 2957 ML

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95
drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
5 tasting notes

Boom,

I found my sheng! Either that or I really figured out how to brew this one perfectly. 195 degrees 5/5, 7/7, etc. Took down the temps and steep times a bit. This tea is delicious. Lots of fruit characteristics and no bitter qualities whatsoever. Don’t think I’ll need to order any other Sheng cakes besides these ones for a while! Another great offering from Mandala!

Flavors: Apricot, Pear, Vegetal, White Grapes

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 180 ML
Garret

Oh yes! I’m really happy you enjoy this one. It’s a winner in my book. Thanks for writing up your impressions of our teas, Tyler! I am grateful.

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drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
26 tasting notes

It is February 18, at 9:30pm it is 69 degrees here in KC. The very first push of Spring and it is bringing with it an energy and excitement that I would imagine humans around these parts have been familiar with for centuries. The first sign that the end of the cold season is at hand. I was hoping to sit down to a tea that had a similar sort of energy and this one has lived up to that hope.

So far I have steeped it for 5s, 10, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30 seconds, and still it shows no signs of slowing. Most of the flavor I am getting out of it is a combination of apple, grapeskin, pear, and dry wood. It has a powerful astringency that combines all of the notes together and finishes sweet. This is one I would definitely consider buying.

Flavors: Apple, Apple Skins, Dry Grass, Pear, White Grapes, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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86

Trying to expand a little into the Raw Pu erh as I’m normally a Ripe guy. Certainly enjoyed this tea. The 1st time I brewed it I don’t believe I got the water/tea ratio quite right and it was a little too bitter for my liking. I dialed down the tea a bit today and it was much more enjoyable. Tastes of cedar, citrus, a little bitter, and overall kind of tropical.

Flavors: Bitter, Cedar, Citrus, Tropical

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 6 OZ / 180 ML
Garret

These young purple leaf sheng can definitely get strongly astringent. Many folks are brewing the young ones with much cooler water, some as low as 175 degrees. I just drank this today before, during and after my sauna and really enjoyed it brewed at 180-195 degrees. Using less leaf and cooler temps it is also very enjoyable brewed grandpa style in a thermos or mug!

Tyler S

Awesome info Garret. I tried it in and around 185 and it was perfect. Great stuff!

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92

Really enjoyed this tea! Gongfu, 5/5, 10/10, etc. First 2 steeps were very smooth and had some mineral and wet wood were apparent along with something else that I couldn’t quite put my finger on (possibly hay or something that slightly reminded me of a barn, was tasty). Around steep 3 caramel and cocoa came to mind which was a very delicious combination. Will certainly be ordering more of this!

Flavors: Caramel, Cocoa, Hay, Mineral, Wet Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 6 OZ / 180 ML

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89

The appearance of this tea reminds me a lot of Dragonwell, with its long rolled leaf, but the flavor is light and tastes slightly of sweet corn. It reminds me somewhat of cornsilk tea, which is popular in Korea and some parts of the United States. Because this tea is so lightly flavored, water quality plays a larger than normal roll in the final flavor of the tea. We’ve been having hard water issues the past few months, so my first cup tasted flat and mineral-like. If you have not-so-great tasting water then I definitely recommend using filtered or bottled water when steeping this tea, it makes all the difference in the world.

You can read the full review on my blog:
http://www.notstarvingyet.com/index/2016/2/16/tuesday-tea-yellow-buds-huo-shan-huang-ya-mandala-tea

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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92

Really interesting tea. Received as a sample from Garret with my noble mark purchase. Different flavors arise with each steep. A little bitter here and there, but very enjoyable. Fits perfectly into a nice evening tea for me. Tobacco, leather, earth, and campfire are prominent in almost all of the steeps and picked up a bit of maple syrup(ish) flavor at the 7+ steep mark. Really enjoyed it and picked up a cake!

Flavors: Campfire, Earth, Leather, Maple Syrup, Tobacco

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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94

This ripe Pu erh is unbelievable. I decided to purchase a cake right off the bat as some of the reviews seem to coincide with my tastes and I am glad I did. Brewed it gongfu and got 10+ steeps out of it. The vanilla flavor is fantastic and is prominent throughout each steep. It is now my go to daily tea and will be purchasing at least a few more cakes shortly. Not going to say this particular pu erh is something particularly exotic, but it is absolutely delicious and brews smooth and dark. Was my first purchase from Mandala and they now have a lifelong customer (received 2 samples with my order which I will also review). Have already purchased the temple stairs and phatty cake II (the latter of which i received a sample of). Thanks for such a great tea!

Flavors: Tobacco, Vanilla, Walnut, Wet Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 5 OZ / 150 ML

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83

What a day. Wife is gone for 2 days at a business conference. Both kids had the day off from school. My 4 year old son had to get an abscess on his stomach lanced at 8am. Yup. The good news is that he handled it so well and has been in good spirits and very loving/cuddly all day.

So I decide to reach for this sample that was sent to me a while back with an order. Mandala is usually a pretty good bet when you want a good ripe. I went with a full boil, a 5 second rinse, and a 5 second first steep. The first steep felt very light and airy in my mouth. But for as light as it felt, the flavors were really nice. I detected some malty chocolate as well as some light cherry notes. But, calm down all you cherry cordial fans (myself included). Those flavors weren’t together when I detected them. More like, one sip reveal one and the next sip revealed another.

Second steep, 10 seconds. Earthy smoothness. Still light and airy. There is something on the back of the throat. A coating sweetness. Underhanded, not overpowering. But there.

Third steep, 15 seconds. First off, the smell of the wet leaves is unlike any I’ve smelled in a ripe shou before. I am not sure I can even really describe it other than there is this almost floral like honeysuckle, slightly spicy, sweetness. The liquor on this one has more of a musty taste. Not un-enjoyable but not as good as the first two steeps.

Fourth steep, 15 seconds. Held back a little on this one due to the flavor of the last steep. I think it was a good decision. The flavor mellowed out. Now we are getting back to some of the enjoyable flavors from the first two steeps. Light chocolate/cocoa flavor.

Fifth steep, 20 seconds. I am starting to see the bigger picture here on this one. When steeped correctly, this is a light, airy and smooth, consistent drinker. My review will probably stop here, until/unless something else drastically different jumps out at me.

Final Thought: Though this is pretty consistent from steep to steep, it is by no means dull, bland or uninteresting. It has some really unique flavors/and smells. It certainly feels and tastes like a higher quality tea. Very solid.

Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Musty, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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82

GCTTB
So happy to see this one included in the box. I’ve been meaning to order at least one of the yellow teas from mandala but haven’t had a chance to yet. I’ve been sipping on this over the course of the morning. I quite like this. It’s a little different from the other yellow teas that i’ve had but this is a nice one. The flavor reminds me a little of corn, slightly sweet and very buttery.

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90
drank Green Gold by Mandala Tea
12 tasting notes

Got this amazing green as a free sample from Garret at Mandala Tea.
Let me start by saying that I’ve had a lot of trouble finding a groove with greens, and I decided to contact Garret before placing an order. He recommended several that may suit me and EVERY one of them turned out perfect, including this and a sample of Mao Feng green.
As for the tea: It brewed up with zero astringency very easily, with plenty of flavor in all of the 4 steepings I did, at various temps(155-190). Exceptionally smooth with vegetal notes on the nose, but not heavy in the taste. Became sweeter in later steepings, but had a wonderful balance of sweetness throughout, with just a bit of sweet peas or edamame.

Flavors: Peas, Smooth, Sweet

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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83

This was a really good mini tuo. It opened up completely on the second steep (5 sec) after a 20 second rinse and a 5 second first steep.

The main thing that I came away with is that it tasted very clean and silky, creamy, and smooth. A very easy drinker. I can see why they decided to put this tea into a mini tuo. It is a very easy toss, steep, drink type of tea.

Flavors: Creamy, Smooth

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML
Lion

I love this tea, and have a 200g cake of it. They sent me some of these mini tuos as a sample with it and I dare say the cake is even sweeter and smoother than the tuos. I agree with you that this tea is really clean and smooth.

mtchyg

Oh, I imagine the cake is probably better! Sounds amazing. :)

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Phatty cake, phatty cake how I love saying phatty cake.

I had a sample of this from the time when Mandala was having its shou sampler set (In 2014 IIRC). Unfortunately for me this one was forgotten and neglected in its plastic baggie at the back of my tea box. After surviving through two moves and an equal number of years in a ziplock bag the flavors were slightly muted. I still get whisps of the wonderful flavours other reviewers have described but I definitely should have tried reviving it first by reintroducing some humidity. Still a good tea, but I wish I had enjoyed it sooner.

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85

My first of the lighter Oolongs. I wasn’t so into it at first, but it quickly grew on me. What a nice creamy feeling and taste. I haven’t actual milk in years, so I can’t comment on the similarities in that regard. I have to spend some more time with it for sure!

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88

GCTTB5

The bag was not marked with the year, so I just guessed that it was this entry considering that this is the one that is on the website (I think). So I hope this is in the right place.

This smells really earthy, and I was a little worried that it was going to taste “too” earthy for me. This was not the case, the earthy mushroom notes were there, but not overwhelming. There was also sweet, creamy notes. I found there to be a slight wood aftertaste. Delicious. It resteeps very well. The second steep was 6min, and then I forget after that.

On to the wish list it goes.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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I drank this tea all day while working from home. It was a cold, rainy day, and this shu was both warming and energizing. While I like the loose version of this shu, for some reason the cake seems to be much more to my liking. Actually, this one is definitely one of my all time favorite shupus. The smoothness is just unparalleled. I must get a cake.

mtchyg

I love this tea. It was my first came I bought. No regrets on it either.

mtchyg

*Cake. Thanks auto correct.

curlygc

RUNS SCREAMING OFF TO MANDALA WEBSITE WITH WALLET

Sil

awe crap. i don’t get home for another few hours..

curlygc

That’s ok @Sil, I left plenty for you!

Dexter

Part of me wishes I hadn’t seen this….

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