Mandala Tea

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
587 tasting notes

This one has been in my collection for a long time now and I’m slowly moving through everything I have. I’m typically not a puerh drinker, but seeing that it has received great reviews, I must give it a try.

First Steep: I’m surprised to see how dark this cup is given the short steep time. No wonder it’s called Special Dark! Sipping… hm, this is nicer than I thought it would be. I first taste bits of dry bark, wood and cocoa. There is a shadow of dirt that I pick up in most puerhs, but it sits in the background and doesn’t grow too strong. The cup also has a vague creamy element which I’m enjoying. Really looking forward to future cups!

Second Steep: This one is a bit more.. earthy. There is something a little tangy about this cup, too. I’m not sure if it has to do with the earthy note combined with the dry bark flavor, but it’s definitely a little strange. That being said, it is drinkable and there is still that nice chocolate note – a bit weaker than the first cup.

Third Steep: Reminds me a bit more of the first cup. I still taste bark mixed with a bit of dark chocolate and dirt. This cup also has really nice sweetness that wasn’t as prominent in previous cups.

This is definitely one of the better puerh teas I’ve had and I love that there isn’t that fishy scent or flavor. Yum!

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Wow, I can’t believe that I am the first to review this. This is far too amazing to not be popular.

This beeng consists of long twisted tendrils tightly and thickly bound together. These knots are an array of autumn browns and gold. The dry cake carries a raisin and hot hay scent. I broke off a chunk and placed it inside my warmed yixing. I could hint at a very heavy aroma of thick damp wood and rich soil. I washed the dry leaf once and prepared for brewing. The tea session was very mild. I was given the impression that the brew would be thicker and carry some power. I discovered I had used too little leaf. I highly recommend more leaf (9-10g=100ml) and longer steep times(25-45 sec). Once I added another few grams this became an amazing brew. The corrected sip tasted of sweet caramel and plum. This brew had no bitterness and a slight astringency. The mouthfeel is something commendable. I experienced a thick tongue feel with a thizzling sensation. The qi from this session was intense and powerful. It starts as a long focused relaxation, and it builds into a rocket fuel sensation. I was giddy and giggly by the eighth steep #TeaDrunk. I am so glad I went with my gut on this purchase, and that I discovered the correct brewing parameters. This brew lasts a very long time, and it grows sweeter with each steep. This tea session also included a succulent tobacco undertone that lasts long in the aftertaste. I really really like this tea.

Flavors: Hot hay, Plums, Sweet, Sweet, warm grass, Tobacco

Boiling 0 min, 45 sec 9 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Hot hay


all bout that hay life

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This was a nice calm brew for a rainy day. The dry leaf is very light colored. I can see an array of amber, tarnished silver, cream brown, and slight platinum. This mixture of colors carries the scent of dried apricots and an autumn leaf pile. I placed a chunk in my warmed yixing and shook it up. The scent deepened to a sweet syrupy apricot glaze with a misty forest background. I brewed this treat up right away. This brew was very light and sweet. I detected no bitterness or astringency. The initial sip was of sweet grapes and a warm honey suckle undertone. The flavor continued to stay fruity and uplifting. This autumn grape tone lessened and was replaced with a delectable sweetness. This brew has a thick buttery mouthfeel and is very appetizing. The qi was a relaxed and focused aura that surrounds the body and dives deep to the core. This is a great tea, but it wasn’t what I was in search of tonight. I needed something with a little more power and a more expansive body. However, I enjoyed this tea a lot.

Flavors: Apricot, Autumn Leaf Pile, Grapes, Honeysuckle, Sweet, Wet Moss

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Green Snail Spring by Mandala Tea
1111 tasting notes

Thanks for the sample with my recent order Garret!

This is the 2015 version and it is super sweet and vegetal. Very nice green! :D

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4g, 200 degrees, gongfu, two short rinses, ten second steeps. I smell the tobacco aroma like I do with most shengs, but there’s something else there too. Definitely a fruity sweetness. OMG… this is the first sheng I’ve tried that I actually like. It’s mild, sweet, fruity… I get no grass, no seaweed, no tobacco. It’s bright and crisp.

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drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
726 tasting notes

Soo umm I think I got this from TheLastDodo? Correct me if I’m wrong! But I’m pretty sure you sent it to me…but our swap was a while ago and I have a horrible memory :S
Been wanting to try this one for a while, it’s always perked my interest.
When it was steeping the aroma was kinda creamy, and reminded me of a milk oolong, or just a really creamy oolong that makes me sick…
So wasn’t sure what to think.
But when it cooled off enough to let me drink it, I was surprised by it so much!
There’s a little vegetable flavor going on, along with some floral flavor, and while there is some creaminess, it’s not the normal creaminess I usually taste in oolongs that make me sick. It actually kinda tasted like vanilla. I thought that the flavors for this tea seemed odd when I looked it up to see the steeping time. Didn’t think I’d taste most of those. But I totally tasted vanilla. Never tasted an oolong quite like this before!
But I’m definitely impressed!
The best tea from Mandala Tea I’ve ever tried. So glad I got to try it!
I mean, I’m not sure I’d buy it since the vanilla/creamy flavor balances out the others, and I’m kinda nervous that it would make me sick. Stupid creamy/milky oolongs make me nervous anymore!
But wouldn’t mind getting more through a swap or something one day in the future. It’s definitely an odd tea, but I kinda like it. Definitely unique! And a good unique too! :D
Thank you sooo much for letting me try this, TheLastDodo!! Or if it was someone else thank you for letting me try it! So excited!:D :D :D

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Flowers, Vanilla, Vegetables, Vegetal

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Drowning myself 6-26-15 #4

Drank a good 13 steeps of this between my friend and I tonight :)
Someone sent me a sample that says “Misty Peak 2013 Raw Pu’er” so I am just guessing that it is this since this is what came up.
Very very smooth for a sheng and considering it is a 2013… AWESOME!!!
This is the kind of raw pu’erh teas I am looking for so thank you to whoever sent me this wonderful leaf.

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Gongfu Cha 15, 25, 35..
Slight cocoa note at first, which turned to ripe stone fruit in subsequent brewings. Also, some lemon rind and apricot. Lots of apricot and Santa Rosa plum or pluot on the palate with a nice firm texture.

Flavors: Apricot, Plums

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
3 tasting notes

Gongfu cha 15, 20, 40…
This is a pretty tea. It has very intense, exotic aromas of butter rum, vanilla and marshamallow; almost like a pina colada. It is a clean cup with some grassy flavors + white chocolate and finishes with slight apricot. it has a very slight bitterness on the end. This tea is less impressive on the mouth than it is on the nose.

Flavors: Butterscotch, Marshmallow, Vanilla

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Gongfu Cha 15, 25, 35…
This is the 2015 version
Pretty floral aroma chamomile, wet hay, cocoa powder. Full, round robust cup. No bitterness, but lots of texture. I could just drink this stuff all day.

Flavors: Cocoa, Floral, Hay

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Flash steeping this is giving me solid color, strong taste, and constant enjoyment.
This is a wonderful ripe tea for sure :)
Just between the first three steeps you can tell this one is calling for MUCH more of your time. Thankfully I am willing to oblige!

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I had a challenging day at work. Came home, looked at my tea stash and thought – I don’t want to make a decision. So I reached into my sample box and randomly pulled one out. When I saw this, my first reaction was ugggggg, and my second was – at least it came from Garret. For those that don’t really know me, let me explain. I want to like sheng, really I do. I keep buying samples, and I keep trying but it seems that the more I fall in love with shou the more I dislike sheng. The vast majority of the ones that I’ve tried have fallen into two categories – really green and bitter or dirty stagnant swamp water. And then I run into one like this……. if all sheng were like this I would drink more of it.
This is fantastic!!!!!!!!! It tastes like sheng…whatever that taste is….. a little green, a little smokey, a little earthy, clean. This one is darker than most I’ve had. It’s pretty sweet, it’s really good. If anyone out there is like me…..not liking the bitter greenness of sheng, I encourage you to try this.
Thank you so much Garret for including this sample in one of my orders.


Good ole Haiwan, Lao Tong Zhi. The man in charge of this tea company worked for the Menghai Factory for over 40 years. He has a good base for tea. The shou’s are nice with about 5 years age on them.


LOL. Dirty stagnant swamp water. Yeah, that’s bad. I do like the bitter greenness, in moderations.


Yay for good Garrett tea!


I’m the opposite. Love the raw and have a hard time with the ripe.

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While I have never ordered from Mandela, I take everyone’s word about how good their teas are. This tea produces a smell similar to the yellow pu’erh cake I have; which is intense. On my tenth steep right now as I write this and I think I have a grasp on my feels for this tea. The first few steeps were a bit stronger and bitter but then I started to flash steep instead of using my 10s steeps for sheng. This helped out a lot. Unfortunately, it just isn’t as smooth as I would like it to be. What makes this appealing is that I do want to keep steeping it. I will continue to steep this tonight and be thankful that this sheng isn’t another that loses my interest after steep 6 or 7.


You picked a good one here!

Liquid Proust

I think the advice I was given by a few people to drink older shengs has been the best advice so far. I pick up bitter taste much easier than anything and do not like bitter… I’ve been told the older the less astringent a tea is.


Agreed, the older is less bitter but sometimes more ‘earthy’ depending on storage. This one with some years under its belt is getting easier to drink. Give me a few years and we should see how my storage is coming along.

Liquid Proust

: ) I find storage of pu’erh with research and experience behind it quite fascinating.


Remind me to send you some things in a few years. I am trying to dial the storage thing in. So far seems to be working. ;)


Mandala has a controlled vault set-up so they can literally improve the flavor in tea.

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Drowning myself 6-26-15 #1

The title of this tea had me thinking it was going to be real brisk and dark, however what I found was this had a typical color for a ripe pu’erh. The taste is quite nice, but there is some dry notes that come the first few steeps. I did flash brew this one (5s roughly) and found a great liquid to come about from it, but for my own taste for ripe this just wasn’t something I craved enough to put a cake in my wishlist. Thanks to whoever gave me a sample, this gave me 11 nice strong steeps!

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I was drinking this yesterday… but sadly I stopped at steep 5 because I was pu’d out.
This had a deep complex flavor to it that makes me wish that I gave it a few more hot baths, but I’m still learning my limits on teas and types per day (which seems to be about 20 cups per type day before I’m bored/tired of it).

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
840 tasting notes

Big thanks and also big apologies to Sil. She put this one in the GCTTB 3 for me at my request and I am just getting to it now. I have been wanting to try this one for a long time and I wanted to make sure I had enough dedicated time to really give it a good try.

So most of you here on steepster know that I just don’t like pu’erh. I have tried many a tea and know what I do and do not like. The problem is, that I really, really want to like pu’erh. I just don’t :( So I wanted to give this one a try as it is so highly rated here on steepster as well as elsewhere in the tea universe.

I brewed this one as per the recommended instructions on the packaging. 1TBSP per 8 oz boiling water, first steep of 30 seconds. The brewed tea is quite dark. It has a gentle sweet smell. I am getting hints of wet moss as well as dried wheat noodles. I know that must sounds super appetizing. It tastes quite thick and creamy. There are very slight notes of dark chocolate, like 85% cocoa, but the strongest flavour I am getting is wet black soil. As it cools more, the “earthy” types notes become stronger.

For the second steep, I added 15 seconds as per the recommendations. It brewed up very dark, just like the first steep. The smell of the brewed tea is the same as the first steep. The flavour profile is also the same as the first steep but the liquor is not as thick.

For the third steep, I again added 15 seconds as per the recommendations. It brewed up noticeable less dark than the first two steeps. I found the scent to be much more earthy. There is a slight mushroom scent to it I think. The taste is again much more earthy. Decomposing leaves, I am getting that slight mushroom flavour, just like in the scent. There is no sweetness to this steep, as well as no cocoa flavour.

I did not attempt a fourth steep, even though the description on the tea packaging states this tea can get as many as 4 steeps.

Overall, the answer is still that I just don’t like pu’erh. I am confident enough in all of the teas that I have tried to be able to say that. I just don’t like the taste/flavour profile in pu’erh tea. I am happy to have had the opportunity to try this tea as it is so highly rated, so I know it is just not the teas I have tried.


glad to help out! It’s nice to be able to cross things off lists :)

Louise Li

Hi Lala, it maybe the coffee drinker in you not liking pu-eh.
I am a coffee addict, and I can’t stand pu-eh.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
399 tasting notes

I always hate those long, drawn out posts that go on and on about the different steeps, so I’m going to make this fairly abbreviated and let the pictures speak for themselves.

I gave the pu an initial rinse and dumped it. Then the first steep was 30 seconds. This steep was super dark, a little bitter, notes of leather and tobacco. I decided to dump this one too and go with a shorter steep (15 seconds) this time. The second steep was delicious. Strong dark tea flavor, hints of leather but very pleasant and WHOA is it possible that I already have a tea buzz?

Full review and photos:


Yes it is….

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
399 tasting notes

Tea drunk off of this, more tomorrow.

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drank Green Gold by Mandala Tea
18 tasting notes

This was a very yummy Chinese green taste was buttery smooth with some vegetal in the background but not overpowering at all!

Flavors: Butter, Vegetal

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This tea came very, very close to beating Wild Monk as my favorite offering from Mandala Tea. The notes of vanilla and mega floral sweetness were a real surprise after an astringent first couple of steeps. Definitely worth checking out!

Flavors: Asparagus, Citrus, Floral, Green Pepper, Vanilla, Vegetal

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 8 g 4 OZ / 125 ML

i liked this quite a bit as well.

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Tobacco aroma, like every other sheng pu’er I’ve encountered. One short rinse, then short steeps (10 secs) @190. There must be something about pu’er that just isn’t for me. When I read reviews and folks are describing all these interesting and different flavors, and all I ever get is tobacco, it’s depressing. But on the upside, there are an infinite number of varieties of tea out there for me to explore.

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drank White Night by Mandala Tea
568 tasting notes

I’m on my fourth steep of this now (160F/3min), and I swear the hay note has transformed into coconut. The kind of sugary coconut you might get from the Hawaiian McDonald’s Haupia Pies. I liked the hay honey-jam of the first couple steeps but baked/fried coconut cream is a special class of friend.

Thanks, OMGsrsly, for bringing this over for me to try!

Flavors: Coconut, Cream, Hay, Honey, Jam

160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 30 sec

Baked/fried coconut cream. That’s interesting and not what I’ve noticed in this tea. 70 is really low water temp, I usually use 80C and OMGsrsly just said boiling flash steeps for another moonlight…. love how everyone tries it different. I think I need to play with it in both directions.

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Am I just now trying this one, that I removed from MzPriss’s teabox a while back? Well, at least it’s a pu-erh, the only tea that ages well. I was reminded how much I love ripe pu-erh when I tried another one the other day. Mandala, you’re great, but this one doesn’t match the chocolate of the other. I like em strong, better than coffee. The leaves even looked similar (very long rather than tiny leaves crammed in a cake) as well as both being from 2012. However, with this one, the brew basket looked half full as the other one, though I’m pretty sure I was using the amount of leaves I should have. The chocolate of the other probably came from SO. MANY. LEAVES. This isn’t a bad pu-erh by any means, but watery tasting compared to that chocolate explosion of the other day. I would COMPLETELY agree with the description of this one (though I’ve never had sugar cane, so I can’t compare that note): “Light and silky. Creamy milk chocolate with a nutty background, hints of cedar, sugar cane and malt.” Very accurate! It’s very sweet like some sort of syrup, a little nutty, a little like mushrooms, a little malty, a little like cedar all adding up to lightness. Milk chocolate rather than dark. All three steeps were the same.
Steep #1 // just boiled // rinse // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 2 min
Steep #3 // just boiled // almost 4 min

Edited to add: Looks like this one is made from leaves from 2011, not 2012.


Mmm noble mark!

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