Mandala Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

First steep is grassy and mineral. Second steep is more grass please let me floral still mineral. Third step is sweeter a little less mineral and nice and grassy.

Second try tonight. No rinse this time. Surprisingly less mineral and more sweet. Still grass. Notes like a sencha. Second steep. Floral notes and something I can’t quite pinpoint.

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drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
671 tasting notes

Hm. Could have sworn I tried this one previously but I don’t see it. This was a generous sample included by Garret in my recent order. Delicious, smooth, darkly sweet and fruity with a significant amount of malt. This one was sipped over the course of the entire day and it was equally tasty once it cooled off.

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

so happy that you enjoyed it. There is something about this particular vintage that is so pleasing even while it is so young. Normally, I like this tea best at about 1.5 yrs to 3 yrs of age! The wetter weather prior to harvest and the extra drying time required made this young tea quite special very early. I believe I’ll make some right now since you got me thinking about it!


This was absolutely yummy. I have just enough left to try it in a gaiwan. :)

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I drank some 2011 white buds from Norbu yesterday so I pulled these out to compare with today.
I find this to have a stronger taste, but not in the good way. There is a wild element to this tea that showcases the way that it was created, but tat is not a taste I like. Some people may like that really earthy notes within the tea that make it taste alive… but I want a smooth hot liquid that has a complex taste that doesn’t make me think about the process the tea went through rather what is happening in my mouth.

This might nice, but it isn’t my favorite white/silver bud tea that I have had

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drank Ginseng Oolong by Mandala Tea
476 tasting notes

Tried this one out a few days ago but didn’t find anything particularly pleasing about it. Trying again and on this beautiful morning where that gorgeous MN blue sky is finally showing itself, I am finally tasting what I had hoped. Even so it’s still not quite as strong of an after taste as I like. Just a lot more faint then I am used to. Good base. Some creamy flavors and textures. Hay. Grass. After the ginseng oolong I had in China I haven’t really found one that compares. But unlike that one I think this one has a better leaf. And yea…. The resteepablility is amazing.

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drank Golden Turtle by Mandala Tea
476 tasting notes

I’m multitasking while reviewing this tea. Sometimes need to get in what I can while the babe is asleep. Lots of good vegetal notes in this one.

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From everything I’m reading this should be a green oolong but all I’m gettin is woodsy and hay notes of a black tea. Garret I’ll contact you and see what you think. Its a good black, just not what’s on the package I think.


I will respond to your email and this message. I’m the one who would have bagged up your tea. I am hoping I didn’t mess up and give you GABA black. Can you tell me if the dry leaf looks black in color or maybe shoot me an email with a pic of the dried leaf?


I’ll send you an e-mail

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drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
476 tasting notes

Garret you are running a wonderful company. The and written note is a wonderful touch that you just don’t see much of anymore. I was excited to see the tea but seeing the note gave me warm fuzzies.

Does anyone else have trouble with their Gaiwan being too hot? The water isn’t overly hot but I will like the liquid that come from it is hotter then it should be…

Anyway… this tea is amazing. I smell compared David Tea to this one and wow… David’s Tea almost smells fake.. It’s not as pleasing to the nose as this one is. And the flavor. OH THE FLAVOR! So much in there! The resteepablitly is amazing. I did a 10 second rinse. Used a gaiwan for the first few steepings until my fingers got tired of holding on to a hot cup. Now I’m sipping every 30 seconds from a teapot (pouring it in a small tea cup first… I wouldn’t drink it straight from the spout =p]. It’s holding up very well at 3 minutes in and still going…

1 min, 30 sec 1 tsp

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These look so nice. Long spindles of leaf, mostly a nice golden yellow, and dwindling to black. The brewed scent is all smooth chocolate with fruit and a bit of a malty edge. Taste wise, the malt is actually strongest for me. That strong chocolate scent doesn’t quite follow through in the flavour. It’s definitely there, just not as much as that great smell would have you believe. Quality, enjoyable, but didn’t stand out to me.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
591 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
1112 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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