The Mandarin's Tea Room
Popular Teas from The Mandarin's Tea RoomSee All 18 Teas
Recent Tasting Notes
This is pretty delicious. I’m kinda glad that I don’t love love it, because this sample was very expensive. It’s interesting. The rinse (which of course I drank) was slightly chocolatey, but that note seemed to disappear in subsequent steepings. This tea has strong malty characteristics, some umami flavors, earthy shitake mushroom notes, and mild florals (perhaps due to age?), I also get some baked potato aroma, the finish is creamy and the smell at the bottom of the cup is sweet. This is a very good tea!
Flavors: Malt, Mushrooms, Potato
This is another tea that my cats “chose” for me. This is quite different than what I’ve been drinking lately. Someone said that they could taste cooked strawberries, and I wouldn’t have come up with that on my own, but the flavor is just like that after the first steeping only without any sweetness. The back palate has a strong sour note and the finish is quite bitter. There’s also quite a lot of minerality and also a metallic flavor. The texture turns quite creamy in the second steep. The strongest flavors are probably citrus, camphor, and fresh florals. On the third steeping I am getting some sweeter notes and there is a peppery aftertaste. I can smell bacon fat at the end of the cup. This one makes for a very interesting gong fu session!
The dry leaves had only a very subtle smell. This brewed an to be an incredibly dark purple color on its first 1-second infusion. The color was shocking, actually- both ruby colored and yet also blueish. The wet leaf has a wonderful aroma, the finish has the taste of red clay. There are many layers of flavor (which I am terrible at describing). This tea was incredible through many steepings.
First of 4 teas and 1 free sample I bought from Mandarin’s Tea Room. Decided it was “time” to try some expensive teas.
This is definitely a more full bodied and well rounded cup compared to other oolongs. I have come close to this through some of Seven Cups’ Lao Cong Shui Xian, also old bush.
I decided to use half the sample and save the rest for later, so I got maybe only ~8 infusions.
Well, I’m back…Sort of. Allergy season kicked my ass this year, then I had a cold, and on top of all that I am still on a medication that has the potential to affect my sense of smell (but only for two more months).
I decided to delete my (bad) rating on this one. I recently tried another of Mandarin Tea Room’s teas, and it had to have been one of the best if not the very best tea I’ve ever had. I now trust that when I tasted this, there was something wrong with my palate and not the tea! I also wish I’d had the patience to brew this gong fu style, but I was just starting to drink tea again after having months with an impaired sense of smell.
This is the first “production-blended”, aged puerh I have tasted, and the result is exactly what I would have hoped for: well-balanced. The dominance of sheng leaves in the mixture provides a foundation consisting of leather, and dried cranberries on the nose, a smooth, full flavor/texture in mouth, and a desirable cooling on the finish. The shu leaves provide additional weight and just enough strength to the final result without overpowering the development of the sheng. As cultureflip hinted at in his review, the tea is not overly complex, but it doesn’t have to be. It all comes together as an absolute top notch tea, with a pleasant, full, yet meditative “qi”. Sure, there are teas that are more challenging, but drinking this simply puts me in a better place, engendering fond memories of times past, and providing a calming refuge from the day-to-day. I can’t ask for much more than that from a tea.
This tea came as a sample with my most recent order from The Mandarin’s Tea Room. Judging from my first session with the tea, I certainly hope to include more of this sheng in a future purchase. Starting with the dry leaf scent, the tea reminded me of freshly made, high quality Washi (Japanese paper made from mulberry or gampi tree fibers). When wet, the leaves developed a stronger, woody scent, nicely balanced by a touch of walnuts and fine raw leather. I consistently sensed apricots on the nose, but it remained always fleeting, disappearing right at the moment of capture.
The taste is not at all like anything I have yet experienced from a puerh. Especially in early steepings, I was unable to discern a dominant taste marker or profile. Instead the tea presented itself most confidently as a very clean, well-balanced tea, with a pleasant, full texture. As expected at this age, there was absolutely zero bitterness, and the purity of the liquor suggested appropriate storage. There was a woody depth to this 8542, a hint of talcum powder, and a minty finish, but it did not exhibit the complexity found in others, such as the 8582. It proudly provided more than a dozen steepings of even, almost delicate taste, a moderate, calming “qi” and a developing coolness on the finish, the latter I believe a common feature of the traditional Menghai recipes. The product of these elements was a very enjoyable tea session. If similar results are found in subsequent tastings from the sample, I will definitely order more of this tea. I can always find room in my tea cabinet for the well-balanced, zero-fuss consistency provided by this durable tea. Another quality offering from The Mandarin’s Tea Room.
As far as aged oolongs go, this one takes the cake. Aged oolongs are definitely in my top two favorite categories of tea right up there with high quality aged sheng (raw) puerh. This tea belongs in the category of aged oolongs that were only roasted once during production and then left to age untouched for over 50 years as it should be because if a tea is roasted correctly it only needs to be roasted once prior to aging. This tea blew my mind when I first tasted a sample of it. As soon as you put your nose in the bag to smell the dry leaf, you immediately get a musty, ginger/ginseng like spice, slightly plummy, strong chinese medicine scent. However, as soon as you rinse the leaves for the comparison of dry leaf vs. wet leaf, “the aroma is a delicious must of an ancient basement carved out of rough earth and sanctified with old incense. There is a warm monkish simplicity to the liquor and a civilized sweetness that highlights the wild nature of the leaf.” This is by far the highest quality and best stored aged oolong I have ever tried.
This is one of the greatest examples of wet stored (HK) puerh that I have ever tried. There are many different characteristics of this tea that make it one of the best such as the aged plummy taste, extremely thick and gluelike mouthfeel, Hui Gan (after-sweetness), and of course the Cha Qi is very strong and balanced. However, one of my personal favorite characteristics of this tea is what’s called the granny face powder taste (MTR owner’s own term I believe) which reminds some of talcum powder and is a sign that you are drinking an antique of a puerh that is of the highest quality!
Get a sample of this tea right now.
Usually I wait to post tea reviews until my initial reaction has settled down, I’ve tried a tea a few times, written some notes, and considered whether or not I’d buy it again. I only post reviews of teas that I like. Well, I love this sucker. It is, without doubt, the best red/black tea I’ve had.
Quick impressions gleaned from an hour and a half session: Baker’s chocolate, malt, dates, saffron (what? indeed!), pumpernickel bread moving to rye and then whole wheat, rock sugar, and finally something meaty (cultureflip’s “marinated steak” is dead on).
A few select quotes from my notes:
- “Oh, my!”
- “Is this what ‘tea drunk’ feels like?”
- “I just had to remind myself to breathe.”
- “Damnit. This tea just spoiled me.”
An amazing yancha. I brewed this in a 100ml gaiwan using 11 grams of leaf. The first few flash infusions were strong, thick, and roasty but not bitter. Long lasting mineral after-taste. Later infusions are sweet and fruity. I got about 15 infusions out this tea tea yesterday. Continuing today. I am on #20. Five minute infusions are still bringing out lots of flavor.
Some of you should be familiar with this seller’s standard by now. He’s picky and his teas are purdy good.
Dry aroma of sweet dark chocolate and nutmeg. Pour some boiling water on it and, lo, a strikingly pungent aroma of delicious pho broth and re-hydrated mushrooms. Smells like it wants to be salty.
The taste is an excellent woody malt with backdrops of wilted rose petal and cumin. The deep florals take prominence and the tannins sit soundly on the tongue with weight and structure. Later steeps blend the differing aspects of malt, broth and flora together quite artfully.
I haven’t had anything less than great from this guy’s shop so don’t be frightened by the seemingly astronomical prices of some of his teas. Even if you just get the sample sizes they are worth trying. There is an element of tea snobbery involved (that I’m sure he would admit to if confronted) but that’s only because of the time and effort put in to the careful selection of his stash. Look past the pomp and packaging and you will find superb tea. That is all.