1015 Tasting Notes
I finally bit the bullet and tried this tea tonight! After reading so many terrible reviews, I was a bit apprehensive lol. But I bought it, it’s not just going to sit there!
The dry smell is nicely spicy, similar to Yes We Cran (not a favorite of mine), but warming and festive. Knowing there is hibiscus in here and recalling the disaster that Yes We Cran was after steeping for 4 mins, I only steeped this for 2.5 mins with boiling water. The resulting liquor is light pinkish red and does smell of hibiscus and cinnamon. Not two of my favorite flavors.
But for the second time this weekend, the tea surprised me! The flavor is quite spicy, with a sweetness from the plums, and the aftertaste is very spicy from the chillies. However, this to me is the most success DT has had with including chillies in a tea. I am finding that with this steep time, the brew is warming and spicy and sweet, and the hibiscus and cinnamon don’t take over but rather meld with the other spices nicely. I am enjoying this and it definitely feels festive. Oh and now I have the Nutcracker music stuck in my head, so double win!
Overall, a tasty spicy tea if brewed for a lot less time than recommended. I won’t have trouble finishing this bag, and even better, it is caffeine free! Happy I picked up some of this :)
Flavors: Cinnamon, Spicy, Sweet
I received a few of these in the mini tuocha sampler from Mandala and am having this one as my first cup of the day (or few cups). Yes, it is 1:30 here, but I have been having a slow, relaxing morning of Christmas shopping on Etsy haha, and finally decided to make some tea to continue shopping with, start some laundry, and continue watching the football semi finals.
To be honest I didn’t really smell the tuocha dry, but the whole bag has an earthy, slightly barnyard like scent, so I imagine this one would have had that too, they all meld together in terms of smell in the bag! I also cannot get over how darn cute the mini tuochas are :) haha, I did a 25s rinse and then steeped for 15s, the directions recommend steeping a minute with an even shorter rinse, but the tea is coffee black after only 15s! Mmm it smells caramelly and sweet and cozy. I believe I have had temple stairs in loose form as it was a free sample in my first Mandala order, but I didn’t review it on here I don’t think.
As for the flavor, ahhh this is so good. For how dark the tea is, this has not translated to the flavor in that it is not strong. It is so smooth and mellow, a bit more caramelly than Noble Mark, but a similar flavor. I do recall the loose version tasting different than this one, although I don’t remember in which ways. There is a light kind of grainy earthy flavor in there as well, adding a slight almost savory note. The caramel is more on the brown sugar side too. Not much cocoa yet to me, but the sweetness with the earthy smoothness is just wonderful.
I feel a calm sense of warmth coming over me as well :) as it cools the earthy grain notes (slightly barnyard like in flavor, but in a really good way) come out a bit stronger, making this a warm, comforting cup. It’s lightly snowing outside, and this is just what I need to hibernate inside and enjoy the day.
Later steepings were energizing and just as delicious. The smooth brown sugar notes continued, and I might have one more cup tonight :) Overall, another delicious pu’erh from Mandala!
Flavors: Barnyard, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Grain, Smooth
I didn’t see this pu’erh on the site anywhere, it was a reserve one I picked up from Verdant when they had a pu’erh sale of some reserve ones. I have been apprehensive to try it as there aren’t any reviews to teas similar to this at all, and the fact that it wasn’t on Steepster always makes me a bit nervous lol. No idea what to expect, so here goes!
The dry smell is a light, pleasantly honey aroma. At least it smells like sheng in the bag! This is my first purple buds tea, also, anyone have any info on this type of pu’erh? I googled but couldn’t find a whole lot of information lol. Anyways, back to the tea! There were no brewing directions anywhere, even on Verdant’s site! So I winged this in my gaiwan, did a 20s and a 15s rinse then about a 5s steep lol. Taking it slow to start with! The steeped smell is quite strongly tobacco, similar to a pu’erh I had from Teavivre this summer that I wasn’t a huge fan of. Not off to the greatest start…
WOW, the flavor is so crazy! I totally was not expecting that taste! Now how to describe it…so juicy, quite sweet, fresh, full..a tad smoky, but it works here, it melds with the sweetness…Maybe it is white grape then? It’s almost tropical in nature to me. The smokiness is present in the aftertaste, an almost leather smoke taste. Light though. There is a freshness present, a slight tingly feeling on my tongue. Uh oh, this one has all the qualities of being a pu’erh that will get me right tea drunk. LOL. The sugary sweet fruitiness is so interesting here! I have never had a sheng like this before.
Steep 2 – Not as sweet and fruity, but super mellow smoothness, still a sweetness, just not as pronounced of a fruity flavor, the smoky taste is a bit stronger but more green now, still melding beautifully. Oh and the juicy mouthfeel is still in full swing. I wonder if the smoky flavor is considered camphor? I am not sure what that is supposed to taste like, it would be good to identify it haha. Oh, I am also eating a dinner of mild pasta to help temper the possible pu’erh buzz, although this tea has led to more of a clear headed feeling than just super fuzzy and tea drunk at least :)
Steep 3 – The sweetness is still there, but the strong green flavor is taking over, not as smoky but definitely quite green. Mmm and the fresh feeling this leaves in the mouth is lovely, that sinus opening feeling..love teas like this for my allergies. A nice relaxing but slightly energizing feeling is coming over me too. A perfect tea for a long day of washing the floors haha.
I will stop updating with steepings now, but I am very pleased with this tea. It has many qualities I enjoy – it surprised me with its flavor, it was a flavor I have been enjoying, it’s complex, delicious, and opens my sinuses. Excellent tea, and I am so happy I picked up an oz of this while it was available, even though it was pricey!
Flavors: Fruity, Green, Smoke, Sugar, Tobacco
I stopped by my local DT for this tea and Santa’s Secret. This one didn’t smell like much to me in the store, but the concept seems awesome for the upcoming holiday season, so I got 25g to try.
At home, the dry smell is very much eggnog, complete with nutmeg and everything! So far quite promising. I brewed for 5 minutes with boiling water. Now, this is where it started to fall apart for me…sure, it smells like eggnog when brewed, but there is also a weird scent that is marring with the eggnog..it could be the green rooibos, or just a flavoring..it’s strong and a tad artificial. A bit stomach turning to me.
As for the flavor…yeah. It’s not you, tea, it’s me. The first sip was GAH overpowering weirdly hot eggnog-but-not-quite-eggnog flavor. Creamy and kind of spicy. I think what the problem is is that I tried it when it was quite hot. Eggnog isn’t generally served hot lol.
As the cup cools, the flavors mellow out to being a creamy cup of green rooibos with some strange spicing, nutmeg like. It does improve immensely as it cools in my opinion, but I’m still not sold on this. Creamy kind of artificial green rooibos is not quite my forte. I am a bit disappointed, because I usually LOVE green rooibos blends. But this one currently isn’t doing it for me.
Overall, not my favorite cup of tea. I will see if I can finish off the bag, if I get past that initial strong flavor it is better, but still not a favorite yet. I’ll have to see if it grows on me. No rating, as this is entirely personal taste interfering with the tea. Great concept, just not the right blend for me. Happy to have satisfied my curiosity though!
The amazing Garret at Mandala kindly sent me a small packet of this in place of my free sample with my last tea order!! I had meant to add it to my order and completely forgot to, and mentioned it on a thread on this site, and it shows up with my order!!! I am so thankful and CANNOT SPEAK HIGHLY enough of this superb act of customer service! Thank you thank you thank you!!!
Now, this product. WOWZA. I cannot believe what this does to my teaware! It is literally like brand new. Brand. Spanking. New. If you have ever used baking soda or vinegar or other methods of cleaning, STOP. Buy this! I should post before and after pics, seriously. I took them too haha. My old timolino was so horribly stained I actually bought a new one to replace it, it was far too stained it looked black inside. Now I have cleaned them both, and they both look like new!!! The old one actually looks better than the new! OMG. This stuff. My gravity steeper is squeaky clean, was going to replace it as well. THIS STUFF WILL SAVE YOU MONEY. Lol, now, like a madwoman, I am cleaning ALL THE TEAWARES. Haha, unfortunately, I am going through my packet pretty quickly. But you can guarantee I will be reorder this. In a very large quantity. Thank you a million million times Garret for this as my sample!!
First snow that is sticking to the ground here today! I guess autumn had to end at some point (this is the longest one we’ve had in AGES) and it abruptly ended with about 5 cm of snow already, about -5 C outside, and still snowing haha. I have shovelled for the firs time thisi season, vacuumed upstairs this morning, finished off a few more cups of the sheng from last night, tried a chamomile tea and started coughing, so now I am having a session with the dark, woody shu. And dark and woody it is, nice to hibernate inside with on this snowy day. The best tea drinking days are now here!! I will be having various shu’s today I think :) see previous notes on this one!
I’d like to thank this tea for it’s lovely flavor and sinus clearing effects tonight. I am cat sitting a regular cat (not hypoallergenic like mine) and it is definitely getting a bit rough lol. Might have to vacuum daily for allergies. At least this tea, my inhaler, and an allergy pill are helping lol. And this tea is by far the most pleasant of the three. See previous notes on this lovely tea!
I’m so exhausted tonight. It’s been a ridiculous week at work, with working late and so much to do..luckily a deadline got shifted a week, so I didn’t have to stay until midnight tonight :) but staying a few hours late this week has really tuckered me out. On top of that, everyone in my office is getting sick, and I really do not want to get it too. Thus, the need for a ginger blend tonight.
I wanted ginger, but not straight ginger. I’ve been doing not bad with my reduced caffeine intake, about 1 cup a day of caffeinated tea, if any, and tonight I once again was craving shu, so this seemed like the perfect solution. Ginger AND shu. Huzzah!
After 2 rinses and a steep of 2 minutes, yes, this is hitting the spot. The peppercorns make me cough a bit, but it’s still quite good. I enjoy this tea, and it is warming and soothing on a tired night. I am falling asleep writing this though lol, so I will head off to bed! See previous notes on this tea :)
Having a cup of this before bed to compare to the Apple Custard in terms of creaminess..I think Apple Custard wins, although I still really enjoy the melding of flavors in this one. It’s mellow and smooth tonight, a nice blend of mango, chamomile and cream flavors. Yum. And now I am falling asleep haha, so last note for the evening! See previous notes on this tea :)