520 Tasting Notes

85

Mmm.. Little buttery, little malty, little floral… Others who have said Assam +Darj are very correct. This is an unusual tea without much if any of the dryness typically associated with Darjeelings. While I didn’t try any of the previous Sourenee that Butiki had, this is a very good option from this estate (in my limited experience of 3 Sourenees, anyway).

Butiki Teas

Nicole-I think your package might have the wrong steeping directions. Just in case, the temperature should be 190F. I caught my mistake before the tea went live on the website but I’m not sure if it was before or after you purchased the tea.

Nicole

I actually got one without any label at all. I caught you before you had them labeled. :) I just did it like I’d do most Darjeelings. That was probably on the high side so I’ll do it at 190 next time. Thanks for the info!

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drank Chance Combinations by Custom
520 tasting notes

I was going to do a side by side taste test of the Yunnans and Yunnan-like teas in my cupboard today. I got out my little demi-tasse cups, little steeping bowls, heated filtered water, got my note paper ready and put 1 teaspoon of tea in each bowl. In retrospect, and something I should have known at the time, far too much tea for the 1 ounce of water I was steeping with! In my defense, even if I had realized in time to adjust the amount of leaf, it would have been hard to determine how much to use with the larger leaves. I don’t have a scale, either.

Here’s a pic of the set up: http://tinyurl.com/ls6mo4p
Horrible lighting and a reflection made it look like there was a tea bag or something in the upper row cup.

I steeped, from left to right, bottom to top: Golden Strand from Mandala (not in picture, alas), Royal Yunnan from New Mexico Tea Co., Yunnan Imperial from Single Origin Teas, Pure Bud from Mandala, Yun Nan Dian Hong Black Tea Full Leaf from Teavivre, Superfine Tan Yang Gong Fu from Teavivre, Yunnan Gold Tips from A&D & Morning Sun from Mandala.

I steeped at 200F for all and for 3 minutes, give or take about 15 seconds. And yikes was that too long for that much tea in that little water! Without exception, all of the teas were bitter. I probably should also not have tried the same temp for all of them. After realizing my mistake I used the rest of the filtered water and tried resteeping in the full 8 ounces. I didn’t have enough filtered water to do all of them, though.

On a second steep, here’s what I figured out: Golden Strand was the cleanest and sharpest tasting. Tan Yang comes out slightly ahead of the Dian Hong Full Leaf, Morning Sun was the smokiest. Yunnan Gold Tips didn’t resteep very well. I didn’t have enough water to try the others.

So, all I managed to really find out is that 1) to do a proper side by side with variables controlled, I really need more than just me doing the prep or I need to not do all of them at once 2) follow steeping directions: all teas are not the same! and 3) even allowing for way improper steeping the most undrinkable were the Royal Yunnan and the Yunnan Imperial. The Imperial is the least expensive of the bunch, but the Dian Hong Full Leaf was the second least expensive so I don’t think that necessarily reflects quality in all cases.

Next I need to try a better comparison and do only the Mandala and then only the Teavivre so I can figure out better what I like about each one and if I really feel a need to keep every single one in my cupboard. Right now I think I do, but I’ve not had them side by side so every one has been The Most Awesome Ever. :)

Oh and after steeping each full cup, I didn’t drink the whole thing right then, I poured them all together and have been sipping on the combined mixture all day. I get almost none of the awesome aspects of any of them but it’s pretty drinkable so I don’t feel like I wasted all those leaves. :)

boychik

Wow! I only did side by side 2 teas. Right now I feel like I need all yunnan teas, they all different.

Nicole

I feel the same. WANT. ALL. THE. TEAS!

boychik

Have you tried any fr Yunnan Sourcing? They just blew my mind!

Nicole

They are on my list. I don’t think I’ve tried any yet unless I’ve gotten some in swaps that I’m not remembering.

Nicole

Right now Mandala is the one blowing my mind.

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92

Such pretty little things. Sweet, malty & smooth.

I steeped them today for the first time for a tea tasting party. I used 4 cones for about 16 ounces of bottled water. Left them in the little glass pot for probably 20 minutes all told.

I tasted it first at about 10 minutes. It was strong but not bitter. I steeped another little 16 ounce pot with 3 cones and tried it at about 5 minutes. It was obviously not as strong, but it was smoother. I honestly liked them both ways.

Everyone at the party liked this one a lot. There was one attendee who was new to our group and she mainly does bagged grocery store greens. She is now a Yunnan convert. :) We also did Harney’s Apricot Black, Butiki’s Rose Violet Calendula Oolong, Boston Tea Company’s Lemon Honey Chamomile Premium Rooibos, Mandala’s Morning Sun (which, by the way, is also fantastic with a spot of cream), New Mexico Tea’s Cream Earl Grey and Capital Teas’ Dragon Pearls. I had planned to do another 3 or 4 but we were all floating after these, even with small cups!

boychik

Yay tea party! Are they similar to black dragon pearls?

Nicole

Similar. I would say they aren’t quite as malty as many of the pearls I’ve tried and maybe a little milder. They hold together like a flowering tea, as far as presentation goes, rather than coming completely apart like the pearls.

Nicole

But thus far, everything I’ve tried from Mandala (all yunnans, I think) has all been well worth purchasing. :)

boychik

I love Mandala blacks. If I was a rich girl…

gmathis

(Hearing “Fiddler on the Roof” soundtrack now…yada dada deidel deidle die! :)

boychik

My girls love Gwen Stefani version. It’s been awhile since I listened to “Fiddler”, i should get myself a soundtrack

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I steeped this according to boychik’s suggestion (I think that was who sent me this…).

I did a short-ish steep for 1 minute, then another minute, then another.

First impression is butter? Shortening? Not texture, but taste. Ah, got it – pie crust! Or a croissant. Not bready but simple pastry-ey. Lightly sweet, very lightly. Smells very strongly of pie crust. This is very light. The second minute it became a little sweeter and much more strongly pie crust. At 3 minutes it is still pie crust but becoming somewhat watery, though I haven’t added any more water to the cup.

This is an interesting oolong and maybe my first Oriental Beauty? Can’t remember. I wish our tealogs were sortable by name, not just most recent and most popular. Thanks for the sample, boychik!

boychik

Nicole, I hope you still have some left. try gongfu. short steeps like 10-15 sec. you maybe surprised

Nicole

I do have some left. I must have misunderstood the instructions you sent. I saw that you said you liked short steeps, but I thought the 1 minute was your suggestion! I will try again. :)

boychik

My short steeps are 5/10/15sec.;). And I rinsed that tea too to wake up leaves

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85
drank Morning Sun by Mandala Tea
520 tasting notes

This is simply one of the most gorgeous dry leaf teas I have seen. Tight little curls of gold and brown and black. This tea steps right up and says “Hey, baby, how about a smooth breakfast?” I seriously heard Barry White in my head when I smelled this, even though the fog of allergies. This is sweet, deep, bright and fruity. The leaves unwind amazingly. This is malty but not overwhelmingly so and not as much as some others I’ve had recently. It doesn’t specify on the website, but I’m guessing this is a yunnan or relation thereof. The second steep was more minerally and had a taste of brown sugar and dusty hay.

I did use filtered water at work for this. Next up, I try it at home. :) And it will probably say 1 teaspoon of tea used but I use 1 1/2 when I’m using my work mug and this system doesn’t accept .5 as a valid entry. :)

Allergies = no rating for now.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2zfxZRBm3EY

Update: Still indubitably delish with tap water. Maybe a bit more on the dusty hay side of things in the first steep this time, though.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
gmathis

Can’t decide what I like better in this review: the cute little coils or Barry White!

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90
drank Pure Buds Black by Mandala Tea
520 tasting notes

Another winner! Malty, sweetish but also with a bit of sour, cocoa-y, somewhat savory. Not as deeply bready as Golden Strand or Morning Sun but still a baked kind of taste. Beautiful, beautiful leaves.

Again, I went with the longer single steep. Will resteep in a bit to see how it fares. Right now I’m wishing I’d done a 16 ounce cup instead of just 8!

And again, no rating at this point. Need to give this a shot after allergies have subsided to make sure I’m doing it justice. Also I want to try it with filtered water at work. Using my tap water at home doesn’t provide a very good review for someone else since it’s not like they can use my water! :)

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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90

This is just gorgeous. The leaves almost look waxy in the package. Man, it smells awesome and tastes even better!

Malty, caramely, sweet, smooth, bready perfection. I lurve teas like this. I went with the single prolonged steep and it is a deep reddish brown in color, hefty and luscious. I will definitely be resteeping to see how that turns out but I could see myself zooming through this package and wanting, nay, needing, more very soon.

I am tempted to rate this but since my allergies are going crazy I am going to hold off.

Oh, and let me just say – this was freaky fast shipping. I’d be tempted to say they were an offshoot of Jimmy Johns. :)

Update: Second steep is good, but not as good as the first. Probably my choice of lengthy steeping time impacted the taste of the second steep. It’s a tiny bit bitter and not as smooth. Also a little dustier.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML
Jennkay

Sounds delicious! Adding it to my wishlist :)

Nicole

If you like yunnans, and I think I recall several being on your reviews, this is definitely one to get ahold of. :)

QueenOfTarts

Mmm.. yum! Have to try this one!

Kat_Maria

Ah, this goes on my wishlist! Nicole, you are my Chinese black teas mentor :D

Garret

Yahooo!!! Freaky fast shipping… gots to be our new slogan at Mandala Tea!

Nicole

Awww…ya gonna make me blush! Kat_Maria, you could do so much better for a mentor. I am pretty much in deep smit with most yunnans and fujian blacks. So I’m not too discriminating. I want them all in my cupboard forever! :) That said, I’d be happy to share with you if I have some you want to try.

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97
drank Peach Brulée by Tea Forte
520 tasting notes

So… yeah… this is gone. Man, was it good. Peachy, sweet, smooth, creamy, lightly coconutty. Now I have to work on the Orchid Vanilla so I can have a bigger reason to make a restocking order!

I need to take something like this into work. The hub has an employee appreciation/workshop type thing coming up in May. They are sending employee +guest to Vail for a week. So… I have to be the mingling and socializing spouse. I’ve never had to do this before really. I mean, yeah, at a bar in blue jeans and a nice shirt with drunk people from Missouri. You know – my people. :) But this is international and I know none of the spouses/sig others already. I’m really not a mingling person by nature and I’m certainly not a Vail/Aspen/ski/shop person by nature. I am excited about going but I kind of feel like I need to at least make an effort to not look like a total slob… so I’ve been really trying to be good. Plus, I have to get down in weight if I want to think about riding horses while I’m out there! I wanted Ho-Hos soooo bad today at work. And it’s only the first week of being good – well, better, anyway. :(

I need to take some dessert tea in to help me!

Sil

you can doo eet!

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drank Dian Hong by World of Tea
520 tasting notes

I feel like a copycat but I have to echo TerriHarpLady and Sil – this is a decent, non-spectacular but good dian hong. Nothing to keep around, but nothing to turn down. Maybe a little lighter than some others.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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75
drank Raspberry Macaron by Fauchon
520 tasting notes

Courtesty of boychik… :)

This certainly smells floral enough to knock your socks off. Steeped, it is still really floral. I don’t get any macaron but there is definitely rose and definitely raspberry. I get more rose than raspberry but it’s pretty good nonetheless. A nice girly kind of tea fit for a floral tea party.

I probably overleafed a bit, but I generally do. I took it easy on the steeping and it turned out well. However, I can see how this could easily get yuck at higher temp/longer steep.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
boychik

;-) glad you kinda liked it. It is too floral for me.

Nicole

Wow. The cooler it gets, the floral-er it gets. Oof. Not for me unless hot.

ifjuly

i love this one, but yeah, you have to drink it fast (i think it’s gross tepid too!), and be gentle with it steep-wise.

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Bio

Tea afficianado. I wish I could make a living creating and serving tea parties, but alas, bills prevent that possibility. :) So I make do by catering tea parties for friends and co-workers and drinking tons of tea with my cats on my lap. :)

Location

Kansas City, MO

Website

http://www.travelswithstinky.com

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