I am working at doing these reviews a little more imperfectly, because otherwise it will take me FOREVER to review all of the teas I want to review.
I got this as a sample from a friend: thank you!
I am glad I had an opportunity to compare this tea to early spring 2014 Yunnan Sourcing (YS) “Sun-Dried Buds” Wild Pu-erh tea varietal I have brewed up a number of times so far.
This tea was harvested in the late winter/early spring of 2011.
The dry tea is very similar in appearance and aroma to the 2014 YS tea varietal: largish green and white cluster-like buds, with light-brown edges, with the exception that there were no brown twigs (as there was with the YS version), and the Mandala version was not quite as green-ish in color as the YS version (not surprising as the Mandela version is three years older). There was very little aroma in the dry tea buds, but not much less than the 2014 YS tea varietal.
I used my ceramic 180 ml blue and white gaiwan, Stevia, approximately 7 grams of tea buds, 7 OZ water.
I started at about 175, 1’ and increased the temp a bit and added a minute, for each successive steeping, and so far I got the 5 steepings.
The tea liquor has a very light, clear yellowish-green color; it has a very similar aroma to the 2014 YS tea varietal: reminiscent of a forest. The flavor is sweet, spicy, somewhat fresh, with a hint of pine needles.
To me, in many respects this is like a white tea in terms of delicate flavor, sweetness, and freshness. But because this tea is technically a pu-erh, my understanding is that it should mellow with age (rather then going bad after a year or two), and to me that gives it a HUGE advantage over any typical white tea. Although this tea does not come across as fresh as the 2014 YS tea varietal (which I expected), overall, I am impressed that this 2011 version of wild Yabao tea buds seems to be able to stand its ground when going up against a much fresher version. It seems to have as much flavor, aroma, and staying power over multiple steepings as did the 2014 YS tea varietal. This tea is considerably more expensive the the YS version, but at least I know this one stands up well after three years.
Flavors: Pine, Spicy