Mandala Year of the Dragon Ripe Pu'er -2012

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
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Baked Bread, Chocolate, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Earth, Grain, Hay, Honey, Leather, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood, Cream, Fig, Mushrooms, Plums
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Edit tea info Last updated by graceatblb
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205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 5 g 5 oz / 151 ml

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19 Tasting Notes View all

  • “This is a sample that *Garret* sent with a recent order. Thanks you SO MUCH, Garret! I never drink as much Puer as I'd like to. I just don't have time to do multiple short steepings all the...” Read full tasting note
    Terri HarpLady 2895 tasting notes
  • “Yes, it's Oolong Owl Black tea week, but I need some shu pu'er while I do Operation: Clean House for Thanksgiving. Good time to crack open some pu'er samples too! I found this pu'er to be similar...” Read full tasting note
    awkwardsoul 1033 tasting notes
  • “I just got my new glass mug from Mandala and I figured that I should pick a sample that I haven't tried in a long time to break it in. I chose Year of the Dragon because...well, it's the first one...” Read full tasting note
    graceatblb 92 tasting notes
  • “I received this a while back from Garret at Mandala with an order. This tea is the exact tea you should give a first time puerh drinker. This tea has the smoothness and creaminess noted in earlier...” Read full tasting note
    mrmopar 194 tasting notes

From Mandala Tea

2012, the Year of the Dragon!

We are excited to offer yet another Mandala Tea exclusive pu’er tea! When we first smelled and tasted this ripe tea in loose leaf form in early winter of 2011, we knew we wanted to buy the entire lot and that we did. This cake is the result of our excitement!

The raw material was picked on Jing Mai mountain in early spring of 2010 from 40 to 50 year old trees that are now growing wild as the plantation had been abandoned. In 2011, the leaf was fermented over a period of 46 days in Menghai town of Xishuangbanna at a small pu’er workshop.

The pressing of this Mandala Tea exclusive was done on 3/1/2012. Once steamed and pressed, the cakes were moved to a special drying room where the humidity was slowly lowered in the cakes in order to remove any moisture in them. We then had them moved to a special warehouse in Kunming for another 50 days before they were custom wrapped and shipped to us. One can tell from the photo of the partially picked beeng that the integrity of the leaf is the same on the inside and the outside of it.

The result is an incredible cake of ripe pu’er tea, one that is aging perfectly in our humidity and temperature controlled vault.

Spring-picked, wild arbor ripe tea is extremely rare and not at all easy to come by. We have been wishing to make a cake like this happen for a while and we are ecstatic over the deep, rich aroma and flavor of this offering. Our pickiness over raw material and our patience has paid off. We make wishes that you enjoy this Mandala Tea offering as much as we do. We appreciate the opportunity to make teas like this available in the West to our fine customers!

About Mandala Tea View company

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19 Tasting Notes

2895 tasting notes

This is a sample that Garret sent with a recent order. Thanks you SO MUCH, Garret!

I never drink as much Puer as I’d like to. I just don’t have time to do multiple short steepings all the time. My solution is to go with 7Grams steeped 3 minutes in my mug. When it comes to Shu, this almost always results in an amazing cup of tea. I resteep adding a minute, & again adding another minute, etc until the tea has nothing left to give.

So, that’s what I did. I’m on the 3rd steeping now & it is still rich & dark, sweet, & delicious!! The sample is generous enough that I’ll get to try it again using shorter steepings, & I promise I’ll give a much more detailed report then, but for now I can say that I’d like to pick up a cake of this, plus I’ve been eyeballing another yixing pot on the mandala site, & some other things, LOL. It’ll probably be another month before I can afford to buy anything (well…there is the Butiki order that I need to finalize tonight…but after that, I need to go back to the Hiatus Group, cuz I’ve been bad!).


I think I ordered this one… So yay on that!

Terri HarpLady

There you are! Where you been all day, working? ;)


I feel you on the being bad but frankly the good sales on high quality teas have been too good to pass up!

Terri HarpLady

yup, it’s just so hard!


Terri….13hr days yesterday…came home at 8:30 and passed out on the bed. Didn’t eat etc… working from home today but i’m still swamped so not sure how active i’ll be today :(

Dag Wedin

Thats good advice. I usually skip puer when i don´t have the time to set up gon fu brewing. will try some western brewing!


So happy that you enjoyed this one! It is really beginning to open up and develop now. I really look forward to one to two more years of aging on this one. It is not easy (or inexpensive) for me to find this wild arbor spring tea for pu’er so I bought as much as I could to have pressed into these cakes. Usually when I do a pressing I have 20 to 100 lbs left to sell as loose-leaf, but because of the small quantity I could get my hands on, I had the entire purchase pressed into these cakes.

While my preferred method for most any tea is gong fu, there are times when that isn’t gonna cut it. For instance, before a workout or a run, I’m not going to sit around and drink 1 ounce servings of tea. No sir! I’m gonna brew it up loud and proud in a 16 ounce pot so I can really hydrate and just go with longer infusions.

Tea… when I go to bed at night, I have a smile on my face already excited about the first tea of the morning. Where there’s tea, there’s hope, right?!

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1033 tasting notes

Yes, it’s Oolong Owl Black tea week, but I need some shu pu’er while I do Operation: Clean House for Thanksgiving. Good time to crack open some pu’er samples too!

I found this pu’er to be similar to Yunnan Sourcing’s 2012 Dragon on Jing Mai (my review ) as it has similar abrasive clay and campy notes in the first few steepings with a gorgeous deep orange red colour. They are also jing mai tea mats, which I didn’t know until sitting down to write this, hoot!

However, I much prefer Mandala’s Year of the Dragon as it is much more mellow, no fermentation weirdness and creamy notes in mid to later steepings. The creamy notes are fantastic and this tea just gets better and better each steeping. I’d say Mandala’s pu’er is more of a cuddly mother dragon one whereas the Yunnan Sourcing one is more of a scary bite first ask questions later dragon!


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92 tasting notes

I just got my new glass mug from Mandala and I figured that I should pick a sample that I haven’t tried in a long time to break it in. I chose Year of the Dragon because…well, it’s the first one I saw.

I am going to try something a bit new. I am going to use the same brew time throughout. I’ve settled on 15 seconds.

1st Steep-
I may be a bit in love with this tea based on first impressions and I am deeply regretting not buying a cake. Very creamy and absolutely no earthiness. The only comparison I can think of is dates. Dried, dark yummy dates that I wait for at Christmas time and hoard them.

2nd Steep-
It’s getting to be more of a prune flavor. I don’t want to say that because most think of prunes as unappetizing but that’s what I’m getting with this steep—dried prunes. And it is yummy.

3rd Steep
Still tastes like a cross between dates and prunes…can’t decide which one. But it’s delicious.

4th Steep-
Still with the prunes but kind of candied because there is almost a burnt brown sugar aftertaste that you get with candied prunes.

5th Steep-
It’s starting to lighten a bit. Not much but enough that it doesn’t look so much like coffee. It’s lightened to the taste of raw figs. Oh boy.

I am now upping the steeping time to 20 seconds.

6th to 8th Steeps
Still figgy. A bit of candied fig taste with a brown sugar background.

I upped the time to 1 minute

9th to 12th Steeps
Still figgy but less so. Some vanilla notes peeking through at various levels of intensity.

13th Steep-5 minutes
Tastes like vanilla extract without the alcohol. Can’t say it’s not pleasant.

14th Steep-15 minutes
I think this tea is done. Tastes like hot water.

I love this tea. It hit every single flavor profile that I found appealing. Figs, prunes, dates…that’s like heaven to me. I’m a weird one I know. And as a bonus, I loved my new mug too. It’s adorable. It’s short and chubby and looks like it should be wearing a bow-tie. No, I am not crazy…I named it Stuart…maybe a little crazy.

P.S. This tea experience was completely different from my first time around with this tea. Just realizing that now when reading my tea note.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

oh good….i’m excited to get this now :)


LOL will just add it to the list……

Terri HarpLady

I think I ordered a sample of this one


Terri, you did :) Grace, your package shows out for delivery today on the shipping software.

As far as this YOD ripe tea you reviewed, it has already gone through some very positive changes since its pressing last year. So excited to see what 2 more years will bring out in this cake. I was only able to press 25 kgs of this tea (100 cakes)… it was all I could buy from that supplier. The wild spring picked stuff is quite rare to find for a ripe tea. I’m really happy you are liking it!

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194 tasting notes

I received this a while back from Garret at Mandala with an order. This tea is the exact tea you should give a first time puerh drinker. This tea has the smoothness and creaminess noted in earlier tastings and a bit of a surprise to me. This tea is made with jingmai material that usually has a citrus twang to it. This is absent of any of that. I think if you wanted a good puerh to sit back in the chair and relax this is a good one. It has a good depth of flavor with no off or earthy taste to it. It has no drying of the tongue like some shou does and leaves a light cocoa vanilla taste. A well made tea in my book.

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec

My friend! Thank you for the review of this tea. I’m excited to hear that you enjoyed it. It has really changed since its pressing. It will open up even further in the next year, too. The Noble Mark cake is also opening up and that is amazing stuff.

I am just nailing down the supply of this years 4 leaves for the new Noble Mark blend! Though, I will likely change up the blend a bit and rename it :) Nothing stays the same in the world of tea, that’s for sure :) Though the Phatty Cake II is dang close with just the tweak of adding the larger grade 3 leaf!

Wishing you joy,


Garret, you always have some of the finest teas out there! I think this is due to a lot of diligence and painstaking process to get things “right”. It is this kind of attention that keeps your customers for life! Hey on day we got to have a cup and take a spin in that old mopar thing I got!


Count me in for the spin in the mopar thang! I will always have a great love for things mopar – I know I told you about the 74 Charger, but I also had a sweet 74 Duster, 318, yellow with a black vinyl top. Golly, that was fun, too! But my first love will always be the Charger. Dang, I miss that car sometimes.

And thanks for the nice words about the teas. Man, you have no idea how that makes my day come even more alive. Life is cracklin’ with possibilities!


Correction: ’72 Duster!


I bet if you still had the vin number it would be VL29G2B.


YOu’re gonna have to explain that one to me, sir!


VL=duster, 29=2 door sport coupe, G=318 engine, 2=production year(1972). B= Hamtramck assembly plant Michigan.

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727 tasting notes

I received this as a sample with my last Mandala order. Thank you Garrett for including it for me.

I drank a couple of steep of it last night and thought it was a bit mild for my tastes. It was a nice Pu’er, but didn’t have enough flavor. The flavor that was there was nice and smooth, no rough edges, I just wish there was more of it. This is just a little too gentle for my tastes. Sooooo I took the leaves I was using and dumped the rest of the sample in with them added cold water and put it in the fridge to cold steep.
This is my first experience with cold steeped pu’er. OMG WOW!!! Why have I not been doing this sooner. This is AMAZING. I love it. You just get a touch of the classic pu’er flavor, but it’s refreshing and oh so good. I don’t think I would want to cold steep a big bold pu’er, but this was PERFECT. I may have to order some just to have it to cold steep.


I really need to try that soon!


this just sounds so awesome…


I was hesitant to try this, couldn’t imagine, but now I’m a believer. Cold steeping pu’erh is fantastic.

Terri HarpLady

I think I’ll take the leaves from the Puer I was drinking earlier & steep them over night in the fridge. I know they still have plenty of oomph left in them. :)


Hey, gang! Garret here, live from Riviera Maya in Mexico. Last-minute decision to get out of dodge before the tea buying season really starts and get some r and r… So thankful that I bought loads of tea to drink on this trip for there is nothing here save for the obligatory tea bags. The locals are fascinated by the tea thermos and a gringo who knows more about tequila than them :) New tea connections here in Mexico! It is so funny that you reviewed this tea for it is one that is here in Mexico with me, along with much Noble Mark (loose-leaf version) and some new greens. I’m sure customs saw my bag go through the x-ray and did a double take – tea gear and lots of tea taking up half my bag!

thank you for writing this review and the info on the cold brew for our friends here – good stuff… This YOD ripe is still quite young and over the next little while, we are going to see much change in this cake. Sadly, I bought all of the material that was available from that producer (I’m a stickler for spring-picked, wild-arbor teas) and was only able to press 120 of these cakes. Of course, I’m saving at least one tong (7 cakes) for myself :) Joy to all!

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106 tasting notes

A sample from my first order from Mandala, during the Great Sale. Prepared gongfu style with a ceramic gaiwan. 5 second rinse. Steeping times were 5, 5, 5, 10, 15,20, 30, 45, 60, 120.

The dry leaf smells of mushrooms and earth, and the wet leaf of mostly freshly baked bread with raisins. Some chocolate, after only the rinse. Throughout the session, the liquor was rusty red, medium-bodied, silky smooth, and a little thick in texture. There were earthy notes at first, but these disappeared later, when I mostly tasted whole wheat bread, somewhat sugary. Not a hint of coffee-like bitterness or astringency. This shu is mild, even gentle, though the after effects were not weak, and I felt my energy strengthen yet calmed.

I forgot I did a session of this not two weeks ago. My notes said mostly said that it was earthy and coffee-like, and that there were mushrooms (taste-wise). Weirdly incredible how my palate changed. I didn’t even drink shu between then and now o_O

Boiling 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

So true that our palate trains quickly :-)


I’m not the only one?? That makes me feel a little less crazy!

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364 tasting notes

Sipdown! (126)

I’m trying the other half of my sample Western-style this morning. The lovely Stephanie was nice enough to answer my questions regarding water volume, steep time, et cetera. Thanks Steph!

It’s pretty delicious this way, but I’m sad to say that I prefer the gong fu preparation. Aww, I wanted the lazy way to be better! Lol. Either way, this is one super delicious shou from Mandala and I will definitely be ordering some once I’m off hiatus! :D

Edit: I just wanted to throw this out there – this is basically the shou version of Golden Orchid. So lovers of that tea should definitely try this one. Just saying! ;)

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

Yum, I have to get my hands one this one :D

Cameron B.

You and me both, I need more! :D


Oh really? Good to know :)


Golden Orchid you say? runs to get credit card

Cameron B.

It definitely seems very similar to me, with the combination of chocolate and vanilla. :)

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55 tasting notes

I’m on a pu-erh kick right now, thanks to the wonderful ripe pu-erh sampler box from Mandala.
Going with this one today has been incredibly lovely… I think I’m on my fifth infusion, but I’ve been losing count with these Mandala samples because they resteep so fantastically well… I’m talking ‘drink all day and into the night’ type resteep here…
Boychik once brought up the plum pudding qualities of pu-erh, and this one right here is that exact type…. Creamy, velvety smooth, vanilla dancing around with the warm dried fruit notes, hints of spice…. This tea literally wraps its arms around you and gives you a giant hug (and, I sorta needed that…).
I can’t thank Garret enough for offering this sampler… these teas have made my week! :)


happy again! Thank YOU!! Your review made me smile. And giant hugs are always a good thing, am I right?


Hugs :)

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42 tasting notes

I just had to buy the ripe pu’er sampler from mandala. It arrived at a perfect moment. I just arrived home from a depressing day-I spent the entire day getting my tooth repaired right before a big birthday celebration. It felt like I got older and suddenly my teeth were fragile and the dentist was having issues and there was bad traffic etc. So that night I just looked at the samples but after the party I had to brew up year of the dragon. I was born in the eyar of the dragon! I used 1/2 the 7g sample in a small tea pot (western style). I rinsed and then brewed for 30/45/50 etc about a 4 oz serving at a time (so a mix of eastern and western styles) and the perfect thing! It has some of the hints of chocolate and vanilla from my birthday cake in the first brewing. It has that fantastic orange/brown color to the liquid which I love. The 2nd and 3rd brews still have the hints of chocolate and vanilla but with some cream and fruit sneaking in. By 4 & 5 its more fig and plum (or pear I couldn’t decide) and just a hint of mushroom. The last brewing was just light more scents than flavor but for @ 3 grams that was a long way to go! As a “dragon” I think I am going to have to own some of this in the future! it aslo helped to calm me down and sooth the pain and swelling in my mouth from the all day tooth repair. I have to be patient, try the rest of the sampler before I declare it my all time favorite ripe pu’er of course I have only tired a limited number of them but I could stop here! For those who like the dense thick pu’er this is not one of them, its lighter and glentler less “coffee like” than some, but that’s what I love!

Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Fig, Mushrooms, Plums, Vanilla

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

Dental problems are never fun but tea should cheer you up:)


Happy belated Bday!


dental problems and a birthday are a good way to feel old. OTOH the problems were fixed and I have a savings account for that stuff so I can be happy I found a new tea to love! Thanks boychik!

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42 tasting notes

Steeped properly this tea is excellent. I steeped it three times in a 350ml Yixing teapot, first 20 sec, then accidentally oversteeped the second steeping, then 20 sec. My review is based upon the two steepings where my strainer didn’t clog and slow my pouring. It was naturally just a little sweet on the first steeping. It was fairly light bodied with pleasant notes of I’m not sure what. Couldn’t quite put a finger on the taste but it was good. I was slightly bitter in the second and third steeping. Overall I give this tea a high mark.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 13 g 12 OZ / 350 ML

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