Special Dark

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
Ingredients
Not available
Flavors
Dark Chocolate, Dark Bittersweet, Caramel, Chocolate, Leather, Malt, Wood, Mushrooms, Cocoa, Earth, Bitter, Grain, Hay, Plums, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Raisins, Honey, Dates, Stewed Fruits, Cream, Nuts
Sold in
Not available
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec 6 g 10 oz / 309 ml

Available from 1 seller.

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119 Tasting Notes View all

From Mandala Tea

We call this Special Dark for good reason. This decadent tea is hand crafted in small batches within cotton bags, and fermented more extensively requiring great attention and intention. Creamy, rich, dark, and smooth. This cocoa-y indulgence is one of our most unique pu’er teas. An excellent change-up from the norm for you lovers of the shu.

Pu-erh that is more lightly fermented can hardly be oversteeped in early infusions, but this tea should be approached differently. We suggesting easing in with quick infusions before experimenting with the full power of the Dark Side.

About Mandala Tea View company

Company description not available.

119 Tasting Notes

95
987 tasting notes

This tea has been comforting me during the ice storm today. Hope all my fellow Midwestern Steepsterites are warm and safe!

I’m going to go build a fire now…seems appropriate :)

Terri HarpLady

As usual, our news people made a big drama over the storm, & we didny really get much in st louis: a thin layer of ice, dusted with a little snow. Of course, it’s cold, 15F, but that’s no biggy. It’s been a nice pj day, with a fire, food, tea, & couch potato mode. :)

Sil

Says you! My flight got cancelled!!!! Grrrrrrr

K S

Indy was calling for a foot of snow. Instead they got a couple inches. Down south, we have maybe an inch of snow over sleet with a thick layer of ice under it. Enjoy the fire.

keychange

You live somewhere where you can build a fire? colour me jealous!!

Terri HarpLady

Tony has a fireplace :)

Suziqzer

I’ right there with you & was waiting on that mega snow of 8-12 inches over the weekend. Got a layer of ice and then about 4 inches of snow. Nothing to slow us down unless it starts blowing and drifting. Gla to have a wood stove and lots of tea samples to try this year. When will this winter mess end? Oh wait.. When it’s over, it’s tornado season!

Stephanie

Ugh, tornado season…can’t wait! :P I had to drive to work this morning in this mess, though schools and such are all closed today.

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93
361 tasting notes

I haven’t felt much like drinking tea lately, and even less like writing about it. My dog of 14 years passed away over the weekend and the days leading up to it were pretty tough. I’m trying to hold it together so my kids don’t see me lose it completely, but whenever I have a moment to myself I’m a mess. But I need to return to my new normal and get back to some of the things that make me happy. Two of which are tea and steepster.

So I made this one today as it will last over and over so I didn’t have to think about what tea to have next. I saw Bonnie say to add cream and sugar in someone else’s comment so I gave it a try. I steeped it for 5 or so and added the cream and sugar and it was like drinking caramel. I had that over and over today. This is a really yummy tea, especially doctored just a bit.

Kittenna

I’m so sorry to hear about you dog :( Hopefully you can take some comfort in returning to old routines (e.g. tea/Steepster).

OMGsrsly

Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog.

Kaylee

Condolences on the death of your dog. I hope the memory of the many wonderful years you had together will help carry you through this sad time.

tigress_al

Sorry for your loss. Dogs are pretty special animals

Nxtdoor

I’m so sorry for your loss.

K S

I don’t know how old your kids are but I am sure they are mourning as well. Hang on to the memories and each other.

Fuzzy_Peachkin

Sorry about your canine friend passing! Pets are very precious.

ashmanra

I am so sorry! It breaks our hearts because they fill our hearts so much.

greenteafairy

I’m so sorry to hear this.

Tea Sipper

I am so sorry to hear you lost your dog!

Nicole

Aw… that’s hard. Sorry to hear.

ifjuly

This is really late to the party (I just tried this for the first time tonight). I am sorry to hear about your dog.

That is really good to know someone as experienced as Bonnie says it’s ok to put milk and sugar in a pu erh—I was thinking for some reason pu erh would be one of those tea types people think should never be adulterated, but this is so INTENSE I’ve been thinking some milk would help. I mean I know I can do whatever I want really, but still, it’s reassuring.

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3065 tasting notes

This is delicious!
The first steep was a little light…hint of dark chocolate powder.
The 2nd steep was deeper, richer, like putting a pinch of gourmet dark chocolate powder on my tongue & swirling it around in my mouth. Almost a powdery sensation.
3rd steep adds a hint of sweet semolina.
4th steep is the one I’m drinking now, still nicely rich, with a mouth that reminds of condensed canned milk with cocoa powder stirred in. I’ve never actually had that, LOL, but that’s what it makes me think of.

I’ll continue sipping this for a few more rounds. It is a nice richly satisfying Shu, without any of the musty or ammonia-like smells, it has a certain earthiness to it, a deeply grounding sensation more than a taste. Next time I’ll probably give it the full on 3 minute treatment, as I’m one who tends to surrender to the dark side!

Dexter

I have some of this, and I’m dying to try it. Everyone who has tried it seems to agree that it’s wonderful. Glad to hear that you also are enjoying it. Need to find a day that I can spend some time and enjoy it properly.

graceatblb

The full 3 minute steep is something I need to try soon too. I am also tempted to bake with this. I may pop it into someone’s birthday cake as a surprise.

TastyBrew

I haven’t found a puerh I like yet, is this worth trying if I don’t seem to like the fish food barn flavor?

Terri HarpLady

Maybe? This one doesn’t have the marine & barn profile. Either that or my brain is starting to filter those flavors out! :)

ashmanra

Tastybrew: have you tried Chocolate Strawberry Puerh from Lupicia? It hardly tastes like Puerh at all.

Sil

cough i have a birthday in july..just saying grace lol
@tastybrew – i second ash’s comments on that one from lupicia! it’s delicious!

Terri HarpLady

This one is also in your box…

Sil

terri…yeah but the CAKE grace is going to make isn’t grin

graceatblb

Haha. We’ll have to see if the cake turns out well. My baking experiments usually end up either good or on fire.

Terri HarpLady

THAT should be interesting! :)

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95
1075 tasting notes

I saw Terri Harplady steeped Special Dark for like 7 minutes and I totally needed to try it! I tasted it at 5 minutes and WHOA THAT IS FREAKING DARK! Rich, burnt chocolate with almost a nutty finish – it’s comparable to coffee like in intensity. It’s so strong, flavorful and addictive, I have to sip it very slowly. I made my cup while I was finishing up making dinner (Pioneer woman’s pork roast with apple and caramelized onions and some risotto on the side) and I’m still working on it after I’ve finished eating dinner!

My roommate, the one I’ve converted to tea for sludgy coffee, would dig this tea. I might have him try it – he’d love it sooo much!

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec
Bonnie

Good stuff! This is how I make puerh lattes…really strong!

Sil

oh man..i can’t believe it’s never occurred to me to make a puerh latte…

graceatblb

The 7 minute steep is my favorite way to drink Special Dark. It’s a kick in the face but so yummy. I shall have to try it in latte form. I never thought of trying that before.

Terri HarpLady

Even though I sometimes like to do short steepings, I really love doing a long strong one too. I don’t usually go 7 minutes. I think I got that idea from Grace :)

Bonnie

Sweetening puerh or adding milk can increase the caramel notes…You begin to know which ones are going to be best for lattes after awhile. A real Fall and Winter treat!

Garret

Not latte’s! CHA-tte’s! That’s what we call here at Mandala Tea :) So tasty!!!!!! And if you are adding something other than whole milk and using thinner products like almond or rice milk, I like blending in some really nice coconut milk to thicken up the mouthfeel a bit. I just use a stick blender. Awesomeness, children!

Terri HarpLady

On the rare occasion that I make a Chatte (I’ll use that from now on Garret, thank you), I use canned coconut milk, but for some some reason I never though of whipping it up with my immersion blender! Now I want to make a chatte!

Garret

YES – to coconut milk!! I use that in my post-workout smoothies! So delishus. And the coconut oil/fat is so beneficial to the body. And incredible oil that I use for darned near everything – cooking, skin care, tea. I could drink coconut milk til the cows come home!

Terri HarpLady

Yup, me too Garret! I also make Keifir from it :)

Garret

That is an excellent idea! I used to make so much kefir when I had access to raw, grass-fed milk… Do you use kefir “grains” or some other culturing method?

Terri HarpLady

I use Kefir grains. They have to go into real milk every couple of days, but my sons can drink the milk kefir, so it works out ok. I’ll have extra Kefir grains soon, so if you want some, let me know!

AOTeaAcounselor

I used to do coffee tastings and recommendations for specialty grade coffees (can I say coffee here? :) ), and although I drank my coffee black, there were some origins that benefited from a bit of sugar or cream.For example, a bit of sugar would bring out the complex fruitiness of Ethiopians and Kenyans, and just a dash of cream would bring up the chocolate notes in a great Kona or Guatemalan.
I have a sample of this that Garret sent along with an order and I need to try it asap. As a almost former coffee drinker, I will probably do 2 rinses and then a 5 minute steep. From what I read, it sounds like I’m in for a treat.

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98
1700 tasting notes

So Dexter3657 drank this yesterday and got me thinking about it, and since they don’t need me at work today it is TOTALLY the right choice to drink this one today while I can enjoy it. (Aside from the sick hubby and toddler who need attention. :P)

I’m taking a Special Dark break!

The first time I had this I followed the instructions and steeped it for 30 seconds, but this time I went right for 4. Maybe next time I will go for 8. I didn’t realize this one couldn’t be oversteeped but you can’t blame me for being hesitant! If I did this to one of my favourite blacks it would likely be too bitter and strong at the end.

This, on the other hand, at 4 minutes is quite rich and dark. And yes, very chocolatey. I almost want to rip open my 85% emergency-use-only chocolate bar just to compare the different types of chocolate, but I’d better save that for an emotional pick-me-up. This cuppa has made me happy enough already!

Yes. This is complete proof that Puerh ISN’T something to be afraid of! I can do it! I can enjoy it! Also, this makes me want to put in an order at Mandala to see what else they can do with Puerh!

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML
Stephanie

:D Love this one

Dexter

Crazy right? But it totally works, and it’s yummy.

I placed a Mandala order this morning…. Garret is so nice, and the teas are amazing. I already have shipping confirmation with tracking number. Can’t beat the customer service. :))

Cavocorax

That’s pretty awesome. Shipping is generally around $10 too, right? Maybe at the beginning of March I’ll be able to place an order! (Unless they have a sale which lets me break any resistance I have! :P)

And my second steep of this at 10 minutes is pretty awesome too. I was going to drink Laoshan Black today but now I don’t want to….

Dexter

They charge actual shipping cost. I order A LOT today. I ordered 9 oz of tea, plus 2 × 100g pu’erh cakes, plus 6 oz of their tea soak stain remover. So that’s 15 oz + 200g of product and shipping was about $15.00. I’ve placed smaller orders with shipping in the 10-12.00 range, and I once ordered tea and a yixing teapot and it was 17.00. It depends on what you order. It’s a bit expensive if you consider lots of places do free shipping over 50.00 etc. BUT there are lots of US companies that try to charge us 30-35.00 for a couple of oz of tea. I consider Mandala “medium” when it comes to shipping costs, but the tea is AMAZING. I’ve ordered a few times and will continue to do so….

Stephanie

Wow I wish I had your tea budget, Dex! :D Can’t wait to read all your Mandala reviews!

Sil

Cavo…also it’s 5$ through sharon for shipping….just saying

Dexter

LOL Sil – keep encouraging….

Stephanie – I think I’m doing good – 175.00 ish since Cyber Monday and the vast majority of that was Mandala today. Less than 200 in two months… not bad – for me at least :))

Cavocorax

Sil – lemme know next time you want an order!

Sil

cavo – march sounds good to me unless you need it earlier lol that will give me time to sip some down OR you can come shop at my house for samples so you can narrow your choices down haha

Cavocorax

March works for me too!

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89
5351 tasting notes

SIPDOWN! (231) After adding in all my verdant teas and the teas from terri i’m back up to 231 after this sipdown, which is much better than i expected – i thought i’d be closer to 250 or worse.

It was my birthday yesterday and I didn’t get much tea drinking done since we pretty much got up, had a bite to eat and hopped on the bikes for the rest of the day. We did some trail riding, hit the farmers market, and then biked some more with a stop for picnic lunch before finally heading home. We made one of my favourite things for laaaaaate second lunch (BLT on flat bread with homemade guacamole, turkey, cheese). We then pretty much headed out for dinner and a movie. By the time we got home i was not only totally ready for bed but was also super happy. Probably one of my best birthdays in a while – just getting to be outside and with my other half. Plus we totally didn’t spend a lot of money since we had movie tickets we’d bought previously.

Today though, i have to spend some time working, so to make that more enjoyable i picked one of the puerh i’ve been really looking forward to from terri and i’ve been drinking that all morning..that meaning THIS TEA!

Special Dark! yay!

First Steeping was light and i didn’t get the cocoa taste until the last few sips in the cup – smooth though
second steeping – much more chocolatey, still smooth and delicious
third steeping – still really enjoying this. will have to keep steeping this for a few more to see how it goes..

so far…i’m glad that gracebtlb and terri introduced me to this one. grace through her excitement and love of mandala teas and puerh and terri for sending a sample my way for me to try. Going to be adding this to my must have list :)

Lala

Happy, Happy belated birthday friend!!

Nicole

Happy, happy!

graceatblb

Happy birthday!

Sil

Thanks guys! :)

TastyBrew

Happy birthday!!!!

Terri HarpLady

I didn’t really send you any Sheng. I’ll start a box, that’ll jack your numbers up a little.
;)

Sil

Lmao too funny Terri lol I’m actually going to be away from my tea for like a week…..grrrr its awful lol

Cavocorax

Where are you going that you can’t bring your tea? :O

Sil

Victoria…..hahaha but it’s a weird family sort of hotel and house staying kinda of weird hiking trip and visit with dying people sort of weird trip that means I’m probably better off just keeping it to 1or 2 max with me.

Cavocorax

Sounds complicated. I bought 20 samples with me when i traveled in a little cardboard box, but that earned me a few odd looks.

Terri HarpLady

When are you leaving Sil?
I’ll be away for a week, & I really need to narrow my list of teas down…or maybe just bring a box of samples & do a crazy week long sample sipdown, lol

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100
92 tasting notes

I’ve been going on and on about Special Dark pu’er. It’s probably gotten quite annoying. I am happy to say that it lived up to every single one of my expectations. I like it better than the Phatty Cake and Bu Lang Gong Ting and they are my benchmark pu’ers.

1st Steep-30 seconds
Garret said it would taste like chocolate but, honestly, I was a little skeptical. Dry it smells a bit like cocoa powder. I am not kidding about that. Not even the Hershey kind but the expensive Valrhona powder. And the most amazing thing is that it tastes like cocoa when brewed too. I didn’t put any sugar in it at first so it tasted like unsweetened hot cocoa with a really rich cocoa. I added a touch of raw sugar and it really brought out the chocolate flavor.

2nd Steep-45 seconds
Still very chocolaty with a creamy finish. Almost like a good chocolate mousse.

3rd Steep-1 minute
Milk chocolate. Some spice is coming through but not much yet. Is it sane to say a tea is completely blowing my mind?

4th Steep-2 minutes
Suddenly it’s back to dark, dark chocolate again and there is cinnamon on the finish. Mexican hot chocolate? Yes, please.

5th Steep-3 minutes
And just like that, the chocolate has left the building. It’s sort of butterscotchy. The chocolate isn’t gone really. It’s there in some sips but the butterscotch is really dominating.

6th Steep-5 minutes
Honey and maybe a bit of brown sugar. Still so smooth and tasty. So happy I have 4 oz of it.

7th Steep-Overnight
I know. Overnight sounds crazy and it is. I dropped the leaves in my tea thermos and left it to steep overnight. Can’t say that the result was bad. It tasted like whipped cream and caramel. Not bad at all.

This is the smoothest, tastiest, loveliest pu’er I have ever tried. Pu’ers are typically earthy but this has none of that. It’s starts out smooth and sweet and it finishes that way. Seriously, put a blindfold on and you think your drinking hot cocoa or, at least, chocolate flavored tea. It’s really one unique tea.

And this tea also proved that “tea drunk” does, in fact, exist.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec
Sil

This makes me want to get some to try! I’ll have to see if I can squeeze time in this weekend to try the others you sent me :)

graceatblb

I can’t wait for you to try them. Especially the Yong De. This one kind of reminds me of it but the Yong De starts out a bit earthy.

Tealizzy

Wow, that sounds awesome!!

Awkward Soul / Oolong Owl

OOoooh I need to try this! DROOOOOOOL

Mercuryhime

This sounds amazing! I can’t see it on their site. Where do I acquire some?

graceatblb

They haven’t put it on the site yet but Garret let me order some. You can email him and ask :)

Mandala Tea

I thought you might adore this one!!! We are crazy busy right now with the new shop and haven’t even had a chance to get this pu’er up online yet. But, as our dear friend, Grace said, I would be happy to help you to acquire some of this in the meantime. Just shoot me an email at: [email protected]. I have a feeling we’ll be hoping we had bought a whole bunch more of this crop. It was expensive because of the super small batch ripening, but we thought it totally worth it. Tea ya!!!

pyarkaaloo

wow…thank you for this lovely review! what a description, this tea sounds marvelous…my only experience with Pu’erh is Chocolate pu’erh by Numi… have yet to try a cake! from what i understand, pu’erhs have an inherently earthy quality to them, but this sounds like a very special one

Sil

this one is wonderful Pyarkaaloo! Garret has a number of wonderful puerhs!

pyarkaaloo

thank you, Sil :) who is this famed Garret i keep hearing about on here? he’s practically a legend…everyone is always thanking him… it is perhaps, a rite of passage, to being on this site! ;p

graceatblb

Pyarkaaloo: Sorry it took me so long to see this. Best Buy was holding my computer hostage for repairs today. Special Dark is one of the great loves of my life. It tastes like one of those fancypants dark chocolate bars. I just had a bit with honey at a 7 minute steep and it was perfect. It’s so special and when Garret runs out, I will cry.

Garret is the man behind Mandala Tea. He is singlehandedly responsible for my love of pu’er. He’s pretty awesome :)

Dexter

pyarkaaloo – I agree to all of this – graceatblb helped me discover Mandala – and Garrett – yep amazing pu’erhs. I can’t believe I haven’t tried this one yet – but if it’s half as good as most of the ones I’ve tried it will be amazing. Garret + Mandala + pu’erh = an amazing tea experience. :))

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752 tasting notes

An incredibly caring Steepster friend is concerned that all I’m drinking are samples from other people, and that I should take some time and enjoy some of my favorite teas. I’m searching for the great teas, but not enjoying the one’s I’ve found. I’ve decided to “sort of” take that advice.
I have sent samples of this out to several people, and assume that it is going to be amazing, but I’ve never actually drank it. So tonight I’m taking a ME tea night to explore the dark side.
I threw about 2.5 tsp of this into my gravity steeper, gave it a quick wash and then let it steep – I’ve read lots of review that say that this is AMAZING if steeped for a long time. I’m watching and waiting, and it’s getting darker, and darker, and I chicken out at about 4 minutes. OK 4 minutes is a LONG steep for pu’erh – at least for me…
Wow this is crazy – unlike any other pu’erh I’ve tried. There really isn’t any of the musty/earthy typical pu’erh taste – it is just deep dark chocolate – maybe a hint of “pu’erh” in the back but it’s just adding depth to the chocolate. OK I’m a believer.
I add another couple of tsp of new leaf to the old leaf (I don’t care it’s my tea night I can do what I like) – gave it another quick rinse and let it steep for NINE minutes.
OMG – this is unsweetened cocoa from a fine chocolatier. I add about a tsp of sweetener and just a splash of milk – just enough to change the color. This is my new favorite chocolate tea. I love this.
Now what do I do? I think I’m going to take the leaves and toss them in the fridge to cold steep. If anyone hasn’t tried it – cold steep pu’erh is crazy good.
As always, thank you Mandala for another amazing tea experience.

Sil

i’m so happy you enjoyed this one. i love this puerh a lot.

keychange

It’s your part-tea and you can steep how you want to, steep how you want to!!

TheTeaFairy

Yay for ME tea nights, so proud of you :-)
Dark and choco, yum, yum!!

MissB

Wow, I tried this the other night and got it wrong. I’ll definitely try it again with longer steep parameters.

Kamyria

Darn right you can do what you want! :D

Cold steeping pu’erh, ah? I have to try that.

Cavocorax

That sounds really amazing.
I will TRY to steep mine that long but I gotta say 4 minutes, and NINE minutes makes me a little nervous. I’m a “followe the vendors instructions, you noob” sorat gal. Especially with this. It’s my FIRST/ONLY Mandala tea!

Dexter

It’s my par-tea and I did what I wanted. :)) It turned out great.
Sorry you didn’t enjoy it MissB – it doesn’t get nasty as you steep it longer, it just gets deeper and more chocolate. I highly recommend a long steep. I was VERY nervous too, but after trying the 4 minute steep, I knew you could not hurt it. I will do 8 or 9 minutes first steep next time.

Kamyria I didn’t believe the cold steep pu’erh either, and then I tried it. I quite often western steep leaves a couple of times, then toss them in the fridge for 16ish hours. Can’t explain it, it’s a different experience – very refreshing, you should try it once….

Dexter

Cavocorax – if you want to follow vendors instructions, then you go right ahead. It’s your tea, don’t let me talk you out of your comfort zone. First/only Mandala? You are starting with a good one….

Sil

I twisted her rubber arm into ordering SOMETHING, ANYTHING from mandala when I placed my order lol

pyarkaaloo

omg yay!! u just put the seal of approval on this one for me…it’s on my to-try list from Mandala…it sounded delicious to begin with, although i was worried it might have a damp,earthy pu’erh quality. but if this is anything like you say, i simply must give it a go!

Dexter

Good job Sil – “something – anything” is pretty much correct when it comes to Mandala – it’s all good.

pyarkaaloo – but I like the “damp,earthy pu’erh quality” This has a little of that – it is a pu’erh, but it’s more in the background adding depth to the chocolate rather than hitting you in the face. I love all Mandala pu’erh. Their Silver Buds are really mild – more of a white tea with a hint of pu’erh. Noble Mark is just fantastic, but more traditional pu’erh. Wild Monk is the best sheng I’ve ever drank – pretty much what Sil said – anything from Mandala is a good choice….

Dexter

Does restocking favorites count as breaking hiatus?

pyarkaaloo

thanks for the clarification…this sounds like a nice pu’erh! i think i’ll be happy with this as long as it isn’t a predominantly ‘mossy/earth’ kind of flavor, although one never knows…if i try enough pu’erh cakes i may find one that i love! or i may develop my palate.. the cold steeping sounds delicious!

Cavocorax

Yeah, I’m really happy Sil was able to do talk me into it! It was difficult because it was Black Friday and I’d already allocated most of my budget to Butiki and DTT. But ONE tea from Mandala… OK YES.

There will be more from them in the future. I still have to get past them being fancy in my head and just start drinking!

And I can experiment now! It’s just the first steep that I don’t like to mess with on the assumption that the vender knows what’s best. :P

TheTeaFairy

Does.not.count.

Dexter

Cavocorax This is a video of Garret giving you permission to play with your tea. He has a very open, whatever you like is correct for you attitude…
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hUt6kt00mpo&feature=youtube_gdata

graceatblb

I love steeping Special Dark for extreme amounts of time. Unlike with most teas, this one improves on a longer steep. The last time I had Special Dark I steeped it for 15 minutes and added a touch of cream. Heaven.

Garret does have a very laissez-faire approach to tea. Which I really appreciate. It eliminates the guilt when I, inevitably, break the rules.

Garret

Do as you like :) Whenever I do tea classes, I give people basic parameters for brewing and leave the rest up to them. I let people know that if they dig a green tea with boiling water, that’s cool, that’s how they should have it. I do use a little disclaimer here, though, and tell them that if they are serving tea to guests that it might be a good idea to go to more “traditional” way of brewing it :)

ifjuly

Yay! I love this one. And I love that someone was awesome and reminded you you should not get overwhelmed with sampling and take some time out for whatever you want to drink. Definitely.

ifjuly

And so agree, it’s the most intensely chocolate tea I’ve tasted.

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75
487 tasting notes

I’ve been wanting to try this one for a long time, and thanks to stephanie I finally can. :)

I really had this one hyped up in my mind. Its special and its dark, come on, how can that name not evoke only the yummiest stuff??

Now, the problem could be my high expectations, or it could be that in my haste to get a taste of this one, I didn’t rinse the leaves first. I steeped it 3 min, skipping over the whole gongfu hoopla and anxiously awaited it to cool off.

Well, hmm, its kinda stinky and flat tasting. I want to think this is my fault and see how a second steeps turns out. Or try the remaining unused leaf with different parameters (and a rinse!).

Then again, I wouldn’t want to break my tradition of disliking nearly every super-famous tea on here :p we’ll see ^^


UPDATE*** A second steeping for 4 minutes yields much less stink (rinsing is an important step!), but it’s not as sweet as I like my shu puerhs. It’s very earthy for sure, like fresh dirt (I don’t mean that in a bad way). I can definitely appreciate this one, but I’m disappointed that it wasn’t as grand as I had hoped.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

It’s been awhile since I drank this, but as I recall, I went pretty heavy on the leaf :)

Shelley_Lorraine

Thanks Terri, I might try that with what I have left. I have about two teaspoons and I’ll use them in a small mug, see how that turns out.

QueenOfTarts

Did you find this at all fishy like some puerhs? Curious about this one but am not fond of the fishy/stinky aspect.

Shelley_Lorraine

This one, for the second steep, was less stinky than other puerhs that I’ve had, but not by a lot. I hear people referring to bad quality puerhs as fishy, but imo, all shu puerhs have a pinch of the stink. Rinsing them first almost always takes the edge off. For me a good puerh is one that delivers an exquisite flavor to compensate for the smell.

QueenOfTarts

Thanks, Shelley_Lorraine! I will definitely remember to rinse before to help get rid of the smell.

Terri HarpLady

Shelley, you have such a great way with words! :D
Just sayin’…

Shelley_Lorraine

for kicks and giggles, my very first review of a puerh, logged on fb, days before I joined steepster:
I got a free sample of loose leaf black puehr tea with my green tea shipment and was hesitant to try it the first few days. But I finally did today. At first, I noted that it smelled like a wicked cow pie, but braved tasting it anyway (don’t know what motivated me). Then, as I told Eric at the time, I decided that it tasted like drinking fossilized caterpillar poop dug up from under a mossy tree. However, it left a strange malty sweet aftertaste, so I kept going back for more because each time I had to see if it was my imagination that it tasted so bad at first. And each time it tasted so bad. But now I can’t remember for sure, so I’m going to go brew another cup .

Terri HarpLady

Hahahahaha!!
It’s that aftertaste that hooks us! LOL

Shelley_Lorraine

i dunno though, in the comments of that post, I suggested that it might be drugged. ;)

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92
1157 tasting notes

This may well be my first Mandala tea, so I wanted to go big with the first try.

This is one multi-faced tea. I’m only on steep one, and already I can tell this will be a nuanced experience with each sip. Almost all of my sips are dark cocoa, which is interesting because I just had some 90% dark chocolate, and both the mouthfeel and taste are almost identical. It kind of reminds me of the texture of coffee, although it’s been so many years since I’ve had anything even remotely coffee-like (if I do drink it, it’s always espresso-based, which is a very different experience for me than drip). Regardless, this is thick in flavor, rich in taste, nuanced and multi-faceted. I look forward to many more steeps, to see how it evolves.

EDIT: Okay, so how do I do re-steeps? New tasting notes? It is a new cup of tea. And yet… same leaf.

Steep 2: 9 minutes, only because I forgot about it. A bit more cocoa, something sweet as well, really sweet. Surprisingly sweet. I want to say caramel, but it’s thinner and more candy-sweet.

Steep 3: 19 minutes, again because I forgot about it. Really thin now, which always ‘tastes’ odd to me in a pu-erh. Cocoa notes are all gone, and now it’s more earthy and sweet.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
Cavocorax

Oh man! I’ve had this for about a month (and it was the only one from Mandal I could justify ordering) but I haven’t tried it yet. I really need to make time for it where I can re-steep it and enjoy it…

ifjuly

It’s so intense! The chocolate-iest pu erh (granted I’m no expert in them), and one of for tea in general, I’ve had.

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