Special Dark

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
Ingredients
Not available
Flavors
Bitter, Cocoa, Grain, Hay, Wood, Dark Chocolate, Plums, Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Raisins, Chocolate, Earth, Honey, Dark Bittersweet, Dates, Stewed Fruits, Cream, Nuts
Sold in
Not available
Caffeine
Not available
Certification
Not available
Edit tea info Last updated by graceatblb
Average preparation
Boiling 2 min, 15 sec 5 g 12 oz / 346 ml

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102 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

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102 Tasting Notes

99
114 tasting notes

Mmm, definitely quite reminiscent of an unsweetened, rich, dark chocolate.

Not sure if it’s just my mind making things up after reading the description of this tea being made in cotton bags, but I did suddenly think of linens or cloths in the aftertaste. Not in a bad way, of course. More of a comforting, freshly air-dried in sunlight cloth way.

Of course, it’s finals week for me and it could just be the stress getting to me. Man, I can’t wait for this week to be over. One quiz down, two presentations (I will add here that I’m an incredibly shy person with a fair amount of social anxiety so I’m really not looking forward to that), another quiz, an exam, and a paper to go! And then another paper later next week, but I’ll deal with that one later.

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1817 tasting notes

I have had this a couple of times lately but haven’t logged it. Last Wednesday night I drank several cups of it in the evening and was WIDE awake until around 3 am! That may have been the tea, the cake I had with it, or just a fluke.

I had it again today. A friend is moving away and we met for possibly the last time. She has recently become quite sensitive to gluten, so my daughter made some delicious flourless chocolate cookies for us, and I made deviled eggs. It was all we could come up with on short notice that was gluten free! It was good, though, and she really seemed to love it.

This is the friend who thought she disliked tea, and I introduced her to puerh and to Teavivre’s Jasmine Silver Needle and she in turn got her mom totally addicted to puerh. Don’t you LOVE it?

This is a great tea to serve with sweets because it doesn’t compete, it complements. I also like serving it when I think the fats in the food might be hard on the system. I suppose it is preventive maintenance.

This is not a horsey puerh at all, but rather one of the smoothest. It is very mild yet flavorful. We drank two steeps western style in a large pot and the second steep was as good, as flavorful, as dark and tasty as the first. It is not the darkest puerh I have had, but it is indeed very, VERY special.

looseTman

Dear ashmanra, I just purchased SD and have started to become acquainted with it. I can see how this tea would easily complement sweets. What brewing parameters do you favor for this “very mild yet flavorful” shou? Thanks!

ashmanra

Since we were drinking a lot of tea that day, LooseTman, my daughter used a 22 ounce pot and about three and a half teaspoons of leaf. It was steeped for about four minutes for the first steep and four and a half for the second, using boiling water.

looseTman

Thank you! Pu’erh by the pot – I’ll have to try that!
Do you typically brew pu’erh Western of Gong Fu style?

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387 tasting notes

Sipdown! (124) (Yay I’m halfway to 100!)

Giving this tea a second chance today! I found that I didn’t enjoy it much gong fu style, each steep was bitter to me. Apparently this is unusual? So today, I’m trying it Western-style to see if I find it more agreeable that way. I did two teaspoons in boiling water for 7 minutes.

Meh, I guess this tea is just not for me. I will say that I think I prefer this method to gong fu, because it doesn’t taste as strongly woody as before. However, it’s still quite bitter. To me, it kind of tastes like biting into a bar of baking chocolate, and I do not consider that a pleasant experience. I added some sugar and soy milk to see if that would help temper the bitterness, and it did lessen it slightly. However, I don’t really want to buy a tea that I have to drink with sugar and milk.

I’m really kind of torn on whether or not to rate this, since it seems everyone else loves it. But I’m not really biased here so I don’t see why not… Hmm!

Preparation
Boiling 7 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
AllanK

I think you used too much tea for 8 oz of water. I would try again with only 1 tsp. Less tea usually means less bitterness.

AllanK

Also, I think seven minutes is way too long, try only 2 or 3 minutes.

Stephanie

1 tablespoon is the recommended amount, actually…

Garret

I know a lot of people on here like to brew this up Western style. Me? I brought this tea over here to the US cause I dig it gong fu style, very short steepings. I guess for a 5 ounce gaiwan, I use 2 tsp or so, maybe a hair more, but I’m doing a rinse and then steepings that are “touch and go” for the first 3 or 4, slowly increasing time. I’ve enjoyed more than my share of western brews of this, though :)

Marzipan

When you hit 100 are you off hiatus?

Cameron B.

Marz, that was the original plan but we shall see! :P

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112 tasting notes

Aroma: Damp earth
Liquor Color: Deep red
Liquor Flavor: Dark, rich, woody, bitter coca
Notes: This one was dark, and super rich. A little too much so for me but I can see why people like it. I’ll give it a whirl again with less leaf and take it from there.

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 45 sec

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92
72 tasting notes

I received an 8g sample of this with my last order. I used the whole thing. This tea was good. I steeped it six times in a 160ml teapot. First 10 sec, then 10 sec, 10 sec, 15 sec, 30 sec, and 30 sec. I immediately noticed the chocolate notes. They were very strong notes of bitter chocolate in the first two infusions. The chocolate notes changed their character in the remaining four steeps. They took on the notes of half bitter chocolate, half sour plums/dates. This tea has no remaining fermentation flavor to it, the tea broth has cleared. I just bought another four ounces of this, and I had not yet tried this sample that Garret gave me with my last order.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Plums

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 8 g 5 OZ / 160 ML
AllanK

I brewed the tea in this great little pot. It pours really well. It was the first time using this pot.
http://instagram.com/p/rk13VoTDQW/?modal=true

boychik

The pot is gorgeous. i love the tray too. where did you get it?

AllanK

I bought it from a great EBay vendor called Streetshop88.

AllanK

That is I bought the tray from Streetshop88. I bought the Gaiwan from an Amazon seller called Ufingo.

AllanK

Said Gaiwan, meant teapot.

AllanK

Ufingo is a great seller. Here is a link for the pot. When I bought it I got a set with a Cha Hai and six 50ml teacups.
http://www.amazon.com/Ufingo-Brown-Beautiful-Kiln-Ceramic-Teapot-Type5/dp/B00CSDNZWM/ref=aag_m_pw_dp?ie=UTF8&m=A22JKBTMGBNADE

boychik

OMG. i gotta get this teapot. I shouldnt show it to TheTeaFairy;)

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330 tasting notes

Well I thought I’d bust this one open and try it while I’m just sitting around today. I’m not getting the cocoa/chocolate that people write about. It’s very dark and reminds me of coffee. I don’t really know what things it all tastes like right now but dark is a good descriptor. It’s ok but I dunno, gotta try it some more I think.

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1700 tasting notes

Brewed in an all-too-infrequently-used yixing pot…a delicious afternoon.

TheTeaFairy

Yay! Hope it also helped that nasty cough of yours :-)

Spencer

It did, until right now, which is probably due to me not drinking any for the past twenty minutes! Time for a resteep.

Garret

Special Dark! Just brewed this up for a coffee-addicted friend in the shop yesterday. I don’t think he’s gonna be coffee-addicted for long. He adored it. He sent a message a couple of hours later and said the energy he got from that tea is so much cleaner than coffee. I’m not saying he should quit coffee. I’m just saying he should start drinking tea. The rest will take care of itself :)

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55 tasting notes

I haven’t logged here in awhile. Life has been busy, but also, in my home the computer seems to always have someone sitting in front of it (I’m going to have to make more of an effort to steal a bit of time and log what I’m drinking).
I made this tea this morning (it’s out of my ifjuly supply of awesome tea), and to say that I’m loving it would be an understatement. I followed ifjuly’s instructions that came in the baggie of this sample (her little notes with each tea are my favourite…), rinsing, then 30 sec. steep, followed by 20 sec. additions after that. She also added in a bit about it being good with a tad of milk and sugar…. So, I jumped right in and tried it like that, even though I’d never do that on my own, but only because I’d trust that woman with my teacup anytime. ANYTIME! Needless to say, it’s delicious that way. Which, thinking about it now, of course it would be, since the characteristics of pu-erh are so ‘baked good’-like to me.
This tea is amazing. Comforting and so yummy.
Thanks, ifjuly for once again making my tea experience incredible.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar, Caramel, Raisins

boychik

She is amazing! This tea is amazing!

Garret

Really happy you enjoyed the Special Dark. It’s one of a kind. I keep working at sourcing super-duper small batch ripe tea like this. It’s out there, just not always so good. Thanks for writing the review! With gratitude, Garret

DeliriumsFrogs

Thanks for sourcing such wonderful tea!! :)

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1885 tasting notes

Sipdown!!

So I really don’t like pu’erh teas. Perhaps one day my tastes will develop enough that I grow to enjoy them but so far that has not happened. Nonetheless, Cavocorax was generous enough to share a sample of this with me so I figured it was at least worth trying it.

When I first sniffed the dry leaf, there was nothing offensive about the smell so that was comforting. I boiled the kettle, rinsed the leaves for 30 seconds, and that brought out the fishy pu’erh scent that I hate so nerves kicked in. I then steeped the tea for 30 seconds and the result is not as bad as I anticipated given the smell while rinsing. Luckily, there is no fishy taste in this cup however, it is not the cup of liquid chocolate that so many others seemed to experience either. Instead, it is a little bit mushroom and a little bit of dark chocolate and I don’t know about you guys but chocolate-covered mushrooms seems like a weird snack. Ultimately, though this is far more tolerable than other pu’erhs I have tried, I just don’t think I am a pu’erh fan. I am very grateful to Cavo for the chance to try this out though because it has received so much love on steepster lately that I was actually a bit curious. Plus, if I can’t enjoy this one, I feel it is safe to say that pu’erh is just “not my cup of tea” (sorry for that :P).

Marzipan

I’m the same way, it makes me feel like something is lacking me somehow, but maybe with time…

VariaTEA

Maybe. I mean, I never thought I would outgrow my flavored black stage but more and more I find myself reaching for straight blacks so perhaps pu’erh will come with time. Though, tbh, it is nice being able to completely overlook a type of tea when shopping.

Marzipan

I am in that same place, starting to want straight blacks more and more.

OMGsrsly

Mmm, chocolate covered mushrooms. ;) I think the earthy/mushroomy taste is super neat, but it’s not something I crave often. I drink the flavoured bready puerh teas way more frequently.

whatshesaid

I got mushrooms too. But I like it with cream :)

Cavocorax

I tend to steep this for a long time – like 8 minutes? It brings the chocolate out, but I can’t say if it enhances the mushrooms or not…

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86
197 tasting notes

Method 1: 1.5 tsp, 4 oz, 208 degrees, seconds: 30, 45, 60, ru kiln gaiwan. Then I blended these together to make 1 cup of tea

Method 2: 1 tbsp, 8 oz, 208 degrees, grandpa style

Method 3: Slightly less than 1 tbsp, 8 oz, 195 degrees, 2 and 3 minutes, Forlife brew-in-mug strainer, Dr. Who mug

Dry Leaf Aroma: chocolatey forest. This smells like Pennsylvania forests when you’re out for a nice hike. But then someone came along and dumped chocolate in the forest!

Brewing Aroma: Cocoa and stuff. It smells pleasant, but earthy. I can’t pick out the exact thing it reminds me of.

Flavor: The first method used shorter steeps. It was good, but it didn’t knock me off my feet. I could taste some of the chocolate notes, but it didn’t seem to have as much complexity as I expected.

The second method was quite unpleasant. The package says you can’t oversteep pu’erh. Since I love grandpa style tea so much (lazy), I decided to just let it sit and see what happened. Well I beg to differ, but you certainly CAN oversteep pu’erh! LOL. I call this one: The Burninator. It tasted like burnt dirt.

The third method was the goldilocks. Finally, woo! I took a sample out at one minute, two minutes and three minutes. Two and three were the best. I think I actually liked two the best, but you can’t go back! So I drank it at 3 minutes. The flavor is kind of hard to describe. I can taste a little cocoa, and some earthy flavors, but I can’t put my finger on them. I haven’t had many pu’erhs, so maybe I’ll get better at that as I go along. It’s a very rich tea. I suspect it would go well with some decadent dessert. I’ll be trying that soon! I would definitely buy this again.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
Cameron B.

TROGDOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOR! <3

Sarsonator

Burninating the countryside, burninating the peasants!

Cameron B.

Burninating all the people in their THATCHED ROOF COTTAGESSSSSSSSSS!

Epic.

boychik

If you add some milk and sugar or maple syrup you can have a nice treat ;)

Sarsonator

We need someone to make a Trogdor tea.

Cameron B.

Definitely lapsang souchong…

Sarsonator

Boychik: I’ll try that when I buy some more maple syrup!

Cameron: Totally agree. Maybe I’ll buy some and make a blend. :)

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