Mandala Noble Mark Ripe Cake - 2012

Tea type
Pu-erh Tea
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Cocoa, Earth, Molasses, Spices, Malt, Mineral
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
Boiling 1 min, 30 sec 8 g 34 oz / 1020 ml

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From Mandala Tea

We are so happy to offer this Mandala Tea exclusive ripe-style pu’er tea to our fine customers everywhere. These cakes were pressed on 10/25/2012 from 2011 tea available in loose form here.

This blend of ripe pu’er (sometimes spelled “puerh” or “pu-erh”) leaves come from spring-picked old plantation trees that are between 60 and 80 years old. Grown without pesticides or sprays, this is just pure, clean tea from one of the most pristine growing areas in southwest China.

We carefully selected 4 sizes of expertly-crafted ripened leaf from this plantation and blended them to make a very well-balanced tea. The majority of the blend (around 70%) are smaller leaves which will give up more flavor in earlier infusions with the remaining 30% coming into play in later infusions.

The result is an incredibly well-balanced tea. Rich and creamy in flavor and aroma without overbearing earthiness, this tea hits the mark and is now one of our most favorite ripe teas. And judging by our customer response, others think so too!

We are impressed with the clarity of the tea liquor produced from this leaf as normally, ripe leaf this young makes for a cloudier brew.

Brew it up short and sweet or loud and proud, this tea will not disappoint (these folks agree). In fact, it will tickle all your ripe tea drinking fancies!

To experience this fine tea to its fullest, please experiment brewing it up Gong Fu style!

We hope you enjoy the latest addition to our extensive ripe pu’er selection. Want to try before purchasing the whole cake? Just select the one ounce sample above. You’ll be back for more :)

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15 Tasting Notes

1117 tasting notes

I was working on a yixing pot full of this tea while I made lunch and later on relaxed watching a live owl cam on youtube. Lots of hooting!
Yum, like I said before, I need to review this tea. Super tasty and creamy, I highly recommend this pu’er!
Well, off to the airport to pick up my dad, who’s flying in from Vancouver for the holidays.


I love owls. I find them irresistible :)


Have a blast with your dad! I’m happy that you are enjoying this tea! I really have found that the cakes of this tea are really opening up flavor-wise over the last couple of months. Just wait another year. There will be no stopping this ripe tea! Thanks for the write-up, my dear!! Grateful, as ever, G.

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92 tasting notes

I just got finished drinking my sample of the Noble Mark loose tea and now I am moving on to the cake sample that Garret sent me. I am kind of curious to see if there are any differences.

1st steep-15 sec
Still a gentleman’s pu’er. It’s not overwhelming even on the first steep. It’s very gentle. Like it’s holding the door open for you. Tee hee. Slightly roasty notes like a cup of blonde roast. Creamy. Almost a pastry type of sweetness. It tastes like a napoleon.

2nd Steep-20 seconds
The pastry aspects really come out. It tastes like walking into an old school bakery smells. It’s like being hit in the face with all those lovely smells of baking. Kind of sweet but in a breadlike kind of way.

3rd Steep-30 seconds
Still sweet and breadlike. A little honey coming through.

4th Steep-35 seconds
Same as before. Sweet like pastry with honey and some new nutty notes. Kind of like baklava.

5th Steep-40 seconds
Still a bit nutty with honey notes.

6th to 12th Steep-Up to 2 minutes
Varying levels of vanilla. Sometimes with nutty notes, sometimes with fruity notes and one very interesting time with a basil note. Tea is losing a bit.

13th Steep-5 minutes
Figs and honey. Almost can’t give up on this tea now because figs!

14th Steep-45 minutes
I forgot it. I don’t even have a good excuse but it didn’t turn out bad at all. Very light even with the long steep time. The figs are gone sadly and replaced by an almost anise like sweetness.

15th Steep-1 hour 30 minutes
I figured why not. It’s very very light. Still sweet but it’s hitting the floral side of fade which means it’s time for me to move on.

I did notice that when I started steeping this one, I was in a terrible mood. Like Eeyore meets Grumpy Cat meets Archie Bunker. Mainly because my team’s superstar decided to bail on a 15 year deal. Once I started sipping Noble Mark, the mood lifted and I was all cheerful again. Could be a coincidence but considering how much of a bad mood I was in. I doubt it.

I really did love this in cake form more than I did loose. I don’t know why. The flavor seemed much deeper and I didn’t mind spending almost 5 days with it at all. I have a feeling this would be one of those teas that taste different every time you steep it.

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec

thought you might like this!! Interesting that the cake is now really starting to excel in complexity over the loose. Not the case for the first few months after pressing. I learn this with every pressing that I do. It always takes 6 months to a year after pressing a ripe tea for it to begin to open up and rock. Within 2 to 3 more years, this one is going to be one of the best tasting ripe cakes available. Why do you think I pressed so many of them.

The loose is delicious and is the 1st tea I drink every morning and have for over 5 months. My personal stash of the loose is in the neighborhood of 200 lbs. Of course I can sell it to our tea shop as the shop runs out of its current stash :)

We had the entire lot tested, too, and it is ZERO parts per million of anything other than tea. You know me, I like to source from super clean growing areas and from growers that are using organic and biodynamic ways of growing. This tea is as pure as it can get, sister!!

So happy that you are enjoying it. Remember, too, when you get your new Phatty Cake 2 this week that it was pressed on 4/25… still a few months before it opens up more and rocks out, but the reviews from the handful of people who have tried it so far are very favorable. Even made it here in the shop for someone who has never enjoyed ripe tea and they bought a cake!

Rock on, Archie Bunker!


This tea was something special. I felt almost guilty tossing the leaves so I made iced tea—-just about the only way I can trick my family into drinking pu’er. I don’t know if this’ll become an everyday tea—because I’m going to want to hoard it. I think I’ll stick with Phatty Cake Prime for that.

200 lb!!! That sounds like…heaven. Better than heaven. Tea heaven. You’re very generous to consider selling it…because I’d hoard it like an angry goblin.

I can’t wait to try the Phatty Cake sequel. I am going to try my hardest to curb my kid on Christmas morning tendencies and wait a couple of months. I do have to finish my Phatty Cake Prime so it shouldn’t be too difficult.

I also just got my mug this afternoon. It’s adorable. I’m already in love with it and I haven’t even used it yet. I may have to break out the Year of the Dragon pu’er to break it in.

Archie Bunker is my spirit animal. Along with Peg Bundy and Balki Bartokomous.


i foresee possibly sending cakes to my parents place so they can be in a less humid place for the summer….or buying some sort of tea humidor for my apartment?


Sil… i think for short-term storage, you don’t really have to worry too much about all this. Most importantly, keep the tea away from strong smells and covered in an (odor-free) cardboard box so that it does not get cold or hot air blowing on it. If you are not going to be drinking the tea within 6 months or so, then there are other things you can do. And we can cover that later, if need be.


Grace… Archie Bunker, love him! So happy you are digging the new infuser mug. They have been flying out of the shop already and the reviews are good so far!

You have some of the Bulang Gong Ting, right? We have a bunch of customers who are serving that tea iced and really loving it!


I love my little mug. I’ve named it Stuart and somehow tea tastes better when drinking from it. Sounds crazy but it’s true.

I love my Bulang Gong Ting. I have 5 ounces that I am hoarding. I’m not that big a fan of iced tea but I’ll give it a go because my family loved the Noble Mark iced tea.


Sil—I keep my pu’er in cardboard boxes on my bookshelves. The room is air conditioned though. I am not sure how good that is for the tea but 100 degree heat is not something I can tolerate…at all.

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1767 tasting notes

I can’t believe I haven’t logged this one yet. It’s so good! I only steeped it for 30seconds in a huge 14oz cup, and the result is just sweet, and amazing just slightly earthy. I’ll have to do a better review of this later, when I didn’t drink the cup while I was playing minecraft and not note all the incredible flavours.

Also, I should restock on Mandala teas some time in the next few months! :O


before you do let me know… i’ve got to get down to my goal but i wan to place an order.


I’ll try to remember! It prob won’t be in the near future as I still have a few samples of theirs to try!


and uh….maybe a few more at my place lol


/0\ (thanks!)

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862 tasting notes

Went on a bit of a tea/teaware shopping spree last night. Ohhhhh Mandala – I love Mandala Tea, and was spending the evening trying to put together an order – it’s tough when there are so many awesome choices.
Anyway I was drinking the amazing Noble Mark while I was shopping. I love this tea. I don’t drink it often enough and I don’t write enough tasting notes about it. I was using my little yixing shou pot and stopped counting at 9 steeps – but I’m quite sure I got to at least 15. It just keeps getting smoother and more mellow as you go. It starts really nice and doesn’t go through any icky stages. Maybe not as “complex” as some like – but you know what your going to get with this one. It’s always good – it can handle some “oops I let that steep too long”. One of my all time favorite teas.

Maddy Barone

That does sound good. Complex is sort of wasted on me since I don’t taste much. Give me a decent smooth tea and I’m happy.


:( steepster is eating parts of my notes again


Did you tell Jason so they can look into it?


Love this one too, so smooth and warming!

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6160 tasting notes

I hate it when reviews disappear. I pulled this one out to be my puerh for today after reading misslena’s tasting note on special dark. :) I haven’t had this one in a long while so i figured it was time to work on my sample of this, especially if i place a mandala order for special dark! I’ll be drinking this most of today and that suits me just fine. My little turtle needs more tea love and this is a great tea. I’d say it’s a toss up on any given day whether i’ll love this or special dark most :)


Yay for my note inspiring you to pull this one out! I should today too, but I don’t want to overcaffeinate..having a black tea right now lol. I hate being sensitive :(


I love this one. Also the Temple Stairs mini tous are good

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228 tasting notes

My second to try from the ripe pu’er sampler.

Rinse, rest, rinse again quickly and steep 20 – 30 seconds. Several steeps over a couple days.

Brews a dark, deep brown color.
Tastes very rich and smooth, with milk chocolate, nuts, and some woodiness. Quite tasty and satisfying.

I seemed to enjoy this more the year of the dragon sample I had the other day – not sure why, but I think this had a sweeter aroma.

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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294 tasting notes

Lewis and Clarke TTB

I’m excited to try another Mandala puerh, I’ve loved the ones I’ve tried so far.
So my Yixing that I have that I seasoned for green oolongs, doesn’t get much use since I’m not much into green oolongs any more. And I figured since I only used it a handful of times, and I drink puerh a lot more and puerh is a lot stronger than green oolongs, that I can just casually switch it puerh. So that’s what I did.

I did 2 15 second rinses, and then 30,45,60,75,120,120,150 boiling water, 7g/8oz, sweetened

I collected the rinses, and took a sip. It was actually tasty, and I ended up drinking them.
The first steep is wet earth and mushroom and bread and milk chocolate, in the best way possible.
The second steep is like the first with a little more milk chocolate.
Third and forth steep are creamy, nutty, earthy and ’shroom-y.
5th-7th steeps being back some of that milky cocoa.

This baby can still keep going, and I’ll be coming back to him later

7 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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630 tasting notes

This is a complex and tasty tea. It does have, at least in the first infusions, notes of cocoa and molasses. It is somewhat earthy but does not have overpowering fermentation flavor. There is a slight bitterness to this tea that slightly overpowers the sweetness. It is complex. Sugar brings out a nice depth of flavor in this tea.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Molasses

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 12 g 11 OZ / 340 ML

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31 tasting notes

This is one of my favorite ripe pu-erh’s! WOW! Extremely complex for a shou, and well balanced. There are initial overtones of earth and spice, with smoothness coming on the sides of the tongue and some sweetness as you finish the drink. The spice characteristic is unique to this tea, which I have not tasted in very many other pu-erh’s, and I enjoy it very much. I have retired this tea for now, storing one cake whole and another broken up to speed up aging. This tea should get even better with a couple more years of aging. I can’t wait to see what this tea brings as the years go by! I plan to sample every 4-6 months until I feel it’s fully ready. In the mean time, I bought some of the loose leaf variety for consumption now which I am eagerly awaiting from Mandala Tea. :) I really should buy a couple more cakes before it’s gone forever! Excellent, excellent tea!

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Molasses, Spices

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 185 OZ / 5471 ML

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171 tasting notes

Preliminary review

I got this sample from a friend. : – )

I estimate I used 4-5 grams, and I didn’t quite fill the gaiwan with water. I completed 6 Steeps starting at near boiling then moved to boiling water; rinse/30/60/90/120/150/~ 300; Stevia added; 150ml gaiwan.

Noteworthy: as I was looking at the wet leaf in my gaiwan after the first steeping, I noticed the little bit of tea liquor left behind had a consistency or viscosity I had never seen before: it was like it was silky, rich, and/or oily? Whatever it was, I believe it indicated there is more (complexity) to the liquor than what I have seen in the shus I have been drinking.

I don’t consider myself to be very skilled at nailing down flavors, so sometimes I look at the reviews of others to see if their notes strike a cord with me; as I have a hard time with describing the flavors of cooked pu-erh tea, I decide to do that this time, and from at least one review (MissB) I saw the flavor descriptors ‘cocoa’ & ‘earthy’; I definitely get those flavor notes (perhaps even ‘malty’). Furthermore, there were no off, musty, or odd flavors in my cup. The color is clear and rich, and what comes to mind is the color of mulch. I looked at the wet leaves, but nothing interesting to note other than the pieces are as big or bigger than any other shu I have had, and they were a very dark brown color.

I usually try to test the steeping staying power on the last steeping, and the length tends to be somewhere between 5 – 10 minutes; on this final steeping at approximately 6 minutes it still had flavor (although I used less water) and it had no bitterness what-so-ever.

Definitely one of the best shus I have tried. I have plenty of the dry tea left to do another session sometime.

Flavors: Cocoa, Earth

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

Gotta love it, Mandala really knows what they are doing when they select teas for their cake pressings!


Yum Yum!


yay! Thanks, guys – your compliments help me keep coming to work everyday! I loved your review of this tea, Joe! No one needs to be skilled at nailing down flavors to know if they are enjoying something and inspired by it. Sometimes, words can get in the way :) I should say, more often than not, words get in the way. Thank you so much for writing down your experience with this one. I loved it!


Glad you got something out of the review. : )

I also judge words often get in the way.

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