GABA Black

Tea type
Black Tea
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Floral, Honey, Nuts, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet, Baked Bread, Roasted nuts, Decayed wood, Vegetal, Wet wood, Apricot, Fruity, Muscatel, Flowers, Nectar, Pine, Smoke, Sour, Stonefruits, Wood
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Edit tea info Last updated by Jason
Average preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 2 min, 30 sec 5 g 12 oz / 352 ml

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From Mandala Tea

This rolled black tea provides a warm, soothing, and absolutely delicious way to try GABA supplementation for a calm mind. It starts out as an Anxi, Fujian May-picked organic Tie Guan Yin variety. What makes it special is a processing step that exposes the tea to an oxygen-free, nitrogen-rich environment. Originally designed as a food preservation method, this process has the happy effect of boosting the naturally occurring Gamma-AminoButyric Acid content to over 350mg per 100g of tea. GABA is a neurotransmitter responsible for inhibiting overactive firing of neurons in the brain. It is the body’s anti-anxiety mechanism supplemented in the natural form through a drink that is healthy for numerous other reasons, as well.

The tightly rolled leaves are unique among our black teas – somewhat similar to an aged, well-oxidized oolong with more subtle floral notes. Honey and bakery or pastry flavors are abundant. The aroma can be reminiscent of a warmed, honey-drizzled bowl of “grape nuts”. A very cozy and crowd-pleasing black tea.

Basic Brewing Instructions for GABA Black Tea:

Do a 5 second rinse with the same temperature water as used for brewing. Check out the aroma!
208˚ F water temperature
Use 1 teaspoon per 8oz. of filtered water
Recommended three steepings of 1 minute, 2 minutes, and 4 minutes. Alternately, one long 4 minute infusion.

About Mandala Tea View company

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20 Tasting Notes

3229 tasting notes

Sipdown #2 of the day (#11 overall) Teacount = 381
This is actually a pleasant cup of tea, kind of sweet, smooth, & grapenutty. There’s also a hint of a roasty coffee-like flavor, which is interesting. I went with two steepings, 3min/5min. Both were delicious.

Regarding GABA, the best ways to up your levels are:
Yoga – which I haven’t done yet today…
Eating fermented foods – which I have! I’m pleased to share that my most recent batch of root kimchi is the best batch ever! I started the crock a week ago, with a mix of carrot, burdock, sunchoke, radish, turnip, horseradish, ginger, garlic, onion, shallot, scallion, & probably a few other things I can’t think of right now. I like to cut each root into it’s own unique shape, sticks, squares, triangle, etc. My talent @ making carrot flowers, which used to grace all my soups when my kids were young, has sadly diminished, so the flowers look kind of lopsided, but they will still taste good, & add interest. Anyway, I had some of the kimchi with my breakfast, & it really is a tasty one, so I’ll jar it up later, & add it to the laboratory (i.e. the fridge in my basement where all such culturing projects are stored when they reach the appropriate level of ripeness. They will keep almost indefinitely, but we do eat them regularly. It’s current residents include cukes, green beans, the last of the pink kraut).

Terri HarpLady

Whew! The window froze when I hit save, for like 5 minutes. I finally hit ‘cancel’, & was pretty sure my note would be lost, but it’s not! Yay!


heh grats on having a giant cupboard lol is that accurate count? :)

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6821 tasting notes

I received this as a sample in my latest Mandala order. I had to add the tea to the database so it’s no surprise that this is the first review. I’m not sure what to make of this one. I’m going to have to try a few steeps to see where this one takes me. I’ve only ever had GABA oolongs, and there IS a familiar taste there but it’s a black tea.

This is a rather unique taste. I really am having trouble describing it. Maybe my tea sister will do better since i AM sending her the other half of this sample. yeah….this one is confusing me lol it’s not’s reminescent of gaba oolongs, but it’s clearly NOT an oolong based on the taste… there’s no astringency but there is a taste there that reminds me of red rose bagged tea if i let it sit in my mouth.

huh. thanks for a unique experience Garret! more to come on this one i’m sure :)

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142 tasting notes

A pleasant surprise! I didn’t love the GABA oolong, but this does add something my black tea spectrum – as described, it IS warm and comforting, very smooth, maybe savory? It feels like a lazy/rainy morning tea to linger over while resolutely not going outside. Or maybe an after dinner tea to settle the stomach. I may just have to keep this one around. And it’s definitely worth trying.

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266 tasting notes

Thank you Garret for this tea!

I steeped it as instructed online: 5 second rinse, 1 minute, two, then four. I really like it. To me, it was very similar to Imperial Pearl by Mountain Tea because it had the same type of roasted character, but with a sweet aftertaste. I want to say there was some cherry in the second steep, but not quite. Honey perhaps? Both times had a wonderful earthy, floral character very similar to an oolong. Also surprisingly nutty, though it’s a considerably light black tea. The final steep reminded me of stone fruits and honey.

I steeped this again the full four minutes, and all the notes that I got from the Gongfu in each brew came at me at once in a balanced way. Definitely better western, and I was even able to brew it again for another four minutes and it tasted almost the same though it was lighter. It was spicy, and fairly complex. The Imperial Pearl from Mountain Tea and this one are almost the same in terms of taste, and both had a dried cherry flavor that lingered on the tongue for a while.

I had some jitters earlier today from a lack thereof working out. I naturally have a lot of nervous energy, and with a lot of tea, the caffeine can get to me….so yay! More caffeine. I noticed though, that this had a focusing effect on me. I wouldn’t say calming, but slowed me down a little bit and reminded me to breath. I see why this is taken before exams.

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Nuts, Roasted, Smooth, Sweet

190 °F / 87 °C 1 min, 0 sec 4 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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813 tasting notes

I had absolutely no idea what GABA was when I tried this sample this morning. I had a very long gong fu session with it and it was really enjoyable. It was malty, roasty, a bit fruity honey, and a bit of a tang. I really liked it! So now that I know what GABA is, I can actually say that this tea did have a calming effect on me. Feeling very zen and caught up on work right now. :) Love it! This is going on my wishlist for sure!


I liked that tea, bought 4 ounces of it.


@AllanK- nice! Definitely a good one.

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1154 tasting notes

So far this is my favorite GABA tea – this one has an tasty sour dough raisin bread with honey flavor. The other GABA teas I’ve had were all green oolongs which are more in sour vegetal country. However, Black GABA appeals to me more as that crazy GABA flavor works better with the black base adding more comfort food feels, at least in my opinion.

This tea is also very pretty – it steeps up gorgeous, glowing and clear with a huge leaf!

Full review on my blog, The Oolong Owl


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1805 tasting notes

Interesting honey flavors. I need a second cup to make a judgement call on this one.

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850 tasting notes

As it turns out this morning I have time for an extra cup of tea. This black is quite good, not too malty at all. The slight maltiness comes across as baked bread and roasted nuts. At least that is in the description and I think it is accurate. We will see how the Gaba effects me. It can be a nice effect but I find it hit or miss.

I brewed this one time in an 18oz teapot with 3 tsp leaf and boiling water for 3 min.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Roasted nuts

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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921 tasting notes

This is one of those crossover teas that confuse me – ok maybe it’s not, but that’s how it seems.
This looks like a highly oxidized, roasted oolng – it’s smells like an oolong, but everything says black tea. It hurts my head a little.
If I think of this as oolong – then it’s nice and dark, toasty, roasty, without being too smokey. A little sweet – interesting tea, I like it.
If I think of this as black – then I’m thinking, why does this taste like oolong. It seems disappointing to me – not dark enough, not rich enough – there are better blacks out there.
It’s weird how our expectations, reflect our experience.
Either way, this was enjoyable at work today. Definitely interesting, and I urge all you Mandala fans out there to try it.


Hi! The leaf that is used for this tea is a tie guan yin varietal, which is what gives in that slight (and pleasing, in my opinion) sour note, just like a TGY oolong.

At first, I was not excited about it, but Jamie urged me on and by the second day we were working on the sample from that producer, I fell for it.

There are alot of our customers drinking this tea in the tea glass (aka grandpa style). Mayo Clinic is next door to us and so many night nurses are using this tea. Kinda fun to hear their stories about more even energy throughout their shifts. Anyway… I dig it.

Thank you, my friend, for trying it and writing up your thoughts!!


I think I will do better with this next time. I was drinking this at work this morning. What I really wanted was a big bold black, and I felt like I got refined oolong. It just didn’t suit my mood. Now that I know what to expect, I will drink it as an afternoon “oolong” when I’m more in the mood for something lighter. This isn’t a bad tea, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. It does make me feel better that this has oolong connections. I wasn’t totally wrong….
Thanks for your thoughts Garret – always interesting to hear your side of the story. :))


And it is always to hear your side of things, too, my dear!

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3 tasting notes

This is the first tea I have tried from Mandala, it was sent as a sample in my order, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the complexity and flavor of the tea. There are muscatel notes, lightly sweet aftertaste (which evolves into Hui Gan in subsequent infusions), aromatic and flavorful notes reminiscent of decaying wood and forest, and an ostensible fresh baked bread taste.
Being fond of black tea I would certainly recommend this to anyone that enjoys smoother, less bitter black teas for late morning and early evening hours.
The Gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA) content is uplifting and warming, and personally makes me slightly lightheaded , but in a pleasant “tea-drunk” way.
Unfortunately I’m short on time while writing this, and cannot do the tea justice, but this is certainly for tea drinkers that want afternoon, and possibly nighttime, black teas that provide an excellent flavor and experience.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Decayed wood, Roasted nuts, Sweet, Vegetal, Wet wood

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

I think your review did just fine in the justice dept on this tea. I’m happy you are enjoying it. We brew this one up quite a bit in the tea shop. It is an interesting departure from many other black teas.

I also enjoy the hint of sourness that comes across in this one. The leaf used for this black tea is a tie guan yin varietal and if you are into tie guan yin oolong, you are familiar with that slight sourness present in the tea liquor.

Tea is a damn good time, isn’t it?

Thanks for taking the time to write up your experience with this tea, my friend!

With gratitude,

Terri HarpLady

Welcome to Steepster Jakob!
Nice review!


I actually enjoy the slightly sour taste in the brew, and I recognize it from tie guan yin that I’ve had before, but I’m more of a wuyi oolong fan myself. :) Da hong pao and Shui Xian are actually two of my favorite oolongs.
Tea is an excellent time! Thank you both for your positive comments. I anticipate a good review when I receive my shipment of special dark pu’erh and take some notes on the Rou Gui oolong that I purchased from Mandala.

Terri HarpLady

Oh yeah…special dark… :)

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