22 Tasting Notes

drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
22 tasting notes

Yeah buddy.

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A bit of an unusual format for me, I wrote tasting notes right after my gaiwan session, here they are:

Cinnamon not detectable in dry leaf.

Very sweet wuyi! Not vegetal at all, sweet sweet sweet. Would be great stand alone wuyi.

Cinnamon not present until later steeping 3-4.

First detectable in the aroma, then realized late in the palate.

Not bold in your face cinnamon, this comes later, much more subtly towards the end of the palate and the back of the throat…. like a cinnamon essence.

Remarkable subtlety! Teaches patience, awareness and subtlety – things which I need to improve on or am lacking generally… ahh this is like tea therapy.

Subtle floral like cinnamon, or rather oolong-like cinnamon.

Warm sensation persists in back of throat, cinnamon related or just temperature?

Retains flavor up to around 6 quick gaiwan infusions, then starts to dissipate.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

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Bought this to share with my Dad for Father’s Day and I was not disappointed — Mandala delivers again! This is the same material used in their highly touted Phatty Cake (which I have yet to try).

This tea brews a beautiful deep brassy-red cup. The brew is exceptionally smooth, without any harsh leather, shellfish or inky notes and offers a unique clarity, devoid of murkiness, that I have not encountered in any other Pu-ehrs. This is an easy drinker for sure — my Father, who had literally never had a Pu-Ehr before, really (really!) enjoyed this tea. As I was showing him how to use his new gaiwan I heard him say under his breath “this is awesome”. The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree!

I still consider myself relatively new to Shou Pu-ehrs, having only tasted roughly half a dozen or so, and really only being familiar with two, so for now I am going to withhold a rating. I will say that this is my favorite Pu-ehr I have had to date.


Thanks for writing about this, my friend!! I loved your review!! I also loved the pic you sent of your tea sesh with your Dad. So cool!! I just scored the very last of this leaf from the producer along with some grade 3 (slightly larger) leaf and did a blend. The new cakes of it are on their way from China as we speak!!! Can’t wait. It will be called “Phatty Cake 2: The Sequel” The leaf you just reviewed was the same tea that I used to press the original Phatty Cake, still our best selling pu’er tea in the history of our little company. You may want to try one of those cakes sometime before they are gone! Wishing you great joy! Grateful, Garret

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drank Organic Guranse by Butiki Teas
22 tasting notes

Starts off tasting like a Darjeeling and finishes like an Assam. Mouthfeel is a bit thin and, as others have mentioned, the brew doesn’t seem very strong with regards to caffeine content. There is a slightly exotic bitterness, reminiscent of its Darjeeling side that creeps into the palate. Unique and enjoyable, but ultimately a bit soft for my tastes.

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drank Top Leaf by Mellow Monk
22 tasting notes

Been on a bit of a Japanese green kick and I have tried a handful of senchas, gyokuros and a highly touted shincha over the past few months — I must say Top Leaf is the cream of the crop. For my tastes, and wallet this is the best sencha I have found yet!

Everything about this tea is very well rounded, without a single glaring flaw or characteristic dominating the flavor profile or aroma. Top Leaf brings the entire gambit of Japanese flavors together seamlessly into a full bodied and near perfectly balanced cuppa creamy green greatness: sweet, creamy, savory, nutty, vegetal, mildly oceanic with a forgiving faint citrus-like astringency. Really I can’t emphasize enough how well balanced these elements are in this particular tea, its certainly an accomplishment!

Another high point, Top Leaf is relatively flexible and forgiving with regards to brew temp and time which is not a characteristic shared with many other senchas I have encountered. It brews wonderfully mellow and sweet at gyokuro-like temperatures ~ 120 and can tolerate a full minute of 180 for the savory 2nd steep without getting overly bitter. Anything in-between is great too of course! Really, you have to completely blow it (in sencha standards!) to muck this one up.

Overall a great great sencha and certainly worthy of a spot amongst one of my favorite teas. Its exceptionally well balanced bordering on exquisite! I have gone through 3.5 oz and recently ordered more! In my opinion, you’d be hard pressed to find a better quality japanese green for the price.


Achievement unlocked: daily drinker status!

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This is a very solid example pu-erh and its comparatively easy on the palate. Earthy, full bodied mineral “cave floor” mineral/mushrooms without any gnarly leather notes. Brings a nice Qi to boot and is friendly enough for daily drinking. A good introduction to the world of ripe pu-erh; mellow enough, yet brings a full bodied genuine pu-erh experience.

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Break out your windbreakers and fanny packs because this oolong is so good its worth invading Kuwait!

I wasn’t aware that roasted peaches and cream was even a flavor until this wonderful tea delivered some to my taste buds like a SCUD missile… YES! Outstanding and truly something special, the Gulf War-era flavors are robust, savory, sweet and buttery all at once with a thick mouth feel and slight roasty mineral-mint aftertaste. Rating this very highly because of its uniqueness and sheer excellence. Will be buying more 4 $ho!


I agree! This is the bomb!


Yeah this tea is fantastic! On a more serious note, I do not have anything in my collection that tastes anything like this tea. It offers something truly unique and it happens to be absolutely delicious!

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drank Top Leaf by Mellow Monk
22 tasting notes

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drank JavaVana Mate by Teavana
22 tasting notes

Twice now, this tea has made me feel sick after drinking it with an action that feels like acute toxin exposure. I have never had this problem with any other tea or mate, I have the caffeine tolerance of a large crack-fueled Grizzly Bear and I have no known food allergies. I threw the rest in the garbage.

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This tea is impressive – its a doppleganger, bringing forth many familiar tastes and combining them into something quite enjoyable. The first few infusions taste like a certain Laoshan Black… hmmmm… So much so that I did a double take to make sure I had put the right tea in my gaiwan. Yep! Not to be overshadowed by the aforementioned steepster juggernaut, this tea can certainly hold its own. The primary flavor is “Roasty” but there is something else there… a fruity/nutty note reminiscent of an assam… and there is a subtle background of roasted florals and buttery grain to remind you of its former, greener oolong days.

Initially I was quite surprised at this oolong. It is quite dark and the flavor profile really falls closer to the true black tea spectrum in my mind. This is not a bad thing, just not what I had expected from an oolong. This tea is capable of multiple infusions, trading the strong roasted taste to more subtle autumn fruits towards the later infusions.

Quite enjoyable in the Gaiwan. I would recommend this to anyone who wants to experience a dark roasted oolong. My only criticism here would be a relatively thin mouthfeel… while hard to put into words, compared to similar tasting teas, this one is lacking a bit in texture.

I’m looking forward to trying the lighter roasted version of this next and will probably end up ordering more of whichever one I like best. So far, the Dark Roast does not disappoint!


Sounds good to me. I love red robes. :)

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