Guoyan (Mandala Tea)

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Recent Tasting Notes

I got some of this one with my last mandala order, & enjoyed multiple steepings of it late yesterday afternoon. When I have students coming & going, I enjoy setting up a yixing of something I’d like to drink, so I can just keep adding water, rather than having to pick out another tea over & over again. I didn’t really take notes, & the main things I remember was the aroma of a well composed cedar forest (or some other wood), & the flavor was delicious, but again, I don’t really remember much about it, although I remember it being sweet, some fruitiness, & creamy at times, & most importantly, I DID enjoy drinking it! Again & again!

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Thank you mrmopar for this Christmas present Pu-erh sample!

It’s a gorgeous day! The sun is shining brightly on small patches of lingering snow that are refusing to melt. They freeze at night and stick out their tongues in the daytime…laughing at the 54 degree dry heat. (Only 4 inches this year so far, more due Friday)

Every Winter my town fills up with birds. Mostly Geese and Ducks from Canada (Thanks guys! Next year, stick tea samples on them,OK?!)
Since open space isn’t at a premium here, there’s room for birds, fox, deer, elk and other wildlife (and there’s lots of it!)

Which brings me to BEES. (Yes, you didn’t see that coming but here we are at bees, right after the birds.)

Colorado produces lots of honey, especially clover, hops, alfalfa and wildflower honey. I’m fond of stopping into a honey store to sample local in-season honey and a few imports from Oregon (blackberry honey) or California (orange blossom honey). Just a little is enough to flavor a whole dish, but others are subtle.
Honey and carmalized onions, local stout (got lotsa breweries) with short ribs…then slow cooked is fantastic.

Where am I going with all this talk of honey and food, animals and bees?

The Tea
I began with 1 rinse then an instant steep and pour.
The tea I chose to drink had a Honey Amber liquor (among other things).
The scent was sugar cookie and the flavor was like Log Cabin pancake syrup (although not as sweet).

Steep two was 10 seconds and deep amber honey color. The texture was clean, almost a citrus but not astringent. Way back in my throat there was a thickness after swallowing the sweet tea and I tasted clove without any bitterness. The aroma was white cake.

On the third steep I tasted something savory like toasted sesame seed honey candies (the kind you find in the health food stores).
I expected the tea to become caramel, but it surprised me. This was a good flavor, richer and deeper.

Another steeping and the color was beautiful, glowing amber honey in my glass mug.

The flavor was spicy, like spiced honey or a very mild Chai (if it were sweetened and had milk added I thought maybe it would be like a Chai).

I added a little sugar and the sweet honey and spice revealed something new.

What had been undetectable before, a light shu earthiness that had poked it’s flavor personality into the tasting (much to my great pleasure!).

Such a whimsical pu-erh! A honey….haha…!


That sounds nice! I like some ‘spicy’ in my shou sometimes. I have a loose leaf from old trees ripe that is earthy and spicy. Its not an everyday for me but I love it!


This sounds delicious! I may have to add a sample to my next Mandala order.

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Thanks mrmopar for this nice Puerh Sample!

Yesterday someone said in their review that it seems that overnight the trees had turned color without them noticing the change. Blink and it’s Autumn!
I agree! When I lived in California the seasons didn’t change as dramatically as they do here in Colorado.
I was just looking at the forecast this morning. 82 today dipping to 28 tonight (Obama and Romney better have Jackets in Denver) and on Saturday the daytime will be 37 degrees (that’s an almost 50 degree drop!). ‘The times they are a Changing’.

One September I went to visit my mother-in-law Selma in Fairbanks, Alaska and drove way out along the Pipeline towards Valdez. After you pass the Air Force Base around North Pole Alaska, you see few people or cars. After about an hour, if you pull to the side of the road and get out, there is a panorama of golden trees UNBELIEVABLE and not the sound of ANYTHING. No birds, bugs, people, cities or cars. Total quiet. (The birds have gone South and the animals are hunkering down for the Winter which would come within a week or two.)
On the return drive, as the night sky turned black, the Aurora Borealis lit up the sky with an iridencent green light show. Again, stopping and getting out of the car to hear the siren sound of the sky and see the amazing movement of light that only is visable twice a year.

Ah Autumn. Fall Alaska Set


The color of the liquor for this Shu Puerh was first a golden honey brown and thereafter a clear dark red-brown.

Although I love to smell wet leaves, I didn’t find this to be a extremely potent or strong smelling Puerh. It was just a mellow, easy scent that was tame, a little earthy and pleasing.

After one 30 second rinse, I kept steepings at 30-45 seconds which was more than enough time for a rich broth.

The lightest (and first) steeping was like honey and Bing cherries with a light spicy finish. There wasn’t any earthy flavor or bread taste. I did find the sensation to be wet, not juicy.
My mind went off to thinking about water and then I came to my senses realizing how odd that was.

I poured another cup. This was more like the Puerh’s I was used to, like digging into rich, dark and chunky premium potting soil.
It tasted juicy and extremely smooth, becoming thick at the back of the palate.
There was something sweet about this Puerh. A cherry flavor and a creaminess during later steepings that I had not come across often in Shu’s. (I thought I was wacko about the cherry flavor but I tasted this tea over again the today and I’m convinced, though the Bing cherry taste is elusive.)

The other illusion that I had with this Shu was water.
As I sat sipping one round after the other I began to tea regress. Have you ever felt like tea is your shrink taking you back to your childhood? Well I have.
I thought about a night sitting on the beach in Santa Cruz, CA all alone. It was one of those starless nights when all you could hear were the waves crashing like thunder. Now and then, there was a glimmer of light from a wave but nothing else as I dug my toes deep into the still warm sand. I must have been 16 or 17 years old and a real dreamer. Fearless and full of wonder.
An older guy in his 20’s that I knew came along, sat down next to me and we began to verbally make up poetry in the dark. He said a line, then I made up a few, then he made up some more. A perfect romantic experience in the purest sense.
We never spoke again.

Tea can be a beautiful moment like that. Like a poem or a crashing wave.
Some are an experience that lingers for a little while.
My favorite ones are the tea’s you remember forever.
And some, well not so much.

This one was better than many I’ve had and will linger.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec

I have always wanted to go to Alaska. Someday….


I lived in Alaska and feel blessed to have witnessed the golden yellow of the birch during the fall and the wonder of the Aurora, as it sounds like you have. It’s great to hear someone else share about a few of Alaska’s many wonders.

Daisy Chubb

Wow those photos take my breath away!
Fall is slow coming here, but I hear it gets beautiful! I’ll take some pictures if it proves true :)


Good….love to see peoples pics!
SimpliciTea- Where? The Birch is so bright gold it almost blinds you. I went back the end of November when Selma passed away and it was -20 and never complete daylight. Very dry in Fairbanks too. Loved Caribou Sausage!

Invader Zim

Beautiful pics Bonnie! I’m supposed to be going to Alaska next summer and I would love to see the Aurora Borealis!


I lived in Fairbanks and traveled all over the state (including going to a few villages in ‘the bush’). The tundra, a little north of Fairbanks, is absolutely incredible to behold in the autumn: the blueberry bushes (and other very small bushes) that carpet the floor of the tundra turn almost any color imaginable and are set against various shades of golden leaves which are in turn held up by birch trees clothed in chalky-white bark, and if your lucky there’s even a snow-capped mountain in the Brooks range in the distance (I think the range is called the Brooks). I’ll never forget it.

Obviously, I loved Alaska. Thanks for asking. : )


Invader- The Aurora Borealis is best viewed in the months of Feb., March, Sept. and Oct.. (watch out for mosquitos in the Summer before September, be prepared!!!)


I would love to see this in this lifetime!


Those pictures are beautiful. Is the picture of the Aurora at Chena Hot Springs (I think it’s about 25 minutes outside of Fairbanks)? That’s a hot spot (pun intended) for viewing the Aurora Borealis, away from the city lights, and all. And, yes, the mosquitos really are bigger in Alaska.


Thanks for sharing


bonnie you are a dear and i am glad you enjoyed this! a dib for garret and mandala for this wonderful tea!


SimpliciTEA- I didn’t take that picture, I have only a few original Alaska pictures because my ex-husband has the rest on his computer and it’s been hard to get them from him. The link above has some Chena Hot Springs pics. That photo is on Wikipedia and you can the video if you go down the page to the right. I saw the Aurora outside North Pole Alaska which was quite dark. When I left Alaska a week later,I saw the Northern Lights again from the Airplane. That was cool! The Moose and Fall pictures are mine. The 2 going towards Valdez (mountains) are where I traveled but not in the Fall.
The tundra with the purple, red and green was gorgeous!


Thank, Bonnie. I appreciate your bringing this up because it brings back lots of wonderful memories for me. I’m glad you had a chance to view the amazing colors of the tundra in autumn as well.

Terri HarpLady

Tandem Poetry on the boardwalk, now THAT’s my cup of tea! Beautiful review, as always, Bonnie!

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