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Recent Tasting Notes
Received this as a free sample. The dried leaves smelled vegetal. The light green wet leaves also had a pleasant vegetal aroma. The liquor is a pale yellow. According to their site, one can brew it strong and you’ll get a bold and nutty tea or can brew it light and get a crisp and light tea. Well, doidoi (my word for dummy hehe) me didn’t read that before I made it so I made it the typical 6g in 110 ml in a gaiwan, starting with a 25s infusion after a rinse. It’s pretty darn good green tea with a distinctive flavor. However I brewed it, I liked it. Vegetal, grass, stonefruits, umami, marine plants, nuts. So I did get a slightly nutty flavor but I also got the crisp and refreshing part so maybe I brewed it in the middle hehe. Good taste profile, and a good balance regarding bitterness and astringency.
Flavors: Apricot, Fruity, Grass, Marine, Nuts, Peach, Seaweed, Umami
Another Mandala oolong to try.^^ It’s medium to heavily roasted rock oolong from Fujian Province, China. It has a gorgeous golden-amber-orange liquor. The dry leaves are darkly roasted strips. The wet leaves are dark green with a nice aroma that consists of stonefruits, floral, roasted nuts along with a hint of vanilla.
It’s a full-bodied tea with flavors of roast, ripe stone fruit, floral, citrus (orange?), nuts, caramel, honey, minerals, vanilla. Again, I could not pick up the root vegetables, bah. I need to work on that… Maybe go eat a lot of yams or something. :P It is complex and has a long finish. This is my first time trying this and I liked it, but it was a bit too perfumey on the first few steeps, although overall, I’m not disappointed. I have more so I’ll be able to enjoy it again and see how I feel.
Porcelain gaiwan, 5g, 110ml, 195°F (ramped it up to 200 later), rinse, 9 steeps, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 1m5s, 1m15s, 1m25s, 1m35s, 1m45s
Flavors: Caramel, Citrusy, Honey, Mineral, Orange, Roast nuts, Roasted, Stonefruits, Tobacco, Vanilla
Long green strips, very pale liquor but a surprisingly strong tea, not mild and a long-lasting sweet finish. This reminded me of some Chinese chestnut teas when I was a kid. It’s creamy mouthfeel/throat feel is comforting with umami, honey, chestnuts, floral, vegetal notes.
Porcelain gaiwan, 5g, 110ml, 175˚F, 15s, 18s, 21s, 24s, 27s
Flavors: Butter, Chestnut, Creamy, Floral, Honey, Nuts, Umami, Vegetal
A heavily oxidized tea, long dark twisted strips that have a roasted aroma. The wet leaves are medium to dark green and like the amber liquor, it has a lovely roasted aroma as well. It’s balanced, full-bodied tea and is very smooth, with chocolate, wood, malt notes, slight minerals and a consistent roasted flavor throughout all the steeps. Nice finish. No bitterness. Very soothing, calming. I haven’t found a Mandala Oolong that has disappointed me.
Yixing teapot, 6g, 130ml, 212°F, rinse, 9 steeps, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 1m5s, 1m15s, 1m25s, 1m35s, 1m45s
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Malt, Mineral, Nuts, Roasted, Roasted nuts
A heavily oxidized tea and the dried form consists of long twisted, dark strips with a nice roasted, chocolate, maybe some nuts aroma. The wet leaves are a dark green and the liquor is a medium dark amber. It’s a smooth, full-bodied cup of tea with a dark chocolate malt taste without the bitterness, very light mineral feel compared to others, fruity but I can’t place it this time around (surprise surprise lol :P). Subtle sweet due to the dried fruit, not sugary. It leaves a pleasant coat on my tongue, with a long lasting finish of rich roast.
Yixing teapot, 5g, 140ml, 212°F, rinse, 9 steeps, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 1m5s, 1m15s, 1m25s, 1m35s, 1m45s
Note: Next time I’ll have to add more if I’m going to use this Yixing pot. I feel like I got a bit of a watered down version and the way I prepared it probably didn’t do this rich tea justice.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Malt, Roast nuts, Roasted
I prepared in a 110ml porcelain gaiwan at ~200F, 5g, rinse, 10 steeps – 10/13/16/19/22/25/28/31/34/37.
Dry leaves are dark green and light green, has a woodsy aroma. Light pale amber liquor. I got it on sale and I’m glad I did, it’s a delicious sheng… To me, it was like a step up in boldness from some delicate shengs with many of the same notes. Being just a bit bolder makes it a great “I’m in the mood” for this type of sheng.
Some seaweed, marine, floral, wood, smoke notes. It’s complex as it evolves steep to steep. On the 4th steep on, a little drying on my tongue going on. It wasn’t overwhelmingly bitter to me at all. It’s delicious and pepped me up some hehe.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Citrus, Floral, Honey, Smoke, Spices, Stonefruits, Wet Wood, Wood, Yams
I’m a sheng over shou Pu’er person and I particularly like this type. It didn’t let me down. I had it before bed last night and unfortunately, it outlasted me. zzzzz. It still had a lot of flavor after the 15th steep. The dry leaves smell earthy, a pretty silver/gold/brown coloring. It began with stonefruit and apple notes which continued throughout. The apple got lighter as I progressed, it was loaded with many stonefruit notes, like apricots-peaches, slight honey-like notes and at the latter end of the infusions, floral notes became more pronounced. It’s pleasantly sweet but never got syrupy, became slightly but pleasantly astringent at the 9th steep. It had a long-lasting finish. Stayed with me until I brushed my teeth for bed :P.
Porcelain gaiwan, 5g, 200˚ F, 15 steeps: rinse, 10s, 13s, 16s, 19s, 22s, 25s,28s, 31s, 34s, 37s, 40s, 43s, 46s, 49s, 52s
Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Floral, Honey, Mineral, Peach, Stonefruits
The liquor has a bright amber-ish color. It’s aromatic with a light orchid and strong honey aromas. The tea leaves are dark green. I was reading the interesting story behind this Hu’s tea “The Big Dark Leaves” on Mandala’s site while sampling this. How Mr. Hu saved the ancient tea trees during the 2008 financial crisis. Pretty interesting stuff. ^^
Back to the tea hehe… Although the aroma was a strong wild honey smell, the taste of honey was light, delicate. Very mellow floral, wood, sweet notes. I enjoyed the first and the 4th steep but the 2nd and the 3rd were very bitter. My dad, if he was alive, would have loved it, it reminded me of this “delicious” soup he used to make, made of bittermelon. I ate everything he cooked except that soup lol, no matter how much he tried to gaslight me saying how “delicious” it was. He was born and raised in the Philippines so he cooked all of their authentic dishes but that was the only one that I could not eat, no matter how much rice I put in it.
So this tea isn’t for me, although I’m generally a sheng over shou type of Pu’er person. It’s just a little too bitter. If I ever get another sample, I’ll try to lower the temperature and play around with the brew & see if I can make those honey notes sing instead of the bitter notes.
Yixing gaiwan, 7g, 205F, 15/25/35/45 and debating to continue. :P
Flavors: Bitter, Honey, Orchid
Ahh, last one. I really enjoyed this little variety package. I believe it is the “Temple Stairs 2014 Ripe Pu’er Mini Tuocha” based on the wrapper. It weighed 4.5g and I put it in 110 ml boiling water. I steeped it many times (I was busy so I just kind of counted), more than 10 times at least. The liquor was very dark, like coffee. It was a smooth earthy comforting flavor with brown sugar or/and honey notes. No heavy leather taste… Just a delightful, many many cups of mellow but rich tea.
Update: Sorry typed the wrong sample name and corrected it.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Creamy, Hay, Honey, Leather, Sweet, Vanilla
Three more remaining. Kept the little wrappers and am still trying to match them to product. I think it’s a great way to try ripe Pu-erh. I “think” I’m getting used to the leather taste. By the 3rd or 4th steep, I enjoy it much more.
The one I’m trying right now is the Lao Cang Ripe Mini Tocha. I think lol. Update: I liked this one, as it progressed it really mellowed to a sweeter (not sugary), creamier tea. I stopped after the 8th steep which is when the flavor dropped off.
One mini tuocha, 212˚F, 8 steeps: rinse, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 65s, 75s, 85s, 95s
Signed a ripe Pu-erh noob.
Flavors: Hay, Leather, Sweet
10 mini-touchas in the 2 oz bag. I can match 3 or 4 with some on their site but not the others so I have no idea what I’m drinking hehe. I’ve sampled 3 of them so far and so far they are all good ripe pu’er. I wouldn’t mind having a bag of this around all the time because of the ease of it. I just have to pop one in my gaiwan. I’ve tried a variety mini-toucha bag from eBay once and they weren’t of good quality at all. I just wish it came with a way to identify them so I know which one I can buy more of it if it’s a favorite.
I had a good experience with the Mandala’s mixed mini tuocha sampler so I ordered the Rice Scented Ripe Mini Tuocha but got Lao Cang Ripe Mini Tuocha instead. No biggy. Mandala has been very good to me.
It came in a small bag, full of cute, compressed little bowl-shaped mini tuocha cakes. Each individually wrapped, one serving. I’ll be going to California for business soon, and I’ll probably bring these along with me.
The aroma is mainly hay, with a very mild leather aroma. The liquor is super dark, looks like rich coffee, like espresso. The flavor is far better than the aroma (opposite of the last tea I sampled hehe). It’s very soothing, rich, sweet and smooth. Not too much leather, and a bit of honey sweetness but very light. I wouldn’t classify this as a complex Pu-erh by no means (huge caveat: remember my identifying flavor/smell skills though haha), but more like a daily pu erh sipper due to the mellowness. It may be a good starter for those trying ripe pu erh too.
1 mini tuocha, 212˚F, 110ml, 7 steeps: rinse, 10s, 15s, 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, 40s
Flavors: Hay, Honeysuckle, Leather
Started this morning with Mandala’s Golden Turtle. I prefer this in the afternoon more due to the tanginess. I’ve enjoyed this since I received it, and I decided to really focus, even got out my aroma cup hehe and see if I can taste/smell more than I usually do. I think my log is more one of laughing at myself, seriously. lol
I love reading the reviews of a certain tea, and then try to see if I can pick that taste out. I read an excellent review of it on the net and I couldn’t pick out some of the notes it mentioned: Vanilla, butterscotch, marshmallow. /cry lol. However, this lightly oxidized oolong, light to medium tightly rolled up green balls is a really good cup of tea. The wet leaves have a citrusy, tart aroma. The golden liquor has a crisp, smooth, and a slightly dry finish. It’s TGY-ish vegetal, tangy, citrusy, and some nutty notes. Recommended for TGY fans. I think you’d enjoy it if you like tangy and creamy smoothness. ^^
Porcelain gaiwan, ~195°F, 5g, 110ml, 9 steeps, 15s, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 1m05s, 1m15s, 1m25s, 1m35s
Flavors: Citrusy, Nuts, Smooth, Sweet, Tangy, Vegetal
I had quite a heavy dinner, a taco salad with lots of salsa and guacamole.
So now, I’m just chillin’ and am enjoying this “sticky rice pu’er tea” tonight. It’s rich, although not too much depth because after the 4th infusion, the majority of the rich flavor is gone but the rest of the infusions are still flavorful, just a much lighter flavor. It’s earthy, leather notes but not too overwhelming, and that’s a good thing for me because I don’t like the heavy leather taste. It’s a little nutty, has brown sugar notes throughout with a very light sweet finish. Not sugary sweet. Some dark chocolate notes (especially in the beginning) could be sugarcane sweetness, not sure and then transforms into a more creamy light milk sweetness on the 4th or 5th steeping. Throughout the steepings is a very delicate glutinous rice scent that I love. It’s a good balance but I wouldn’t mind even more of the sticky rice flavor personally.^^
Porcelain gaiwan, 5g, 212˚ F, 7 steeps: rinse, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 65s, 75s, 85s
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Butter, Earth, Hay, Leather, Milk, Nutty, Rice, Toasted Rice
Talk about root overload hehe. I’m eating a big bowl of congee with tons of ginger and been drinking Ginseng oolong along with it.
After I finished my Ginseng Oolong sample, I had bought some more so I can enjoy it often. Nothing really to add to my previous review except it is a really good Ginseng Oolong and once the little nuggets open up, you get steeps of really good Oolong.
Porcelain gaiwan, 6g, 110 ml, 10 steeps, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 1m5s, 1m15s, 1m25s, 1m35s, 1m45s, 1m55s
Free sample. Yippee. ^^
I used 3g in 110 ml with a 10-second rinse with just under boiling water. I started with four 30-sec infusions. Even by the 5th infusion, the leaves had not quite completely unfurled. As I continued on, increasing steeping time, the ginseng little by little dissolved and the tea leaves fully opened releasing oolong goodness.
It has a delicate light roasted aroma. I’m still not sure what type of oolong it is, it is high-quality though. I really liked the taste, am glad I saved half the sample for another go later this week. Other ginseng teas I’ve tried can be slightly bitter. This one is not. It has a nice earthy natural sweetness, no bitterness detected at all. Not sure if it’s American ginseng or Asian ginseng. Probably Asian ginseng since it gave me energy vs a sleepiness/calming sensation. It had multiple flavorful steeps. Towards the end, I got a powdery feeling on the roof of my mouth, slightly drying.
3g, 208℉, 110 ml, 13 steeps: rinse 10s, 30s, 30s, 30s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 80s, 100s, 120s, 140s, 160s, 3m
Flavors: Ginseng, Root, Licorice, Vegetal
I’ve been regularly drinking Mandela Tea Milk Oolong (one of my faves) and also I have this 1 oz sample of this organic Jin Xuan. Their site says "subsequent additive-free processing makes for a delightfully aromatic and creamy cup (hence the moniker “milk”. This is an unscented/unflavored tea.") I like comparing things and I love their Milk Oolong. I think that one has some natural additives hence the coconut, toffee, pineapple notes in that one. I prefer their Milk oolong over this one, and it doesn’t have that fake additive taste that some milk oolongs have. Having said that, both are excellent.
The dry leave s are rolled in a tight little ball, smells sweet, floral and fruity. It has a pleasant, creamy taste but with more vegetal notes in comparison to their Milk Oolong. It has a creamy, buttery, comforting mouthfeel, and the light golden liquor has a floral, milky and vegetal aroma with the equivalent taste. It’s deep and complex although very mild throughout the steeps, as it changes adding some mild fruity notes. Long and pleasant aftertaste, so smooth with a great finish. Throughout the infusions, no bitterness detected… And although I prefer their regular Milk Oolong over this one, it is a good “pure” delicious Jin Xuan. I’m thinking maybe it would go well with some Yokan or mochi. hehe
Yixing gaiwan, 7g, 195℉, 7 steeps for now (still lots of flavor and will continue so that’s good it has lots of infusions): rinse, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 65s, 75s, 85s.
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral, Fruity, Sweet, Vegetal
Just an additional note to my previous review on this since I finished my order of this tonight. I really enjoyed it and will keep it on my cupboard. I hope some of you pros will review this since I’m far from having “absolute taste” hehe. There is so much here in these infusions and only know “This tastes so good” vs “Bleh”.
Having said that… This tastes so good. ^^
Speaking of " absolute taste" it reminds me of a series Alice in Paris (Amazon prime) which I adore where I learned the term. She discovers at a young age that she has the ability to detect ingredients in food. I’m far from it so thank you all for your reviews, it helps me so much what to look for when I do try the teas you all like.
Have a great night.^^
Flavors: Caramel, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Malt, Roasted, Spices