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Recent Tasting Notes
Even though I haven’t posted a review in quite a while, we’re still enjoy gung-fu Pu-erh (mostly Shou, some Sheng) every morning.
Today is something different, something special, something so special, I had to post a review. We’re enjoying our very last mugs of 2006 Special Dark using TheTeaFairy’s Western brewing method. 1 Tbsp. (5g) / 10oz / 212 / rinse / 5 min.
Rich, smooth, dark, warm, velvety, full-bodied, chocolatey, & relaxing – just perfect!
Zero bitterness, acidity, astringency, or any hint of fermentation flavor (as you’d expect in a 14 yr-old Shou) – just absolutely perfect!
Unfortunately, it’s N.L.A.( no longer available) & our bag is now empty :-(( – the end of an Era! God bless Garret & the wonderful Chinese people who grew it & made it!
Garret, any chance of S.D. 2.0?
Flavors: Dark Chocolate
So glad I included this in my last order. I really enjoy sheng Pu’er and the astringency that mellows over time. Not everyone’s taste, but I sure enjoy it. What amazes me is the progression of flavors through multiple steeps, and the aroma is just amazing.
Flavors: Dry Grass, Green Wood, Leather
It’s times like this that I think Puer isn’t for me. I like it on occasion, but it’s not something I’m super into. Most puer makes me think of a wet cave… in a good way. The flavors of this are pretty mellow and it’s nice, but it doesn’t excite me the way other types of tea do. I feel like there is a whole section of tea enjoyment I’m missing out on!
It’s been a while. I honestly forgot what shou tastes like.
I had only 2 steeps last night and was up for hours, packing up tea samples and writing letters, granted I used the whole 9g freebie Mandala sent in a 190mL clay pot. Longish steeps with this pot, which has a 10-12s pour. Finished the session this morning with 7 infusions total.
Dry leaf has notes of chocolate, leather, peat, a hint of smoke and tangy black current.
Aromas coming from warmed and rinsed leaf are of baked bread and the piquant, nose-tickling scents of fermenting sourdough and fruit. Compared to the warm and rinsed leaf aromas, which I found intriguing and pleasant, the tea is exceptionally smooth. Medium to light bodied, clean and initially cooling. Mostly tastes of minerals and damp basement (but not musty) in the beginning. Returning sweetness takes a bit to show. As the steeps lighten, I can pull notes of baked bread, leather, lightly sweet earth and a hint of camphor which is much more evident in the chest than in taste. The liquor develops a short-lived spicy, warming bite in the throat. Aroma transitions from the clean damp basement smell to light vanilla and cocoa.
Overall, this is a satisfying, easy-drinking clean brew that lies more along the savory line than sweet. It is relaxing as many good shou tend to be but it also possesses a smooth caffeine buzz for me. Another quality shou from Mandala, thanks!
Song pairing: Townes Van Zandt — Nothin’
Flavors: Baked Bread, Black Currant, Camphor, Chocolate, Cocoa, Earth, Leather, Mineral, Peat, Pleasantly Sour, Smoke, Spicy, Vanilla, Wet Wood
I wasn’t sure I liked this on first sip, but it’s grown on me as I’ve experimented with steeping times. I have brewed it with more leaf and longer steeping times to get 4 steeps out of it. It’s a subtle chocolate taste with some yeasty and nutty notes as well. I’m glad I tried it, but I think I prefer more robust flavors and a hint of astringency. For a soothing afternoon cup, it hits the spot and would go well with any holiday cookie!
Flavors: Butter, Chocolate, Nutty, Yeast
Received a free sample of this and oh, yum!
Busy day on a chilly overcast day, so I’m drinking this grandpa style. I saved a little to do it gongfu next time. This is so good that I may just grandpa it again.
First impressions: The leaves are awesome looking, long and thin, vibrant green. The liquor is virtually clear with a light greenish-yellow tint. Very creamy mouthfeel, almost buttery, when sipping but has a crisp ending. Because I just used a little of the sample, so I can gongfu it later, it was perhaps more light than usual. Maybe with more of a sample, I’ll get more umami or vegetal taste. I did get a little of that but not much. It was just a calming, delicate fruity taste, a twinge of lemon and other fruity notes with lemongrass notes, with no bitterness, really low astringency and slightly naturally sweet throughout. Highly recommended.
Flavors: Fruity, Grass, Lemon, Smooth
Thanks so much for sending me some of this, Cameron B!!! I always wanted to try it, so thank you. It couldn’t possibly work better! I had a basket infuser so encrusted with tea barnacles there was no way it was steeping tea properly. Scrubbing with a (new) sponge hardly changed the barnacles. SO all I did was pour a tiny bit of Smart Soak over the basket infuser in a mug, fill it with hot water, and left it for a couple days. The infuser and mug looked completely brand new. I also like that it mentions that it’s fine if you ingest the Smart Soak, so I don’t have to worry about weird chemicals. I will be using this Smart Soak for life, that is for sure.
Spring 2018 tea
I steep my white teas hotter than most of them call for at 205F. I find I like them better at the higher temperature. Time 2-3 min each steep.
I like this tea, but it’s not very complex. It’s soft and thick, heavy in the mouth. I get creamy lemon and some vanilla. I really enjoyed the creaminess of the tea. Taste is consistent throughout all three steeps.
Flavors: Creamy, Lemon, Thick, Vanilla
I’ve been a fan of Mandala Tea for a while now. It’s so strange that for some reason I never bought this until recently especially since I love GABA teas. It provides energy but also a feeling of being centered, you know, a peaceful state of mind which I felt was especially needed in the last few days. ^^
Ahh, the tea. The leaves are big dark leaves, the liquor is a golden clear amber. The taste is delicate but flavorful. It’s a light fruity black tea with baked bread and sourdough bread notes with delightful raisin, dried fruit notes. Malty, and maybe slightly tart here and there but I wouldn’t call it sour. The finish is malty, bready, slightly sweet of honey.
It began as a gongfu session and well, I screwed up big time lol. So I added water and continued with 1 min., 2 min., 3 min, 4 min. and a final 6 min. infusion with boiling water.
In other news: I spoke to my mother and she says that my brother is doing better so for that I’m glad especially since being a natural loner, my only real-life friends are my family who is states away at the moment. I will go to visit him in California soon. In the meantime, I have a tea-loving nephew who is taking up a lot of my time. hehe I hope you are all doing well. <3
Flavors: Baked Bread, Dried Fruit, Malt, Pastries, Pleasantly Sour, Raisins
Really nice flavors throughout the infusions. Sweet Potatoes, baked bread, sugar cane, dark cherry, hints of cocoa and caramel, malty, earthy, honey, mineral, and stonefruits. Slightly astringent.
Gaiwan 208 ˚ F, 110 ml, 6g, quick rinse, 6 infusions: 10s, 15s, 20s, 30s, 1 min., 2 min.
Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. :) I made a huge bowl of soup and watched The Irishman which I enjoyed and also The Crown Season 3. It sucks being away from my whole family who are in Southern California but I enjoy my peaceful evenings with games, knitting, and movies very much!
Flavors: Apricot, Baked Bread, Caramel, Cherry, Cocoa, Fruity, Honey, Malt, Sugarcane
Got this one as a sample. It was roasty and smooth, not anything to make it stand out from other Wuyi Oolongs. I bet this would go well with grandpa style brewing. I might stick with big red robe which is usually my Oolong of choice and was in my order from Mandala. This tea was just ok for me. The third steep was a lot less flavorful than the first two.
Flavors: Nutty, Roasted
This tea apparently has been around for a long time. I see reviews that date back 7 years ago. hehe My quick thoughts are that it was a delicious super roasted black tea. I drank it once the way Mandala suggested and gongfu cha style many times. Lots of notes of baked bread, dark cocoa, malt, dried fruit, stonefruits, chocolate, some mineral towards the end of the infusions. It was smooth and really easy to reach for and an easy sipdown. I’ll probably add this to my next order. I’m just now exploring their black teas since I enjoyed their oolongs and pu’erh tea very much.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Chocolate, Cocoa, Malt, Mineral, Muscatel, Roasted, Smooth, Stonefruits
Gongfu Sipdown (611)!
This was a free sample in my last Mandala Order, along with a roasted version of the tea. I had the roasted version last weekend and this was something I steeped up during the week. I actually expected, fully, to enjoy the roasted version a lot more than the greener version but I was just SO enamored by this tea – plus I actually remember what it tasted like; so I think this was the clear winner of the two.
I got around nine steeps from this – but that was pushing the envelope a little bit. I also paired it with the two Columbian mini mangoes that I got from the market. Those mangoes were the most amazing mangoes I have ever eaten; about the size of an egg, and just packed with very sweet, juicy, floral mango. I started with eating them while drinking the tea and the combo worked – but I did ultimately pause my session midway through to just finish the mangoes because they were SO GOOD that they needed to be appreciated all on their own.
Highly floral tasting oolong – most distinctly lilac. I used to have a lilac bush in my front yard, when I was a small, small kid living in Eyebrow, SK. I think I was like four or five years old. My favourite thing in the world was daintily picking the lilac petals off the bush and filling a mason jar with them, which I would then haul around with me to smell or feed to our labrador. Smelling the steeping leaves, after they’d initially opened up, REALLY put me right back to those childhood memories with the lilacs. In addition to tasting amazing, it was nostalgic as hell for me – and actually made me a little bit emotional.
Apart from that brilliant, full bodied and silky lilac note I also felt like there was a mix of orchid, gardenia, and elderflower to the infusions – but not as intensely as that lilac note. Very fresh, very “Springtime Flowers”. Mouthfeel was buttery/silky in general too; soft on the palate. There was a gentle sweetness throughout, but especially in early steeps before the florals hit their peak; sort of like a more delicate sugar cane note or a trace of the sweetness and coconut taste from coconut water. Very, very clean finish.
Mandala really knocks their greener oolongs out of the park – but this is something I probably wouldn’t have ordered for myself based on the description so I think I was just all the more impressed with how this sample steeped up. It was intoxicating, and lovely.
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kFvgaVmGC5o
(Something very peaceful about this song, but also a little haunting?)
This is a one off Sample provided to me by Mandala. I really don’t know what to expect with this tea though.
I brewed it 212F/2:30/12oz I don’t know how much was in the sample though but I used up the entire thing.
This one has an interesting flavor to it. I’m getting tobacco, cherry, and a bit of metallic flavor. Also there is some amount of Malt and Bitterness to it as well for the black tea itself. It’s certainly not a bad tea. It just has a different flavor to it. Good tea though. I’ll give it a rec.
Flavors: Bitter, Cherry, Malt, Tobacco
This is a sad sad sad sipdown. I finished this one off today with multiple cups whenever I had a spare moment from the kiddo. I need more of this in my cupboard as it’s a really delicious shu. I especially like that it irks well as a western brew when I need something a little stronger and deeper to get me going in the morning.