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Recent Tasting Notes
Gongfu Sipdown (613)!
I finished off this tea sample, which was one of two free samples with my last Mandala order, last week – and I was really excited to try it as well because I’ve really not tried a lot of Mandala’s oolong offerings outside of their Jin Shuan/Milk Oolong – certainly not any of their roasted oolongs.
I recall, quite distinctly, really enjoyed the tea and I know that I completely brewed out the tea leaf until I was basically just drinking cups of water – but I actually don’t remember anything about how it tasted!? This is unfortunately one of those teas that has fallen prey to my forgetful memory over the course of the week, and I sadly didn’t leave myself any clues on instagram to jog my memory of the flavour…
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnWwyRdKfxw
I really enjoy their green Colored Species oolong but my tummy lately has been favoring roasted oolongs. Seems like the greener the tea, the more my tummy hurts. :( I was brought up with mainly green tea and matcha, basically what I drank for years and now when I drink them (unless I’m on a full stomach), it’s like battery acid. Ugh. So, having said that… I’m glad that I got into oolong and even more glad that I can enjoy roasted oolongs with no tummy aches. ^^
Back to this new Mandala tea… It’s very good. I like it much better than the green Colored Species. I’ve had it as recommended 1 tsp per 8 oz 200F, 30 sec, then add 10 sec each subsequent infusion up to 3 minutes and I’ve had it gongfu style: Gaiwan, 6g, 110ml, 200F, 10 steeps, rinse, 5s, 10s, 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 1m, 1m15s, 1m30s, 2m.
I prefer it much better gongfu style. The wet leaves have a very strong roasted aroma that lasted the entire time. The flavor seems to last much longer gongfu style. I get a fuller and more satisfying taste. Lots of nice notes that I favor in roasted oolongs are present… Roasted nuts, sugar cane, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and later some minerals, a little smoke. Like the green Colored Species, there is a little tartness that plays on the sides of my tongue and it has many notes of that version as the steeps progressed.
I like this. :)
Flavors: Cinnamon, Mineral, Nutmeg, Roasted, Roasted nuts, Smoke, Spices, Sugarcane, Vegetal
Zhang Ping Shui Xian, grown on Wuyi mountain in Fujian but so different from the roasted Wuyi Rock Oolongs in that it’s not heavily oxidized or roasted. I think it’s one of the few, if not the only, oolong that is compressed into shapes. It’s in a 10-gram compressed square, vacuumed sealed, and each in its own package. The pretty dry brick smelled like bread and orchids. It was easy to break apart. I split mine in two. This time gongfu and next time grandpa style. The liquor is a bright orange gold-ish color and has a floral aroma with a strong floral taste, a little sweetness of honey. It has a clean mouthfeel, no slickness present but has a smooth texture.
I don’t particularly like too floral oolongs, but if you love floral oolongs, this one is for you. It’s very fresh, bright, refreshing. It begins as a mild and light taste but then progresses to a stronger floral & honey tea.
Yixing teapot, 195˚F, 110ml, 9 steeps: 5s rinse, 20s, 25s, 30s, 35s, 40s, 45s, 50s, 55s, 60s
Flavors: Baked Bread, Floral, Honey, Orchids
I received another sample of this in my last order so yippee, I get to try their Iron goddess charcoal roasted again. I enjoyed it just like I did the first time, and I didn’t over-steep like last time. :P
The wet dark leaves had a slight charcoal, roasted, floral aroma and a type of sweetness. This time in the later steeps, I actually smelled the onions, sweet caramelized onions. I know I said I wasn’t much for charcoal roasted things but more and more I think I prefer the Iron Goddess in charcoal roasted form versus green, the full-bodied roasted taste with sweet notes is more soothing to my stomach, more comforting. Comforting is always a good thing.^^ Complex taste profile, warm aroma, along with a good balance makes this a recommended tea.
Yixing teapot, 7g, 200˚ F, 130ml, 10 steeps: 5s rinse, 25s, 35s, 45s, 55s, 65s, 75s, 85s, 95s, 105s, 115s
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Floral, Honey, Raisins, Roasted, Spices, Toasty
This is the last of my Iron Goddess Charcoal Roasted Oolong from Mandela. I’m not really into charcoal anything, even Burger King hamburgers hehe. Having said that, I would take any charcoal roasted oolong over a charcoal hamburger any day… And well, I did enjoy this sample very much.
The aroma is interesting, it’s definitely the roasted aroma that one smells whenever you sample charcoal roasted teas but it has hints of cinnamon and other spices. Kind of reminded me of this one coffee (Mexico’s Cafe De Olla) with the cinnamon and light piloncillo notes. Mandela’s description is one of raisins and sweet caramelized onions so maybe that is where those notes actually come from. I couldn’t detect the onions at all. I did over steep on the 4th infusion (cry) and so that may be why. A good opportunity missed again.^^
Overall I enjoyed this tea. It is mellow, smooth and lightly sweet with a good finish.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Burnt Sugar, Cinnamon, Honey, Raisins, Roasted, Spices, Toast
An interesting tea. I received this as a sample but had been eyeing this type of tea before and was unsure of whether or not to take the leap. Gongfued and started out with a 20 second steep at 195-200F, move to 30 seconds, 1 minute and then 2-5 minutes in the later steeps at 200F.I will say that I thought this would be a little more ‘smoky’ (a flavor I happen to like) but there is nothing of that in the actual tea; it is sweet with a starchy, roasted presence generally speaking . I would probably avoid this as a ceremonial tea due to how offensive the leaves smell when the hot water hits them but otherwise a great little oolong that I would order again. It maintains a nice mustardish color through all of the steeps ( I did 6). Overall mild smoothness, no bitter notes that I could detect.
It starts off with very noticeable honey notes intertwined with a roasted flavor, the honey trickling through throughout. Again, the actual leaves (not the tea itself) smell awful, strongly burnt dates /molasses throughout the 6 steeps. Would not advise smelling them; probably the worst I have encountered. Probably to be expected due to how this tea is made though.
With the 2nd steep , roasted flavor comes out to the front a bit more the honey notes die off somewhat. They are still there but more to the back.
3rd steep: honey notes come back, the roasted flavor emerges as the main body of this tea; subtle apple undertones.
4th: 2 min. steep A thick roasted nut flavor barges out front to take the lead with a subtle creme brulee burnt sugar taste (the good kind of burnt) now trailing it with a crisp mouthful finish and lingering honey notes. I would say this is probably my favorite state of this tea, nice complexity.
5th steep: 3-5 minute steep at 200ish F. roasted flavor dies off quickly, the sweetness is left over and is more floral but the actual specific flavors are not as
tangible now. Goes pretty weak after this steep and just has a light mild roast flavor. Still drinkable as of the 6th steep but nothing worth recording as the complex flavors have all died off at this point. Finished at the 7th steep mark but had to spike it pretty good to reach that point. Surprisingly this tea left those crisp apple notes lingering well after I had stopped drinking it. Wonderful.
Flavors: Honey, Roasted, Sugar
Got a small 5g sample of this in a larger order.
1st-2nd Steep: I get some notes of wood, charcoal and less so honey on the swallow.
3rd-5th Steep: Some flavor of root vegetables come in. Particularly carrot.
6th-9th Steep: The sweetness comes back stronger and the charcoal gets more fiery.
10th & Beyond: Stays similar and slowly fades out.
Good solid tea and highly recommended.
Flavors: Carrot, Char, Honey, Wood
Thank you mtchyg for this sample! I started a new page for this as it is from a Mandala mini tuo sampler pack and the only page for a similar tea on Steepster is from Yunnan Sourcing (I borrowed their picture for now as it looks just the same).
These little ingots are pretty cool looking, and I suppose they might bring you good fortune if you believe in luck. I could use some, so I’ll play along. :3
The scent of this little shou Puer ingot after a rinse reminds me of dew on tall grass and brush on a cool summer night. Pretty specific, I know, but it’s a similar scent, hints of mud and foliage. As the wet leaves cool, they smell like root beer. As for the taste, yes I’m also getting some subtle similarities with root beer, particularly I’m tasting burdock root. It’s light and rather sweet starting off, a hint of metallic flavor. Tastes a bit like dried medjool dates as well.
I have to tell you, I was somewhat expecting this to be a throw-away. I figured the ingot shape and gold foil were the selling point, since good Puer doesn’t need any such novelties to sell. Let me tell ya. I’m pretty impressed with this tea by the second infusion. It is still rather sweet, smooth, and full-flavored. Flavors are similar to the first infusion but more pronounced. There are some hints of mud and cocoa in the finish. The burdock note is still prominent.
Texturally, this tea seems a little… “gritty” which is a weird way to describe it since I’ve filtered it pretty fine so there isn’t any particulate floating around in it. It isn’t drying… it just seems a bit coarse in a way. However is more of an after-effect. It goes down smooth. The taste on the third infusion is still really nicely sweet and full-flavored. Similar flavors again.
Infusion four has a smoother texture, and the sweet flavor is more mellow now. The flavor profile really hasn’t changed much. It’s consistent and good. I’m getting more of the same on the fifth infusion. This tea is very, very tightly compressed and I think you could steep this thing probably 20 or 30 times before you’d lose flavor, to be honest. only about half of the ingot has broken apart by the fifth infusion. the center is still very solid.
I would rate this pretty highly where shou goes. It doesn’t have a very changing or complex flavor, but it’s a very good flavor, and on the sweet side. It’s not the cleanest tasting one out there, but way better than I expected it would be. As for the design, I suppose it could be festive for something like a Chinese New Year celebration?
Flavors: Dates, Mud, Root Beer, Sweet