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Recent Tasting Notes
This is unlike any milk oolong that I have ever had before. The dry leaf smells heavily of butter and toffee and is very pleasant! I brewed it gongfu style, 1 tsp in a 120mL gaiwan at 195F initially for 15 seconds and then adding 10-20 seconds with each subsequent steep. The wet leaf’s butter and toffee scent is more subtle and vegetal notes are more prominent. The tea itself tastes buttery smooth with just a hint of coconut at the end. I was hoping to develop more flavors with subsequent steepings but maybe my tea palette isn’t well-developed yet. Regardless, this is a wonderful tea!
Flavors: Butter, Coconut, Smooth, Vegetal
Sweetness, bitterness then sweetness then bitterness. Switness always stronger that bitterness (in fact bitterness is just a cherry on the top, its hardly noticeable in between all of the floral notes). Apricotish. With beautifull golden up to light brown colour. Chilling and relaxing. Sitting in old chair and enjoying the breathtaking view. Sleeping. Dreaming of summer. Those are my expressions when drinking it. Very long peach and apricot aftertaste. Beautifull smell which reminds me blooming grass. Awesome.
Flavors: Apricot, Citrusy, Flowers, Peach
I feel bad. I totally had this one yesterday but omg was work insane, so i didn’t get a chance to track anything. I am a fan of drinking this one a little more western style over the course of the day. I’ll be sad when i finish these up, but also happy since it means i’m working on drinking up my puerh!
I KNOW that i’ve had this before. Strange that there’s no review on them. Either way, i opted to pull this one out as one of my older/smaller amount puerhs to try and get at least ONE puerh this week. this one has started out smooth, slightly smokey and a little dark. This should be a nice treat today :)
This is one of the oldest teas in my cupboard (in terms of when I bought it, not the year).
Looks like I never left a review on it either!
It was pretty good. Two quick rinses and then 1st brew was fruity, no bitterness. 2nd infusion was the best. Really creamy on that one along with the fruitiness. Then the creaminess fell off pretty quick and it was just fruity. Not bad but it doesn’t last many infusions. I am quite happy with that since I can never go more than 6 infusions anyway.
Flavors: Creamy, Fruity
Garret generously gave me 3 samples with my last order and this was one of them. I wish I had ordered some of this dragonwell! It’s juicy & fruity, slightly nutty, and sweet. I had a dragonwell I bought last year that didn’t live up to my expectations so I was a bit hesitant to try another dragonwell. This one is so good! I would have loved to try it when it was even fresher.
Flavors: Fruity, Nutty, Sweet
While trying to get through my sample stash, I had came upon this one from the old sample box that LP had sent a few months ago. I apparently hadn’t finished the samples from the box (there are four more remaining which must’ve been more than a session’s worth at the time).
I must say that this reminded me a lot of pipe tobacco. It mostly reminded me of the pipe itself after it hasn’t been smoked from in months and months. The pipe has that slight subtle note of tobacco, but has lost that once dominant odor/smell/flavor. I’m guessing that this must’ve been a smoky sheng once upon a time, but has ceased to be the smoky tea like it had been. Now, you only get the reminder that it once was something smoky, but currently remains as the reminder of something that once was….
This is a luxurious tea, that would pair well with a bubble bath, or sitting by a fireplace reading a book.
I brewed this in my ruyao 100ml gaiwan, with 5 grams which was plenty as this tea is packed with flavor! I have brewed this with both 208 F and lower temperatures (180) and have leafed it as high as 8g per 100ml. I find that making it the way I did this time (5g/100ml/180F) brings out the best qualities of the tea.
Mandala’s Big Red Robe is pretty steady throughout steeps, and doesn’t really change it up much besides fading to a gentler taste at the end of the session. However, this doesn’t take points away from it. This is a tea for easygoing sessions, a stroll along a beach instead of a roller coaster ride.
The sweet honey fruit taste, like peach juice and spices (cinnamon? clove?) is luxurious with a thick feeling coating my tongue on each sip. The flavor lasts quite long after each sip, lingering a while before fading to ready you for the next sip. The sweetness is strong with a spicy quality to it, and has a warming quality as well. The nose carries on the sweetness almost pushing it, being a little edgy in the sweetness, before relaxing back again.
Not a very complex tea (that is, tea which has a flavor that changes steep by steep), but not every tea needs to be. Mandala’s Big Red Robe holds its own against more complex teas with its rich texture, spicy sweet taste, and long lingering aroma. A tea for relaxation, contemplation, and unwinding after a long day.
EDIT: After watching Mei Leaf’s video on Da Hong Pao on youtube, who recommends brewing da hong pao at high heat I brewed this again at 6g/100ml/208F which brought out some different qualities. Very chocolatey, brown sugar, cooked fruit like cherries when you make jam, very juicy, still has that lingering aroma, and a taste that washes back and coats the tongue after each sip, a little bit of astringency but very very light, some charcoal smell on the gaiwan lid, forefront taste is mineral like stone or concrete (this was subtle brewing at a lighter temperature so I didn’t notice it especially compared to the very strong taste on the nose). Over all this fits with the description of a very high quality da hong pao as described by Don at Mei Leaf.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Mineral, Peach
A very shiny buddy tea! The small golden tendrils give off a faint baked bread aroma with some salted caramel and malt. I am not big on Dianhong, but I do like the gold buds. I warmed my bowl up and slipped some inside. The aroma expands into some dark cherry, cocoa, and a woody tang. I washed once and sipped away. This is a good red tea, for it lies somewhere in between bitter/woody and sweet/cocoa. It has a good malt base with some woodiness but with a sooth baked bread taste. The astringent tone is just slight, and it shows up in the aftertaste. The next steeping brings on some yam notes with a wood shaving dryness. The tea is decent. I am more keen to the flavor sweet bombs, but this is still a fair tea.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Burnt Sugar, Caramel, Cherry, Cocoa, Malt, Wood, Yams
I’ve had this for some time, so I picked it out of the rucksack to steep out. The leaf has long delicate tendrils with no discernible scent. It was incredibly light, so I couldn’t quite place what I was sniffing, but I would say a light hay-y aroma. I brought out one of my English tea pots and brewed away. The taste was nice and subtle. I am not a huge fan of white tea, but this one was decent. The liquor is a rusted orange with a slight earth green aroma. The taste is smooth, light, and sweet with tones of hay, cane sugar, vanilla, and wood. Also, this brew has a delicious base of lemon grass that follows to the nose. I liked this tea, and it was an interesting steeper.
Flavors: Hay, Lemongrass, Smooth, Sugarcane, Sweet, Vanilla, Wood
I finally pulled this out from my cupboard, mostly to get rid of it and drink it by sheer force of will alone. I had gotten a sample around a year to a year and a half ago, and like all ripe pu’s I didn’t like it as they all tasted very “samey” to me. Turns out I had taken someone’s well meaning advice and had been following it unwittingly this entire time. That is, brewing ripe pu’s at near boiling (208-212 F). Apparently this completely blows all the subtle flavor out of a ripe pu ehr, hence why I’ve been thinking they all taste the same!
I had basically been doing the same as blasting a steak until it was well done, then wondering why people rave about steak so much, when it just tastes bland to me.
Well, this time I brewed at 190 F, and brought this pu down to a “medium rare” equivalent, and boy does it make this tea shine.
Throughout brewing, this tea has a woody, wet earth, mushroom taste at the forefront, immediately followed by the most delicious nose I’ve ever had in a tea before.
Cinnamon, butter, sweet sugariness, walnut… all at once, layered on top of each other, like eating a cinnamon bun taken straight from the oven. In later steeps this takes on a more sweet taste throughout, with the earthiness relaxing a bit into a more molasses cookie in a forest after a rain flavor, and more of that cinnamon bun flavor on breathing out after a sip.
The taste doesn’t linger long, and there’s no astringency and very little bitterness.
I’d have to experiment more to see how long this pu could last after a rough session, but I have a feeling this would hold up to a lot of resteeps without losing its charm.
I’ll definitely have to see if I can get a hold of a cake (or two, or three…) as it is well worth it.
This pu is a real charmer, and an absolute gem.
Here’s to pleasant surprises, and learning from mistakes.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Molasses, Mushrooms, Vanilla, Walnut, Wet Wood
First, an apology to anyone who reads my musings (no, hecklers, not for their quality). I had a lengthy bout of congestion and other such complaints this winter, and didn’t want to post tea reviews that would be equivalent to movie critiques by someone watching a heavily occluded drive-in screen from a block away and making up their own dialogue. I wouldn’t class my reviews as being from someone who fully understands or appreciates the teas in full before putting electrons to “paper”, but I at least require one legitimate session before offering an opinion, even though I needn’t fear that I hold any notable sway over public opinion.
So, on to this tea. It was a rather humbling experience trying to suss out the correct way to describe it. This is due to a phenomenon everyone I know seems to exhibit, although whether it is an American trait or more universal to human nature I do not know.
The trouble I have with this tea is, it’s perfectly fine. It’s thoroughly acceptable. It’s quite all right.
But this is damning it with faint praise, is it not? I know if I asked someone whose opinion I trusted to describe the food at a new restaurant and they described it as “all right”, I wouldn’t go. If a movie is “fine”, I don’t need to see it. I only want the amazing, the truly noteworthy. I was sipping steep 16 of this, a plant someone grew almost a decade ago nearly half a world away, and it was enjoyable, but all I could think of was thicker liquor, longer lasting flavor, and evoking deeper feelings.
I have no more of this, and perhaps for the sake of the tea, that is best. May you find yourself in a more salubrious situation next time, leaves, and not with someone who views your merits as if through the haze of your namesakes. I hope I will become a more attentive drinker from this experience, and then I will look back on you more fondly than your otherwise limited charms may have merited.
Another small sample out of the Puerh TTB! Brewed 4g up in handy 60mL gaiwan. After really enjoying the 2015 Reprise cake, I was interested to try the OG Wild Monk that people seem to have raved about. The dry leaves had a bit of a smoky aroma to them, which only intensified after a rinse. There was also some fruity and perhaps woody notes to the leaf aroma.
There was a bit of smoke to the first two steeps, but it wasn’t unpleasant. Other than the smoke, those two steeps had a bit of a fruity finish and were thick and creamy in the mouth, leaving a bit of a tingling sensation on my tongue.
By the third steep, the smoke was gone, replaced by a few different flavors which interplayed nicely. There was a hint of cinnamon, along with the fruity sweetness. The fruity notes weren’t intensely peach or apricot or anything, but were pretty laid back. By the fifth steep, I was also getting a bit of a sugary sweetness in the front of the sip.
This tea had some pretty powerful qi – even with the small amount, I was really feeling it by this point in the tea session. Felt pretty tipsy and fuzzy-headed. In terms of flavor, this tea really hit its stride around steep six as well. A great balance of bitterness and sweetness. There is just a touch of mouth-drying going on, but not too bad at all. I tasted fruity and light aromatic woody notes in the tea. This flavor carried on through another eight or more steeps – so I got a decent amount out of that little 4g sample!
I can see why people were excited about this tea – it’s definitely a good one. Very balanced flavors and hard-hitting qi. Hopefully Mandala makes it back online soon, though I’m fairly certain this tea was already gone beforehand.
Flavors: Fruity, Smoke, Sweet, Wood
Randomly pulled this out of the stash and rinsed it nicely and noticed it had a strong aroma. Rinsed it a second time just because I am use to really smooth sheng at this point.
First steep was rough. Second steep was harsh. Third steep was me wondering why I’m so forgiving.
Ended it there. Quite bitter for a 4 year old tea since this is from 2012.Mine came right off of the cake too so either I am realllly spoiled with sheng or this is just a punch in the mouth and I’m not a masochist.
Pulled a small sample of this out of the Puerh TTB when it was here. This tea is awesome. I can see how some people would not be a fan, but I certainly enjoyed it. The dry leaf had a bit of a sour raisin smell with a bit of a floral lean to the aroma. After a rinse, I smelled just a lick of smoke along with spiced fruit bread.
This tea is BITTER, but hot damn is is a good bitter. Probably one of the most bitter teas I’ve tasted – it was a strong and “clean” bitterness – I didn’t find it astringent or unpleasant. A little surprising at first, sure, but fantastic once I was expecting it. I’d describe it as an herbal or mineral, or perhaps medicinal bitterness. Maybe reminiscent of quinine really. Of course the bitterness wasn’t all this tea had going for it either. After that sharp tang of the bitterness left the mouth, the tea had a rather sweet fruity finish, eventually tasting a bit like peach, but more the rind than the fruit. If I increased the steep times too quickly, it got a bit of an off flavor, but doing flash steeps for most of the session lets this tea go a good 15 steeps or so, which is pretty awesome. The bitter note that I really liked was basically omnipresent in this tea – only started to fade as the tea itself was on its last legs.
This is a great tea for those who like bitter flavors – if you don’t like bitterness, this one would probably be awful to you.
Flavors: Bitter, Fruity, Peach
Great thermos. Unfortunately I broke mine recently. Really my own fault. Dropped the darn thing on a tile floor. Bought a silly replacement and I now appreciate how great the mandala one was. With my new one I get a lot of tea buildup around the ‘strainer’ (not sure if that’s the real name for it) as it’s slanted inwards. Never had this issue with my mandala thermos. I had a few colleagues at work that enjoyed tea or I turned onto tea and they were constantly asking to borrow it simply as a brewing vessel. Great quality, just don’t drop it like I did! Price was high from mandala, but I’d rather pay that again than be stuck with the one I have now!