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Recent Tasting Notes
Got this in a puerh starter-package from LP quite a while ago. Used the whole 4.5g in a 100mL gaiwan. Aroma was kind of bitter vegetal with a hint of smoke – not enough to worry me or anything though.
First steep I got some vegetal bitterness and spiciness with apricot and slight wisp of smoke in the aftertaste. Next steep, the vegetal flavor reminded me more specifically of asparagus and the apricot afteraste got a little sweeter – same otherwise. Over the next couple steeps, the bitterness mostly left, and the fruitiness came to the fore with a light smoky aftertaste. The next 5 steeps or so were pretty consistent, with a distinct peach flavor followed by the same smoky aftertaste. The tea had pretty decent body to it. For these steeps it seriously tasted almost exactly like that Arizona Peach tea you can get in a can, but without the crazy sugar levels.
I got about a dozen good steeps off of this tea, and I did go decently light on the leaf. Not sure if it’s the same as the Wild Monk cakes currently available on Mandala’s site, but when I finally get around to making an order with them, I’ll be sure to at least get some more to try. This was pretty good.
I didn’t get much body feeling from this tea. The early steeps gave a slight buzzing feeling on the tongue, but other than that, no noticeable qi or anything for me. Possibly due to lighter leaf, but this one might just not possess those qualities.
Flavors: Fruity, Peach, Smoke, Spices, Vegetal
This is the first pu er cake I bought. Once I brewed it up and tasted it, I knew I had to have it!
Dry leaf: A sweet, grassy, hay or alfalfa like scent.
Brewed cup: Golden yellow. There is a sweet lemon taste throughout all infusions. I will post a more detailed review when I next drink it, for right now this is just a placeholder.
Flavors: Grass, Lemon
Trying to drink down my samples lately. Tried this one today. I didn’t do that many infusions but what I had was okay. There wasn’t much bitterness. It had a creamy mouth feel to it. Not much fruitiness/apricot which I like in my shengs. This is not one I would go and buy. Even though it was a decent cup of tea , it just wasn’t the best.
Today’s a rainy day, so I thought it’d be perfect to try out this sample.
45, 60, 90, 120, ect
This tea is interesting because it’s not as “in your face” as black tea can sometimes be. I just threw my sample into my gaiwan, so maybe with more leaf it could be, but the character in this one just seems milder. The description of baked goods is incredibly accurate. I got a lot of sweetness, especially as it cooled.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Brown Sugar
10, 10, 20, 30, 40, ect
This is something I could definitely drink everyday. It has a bit of cinnamon spiciness. Sweet, a little grassy, fruity with a tiny bit of astringency. It’s really refreshing. I think this would be an interesting cake to age and see where those flavors go.
Flavors: Apple, Floral, Grain, Grass, Peach
This was a sample in my last Mandala Tea order. The dry leaf smells very smokey, like the remnants of a campfire left on your clothes. This is really different from the two other young raws I’ve had which have a more of a floral and sweet smell. Whoa! The first infusion blew me away. Sweet, citrusy, a little spice, with some background smokiness. There’s a pleasant astringency there too. Lemon lingers in the mouth. Maybe almost a little basil or mint?
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I’d love to get a cake and see how it changes.
Flavors: Astringent, Grapefruit, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Peach, Smoke
The dry leaf on this one certainly seems much more fruity and less honey like compared to the 2012 “Heart of the Old Tree”. The first few steeps were light and crisp, a little lemony. The flavor coated my mouth and lasted for a bit. The later steeps were less “in your face” and more mild and sweet. This tea gave me this really interesting feeling in my chest, something I’ve never experienced before. This tea is a really easy to drink, with not much if any bitterness (I’m not particularly sensitive to bitterness).
Overall, really nice to drink. I’m probably going to get a cake.
Another sample from my recent order. GABA is not really something I’ve heard about, so I went in with no preconceptions. The dried tea leaf looks like little pellets, and the liquor brews up to be a light golden color. It’s honey-sweet, with a touch of ripe fruit, maybe plum or muscatel. On the second steep, the honey note takes over completely. This is a very light-bodied, smooth tea. As to whether it has a calming effect, it’s too early to say, but it definitely doesn’t have much of a kick as most other black teas, and is a nice cup to enjoy slowly.
This is my first experience with young sheng! How exciting!
The smell of the dry leaf was just incredible, honey and floral. After doing a short rinse, the smell of the leaf had changed, more noticeably smoky but still retaining that floral element. The first few infusions were light, grassy and very easy to drink with no bitterness. The later infusions were interesting, like wine or cider.
Overall, this tea was incredibly refreshing after a long day. After this really positive experience with young sheng, I can’t wait to try more.
Flavors: Floral, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle
Cold steeped at caile’s suggestion, and it came out very nicely! As a cold tea it’s light in color, nice and crisp, with some of that almost “fuzzy” maltiness that I enjoy in Yunnan black teas. The malty note is not dominant, so that the honey sweetness easily comes through as well. Overall I do recommend trying this both cold/iced and hot!
A sample that was kindly included with my Mandala order. This has all the makings of a a great malty black tea. Very smooth, full-bodied, with an inviting fragrance, and right along the lines of other great Yunnan black teas I’ve tried (many also with “gold/golden” in the English names). I accidentally added a bit more leaf than I intended to, but to no detriment at all.
GABA Oolong is like Milk Oolong’s older hipster brother. It has that same grassy sort of creaminess to it but it is more assertive with the bitter finish. Not unpleasant at all but a little too floral for my tastes. I think I have to be in a specific mood for this one as I prefer darker oolongs or milk oolong.
Flavors: Bitter, Cream, Grass, Vegetal
Black Gold is one of those teas from Mandala that I bought but never opened. Terrible. But it probably slipped through the cracks when I was on a pu’er kick.
I tried to brew this one in short steeps around a minute or so but this one was made for the morning. A good old kick in the pants before work. A long brew produced one of the best black tea experiences I have had in a long time. It’s malty. It’s chocolaty. Sort of sweet but sort of bitter at the same time. There is a molasses like sweetness to this tea. This will be my every morning tea.
Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Grain, Molasses
I brewed this in a 140ml unglazed clay teapot
15, 30, 45, 60, 1m30, 2m, 3m
After a rinse, the scent on the gaiwan lid was really interesting. Fruity, spicy, dark and roasty, so many things going on at once. My first infusion was fruity and sweet, really reminding me of hot chocolate. It’s got a subtle spiciness. In later infusions it starts to give up the roasty/chocolate flavor for for a milder sweetness that’s really nice. This one really does live up to the reviews. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to buy some more of this ;)
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Dates, Roasted
Garret included this in my order as a sample. After the rinse the smell on the lid was intoxicating. Seaweed and honey comes to mind. I definitely taste a milkiness which a really nice. What I like about this tea is it’s floral but not like perfume. Drinking this doesn’t give you that Macy’s perfume section vibe which I notice from greener oolongs. It was good. Not something I’d probably buy (but that’s solely because greener oolongs aren’t really my thing and not because of the quality.)
Flavors: Floral, Honey, Seaweed, Vegetal
After a rinse, the smell on the gaiwan lid reminds me of chocolate and pomegranate. It’s really a magnificent smell. I stayed pretty close to Garret’s suggestion of tablespoon to a cup of water, adding a bit more. The first infusion was 30s and was disappointingly light. I didn’t really get much flavor. For the second infusion, I decided to drag the steep time out to about 50s. That infusion was not much better. At this point, I’m starting to doubt my brewing method or my tongue. I did a third infusion, giving it maybe 1m30s. Meh.
So, after consulting some tea forums, many people suggest a much higher leaf to water ratio than what I was doing. This time, I filled my gaiwan half way full (sorry about inaccurate measurements, I don’t own a scale)and after doing a flash rinse, infused it for 15s. MUCH BETTER. Sweet, milky, with a heavenly aroma arising from my gaiwan. Infusion two definitely brought out the cinnamon. Of course it’s subtle, and maybe I’m just imagining it, but regardless I am enjoying it.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Roasted, Stonefruits
Vegetal, floral bitterness and some fruity earthiness; tingly astringency with lingering sweetness. Later steeps become creamy sweet throughout.
Another great tea from Mandala. The dry tea has a lovely cocoa-like aroma, and it brews up to be unbelievably silky and smooth, light but substantial. The cocoa notes are a major part of the charm, in addition to a fresh petrichor and mineral notes. It’s not one of those black teas that are big-bodied or particularly malty, but highly worth savoring slowly. I enjoyed this even in spite of the intense summer heat today.
(On that note, I have been at my dream job for two months today—it’s definitely worthy of a nice cup of tea to celebrate!)