Mandala Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

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.


2012 is considered a very good year. The tea was particularly strong. It is not easy to find 2012 anything and when you think you’ve bought one the date is 2011, not as good a year. I don’t know how much of this you have, but might want to hang onto it awhile.

Liquid Proust

Had about 90% of a cake and gave it all away. This is not something I want to revist though so it’s okay. YS has a lot of 2012 cakes, should I look into them?


I can help with part of that.


I heard good things about Scott’s ’12 Wuliangs.

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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

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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reviewed Glass Tea Thermos by Mandala Tea
7 tasting notes

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!

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drank Milk Oolong Tea by Mandala Tea
7 tasting notes

This is my daily go to. Hands down the best milk oolong one can come across. Always need to mention how great it is to purchase from mandala. One of (if not) the best customer experiences with every purchase.

Flavors: Butter, Milk

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This looks and tastes a lot like dragonwell, though there’s a light note of smokiness that dragonwell doesn’t have. Very smooth and enjoyable. I think the instructions are a bit optimistic about how many steeps you can reasonably get out of this, but I know it’s also a matter of taste.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this tea. I steeped it western style with 5g of tea and about 8 ounces of water. After an initial rinse I steeped each infusion for about a minute. The aroma was very reminiscent of warm compost and dirt. The taste is of sweet dirt. The second infusion brought the slightest astringency and bite in the mouth.

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You know those people that are like, “Oh, tea is just like softly flavored water, I’m a real MANLY MAN and I like my coffee dark and my beer double-hopped and your wussy tea stuff will never be enough for me?”

Give them this. Maybe it will mellow out with time. But right now this stuff is for those times when a triple-IPA is not quite enough, when you need that quinine-bitter to hammer straight into your skull. Also, underneath the brutal, browbeating bitter: like, increasing with more steeps: clearly a dry-aged raw meat thing.

When you want to have your skull smashed into a concrete curb by a swaggering beast of a tea: there is Wild Monk for you.

I’m glad I have a cake.

Super Starling!

This tea sounds like it’d put hair on my chest and inspire me to make a log cabin with my bare hands with only the occasional help from an ox.


It’ll put hair on your chest and then grow extra hairs on the tips of those hairs, fractal style

Super Starling!

Cleanup on Aisle 4. Someone’s mind was blown.

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drank Bamboogie 2015 by Mandala Tea
99 tasting notes

Starts off sweet, not too much bitter or astringent for a young sheng at all despite the description. Very drinkable with some nice hay, fragrant body, and a hint of capsicum of some sort. Nice way to start your day, it is a light chugger that didn’t do much amazing for me, but doesn’t do you any wrong either and has a nice, gently uplifting feeling to it. Very clean sort of taste as well, if that’s your thing.

Flavors: Floral, Green Pepper, Hay

200 °F / 93 °C 6 g 100 OZ / 2957 ML

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Thanks so much, JakeB! One serving of this one left… so sipdown! And yes… I’m steeping a Mandala tea Western style again, though I realized a while ago they should be steeped Gong Fu. A tiny bundled, dark green oolong. I swear the dried leaves had the scent of peaches and I was really hoping the flavor would be the same, but no. Sadly, only roastedness from the leaves is revealed in the flavor. And maybe some sweetness. To me, Jin Xuan should be the natural milk oolong, but I wasn’t noticing that at all. All steeps were the same. None of them seems oversteeped. Not special enough for me. If any oolong has any roastiness at all, I’m usually not very interested, especially if it’s the only characteristic of an oolong. I’m happy I tried it though!
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for a full mug// rinse // 10 minutes after boiling // 1 minute steep
Steep #2 // 10 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 3 minute steep

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drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
1104 tasting notes

While the notes of this tea are already accurate, I’d like to weigh in as I have drank this 3x at work in the morning.

The term bitter and chocolate does apply, but not in the sense of a bittersweet dark chocolate. This is more like the astringency of an Assam tea but a chocolate taste you would get from some leftover chocolate powder used in a mixture that happened to be on your fingertips. Not that strong, quite dry, but noticeable. I prefer my golden needle dianhong to this due to the bitterness that makes it hard to enjoy fruits right away in the morning.

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Well this is pretty interesting. Rice scented puerh. As soon as the hot water hits the mini tuo, there is a mushroom-y rice scent that wafts up. After a ten second rinse, I steeped it for 30 seconds. Someone who reviewed this mentioned that it tasted like the mushrooms from a basmatti rice, or something to that effect. And I 100% agree. That is the best way I can describe this. I get some white button mushrooms as well as a little wilder flavor of a morel. And it tastes like they’ve been boiled in the water that you will use to cook the rice and then you cook the rice and if that mushroom rice was liquefied, you’d have this. Or, you could pour off some of the water before it is all absorbed into the rice. Either way. Mushroom rice.

Fascinating for sure. Not sure that it is something I am 100% into. I don’t know why I shouldn’t be. I mean, I like rice and I adore mushrooms. But for some reason it is kind of weirding me out. I could see using this in cooking though. Maybe it will grow on me.

The second steep I only let go for 15 seconds as it got much darker much quicker. Same basic flavor though maybe the mushroom flavor is slightly amped up. Just a very unique experience here. I don’t know what to make of it.


So, what can be said of this is that it has longevity. I’ve been steeping it on and off all day long. The flavor is holding up quite nicely as is the color. It has certainly grown on me and after about 4 or 5 steeps a slight sweetness comes out to play with the mushroom rice flavor. I’m ticking up the rating a bit.

Flavors: Earth, Mushrooms, Rice

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Clearly this tea comes with a pedigree. When tea masters and discriminating connoisseurs Redford and SkyBlu immortalise your tea in song, you know you’ve made it. Well done Mandala.

I am not yet at the level of these esteemed sommaliers of Chinese tea, however, as I do not believe I have the capacity to enjoy this tea every day, as they have reported doing. It is a remarkably smooth drinker, yet with enough punchiness to retain interest, it’s true. But their refined palates must be grasping nuances beyond the ken of a beginner such as myself, to lead them to imbibe this on the daily. I do not think it could hold my interest at that frequency, though the fault is surely mine.

Yes, I will just come out and admit it. At best, I’d be shufflin’ monthly.


you should indicate shuffle ratings for all teas tasted.

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drank Bamboogie 2015 by Mandala Tea
419 tasting notes

Got a sample of this one from the Puer TTB!!

The leaf smelled slightly smoky when rinsed, with some fruity notes as well. The first two steeps were a tad bitter, with some subdued smoky notes and peachy fruitiness. To me, the taste started to go a little in the mineral-y direction for the next few steeps, with a peachy aftertaste. The remaining ~6 steeps had a light hay flavor with a peach and sometimes honey sweet aftertaste. This one was pretty good. I think the session was slightly muddled by the water I was using, so probably not as good as it could have been. Too bad I only had enough for one session!

Flavors: Fruity, Hay, Honey, Peach, Smoke, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 6 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Sample from 2016 Puerh Plus TTB.

I made sure to grab some Mandala samples since their store is only a few hours from here which as far as tea vendors go means we are practically neighbors. Plus I’m going to have to place an order some day for some tea soak anyway and its not like I’m not going to order any tea as well.
Im not very experienced with sheng, the vast majority of what I’ve had has been either very young (1-2 years) or nondescript (unidentifiable “green puer”). One of the things I sort of got a handle on while sorting through the TTB samples is how older sheng said start to smell when fermentation gets underway, and thus sheng smelled older to me. I brewed about 175F and didn’t rinse. The 1st cup came out with the fruity apricot of a young sheng. The 2nd steep was a bit bitter, but with an earthy flavor. A ruddy color started to come out here which continued to darken over the next few steps into a dark gold color. 3rd steep was tobacco, smoke, and acrid bitter. 4th became so pleasant that I drank it without taking notes. After that the tea smoothed out considerably and became a little sweet. There was also a silky texture to the tea. I lost count of steeps after this,but it lasted awhile. The leaves at the end of this were mostly green with some with dark purple brown coloration. There were quite a few fat buds as well.


Thank you for the review of this tea. Had you tried the “Bamboogie” yet? I hope you got a sample of that one and the Cang Jia Shuffle! Smart Soak! We got it! Grateful, Garret

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This reminds me a bit of Autumn Song, with the base flavor, but instead of lemon notes there is wood (cedar in particular, I think), nuts, and a cozy warm feeling when drinking.
The base is smooth and mellow and there is no bitterness, dryness, or astringency here.
This would be a good daily drinker, as the taste is not overpowering, and it would be perfect on a chilly night.
The woody flavor was much stronger in the first steep, almost like a ripe pu er but with a bit more mellowness, but at the second steep it calmed down a bit and blended nicely to a balanced cup.

I did one 15 second rinse, then 45 seconds, then 1 minute.
This actually made me very sleepy! Some pu er (like Heart of the Old Tree) makes me jittery and very awake, but this is a very calm tea and I’m ready to hop off to bed, or I’d do more steeps.
I will have to play with this more over the weekend.

Over all pleasant, and I’d recommend it to those who want something they can drink every day.

Flavors: Cedar, Nutty, Smooth, Wood

205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 45 sec 3 g 7 OZ / 200 ML

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I finally got a gaiwan, so I decided to pick a tea to sit down with and give it a spin.
The first round I oversteeped it (at 5g per 140ml) but after a do over, I settled down to 3g I was off.

20 (rinse) – 25 – 30 – 30 – 35 – 40 – 60 – 70 – 85

first steep:
Very slight astringency, aftertaste of light basil on the tongue, floral on the nose, bit of a drying sensation on the tongue

third, fourth, fifth steep:
CREAMY, this tea tastes and feels super creamy and thick, plus slight vegetal and floral on the nose. The taste does not linger long so you end up going back for more pretty quickly!

sixth steep:
very floral, still a little creamy (both in taste and feeling), but over all pretty light

Seventh, eighth:
all floral, the creaminess is gone now, however it is not a weak taste. The floral starts out somewhat light on the 6th steep but at 7 it tastes more and more floral until it’s like drinking flowers at the 8th steep. The taste also lingers for quite a while before fading!

I think I could have continued with this, as there was still plenty of flavor, but I had a feeling I’d just keep getting more and more floral as time went on, and I wanted to move on to something else.
My rating hasn’t changed, but after using a gaiwan to brew this this tea is a fun ride for the eight steeps I put it through! It handled it pretty well, but it can be overleafed and boiling is too hot for this tea as I once found out – do either of those and you mostly just get bitterness instead of creaminess and floral tastes.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Vegetal

200 °F / 93 °C 3 g 5 OZ / 140 ML

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I got a sample of this and planned to get a cake but they were out! Oops!
Oh well, I’ll enjoy the remaining amount of sample I have while waiting for my tea order to come in.

Dry leaf: Smells like a mix between fresh hay (slightly sweet, sunny, warm) and a little bit of smoke.

Buttery, hay, and that light light smoke scent again.
Very thick tasting butter taste on first sip, with a bit of astringency at the edges of my tongue.
A sweet mellow scent on the exhale, mixed with apricot, and the taste of dried apricot clings lightly to the tongue until fading after a few seconds.

The apricot and thick feeling is stronger on the second infusion, and there is a little bit of sweetness this time. Mmmm, I love this tea. Although, at this rate, all the raw pu ers I taste over two years old are a favorite!

Flavors: Apricot, Butter, Dried Fruit, Grass, Hay, Sweet

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 60 ML

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drank Bamboogie 2015 by Mandala Tea
2393 tasting notes

Thanks JakeB! Sadly, this is another Mandala I probably shouldn’t be Western steeping. I thought this might have some kick or something to it, with the ‘bamboogie’ name (I figured the name had something to do with music, and looking at Mandala’s description, I was right)… but to me, this just tasted like raw pu-erh. I like my raw pu-erh to have a little something extra to them, so that I really want to steep them over other teas, including ripe pu-erh. But this is just raw pu-erh. Probably not steeping it ideal. At least it didn’t get bitter, and that is nice enough for a raw pu-erh to me! :D This one isn’t my jam… on to the sale list it goes.
Steep #1 // 20 minutes after boiling // rinse // 30 second steep
Steep #2 // 20 minutes after boiling // 40 second steep

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This is an oolong with added aroma of buttery, milky, caramel. The taste is quite strong, and lasts through several steeps. I’ve steeped this up to five times currently, and it started out strong and then the added flavor faded away to reveal the oolong behind it. At the fifth steep the taste reminded me a bit of genmaicha with its sweet, toasted, rice crispy flavor.

The leaf quality is pretty fantastic, with nearly whole leaves that puff up and expand from tightly rolled balls to big slightly mottled leaves over the course of your steeps.

I went for pretty loose qualifications for steeping as I was drinking it mostly at work, and wasn’t paying a huge amount of attention.
It was something like 25 – 30 – 45 – 1m – 2m

I’m not a huge fan of dessert teas (which this definitely is) but it doesn’t taste artificial (it probably isn’t, actually) nor is the sweet taste overpowering.
Over all I wouldn’t drink this tea with cake, or cookies, but I would drink it in place of dessert!
I would recommend this to anyone who loves caramel and butterscotch and who’s looking for a high quality flavored tea.

Bonus! A picture of the leaf :)

Flavors: Butter, Butterscotch, Milk, Roasted, Toasted Rice

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML

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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

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

This same mao cha was what was used to press the 2014 Wild Monk pu’er cakes. I’m glad you enjoyed it. We have a local coffee shop that we source for and they go through this stuff like, well, wild monks! You can go stronger on the leaf, but with these younger purple leaf teas, I like doing lower temps for the first few years, 195 or so, if I’m leafing it up. There is much energy to be had in this tea. Buzzed, Garret

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drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
15 tasting notes

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

190 °F / 87 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 6 OZ / 177 ML

So happy you are enjoying this. It is nearly an every day drinker for me! Thanks for writing up your review. Grateful, Garret

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