It’s been a long day, you know? Last week, I did some tree clearing on a friend’s property for fire prevention. She set up a community event to encourage other denizens of their heavily forested community to do the same. I went back today to line up all the brush and limbs and tree trunks along the roadside for a wood chipper staffed by the community fire department to chip and haul all the residents’ debris. I guess word got around what a thorough and clean job I did (it’s nice to know your work is appreciated!) and I ended up clearing a neighbor’s property. This is a nice side gig to pick up pockets of cash and there’s no pressure to cut anything down I’m uncomfortable with…. since it’s just me and my chainsaw.

When I got home, there was a tea package waiting at the front door. Not Mandala Tea, another company, but inside was a teapet, a lovely red pig to commemorate my year. Inspired by tea-sipper’s recent review of The Shu Fits, I figured a shou would be a good way to end an exhausting day and a nice dark ‘mud bath’ of a tea to soak my new buddy in.

I’m rambling. Can you tell I’m relaxed?

I have to say thank you to both Mandala Tea and to Kawaii433; the former included a sample of The Shu Fits in my last order and the latter sent a sample as part of a tea swap. I had this loose puerh a few years ago and remember it being very sweet with a red berry-chocolate-leather feel. Has the tea changed in a few years?

Yes, it has. The berries are now mostly evident in the aroma of the dry leaf, along with brown sugar, chocolate, leather and wood. The chocolate has really mellowed in taste as well as the sweetness. This tea seems to have moved into more savory tastes of chicken broth and cedar, some leather, faint mushroom, and a clean mineral finish. It’s fairly light-bodied and sips easily, depositing a pleasant aftertaste of walnut and faint milk chocolate-red berries at the base of the tongue. There is some astringency, tempered by salivation and a light returning sweetness.

All said, a pleasant evening sipper with some relaxing effect. You will find no funk in this tea. I have enough leftover to do a western steep soon to see if that will bring out some of the remembered berry and chocolate flavors.

EDIT: Mandala has some new teas out including a loose shou, Dark Star, a nod in name to the Grateful Dead.

Boiling 7 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Most enjoyment:

Wuyi and Taiwanese oolong, sheng and shou puerh, Yunnan and Wuyi blacks, Laoshan green. I also appreciate Japanese, Vietnamese, Thai, Darjeeling and Nepali teas, bagged tea and herbal teas/tisanes.

I take my teas without milks or sweeteners except sometimes chai and the rare London Fog or matcha latte. I generally steep a tea until it has no more to give.

I’ll try anything once because it helps me learn. Not opposed to well placed herbs, flowers, fruity bits and flavorings. Just nothing cloying especially banana, caramel, coconut, cinnamon or maple. And no added sugars, sweeteners, candy or chocolate.

Preference reference:

100-90: A tea I can lose myself into. Something about it makes me slow down and appreciate not only the tea but all of life or a moment in time. If it’s a bagged or herbal tea, it’s of standout quality in comparison to similar items.
89-80: Fits my profile well enough to buy again. Some could be daily drinker teas.
79-70: Not a preferred tea. I might buy more or try a different harvest. Would gladly have a cup if offered.
69-60: Not necessarily a bad tea but one that I won’t buy again. Would have a cup if offered.
59-1: Lacking several elements, strangely clunky, possess off flavors/aroma/texture or something about it makes me not want to finish.
Unrated: Haven’t made up my mind or some other reason. If it’s puerh, I likely think it needs more age.


Sonoma County, California, USA

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