The good folks at Mandala were kind enough to put together a black tea sampler in lieu of their “tea party in a box.” This one is very strong, and I may have over-leafed a bit. I brewed it in my gaiwan since the big leaves make it easy to do that. The box arrived yesterday, and this is the first I’ve tried. It’s good, but I’m not a fan of the wood and leather notes that others mentioned. The taste of wood reminds me a little of the way oak tastes in wine, and I don’t like it. Pronounced leather is not spectacularly appealing to me either.

It’s not bad, but I probably wouldn’t order a larger package of it either. I would only recommend it to people who know for a fact that they like leather and oak in their tea. For me, both notes add a bit of bitterness that I find unpleasant. I didn’t find this one smooth as others did.

A strong taste lingers as well — a little like yeasty baked bread or toast mixed with the taste of wood.

It does resteep unusually well for black tea, though. And I can tell it’s high quality tea; it’s just a flavor profile I don’t love. I think the flavor rounds out a bit in later steeps — the second and third were much better than the first for me. And the tea is a very appealing bright red color.

Flavors: Baked Bread, Dark Chocolate, Leather, Malt, Oak wood, Toast, Wheat, Wood, Yeast, Yeasty

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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I drink black and oolong teas — and am trying to learn a little about puerh these days. I’m in it for the taste, not the appropriated Eastern mysticism. Not so good at keeping my cupboard up to date, let alone making a tea spreadsheet. I don’t really do sipdown reviews because then I’d be judging the tea based on the dust at the bottom of the bag. I think it’s nifty that there are tens of thousands of options involving just this one plant leaf.


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