Sipdown (161)!

Ugh; nothing like your laptop dying mid tasting note…

Laptop died around the third steep, so rewrote those based on memory.

I’ve tried mandarin stuffed pu’erh before – but this is by far the smallest one I’ve ever had. I wasn’t sure if I should crack the casing for it, because in the past I’ve had to crack the casings because the size of the orange has just been so large that it was enough, easily, for multiple sessions. Not the case with this one. Further inspection on W2T’s site reveals cracking it is not necessary, but since there was a large crack along one side of my drop in the first place I just cracked it in half anyway.

Started with a 5 sec rinse

5 Secs.
Smells lightly of sweet mandarin oranges
Flavour is smooth; not bitter like anticipated??? Or like the W2T site suggests is should be
Damp/wet wood and earth: very petrichor
Dull mandarin orange segment flavour

5 Secs.
More robust/juicy mandarin smell fills the whole room
Also a bit floral/like fresh flowers???
Aroma translates to flavour; minus the floral component
Stronger wet earth; reminds me of the forest floor
Having an issue with the very fine broken leaves getting through my gaiwan
Perhaps that’s why it shouldn’t be cracked!? Learn from me, tea friends.

7 Secs.
God, that mandarin aroma is so intense and beautiful
About equal in taste to the earthy notes
Wet wood/earth, moss, minerals, wet stones… basically all the wet stuff
Thick soup/liquor

12 Secs.
Picking through the leaf in the gaiwan a little… the mandarin casing is intense!
Liquor is getting a little sweeter
Taste in my mouth after swallowing is like the flavour of honeysuckle
My brother, cousin, and I used to suck the honey/nectar from honeysuckles as kids and it’s just like that!
Doesn’t mean a lack of earthy/brothy body

20 Secs.
More mandarin than pu’erh
Sweet, and feels almost like a perfumed mandarin? Or orange blossoms?
Very smooth; strong flavours but still feels delicate at times

20 Secs.
Mandarin starts the sip and ends it
Mid sip feels equal parts like wet earth/wet stone and fresh flowers
With a brothy, game-y component?
Really well rounded, supple
Getting stronger/more intense now

25 Secs.
Essentially a repeat of last infusion…

30 Secs.
Really strong mandarin – in smell and taste
Otherwise the same/very similar
Perhaps I’ve hit the sweet spot, now

30 Secs.
Sweet/bright overall
Earthyness somewhat overshadowed by the mandarin
Orange blossoms

45 Secs.
Liquor colour has SIGNIFICANTLY lightened from how opaque it started
Just a little weaker overall
Mandarin has a little tartness/sourness in the finish

60 Secs.
Mostly just mandarin
Can tell this is close to being brewed out

60 Secs.
Weak and watery, with whispers of mandarin and wet stone notes
Could continue until it’s completely brewed out, but I’m happy to stop here

Really happy with this purchase! I got many, many really lovely infusions from it and enjoyed every single one of them greatly. The mandarin was super lovely, and surrounded by a family on Christmas munching away at Mandarin oranges it felt perfectly appropriate as a choice for a tea session.

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My name is Kelly. I’m a mid twenties tea drinker and reviewer originally from the prairies, but recently relocated to Quebec. I started drinking loose leaf fairly casually about five years ago, and at some point between then and now that ‘fun little hobby’ turned into a serious obsession and career path.

You know you’ve got it bad when you get your hobby tattooed to your arm.

I’m a TAC certified Tea Sommelier!

Typically I drink flavoured blends more than straight but one of my mini goals is to get that ratio to a more 50/50 level. I do a daily cold brew, and have at least (but usually a lot more) two hot cups of tea every day. I love black and white tea, but traditional/straight and also flavoured or blended. I also drink a lot of oolong and shou teas. For my oolong, I prefer greener oolong in flavoured blends and darker or more oxidized oolongs more pure and with traditional preparation. For shou, I gravitate towards straight, unflavoured shou teas (the exception being Chenpi) but I drink it about 50/50 Western Style and Gong Fu. I WILL drink all tea types though.

My default for preparation is Western Style with zero additives. The exception to this is matcha which I drink in straight milk with no additives. So unless I mention otherwise you can assume that I’ve prepared my tea Western style without added ingredients/sweeteners.

I like to listen to music when drinking tea, especially when I’m brewing a large pot at a time or steeping Gong Fu. Often I curate very intentional tea and music pairings, and sometimes I share them here in my tasting reviews. Music is something that I find can deeply affect the experience of having tea.

Favourite flavour notes/ingredients: Pear, lychee, cranberry, cream, melon, pineapple, malt, roasty, petrichor, sweet potato, heady florals like rose, walnut, sesame, honey (in moderation), and very woody shou.

Least favourite flavour notes/ingredients:
Lemongrass, ginger, strong Chai spice profiles,mushrooms, seaweed, chamomile, artificial tasting mango or peach, stevia, saltiness, or anything that reminds me too much of meat that isn’t supposed to taste like meat…

Currently exploring/looking to try: Sheng from Yiwu, straight teas with strong sweet potato notes, Dancong Oolongs, and compressed black teas. Also, I need to try ALL the root beer teas! Searching for a really good caramel flavoured blend, ideally with a black tea base.

Tea Pet Reference Guide:

Clay Pixiu Dragons: Zak & Wheezie
Clay Goldfish: Dot
Clay Monkey: Enzo
Jade Pixiu Dragon: Whitaker
Ruyao Carp: Splashy
Ruyao Frog: Bebe
Sculpted Tuxedo Cat: Pekoe
Sculpted Tabby Cat: Marmalade
Ceramic Rabbit: Rupert
Ceramic Horse: Bergamot
Ceramic Snail: Snicket
Ceramic Cat: Saffron
Wood Fired Old Man: Leopold

Currently I’m employed at DAVIDsTEA. While I’m still reviewing DAVIDsTEA blends I am no longer numerically rating them due to the obvious conflict of interest. Any tea blends you currently see with a numeric score that are from DAVIDsTEA were reviewed prior to my being hired there.


Montreal, QC, CA



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