This tea has been comforting me during the ice storm today. Hope all my fellow Midwestern Steepsterites are warm and safe!
I’m going to go build a fire now…seems appropriate :)
“This tea has been comforting me during the ice storm today. Hope all my fellow Midwestern Steepsterites are warm and safe! I’m going to go build a fire now…seems appropriate :)” Read full tasting note
“I haven’t felt much like drinking tea lately, and even less like writing about it. My dog of 14 years passed away over the weekend and the days leading up to it were pretty tough. I’m trying to...” Read full tasting note
“This is delicious! The first steep was a little light…hint of dark chocolate powder. The 2nd steep was deeper, richer, like putting a pinch of gourmet dark chocolate powder on my tongue &...” Read full tasting note
“I saw Terri Harplady steeped Special Dark for like 7 minutes and I totally needed to try it! I tasted it at 5 minutes and WHOA THAT IS FREAKING DARK! Rich, burnt chocolate with almost a nutty...” Read full tasting note
Per Garret: Special Dark Offically Retired 7/2/15
A Very Sad Day Indeed! :-((
We call this Special Dark for good reason. This decadent tea is hand crafted in small batches within cotton bags, and fermented more extensively requiring great attention and intention. Creamy, rich, dark, and smooth. This cocoa-y indulgence is one of our most unique pu’er teas. An excellent change-up from the norm for you lovers of the shu.
Pu-erh that is more lightly fermented can hardly be oversteeped in early infusions, but this tea should be approached differently. We suggesting easing in with quick infusions before experimenting with the full power of the Dark Side.
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I haven’t felt much like drinking tea lately, and even less like writing about it. My dog of 14 years passed away over the weekend and the days leading up to it were pretty tough. I’m trying to hold it together so my kids don’t see me lose it completely, but whenever I have a moment to myself I’m a mess. But I need to return to my new normal and get back to some of the things that make me happy. Two of which are tea and steepster.
So I made this one today as it will last over and over so I didn’t have to think about what tea to have next. I saw Bonnie say to add cream and sugar in someone else’s comment so I gave it a try. I steeped it for 5 or so and added the cream and sugar and it was like drinking caramel. I had that over and over today. This is a really yummy tea, especially doctored just a bit.
This is delicious!
The first steep was a little light…hint of dark chocolate powder.
The 2nd steep was deeper, richer, like putting a pinch of gourmet dark chocolate powder on my tongue & swirling it around in my mouth. Almost a powdery sensation.
3rd steep adds a hint of sweet semolina.
4th steep is the one I’m drinking now, still nicely rich, with a mouth that reminds of condensed canned milk with cocoa powder stirred in. I’ve never actually had that, LOL, but that’s what it makes me think of.
I’ll continue sipping this for a few more rounds. It is a nice richly satisfying Shu, without any of the musty or ammonia-like smells, it has a certain earthiness to it, a deeply grounding sensation more than a taste. Next time I’ll probably give it the full on 3 minute treatment, as I’m one who tends to surrender to the dark side!
I saw Terri Harplady steeped Special Dark for like 7 minutes and I totally needed to try it! I tasted it at 5 minutes and WHOA THAT IS FREAKING DARK! Rich, burnt chocolate with almost a nutty finish – it’s comparable to coffee like in intensity. It’s so strong, flavorful and addictive, I have to sip it very slowly. I made my cup while I was finishing up making dinner (Pioneer woman’s pork roast with apple and caramelized onions and some risotto on the side) and I’m still working on it after I’ve finished eating dinner!
My roommate, the one I’ve converted to tea for sludgy coffee, would dig this tea. I might have him try it – he’d love it sooo much!
So Dexter3657 drank this yesterday and got me thinking about it, and since they don’t need me at work today it is TOTALLY the right choice to drink this one today while I can enjoy it. (Aside from the sick hubby and toddler who need attention. :P)
I’m taking a Special Dark break!
The first time I had this I followed the instructions and steeped it for 30 seconds, but this time I went right for 4. Maybe next time I will go for 8. I didn’t realize this one couldn’t be oversteeped but you can’t blame me for being hesitant! If I did this to one of my favourite blacks it would likely be too bitter and strong at the end.
This, on the other hand, at 4 minutes is quite rich and dark. And yes, very chocolatey. I almost want to rip open my 85% emergency-use-only chocolate bar just to compare the different types of chocolate, but I’d better save that for an emotional pick-me-up. This cuppa has made me happy enough already!
Yes. This is complete proof that Puerh ISN’T something to be afraid of! I can do it! I can enjoy it! Also, this makes me want to put in an order at Mandala to see what else they can do with Puerh!
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth
SIPDOWN! (231) After adding in all my verdant teas and the teas from terri i’m back up to 231 after this sipdown, which is much better than i expected – i thought i’d be closer to 250 or worse.
It was my birthday yesterday and I didn’t get much tea drinking done since we pretty much got up, had a bite to eat and hopped on the bikes for the rest of the day. We did some trail riding, hit the farmers market, and then biked some more with a stop for picnic lunch before finally heading home. We made one of my favourite things for laaaaaate second lunch (BLT on flat bread with homemade guacamole, turkey, cheese). We then pretty much headed out for dinner and a movie. By the time we got home i was not only totally ready for bed but was also super happy. Probably one of my best birthdays in a while – just getting to be outside and with my other half. Plus we totally didn’t spend a lot of money since we had movie tickets we’d bought previously.
Today though, i have to spend some time working, so to make that more enjoyable i picked one of the puerh i’ve been really looking forward to from terri and i’ve been drinking that all morning..that meaning THIS TEA!
Special Dark! yay!
First Steeping was light and i didn’t get the cocoa taste until the last few sips in the cup – smooth though
second steeping – much more chocolatey, still smooth and delicious
third steeping – still really enjoying this. will have to keep steeping this for a few more to see how it goes..
so far…i’m glad that gracebtlb and terri introduced me to this one. grace through her excitement and love of mandala teas and puerh and terri for sending a sample my way for me to try. Going to be adding this to my must have list :)
I’ve been going on and on about Special Dark pu’er. It’s probably gotten quite annoying. I am happy to say that it lived up to every single one of my expectations. I like it better than the Phatty Cake and Bu Lang Gong Ting and they are my benchmark pu’ers.
1st Steep-30 seconds
Garret said it would taste like chocolate but, honestly, I was a little skeptical. Dry it smells a bit like cocoa powder. I am not kidding about that. Not even the Hershey kind but the expensive Valrhona powder. And the most amazing thing is that it tastes like cocoa when brewed too. I didn’t put any sugar in it at first so it tasted like unsweetened hot cocoa with a really rich cocoa. I added a touch of raw sugar and it really brought out the chocolate flavor.
2nd Steep-45 seconds
Still very chocolaty with a creamy finish. Almost like a good chocolate mousse.
3rd Steep-1 minute
Milk chocolate. Some spice is coming through but not much yet. Is it sane to say a tea is completely blowing my mind?
4th Steep-2 minutes
Suddenly it’s back to dark, dark chocolate again and there is cinnamon on the finish. Mexican hot chocolate? Yes, please.
5th Steep-3 minutes
And just like that, the chocolate has left the building. It’s sort of butterscotchy. The chocolate isn’t gone really. It’s there in some sips but the butterscotch is really dominating.
6th Steep-5 minutes
Honey and maybe a bit of brown sugar. Still so smooth and tasty. So happy I have 4 oz of it.
I know. Overnight sounds crazy and it is. I dropped the leaves in my tea thermos and left it to steep overnight. Can’t say that the result was bad. It tasted like whipped cream and caramel. Not bad at all.
This is the smoothest, tastiest, loveliest pu’er I have ever tried. Pu’ers are typically earthy but this has none of that. It’s starts out smooth and sweet and it finishes that way. Seriously, put a blindfold on and you think your drinking hot cocoa or, at least, chocolate flavored tea. It’s really one unique tea.
And this tea also proved that “tea drunk” does, in fact, exist.
An incredibly caring Steepster friend is concerned that all I’m drinking are samples from other people, and that I should take some time and enjoy some of my favorite teas. I’m searching for the great teas, but not enjoying the one’s I’ve found. I’ve decided to “sort of” take that advice.
I have sent samples of this out to several people, and assume that it is going to be amazing, but I’ve never actually drank it. So tonight I’m taking a ME tea night to explore the dark side.
I threw about 2.5 tsp of this into my gravity steeper, gave it a quick wash and then let it steep – I’ve read lots of review that say that this is AMAZING if steeped for a long time. I’m watching and waiting, and it’s getting darker, and darker, and I chicken out at about 4 minutes. OK 4 minutes is a LONG steep for pu’erh – at least for me…
Wow this is crazy – unlike any other pu’erh I’ve tried. There really isn’t any of the musty/earthy typical pu’erh taste – it is just deep dark chocolate – maybe a hint of “pu’erh” in the back but it’s just adding depth to the chocolate. OK I’m a believer.
I add another couple of tsp of new leaf to the old leaf (I don’t care it’s my tea night I can do what I like) – gave it another quick rinse and let it steep for NINE minutes.
OMG – this is unsweetened cocoa from a fine chocolatier. I add about a tsp of sweetener and just a splash of milk – just enough to change the color. This is my new favorite chocolate tea. I love this.
Now what do I do? I think I’m going to take the leaves and toss them in the fridge to cold steep. If anyone hasn’t tried it – cold steep pu’erh is crazy good.
As always, thank you Mandala for another amazing tea experience.
I’ve been wanting to try this one for a long time, and thanks to stephanie I finally can. :)
I really had this one hyped up in my mind. Its special and its dark, come on, how can that name not evoke only the yummiest stuff??
Now, the problem could be my high expectations, or it could be that in my haste to get a taste of this one, I didn’t rinse the leaves first. I steeped it 3 min, skipping over the whole gongfu hoopla and anxiously awaited it to cool off.
Well, hmm, its kinda stinky and flat tasting. I want to think this is my fault and see how a second steeps turns out. Or try the remaining unused leaf with different parameters (and a rinse!).
Then again, I wouldn’t want to break my tradition of disliking nearly every super-famous tea on here :p we’ll see ^^
UPDATE*** A second steeping for 4 minutes yields much less stink (rinsing is an important step!), but it’s not as sweet as I like my shu puerhs. It’s very earthy for sure, like fresh dirt (I don’t mean that in a bad way). I can definitely appreciate this one, but I’m disappointed that it wasn’t as grand as I had hoped.
This may well be my first Mandala tea, so I wanted to go big with the first try.
This is one multi-faced tea. I’m only on steep one, and already I can tell this will be a nuanced experience with each sip. Almost all of my sips are dark cocoa, which is interesting because I just had some 90% dark chocolate, and both the mouthfeel and taste are almost identical. It kind of reminds me of the texture of coffee, although it’s been so many years since I’ve had anything even remotely coffee-like (if I do drink it, it’s always espresso-based, which is a very different experience for me than drip). Regardless, this is thick in flavor, rich in taste, nuanced and multi-faceted. I look forward to many more steeps, to see how it evolves.
EDIT: Okay, so how do I do re-steeps? New tasting notes? It is a new cup of tea. And yet… same leaf.
Steep 2: 9 minutes, only because I forgot about it. A bit more cocoa, something sweet as well, really sweet. Surprisingly sweet. I want to say caramel, but it’s thinner and more candy-sweet.
Steep 3: 19 minutes, again because I forgot about it. Really thin now, which always ‘tastes’ odd to me in a pu-erh. Cocoa notes are all gone, and now it’s more earthy and sweet.