15 Tasting Notes
Ordered a sample of this with my first what-cha order, and I was pleasantly surprised!
The dry leaf smells like birthday cake/lemon ice cream, very pungent and delicious smelling just like a dessert. I was a bit concerned that it would brew up tasting very different, but luckily the liquor tastes exactly as I thought it would.
Sweet, creamy, custard, lemon, and thick. Like a lemon egg custard or fresh lemon cream cheese frosting, or even halo top’s lemon ice cream.
I brewed this at 190 with infusions that were very very short considering it was a white I didn’t want to push it too far and risking it turning bitter. Luckily the 5-10 second infusions were the way to go.
By the fifth or so steep it starts leaning more towards butternut squash, still good and but not as sweet and a little more savory and starchy (but not unpleasantly so)
I only have 10g of this (5g now!) but I’ll definitely buy a 50g pack with my next order from what-cha. This immediately goes on my “to buy” list, and I’m not even out yet!
Described in one word: Delicious!
Flavors: Citrus, Creamy, Custard, Fruity, Lemon
Beautiful large, withered dry leaf, which expands to lively green and brown splotched leaves – all of which were intact and gorgeous after the session, shiny and slick.
Reminded me quite a lot of stone fruit, very sweet, like fresh, warm peach juice combined with the taste you get when getting the last bits off of the pit.
Juicy, slightly syrupy flavor with taste of sunshine and warm summer days eating fresh peaches straight off the tree. The taste of this Dan Cong oolong shines through wonderfully, with its distinctive flavor and bright personality.
No bitterness and very very light astringency, wonderful sweet soft aroma. Over all a very nice oolong that would be good for summer mornings or as a replacement for peach flavored tea from teabags.
Flavors: Peach, Stonefruit, Summer, Sweet
Unexpected – the first taste immediately reminded me of the sweet milkyness of milk leftover after eating a bowl of cereal. Specifically after some cinnamon flavored cereal.
Loosened pretty quickly to a nice full gaiwan of beautiful green leaf, and brews up to a bright clear yellow/green.
Retains a clear bright flavor throughout multiple steeps, transitioning more towards floral and away from milky light spice flavor of earlier steeps, and some light astringency.
Very nostalgic flavor for me at least, and considering I don’t eat cereal anymore I’ll probably keep coming back to this one.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Floral, Milk
gaiwan lid: charcoal, lychee, toffee
1st: lychee foretaste, caramel, creamy thick vanilla on nose
astringency on edges of tongue and roof of mouth
2nd: mineralness added to lychee like warm lychees on stone, thinner taste on nose – like thin vanilla no more creaminess
3rd: gaiwan lid like wet stone and toffee now
a little floral, not so fruity, more astringent center of tongue, light sweetness when breathing out from nose – agave perhaps
4th: gaiwan lid all wet stone
aroma lightly sweet, foretaste/nose pretty much gone
I brewed this tea up a ton of different ways – 8g, 5g, per 100ml, 208 F, 180 F, but I just couldn’t find a way to brew it that would live up to my expectations. With oolongs, I prefer those that have staying power when it comes to resteeping using gongfu method.
This tea however pretty much dies entirely by steep 3 being completely overtaken by the mineral foretaste.
It has a fantastic almond and sour cherry butter cookie scent on the nose, but this doesn’t last very long. Perhaps I was expecting too much from this, or being too greedy, but the fact that you really only get 2 steeps out of this per session is very disappointing for me.
Perhaps if you’re the type of person to enjoy very short sessions, it may be better.
Flavors: Almond, Cherry, Pastries, Wet Rocks
This is a luxurious tea, that would pair well with a bubble bath, or sitting by a fireplace reading a book.
I brewed this in my ruyao 100ml gaiwan, with 5 grams which was plenty as this tea is packed with flavor! I have brewed this with both 208 F and lower temperatures (180) and have leafed it as high as 8g per 100ml. I find that making it the way I did this time (5g/100ml/180F) brings out the best qualities of the tea.
Mandala’s Big Red Robe is pretty steady throughout steeps, and doesn’t really change it up much besides fading to a gentler taste at the end of the session. However, this doesn’t take points away from it. This is a tea for easygoing sessions, a stroll along a beach instead of a roller coaster ride.
The sweet honey fruit taste, like peach juice and spices (cinnamon? clove?) is luxurious with a thick feeling coating my tongue on each sip. The flavor lasts quite long after each sip, lingering a while before fading to ready you for the next sip. The sweetness is strong with a spicy quality to it, and has a warming quality as well. The nose carries on the sweetness almost pushing it, being a little edgy in the sweetness, before relaxing back again.
Not a very complex tea (that is, tea which has a flavor that changes steep by steep), but not every tea needs to be. Mandala’s Big Red Robe holds its own against more complex teas with its rich texture, spicy sweet taste, and long lingering aroma. A tea for relaxation, contemplation, and unwinding after a long day.
EDIT: After watching Mei Leaf’s video on Da Hong Pao on youtube, who recommends brewing da hong pao at high heat I brewed this again at 6g/100ml/208F which brought out some different qualities. Very chocolatey, brown sugar, cooked fruit like cherries when you make jam, very juicy, still has that lingering aroma, and a taste that washes back and coats the tongue after each sip, a little bit of astringency but very very light, some charcoal smell on the gaiwan lid, forefront taste is mineral like stone or concrete (this was subtle brewing at a lighter temperature so I didn’t notice it especially compared to the very strong taste on the nose). Over all this fits with the description of a very high quality da hong pao as described by Don at Mei Leaf.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cherry, Cinnamon, Clove, Dark Chocolate, Fruity, Honey, Mineral, Peach
My tea order came in from the Yunnan Sourcing US site this afternoon, and boy do I have a lot of teas to try. I ordered six different teas, and this was one of them. I had originally made an order to the Chinese based Yunnan Sourcing site before realizing it would almost certainly be delayed due to the Chinese New Year. Thus, ever tea hungry, I made an additional order from the US based site with the rationale that of course I can go through 300g of tea before the Chinese order arrives.
At least one can say I’m optimistic.
Regardless, although Jin Mei Gui was the second tea that I tried from this order, it certainly comes in first place so far.
I brewed this gongfu method, in my 100ml Ruyao Gaiwan, with steeps that stuck around 5 seconds at the start, 10-15 in the middle, and 30 at the end. I got a heavy 10 steeps out of this, but the last two were pretty faded, and could have probably been skipped.
That said, let’s get to the review.
Dry leaf: Pretty floral scent, with standard roasty oolong scent intermixed. My first impression upon getting a whiff from the bag was dried rose petals.
Liquor: Honey yellow, at the start, with a halo of deep amber. Later steeps produced pale gold with deep gold halo.
The aroma is like roasted sesame, and first taste is exactly like that with rose, sesame, and honey on the nose. It has a gentle sweetness, like sugar encrusted rose petals you might find on a wedding cake.
Definitely not cloying like overly sweet rose scented candles or perfume.
This was the first and last time the actual standard roasted-tea-leaf-taste of oolong actually came out to play, with the first taste also having some nuttiness (closer to hazelnut than sesame) and then slipping into a floral rose on the nose that is dripping in honey. It is delicately sweet, at the same time, like eating cake, and the taste lingers and lingers quite a long time after.
First taste is roses, strong strong roses like a fresh bouquet at a wedding with more of that addicting honey and rose taste on the nose. This was probably my favorite steep as the sweetness on breathing out wasn’t quite so strong and the stronger rose taste was really pleasant and quite a surprise as the previous steeps had been all nuts and oolong. It has that nostalgic taste and smell to it that just makes you happy to think about even long after the session is over.
As this point, I was pretty tea drunk, which is pretty unusual for me with oolongs. I kept wanting more and more of the tea and was drinking it pretty fast – not gulping it down but the time between steeps was pretty short.
I was jittery, full of energy, my heart was going pitter-patter and my thoughts were rushing along. It’s the type of feeling you get right before a first date, when you still aren’t sure what to expect, or perhaps right before saying “I do”. Exciting, and almost overwhelming.
The places have reversed, with the rose-y floral taste coming in first, and then sesame on the nose – again the theme of honey and roses keeps showing up in this tea.
Not much to say here, pretty faded, and I thought it was on it’s way out as it was like the type of taste you’d expect from pressed flowers that haven’t been fresh in a long long time.
6th, 7th, 8th steep:
That said I was completely wrong. This steep was SWEET. Almost overpoweringly so, I thought this tea was well and truly dead because of the lightness of the previous steep but it’s completely back full force with a strength that’s like taking a spoonful of honey. The 7th and 8th steeps both follow along this path and at this point the sweetness is almost frustrating. I’m hoping it will switch up at the last moment, but it stubbornly remains sweet without much change.
Faded, almost the same as steep 5 but even fainter. This tea is pretty much dead at this point. There’s some very slight floral going on, but the sweetness and all depth is gone.
This is a very special tea, that brings to mind first dates, weddings, wedding cake, brings about a tea drunkenness that was unexpected and exciting, and has a pretty consistent taste throughout the session.
At the same time, though, you never get bored of it, because the places of the three main flavors/scents (sesame, rose, and honey) keeps switching around with some coming to the forefront while others fade back for a while. It’s a steady relationship type of tea, a “meet the parents” type of tea. It isn’t quite to the point where it’s a “married with kids” type of tea, as it doesn’t have that quality of it falling into a routine. It’s still new and exciting, and you keep seeing sides of it you don’t expect from one steep to the next.
This is a very romantic tea, you wouldn’t want to share with just anyone. The thought of sharing it with anyone who asks might inspire a bit of jealousy and protectiveness that’s reserved for the most special of teas you come across.
Even during the most frustrating times of the session (6th, 7th, and 8th steeps) I wanted to stick through it, through some weird sense of loyalty and stubbornness to see if it was well and truly over, and although it was frustrating due to the sweetness it wasn’t unpleasant at the same time.
This would be the perfect tea to have at a wedding, or on a special occasion like valentines day or a cozy, intimate date at home with your special someone. I’ll most likely order a lot more of this in the next month or two just to make sure I have it around.
Flavors: Hazelnut, Honey, Mineral, Roasted Nuts, Rose
I finally pulled this out from my cupboard, mostly to get rid of it and drink it by sheer force of will alone. I had gotten a sample around a year to a year and a half ago, and like all ripe pu’s I didn’t like it as they all tasted very “samey” to me. Turns out I had taken someone’s well meaning advice and had been following it unwittingly this entire time. That is, brewing ripe pu’s at near boiling (208-212 F). Apparently this completely blows all the subtle flavor out of a ripe pu ehr, hence why I’ve been thinking they all taste the same!
I had basically been doing the same as blasting a steak until it was well done, then wondering why people rave about steak so much, when it just tastes bland to me.
Well, this time I brewed at 190 F, and brought this pu down to a “medium rare” equivalent, and boy does it make this tea shine.
Throughout brewing, this tea has a woody, wet earth, mushroom taste at the forefront, immediately followed by the most delicious nose I’ve ever had in a tea before.
Cinnamon, butter, sweet sugariness, walnut… all at once, layered on top of each other, like eating a cinnamon bun taken straight from the oven. In later steeps this takes on a more sweet taste throughout, with the earthiness relaxing a bit into a more molasses cookie in a forest after a rain flavor, and more of that cinnamon bun flavor on breathing out after a sip.
The taste doesn’t linger long, and there’s no astringency and very little bitterness.
I’d have to experiment more to see how long this pu could last after a rough session, but I have a feeling this would hold up to a lot of resteeps without losing its charm.
I’ll definitely have to see if I can get a hold of a cake (or two, or three…) as it is well worth it.
This pu is a real charmer, and an absolute gem.
Here’s to pleasant surprises, and learning from mistakes.
Flavors: Brown Sugar, Cinnamon, Molasses, Mushrooms, Vanilla, Walnut, Wet Wood
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
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!
very floral, still a little creamy (both in taste and feeling), but over all pretty light
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