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

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I only started truly getting into pu er as of mid June of 2016, and tea as a whole at the beginning of 2016.

I started out with Mandala Tea, and I keep going back as often as I can, although I’ve now expanded to also include Yunnan Sourcing, and White2Tea with Verdant Tea on the list of places to try next.

I am a beginner at reviewing but I am trying to improve, so don’t be surprised if I miss some subtler tastes or have trouble naming a scent or flavor that comes through.

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