WMD Mansa is a high quality tea, there’s no question about that. An experience with a tea like this is impossible to summarize, but for me the highlights were the complexity this tea displays both in the cha qi and the taste of course. Despite some similarities with other Yi Wu gushu, it is also fairly unique and I am very glad I sampled it. However, at $1/g, I also doubt I will be buying more of it to be honest, especially since the taste profile is actually not completely aligned with my personal preferences and the tea brews a bit shorter than most gushu does.
I like the fragrance, but I didn’t find it to be an overly remarkable aspect as the Bitterleaf Tea’s description might suggest. Empty cup aroma is mostly floral and pollen-like, while the leaves themselves smell a bit more vegetal. There are also notes of nuts, toasted bread, haystacks, thistles, and parsley to be found in the gaiwan.
The tea is complex and changes throughout the session. The rinse is mostly mineral, sweet and floral. Next few infusions are savoury with a sour finish, a strong creeping (rather than in-your-face) bitterness, and very little sweetness. I find it to be somewhat “wild-tasting” (reminiscent of Taiwanese wild tea) with notes of edamame, chicory, walnut skins, and seed oil. The aftertaste is then a bit spicy, floral and creamy.
Middle steeps are more fruity and sweet, displaying new flavours of fenugreek, peas, and grapes. There is a cooling, nutty aftertaste with an ever intensifying huigan. Late infusions then become mostly sweet and citrusy and remain flavourful until the end. New notes include those of fish broth, carrot, and lemon. The aftertaste is somewhat perfumy and biting at this stage.
After about 13 infusions, the tea doesn’t have enough power to sustain classic brewing. However, as with many Yi Wu teas, one can break up the leaves mechanically to prolong the session if desired. The resulting brews are thick, sweet and balanced with a return of the more vegetal aspects and a sweet cooling aftertaste, as well as another energy boost.
Throughout the session the body is medium to full with an incredibly smooth texture. Early on, there is a mouth-numbing sensation as well. The cha qi is very strong and warms the whole body and soul. In the early stages, it is very meditative, while afterwards I get mostly an energizing feeling from drinking the tea.
Flavors: Biting, Bitter, Carrot, Citrusy, Fish Broth, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Hay, Lemon, Mineral, Nuts, Parsley, Peas, Perfume, Plants, Sour, Spicy, Sweet, Toast, Vegetal, Walnut