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Recent Tasting Notes
Another 2020 harvest green tea acquired as a stand-in until the new harvests arrive in full swing. I’ll probably be ordering Chinese greens this year from stateside vendors since I never buy enough of them to justify the more expensive and faster shipping options (been waiting on a small package from Teavivre for 2 months, ugh).
The dry leaf smells buttery-nutty with dark cocoa powder and an herbal undertone. Wet leaf aroma is alkaline. It reminds me of butter-browned napa cabbage, barbecued oysters, farro, earthy-sweet cooked snow peas, rice crackers and anise.
I’ve been brewing this in a gaiwan with a lower leaf:water ratio to mitigate the less-than-fresh qualities that are apparent in grandpa and western steeping (it can turn brassy and buttery-toasty dry grass quickly). The liquor aroma is sweet and nutty; the texture is buttery soft and smooth on the sip. Delicate notes of buttery rice crackers with seaweed bows, lemon, fresh oysters, sweetgrass. A clear quartz-like minerality presents with some salty astringency as it swallows juicy. The tea becomes fruitier, dry grassy and more astringent as steeps progress. There’s a unique aftertaste of custard apple and rice crackers moving to buttery-creamy apricot-osmanthus and toasted rice. Can get bitter if oversteeped.
Valley Peak was the first tea I ever tried from Mandala many years ago, in the days of using mason jars and a fork to simulate a gaiwan. I remember it being so gentle and satisfying. It can be likened to a Dragon Well (however varied those are) but I find it softer, less intense and depending on the Dragon Well’s processing and provenance, less like chestnuts.
Flavors: Anise, Apricot, Astringent, Buffalo Grass, Butter, Cocoa, Cream, Dry Grass, Earth, Fruity, Garden Peas, Grain, Herbs, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Marine, Mineral, Nutty, Osmanthus, Rice, Salt, Seaweed, Smooth, Sweet, Toasted Rice, Toasty, Vegetables
Even though fresh harvests of other green teas are becoming available, I went ahead and bought a 2020 harvest to satisfy the immediate desire for green tea.
The 25g didn’t last more than a few weeks after I opened it. I never took notes so this is a recollection and not the best one at that.
Found myself gravitating to brewing in a glass gaiwan and it lasted for many steeps. Thick, clean and sweet with quartzlike minerality and the following mild qualities: soybean and soy-milkiness, green chestnut astringency, raw asparagus bitterness and a lemony citrus tone to balance. Very gentle honeysuckle floral quality. Sometimes I’d get fleeting peach. There is a moderate herbal note like anise-tarragon. I like those green, pungent notes that come out when brewing with a higher leaf to water ratio.
Grandpa is thick, mild and juicy. Western brings more astringency and florality.
A good tea if the time it took me to drink through 25g is a testament to my enjoyment. Recommended as a good, clean and solid green tea that takes well to different methods, though I never did try upping the temperature. I can’t believe it’s been 5 years since this tea was last reviewed.
Flavors: Anise, Asparagus, Chestnut, Cookie, Herbs, Honeysuckle, Lemon, Milk, Mineral, Peach, Soybean, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass, Thick
Started with a quick rinse per Mandala’s website, though probably not the full 10 seconds. The tea is light, even with the full 2 teaspoons but a chocolaty flavor does come through. I see a lot of other flavors listed on Steepster but my palate’s not so refined as all that. So chocolate it is!
8 ounces water + 208 degrees + 20 minutes
The second steep isn’t as flavorful as I had hoped. It does have more flavor as it cools, but it’s a little drying. I’m also picking up this mineral note that I didn’t notice in the first steep. I have enough for one more cup, so I’m going to hold my rating until I try it again. Maybe no rinse next time and a little less water. Thanks for sending this one my way, Michelle!
Flavors: Chocolate, Drying, Mineral
Nearing the end of the packet, I can say I think I prefer this tea gongfu, which isn’t usually the case for me and green tea. It tends to develop more astringency western and grandpa but it does overall do well with various methods.
In a gaiwan, the gentle character of the tea shines. It’s round, thick and soft with just enough astringency to balance. The sweetness is soothing, soymilky-nectar. Do I taste lactose? As it opens up, I taste the scallops I’ve noted before and green peas. Very subtle mintiness. Aftertaste moves back and forth between white peach and ham. I feel a small flame alight in my body. This tea easily goes for 7 or 8 infusions in a gaiwan. I have been measuring the leaf to find this tea’s sweet spot and I think 4g:150mL is it.
Compared to the last Yunnan imperial biluochun I had, this is sweeter and milder, without a strong floral note; less vegetal, and I don’t get any black pepper notes with this one. Sweet scallops and ham are present in both.
A very gentle, tonic tea <3 good for those womanly monthly moments.
Flavors: Astringent, Creamy, Garden Peas, Marine, Meat, Milk, Mint, Mushrooms, Nectar, Peach, Round , Salt, Soybean, Sweet, Thick
Yay, first fresh green of the year. Thick, sweet, smooth and round. My smart-ass boss asked what the phluck I was drinking (grandpa in a glass cup). I think he said something about seaweed. My work partner-in-crime said it looked like an anemone in the cup. For all the marine references, it’s amusing in a tea snoot way that I think this tastes like fresh, sweet scallops. Maybe I’m not crazy? I felt so crazy this morning, though, that I left work 2 hours in. Turns out the vaccine is kicking my ass 2 days later. Shame I’m glued to the bed with fatigue and aching arms and legs – it’s a beautiful day and the garden needs working.
I found myself kind of at a loss for how to brew this tea so I opted to empty the entire 4g sample in my 150mL glass gaiwan and do somewhat short steeps.
This tea, while a past year’s harvest, has so much more character than the Huoshan huang ya I had a few years ago at Imperial Tea Court. It is subtle, yes, but it has a slick and oily medium body that carries a sweet and alkaline taste, like a mix of corn husk, gently roasted buttery nuts, some kind of mild, sweet seafood like squid, quartz-like minerality and hint of anise. It’s a little cooling-spicy in the throat, too. Short, sweet, buttery and flowery mouth-watering aftertaste. Gentle nourishment with no bitterness or astringency.
Thank you for the sample, Mandala :)
Edit: It’s on sale right now.
Flavors: Anise, Butter, Corn Husk, Flowers, Grass, Marine, Mineral, Mint, Nectar, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Spicy, Sweet
I can’t recall ever having a shou pu’er like this. The mouthfeel is amazing. It’s like drinking oil. It’s buoyant, round and pectic; silky smooth and coating. The taste isn’t muddy at all — it’s clean and round, savory and piquant. Makes me think of ginseng chicken soup, fresh fish stock, soy sauce, walnut bread, cheesecake, camphor. I really don’t get any earth-dirt-wood here. Very much recommended!
Whether this came from Mandala as a free sample or from White Antlers as a Swedish Death Purge tea, thank you :)
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Camphor, Cheesecake, Cherry, Chicken Soup, Citrus, Dark Chocolate, Fish Broth, Olive Oil, Osmanthus, Plum, Round , Smooth, Soy Sauce, Thick, Walnut, Yeast
Mastress Alita’s sipdown challenge Wednesday, February 17th: Random Acts of Kindness Day Tea #2
Courtesy of Kawaii433 a while ago! Thanks very much! I’ve been neglecting this one a bit because I’m not usually seeing the specialness of a roasted tea, but this one isn’t too bad. There is a hint of green under the deep red leaves and the brew is fairly light orange. The roast isn’t too bad, but also tastes like a hint of stevia which obviously isn’t there. Maybe I’m just now making this connection that roasted teas taste like stevia to me. The second steep is much the same, light roast flavor which I like, starchy, maybe hints of squash. Not oversteeped at all at three minutes. The third steep is also great but I can never notice nuance after the roasted notes. But the roast is light, so I like! I definitely wouldn’t consider this “dark roast”.
Steep #1 // 2 teaspoons for full mug // 30 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 28 minutes after boiling // 3 minute steep
Steep #3 // just boiled // 4 min
Mandala. Every time I think I’ve tried your best tea you throw me through another loop and I taste something even better. (Granted I still find it hard to beat your Milk oolong) Though I’m not much of a fan of pu er, I find this one astounding. I truly feel like I am drinking sticky rice. The mouthfeel is incredibly silky. If steeped for too long the earthy notes become a bit overwhelming. Make sure to try this gong fu style.
NOOOOO!! I thought this was a Lapsang. It smelled too heavily of campfire smoke, so I didn’t think it could be anything but Lapsang…. But no… It’s a wonderful black tea. And why am I screaming? Because I dumped a bit of it in my bone broth that is cooking from yesterday’s turkey leftovers. Shame, shame, shame. This tea is so smooth. A Keenum style but without the astringency. The aroma is of apricots and slight earth in the wet leaf. I’m currently on my third steeping and it’s still going strong. I hope my bone broth is amazing.
Simply went grandpa today morning. I took everything that was sent to me by derk who get it from White Antlers, so again a tea I haven’t bought myself, though looking (not only once) on Mandala Tea website.
Anyway, I have used almost boiling, but not yet, water. I think it could be around 90°C and it was great. I quite a lot agree with derk’s statement saying liquid honeysuckle. As I don’t recall the taste/aroma of it too much, I guess it’s correct. It was indeed somewhere floral/vegetal. As well the aftertaste was mellow and enjoyable; I get hints of pine maybe as well? Hints of mineral, yellow melons and smooth.
Maybe a bit wrong way using everything and so “simple way”. But that’s it, I don’t have it anymore :D
Flavors: Floral, Honeysuckle, Melon, Mineral, Pine, Vegetal
Thank you, White Antlers, for passing this along :)
Only had 6.5g and I was in the mood to use my shou pot, so I tried to compensate for the lack of adequate grammage in comparison to the vessel size by steeping it long.
I think this shou still needs time to come into itself. It’s pretty low on the funk but still has the yeasty-bready taste early before moving into beety petrichor, heavy dark wood and minerals. There’s a sour cherry dominating tone that I think still needs to be worked out and smoothed. There are some hints of licorice root, forest floor, cocoa, walnut and pine and a wisp of camphor. An almost candy-like, fleeting redfruity finish but no lingering aftertaste or returning sweetness; mild bitterness.
I’m curious how the aroma of the dry leaf (smells like applewood smoked pork) will effect the taste in the future since it’s very different from how it currently tastes.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Camphor, Candy, Cherry, Cocoa, Dark Wood, Forest Floor, Licorice, Meat, Mineral, Petrichor, Pine, Red Fruits, Smoked, Tart, Walnut, Wood, Yeast
This is a swap sample, I believe from Kawaii433. I wonder how she’s doing… Thanks for the sample, lady!
I steeped it Western-style, about 2 or 3 teaspoons for my mug. The leaves are huge and twisty, so it’s hard to measure by anything but eye.
This is mighty tasty! Very sweet and roasty, reminiscent of a mellow houjicha. There are light honey and sticky dried fruit notes that make me think of figs or dates. And a comforting gentle autumn leaf pile flavor that makes this a perfect tea for fall…
I have plenty of houjicha at the moment so I don’t feel the need to rush out and order this one, but I will definitely put it on the list for the future.
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Dates, Dried Fruit, Fig, Honey, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Smooth, Sweet
Whether these mini tuocha came from White Antlers or from Mandala Tea, I don’t know. Either way, they were a gift of kindness :)
This morning, I stewed a 4.5g tuo in my work thermos to pour into a special mug. The mug, or rather a small beer stein, is dedicated to shou and has an image of Prague on it, all in earthen tones. It makes me think of Martin Bednar and his benevolence.
Zendo is fresh and has very little leftover fermentation funk. I mostly notice it as that kind of nutritional yeast flavor I sometimes pick up on in shou. Barely cheesy, barely bready, entirely welcome. Zendo is like drinking smooth, wet rocks with a hint of sweet dark earth. Not getting chocolate or fruit like Mandala.
I really like Zendo as a daily drinker (I finished both mini tuo within 24 hours). It’s so easy and smooth, clean and mineral. Ah, comfort.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Earth, Mineral, Smooth, Sweet, Umami, Wet Rocks, Yeast
This is backlog from yesterday morning when I was preparing for statistics and probability exam.
It wasn’t a weather to wear a suit all the time I was travelling to the University, as temperature dropped to -10°C and well, suit isn’t much isolating. So I took my warm jeans and typical, common clothes and took my suit folded up in a bag with me.
I have decided to take a puerh with me, as we now have a kettle available for students at the university (someone probably heard me lamenting), even mugs! But I took my thermomug just in case as I didn’t knew they are there too.
And well, this one was a wonderful tea after hour or something later I have arrived (foot-train-bus as means of transport, 60 km away) at the university premises.
It was thick as needed (I just went as rule of thumb, just the rest I had from derk, thank you!); bold, chocolate-mushroomy, peaty, forest floors. Even leathery.
It was just a perfect tea for the start of the day. And thick and everything. Good for cold, winter days.
Oh I forgot! SIPDOWN 44
Flavors: Chocolate, Forest Floor, Mushrooms, Peat, Thick
I found out I put into my virtual cupboard wrong Phatty Cake, athough it was clearly labeled with II.
I am as well not fan of ripe pu-erhs; but I like drinking them during cold days as those hit my country and yes, we had the snow already. 90 km (56 mi) from my home: https://twitter.com/CT24zive/status/1315566575152500737
A tea, received in box from derk and again my assumption it’s from her. So thank you If it is from you, White Antlers, sorry and thank you for it :) — but it is hard to recognize, though there is WA mark on some.
Anyway I was drinking this tea during the lecture of “Statistics and Probability” and there is one task:
There are 5 white balls, 6 black ones, 2 blue ones.
If I take three of them, what is probability I took
A) all blacks
B) every one is different
C) two are blue and one is white?
Ah, tea, right?
As I said before, I never been fan of shu. They were quite all same for me, somehow dark, peat, fishy, smoky… But this one seems different. Although it was certainly peaty when dry, even in first steeps, it was as well quite pleasant. Leather notes, woody, forest floors, mushroomy (but in a good way), I enjoyed the thickness of this tea. There are some notes reminding me chocolate and petrichor (that could be outside though).
I am glad it wasn’t one of those teas which are full of that less favorite smells and flavors and rather those nice ones.
Flavors: Chocolate, Forest Floor, Leather, Peat, Petrichor, Thick, Wood
Delicate fluffy white tea on a smokey August morning.
Liquid honeysuckle in a cup. A little tangy with a dry finish. Mellow honeyed aftertaste.
It was a nice moment, courtesy of White Antlers.
2.5g, 200mL, 2 steeps
Flavors: Cucumber, Drying, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Melon, Mineral, Perfume, Sweet, Tangy
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Pleasantly Sour, Raisins, Rosehips
No notes yet. Add one?
Flavors: Chicken Soup, Earth, Mushrooms
I’ve been called to the kitchen window today. It’s a large window with a view northwest toward the Pacific, into the mouth of winter storm creation. The first call was upon waking, then many more while cooking breakfast. Again while cooking lunch. More times throughout the day than I care to admit. I am restless. I know the clouds are moving quickly because the wind is tossing around the climbing rose arbor, shaking it to its roots, threatening to topple the entire structure and what I imagine following as the setting free of hundreds of ruffled-edge flowers in a cloud of silken yellow confetti — poof.
Such a show would be stunning against the backdrop of this ominous sky. So many shades of grey, each one a pocket of guesses. It is undeniably spring.
Ah, here comes a surprise afternoon shower.
Much love to all.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Bitter, Camphor, Forest Floor, Fruity, Herbs, Medicinal, Mineral, Mint, Mushrooms, Rainforest, Round , Smooth, Wet Earth, White Grapes