1337 Tasting Notes
A sample of Spring 2021 harvest. Thank you for your generosity, What-Cha :)
This is now the third harvest I’ve had of this tea. Heavily roasted oolong isn’t my favorite, save for well rested and highly oxidized yancha. But this is nice, nicer than the 2016 and about on par with the 2020.
Sweet and sparkling honey-graham and cardamom taste mixed with black walnut and twigs. This roast is obvious here and lends alkalinity yet it is unobtrusive and allows for the perfumey floral aspect of the lower-oxidixed leaf to come through. At one point, the aftertaste had a playful, fleeting moment of peanut butter mixed with honey crystals. Becomes woodier and tannic as it steeps out. This will likely age into something much like the 2003 Aged Green Heart Oolong https://steepster.com/teas/what-cha/67645-taiwan-2003-aged-green-heart-oolong
Cool to see how much my impression differs from beerandbeancurd’s for the same harvest :)
Flavors: Alkaline, Black Walnut, Cacao, Cardamom, Chocolate, Floral, Graham Cracker, Grass, Honey, Nutty, Peanut, Perfume, Resin, Roasted Barley, Roasty, Sweet, Tannin, Toast, Tree Fruit, Twigs, Vanilla, Woody
Dag nabbit. I just lost my entire note!
Hello Steepsters :) Internet and tea-drinking took a backseat to nursing myself back to full health and attending to more pressing affairs this month. Sorry I dipped out in the midst of the “Tea Tag” thread taking off. Now that I’ve caught up on y’alls tealogs and have one more tasting note to add of my own, I’ll pop in there.
I managed to drink through an entire bag without taking one note, so this tasting note is for yesterday’s bowl. Spring 2022 harvest.
The aroma is vegetal-sweet and savory much like split pea soup with bacon. Thick, rich and sweet with low-toned but clear nutty-umami taste. I think about corn husk, sweet roasted chestnut and hazelnut, molasses and malt, peas, scallops, straw and white wine. Earthy-vegetal undertone like lightly smokey grilled asparagus and seaweed. The tea becomes more pungent and astringent with each top off. It’s a powerful tea that for me is not to be drank on an empty stomach. It went well with some vanilla yogurt and heavily buttered toast. If sheng pu’er upsets your constitution, I’d steer clear.
My first cup of this tea many months ago when it was very fresh was grandpa in a narrow thick-walled glass. In their description, Mandala likens this to an unoaked Chardonnay, and that’s exactly what the first cup was like! Now the white wine is more of a background vibe than an upfront character.
This is likely the same tea as Yunnan Sourcing’s Yunnan Pine Needles Green Tea I had before I joined Steepster. I remember not liking it back then as it was too intense and nutty, which is a flavor profile I often have trouble appreciating. It’s still not much my style but I can say this style of Yunnan green tea has plenty to offer.
Flavors: Asparagus, Astringent, Chestnut, Corn Husk, Earthy, Hazelnut, Malt, Meat, Molasses, Nutty, Peas, Pungent, Rich, Seafood, Smoke, Straw, Sweet, Thick, Umami, White Wine
A very approachable red tea with complex aroma and taste. Needs a longer first steep to awaken the leaf when made in a small teapot. Also good steeped western. Rich osmanthus in the nose; luscious tropical fruit flavors mixed with cacao-cocoa, malt and cedar; tenacious aftertaste. Energy flows throughout the body and pushes outward.
This tea has many similarities to my favorite Yunnan wild red tea https://steepster.com/teas/the-essence-of-tea/100896-2022-spring-da-xue-shan-wild-red-tea but it’s not as potent or pungent and is maybe a little flatter in taste. It does have that sweet and comforting cocoa and sweet potato presence of Fengqing red teas, though. Woodier than the Da Xue Shan.
Flavors: Baby Powder, Banana, Cacao, Cedar, Cocoa, Floral, Fruity, Grapes, Malt, Mango, Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Passion Fruit, Peach, Red Fruits, Resin, Strawberry, Sweet Potatoes, Tropical, Woody
Spicy, rooty-earthy, brothy and bright — exactly what was needed while recovering from illness and returning to work. The box was pretty much empty within 4 days of opening.
I added several grinds of black pepper to the first cups and thought that’s what made this tea so spicy, but nope, it’s definitely just as spicy and tingly on its own, almost like Sichuan peppercorn. It kind of flattened in the back of the mouth – herbal, must be the meadowsweet. I understand the purpose of using meadowsweet since it contains salicylic acid but I prefer my turmeric blends to be all spice, all the time.
Flavors: Bright, Broth, Earthy, Flat, Ginger, Herbal, Roots, Spicy, Turmeric
The aroma wafts from the gaiwan in a cloud of mellow fruit and spice. The overall taste is herbal, fruity, wet rock- and black tea-like. Notes of chamomile, plum, red apple, boiled mint, suede, and smooth baked cinnamon. Plenty of tongue tingle, some mintiness opens the chest and clears the sinuses. Sweet, aromatic aftertaste has notes of redfruity dark chocolate, sparkling honey and orchid. The way the tea drank stood out the most to me; it left my mouth quickly and left it feeling cleansed.
Uncustomarily, I used the entire packet for today’s session. Perhaps it’s a bit stronger than I prefer but it’s a pleasant tea. Not sure I would purchase again, but I do recommend it.
Flavors: Alkaline, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Floral, Herbal, Honey, Huckleberry, Leather, Mineral, Mint, Orchid, Plum, Red Apple, Red Fruits, Roasty, Tea, Vanilla, Wet Earth, Wet Rocks
This thermos is a beauty. Great proportions and a sleek visual contour which is amplified by the double wall glass construction. Smooth bamboo lid. Mandala’s pretty logo is well placed toward the bottom, which I appreciate, letting the color and transparency of the brew shine. The teas that produce the greatest visual appeal are my Chinese and Taiwanese teas, specifically green, white, unroasted oolong and lighter, fruitier red teas.
Functionally, it’s well constructed with high quality, moderately thick double walled glass that stays gently warm to the touch, not the typical thin, finger-scorching walls of most Chinese made glassware. It also doesn’t retain so much heat that it overbrews teas, unlike a stainless steel thermos (which also alters the taste of tea). Regardless of the thermos’s perceived sturdiness, it’s still glass so must be handled with care, especially while washing since the glass is so smooth. The neoprene sleeve takes away from the aesthetic but gives the comfort of knowing the thermos is protected when I put it in the side pocket of my backpack or lay it on my passenger seat before heading to work. For filtration, a shallow strainer screws into the basket, or it can be used alone. The two-part strainer allows for different ways to brew and drink your tea. The basket is big enough to hold up to 4 grams of my largest loose-leaf teas like big leaf Yunnan and Taiwanese reds, and can accommodate the unruly expansion of 3 grams of balled oolong with some cramping. I haven’t had any leak issues from the cap unless screwed too tight. Screwing until just closed plus a little nudge lets the steam create a vacuum that prevents leakage. The gasket inside the cap is easy to remove and clean.
Overall, I’m very happy with this beauty. My only issue with it is that I must use a bottle brush to clean the inside.
Unfortunately another casualty of COVID.
Green Gold was such an approachable Chinese green tea. It had a little bit of everything in wonderful balance. Sweet, viscous mouthfeel and refined astringency. Just a pleasure to drink in a variety of ways. It was special and I wish I could describe its taste profile. Maybe next year.
Flavors: Pear, Soybean, Sweet, Warm Grass, Vanilla, Viscous
Robust and smooth Ceylon black tea expanded in the sachet like one of those dinosaur sponges in a capsule. Tastewise, this was a casualty of COVID. Impressions of dark wet tobacco, dark rainforest shadows, copper. I remember a little bergamot and the feeling of cool lavender. High octane and good for 2 steeps — keep your eye on the first steep.
Flavors: Bergamot, Dark Wood, Lavender, Metallic, Rainforest, Smooth, Tobacco, Wet Wood
I crown this my Favorite Herbal Tea for Rainy Season.
It’s a serene walk through the coastal range. Damp and crisp, foggy. Quietude.
The most recent box I bought is sweeter than before and not at all drying. I think the tips were harvested early such that tannins hadn’t started developing yet.