What a day. Wife is gone for 2 days at a business conference. Both kids had the day off from school. My 4 year old son had to get an abscess on his stomach lanced at 8am. Yup. The good news is that he handled it so well and has been in good spirits and very loving/cuddly all day.

So I decide to reach for this sample that was sent to me a while back with an order. Mandala is usually a pretty good bet when you want a good ripe. I went with a full boil, a 5 second rinse, and a 5 second first steep. The first steep felt very light and airy in my mouth. But for as light as it felt, the flavors were really nice. I detected some malty chocolate as well as some light cherry notes. But, calm down all you cherry cordial fans (myself included). Those flavors weren’t together when I detected them. More like, one sip reveal one and the next sip revealed another.

Second steep, 10 seconds. Earthy smoothness. Still light and airy. There is something on the back of the throat. A coating sweetness. Underhanded, not overpowering. But there.

Third steep, 15 seconds. First off, the smell of the wet leaves is unlike any I’ve smelled in a ripe shou before. I am not sure I can even really describe it other than there is this almost floral like honeysuckle, slightly spicy, sweetness. The liquor on this one has more of a musty taste. Not un-enjoyable but not as good as the first two steeps.

Fourth steep, 15 seconds. Held back a little on this one due to the flavor of the last steep. I think it was a good decision. The flavor mellowed out. Now we are getting back to some of the enjoyable flavors from the first two steeps. Light chocolate/cocoa flavor.

Fifth steep, 20 seconds. I am starting to see the bigger picture here on this one. When steeped correctly, this is a light, airy and smooth, consistent drinker. My review will probably stop here, until/unless something else drastically different jumps out at me.

Final Thought: Though this is pretty consistent from steep to steep, it is by no means dull, bland or uninteresting. It has some really unique flavors/and smells. It certainly feels and tastes like a higher quality tea. Very solid.

Flavors: Cherry, Chocolate, Musty, Sweet

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 118 ML

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Michigander, Husband, father of three, lover of tea, books, nature, gardening, and passion. Stay at home dad currently. Previously a preschool teacher.

I have now completed some tea swaps and I am so totally up for swapping! What a cool way to connect with fellow tea lovers and try some new teas. My tea cupboard on here is woefully out of date though.

Black tea has been my go to tea for some time. Oolongs are good too but mainly roasty oolongs. I’m finding that there are some green and white teas (mostly Moonlight Whites) that impress me lately which they never used to do. I am getting into and developing a taste for Pu-erh. I have tried raw and my Ulcerative Colitis just can’t handle the roughness of it. So I stick to ripe Puerh. I am recently drinking more herbal tea or Rooibos especially STRONG ginger blends. I’m not too picky.

Some of my favorite places from which to purchase tea are Whispering Pines Tea Co, Verdant, A Quarter to Tea, Beautiful Taiwan Tea Co, Bitterleaf Tea, and Yunnan Sourcing.

Rating system:
90-100: Some of the best I’ve ever had. I’d be a fool not to keep it stocked as often as possible
80-89: A damn good tea. Not to be missed
70-79: A good tea but lacks the wow factor. More than likely a simple tea that could be an every day option
60-69: Eh. This is okay. Not swill by any means but fairly underwhelming.
50-59: Not really doing it for me. I’ll finish it but please don’t bring me any more.
Below 50: Life is too short to waste on things such as this


Lansing, Michigan

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