Mandala "Wild Monk" Tea - Mao Cha

Tea type
Pu'erh Tea
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Dark Bittersweet, Lemon, Sour, Tangy, Fruity, Peach, Smoke, Spices, Vegetal, Musty, Spicy
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Edit tea info Last updated by adagio breeze
Average preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 1 min, 30 sec 7 g 9 oz / 253 ml

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36 Tasting Notes View all

From Mandala Tea

Many in the West have never tried pu’er tea, let alone a mao cha. Mao cha translates to “unfinished tea”. It is the sun-dried form of the leaf before it is steamed and pressed into cakes and made into a green style pu’er.

This particular mao cha is very special in that it was picked from tea trees grown entirely in the wild, surrounded by all the native floral and fauna, exposed to nothing but clean air, high-altitude and sunshine. The tea grows quite dark, almost purple as it has adapted to the high levels in sunshine, protecting itself from the UV rays. For us humans that means we get a tea that is even higher in antioxidants.

This is a product of our April 2012 buying trip to China. We are so excited by this tea and have commissioned the pressing of 300 cakes of this leaf for long-term storage and aging. Customers are raving about this tea and we have had many repeat buys!

Almost no bitterness is present in the infused tea liquor, even when brewing at higher temps, though most of our customers are enjoying this at water temps of 175 to 190 degrees. This is delicious in the tea glass style of brewing, as well, but should definitely be enjoyed gongfu style at least once!

The dry leaf has a sweet, smoky aroma and even those who have not been fans of smoke are enjoying this tea. So sweet and full in the mouth with a tea energy that will leave you feeling fantastic! You will keep coming back for more!

We are so excited to be one of the first tea companies in the US to offer mao cha to our customers. And this tea is much worthy of the rave reviews it is getting!

Check out this tea made into a 100 gram pu’er cake commissioned by Mandala Tea!

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36 Tasting Notes

2816 tasting notes

I got this tea in my latest order from Mandala – oooh, it’s very nice!

After my monster matcha green smoothie, I decided to steep some of this up in my Yixing teapot especially for shengs. I decided to stick with short steeps of around 30-45 seconds. The tea flavor here is quite nice… there is a little bit of smoke but it also has a sweetish, thick almost lychee like quality. And yes there is a bit of sourness, a slight lemon flavor. It has a slight fizziness on my tongue in the aftertaste. Compared to the other mao cha I have had, this is considerably more mellow.

If you’re a fan of younger sheng pu-erhs you should really check this one out! I don’t have time for a more detailed tasting note today but I’m sure the 1 oz. of this I have will not last for very long.

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 45 sec

Amy – in this last order, had I sent a sample of the cake that we had this mao cha pressed into? When I was in China and buying all this mao cha, they were filling the gaiwan over the rim with the leaf and then pouring boiling water over the leaf for a rinse of about 5,7 seconds. The tea was quite strong in flavor and the energy I get from it is very nice, almost psychedelic, I swear! I definitely see colors a little brighter :)

Doug F

Young Shengs can be so flavorful but coltish, hard to control. I’m branching out and trying different purveyors (I have an order coming from Butiki); from your reviews, I gather an order from Mandala is a must. Are there three or four that you would suggest I try?


Garret – what was the name of the cake?
Doug – all of the ones I have had are great! I have the Bamboo raw pu-erh, the Xiaguan Flame, the Mengku Gifting Raw, and the Mandala Wild Mountain Green 2011. I would recommend all of them! ;)


Amy…. the wild monk mao cha is the leaf that I had pressed into the wild monk 100gram raw cake. It is going to be interesting to see what happens as it ages and ages and ages!!!

@Doug – if you have an questions about any of our teas at Mandala, don’t hesitate to ask. I am more than happy to help however I may. Thank you for your interest!!!

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3294 tasting notes

I drank multiple steepings of this during the afternoon, while I was cleaning & rearranging my sun room, then watering all the plants. This is such a lovely mild & sweet tea, with a thick & creamy feel initially, & with an excellent mind clearing kind of energy to it. Later steepings take on a lemony quality as well. This is one of those that can be steeped over & over & over again in the yixing. I’d still be drinking it now, if I was still at home.


Yum! I have the cake version and I love it!

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1113 tasting notes

Man, I don’t know if I did something wrong with this tea, or if it is really THAT different tasting than the Wild Monk cake I’ve got at home… I brewed it up and treated it just like I would my cake, and I’m getting hardly any smoke or sweetness or delicous shengy tang. Mostly I’m getting a weird bitterness…I’m on steep #2 and I’m going to keep going for a couple more steeps and see what kind of flavors I can pull from it. Any suggestions are welcome!

185 °F / 85 °C 1 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

Hmm, I think the issue might be since the leaves are LOOSE it is steeping up a lot QUICKER than I’m used to! I think I’ll be able to tweak this one and figure it out at some point…


Stephanie, when I got it in the note Garrett wrote to treat it like green, so my temp was like 175 and very short steeps like 5 and 10 sec . No bitterness detected


Yeah, I’m used to having to steep the cake up quite a bit to get it loose enough to brew…I think I just WAY oversteeped this.


Hello, everyone!! So good to see you here!! This crop of wild monk mao cha is now autumn 2013. The wild monk cake is spring 2012. That explains some of the differences as the newest mao cha will be less oxidized than the 2012 pu’er which has undergone more oxidation and “fermentation”. We do have a lot of customers brewing up the mao cha at temps less than boiling (175 or so) and enjoy it very much that way. In China, mao cha is typically brewed with boiling water, bringing out alot of the tongue watering sort of effects and stronger flavors. The first time I tasted it like that, I was blown away and wasn’t sure if I liked mao cha brewed like that. Now, I really like it. But still, I brew this up as a green tea at times, as well.

Have fun with it. The Wild Monk has a been a great tea for us. The autumn 2013 tea was just pressed into 100gram cakes, too!! It’ll be a while before we see it, though.


I’m definitely going to have to pick up another 2012 cake before they’re gone :) I just tried steeping these leaves a 3rd time and they’re spent, so I guess I did way over do it on those first 2 steeps. I’ll adjust next time and see if I can get some different flavors out of it!

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525 tasting notes

I’ve been spending a lot more time outdoors with my pups, exercising and gardening lately. I’ve started a miniature container garden! We had a few days of fantastic rare sunny warm/cool days here. Now it looks like we’re going back to the usual disappointing weather in the NYC area. I hate humidity. And work days have been busy. This weekend, unfortunately, is busy as well. I’ve signed myself up for a party today, and then it’s Mother’s Day tomorrow. I’m going to enjoy some tea while I can.

I’ve tried a variety of puers in my life. I’ve decided that I’m not really a fan. While I can drink the cups down quite easily, I never find myself craving them as I do for oolongs, greens and blacks. I’d drink more white but they often make me shaky. But Mandala has a great puer rep so I thought I’d give this a try. I received this sample when I ordered a bunch of puers for my dad’s birthday. I decided to keep this to educate myself. Two months later, I’m finally diving in.

My first thought is that I’m shocked at the smokiness. I didn’t read any descriptions before trying so I was not expecting this aspect. It’s also lighter than expected. Oddly fresh, which is not something I’d expect from a puer. But maybe that’s just because I don’t have much experience with shengs. This is tasty. I don’t think I’ll be craving it ever, but I am enjoying this current cup.

Mandala Tea

HI!! Technically, this is a “mao cha” (unfinished tea) rather than a pu’er. The wild monk cake is an actual pu’er. And there is a huge difference between a raw style tea such as this and a ripened (black) style pu’er, which is famous for its earthy and dark characteristics.

I think this mao cha is incredible as a tea glass style brew, as well, and we have many many customers brewing it that way. It is quite something how it sweetens up in longer brews like that.

You may be interested in trying some other raw teas and brewing them up much like a green/oolong tea using lower water temps. It’s fun to experiment and see what works for you. Some use full boil, others 175. Totally up to you, but it really does change the flavors and aromas, sometimes quite significantly.

Enjoy! And thanks for writing about it! Grateful, Garret


Very informative. Thanks a lot! I’ll give it another shot as a tea glass style brew.

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390 tasting notes

this was included in my first mandala order by jamie, thanks so much!

i kept trying to place my order but the checkout system refused to acknowledge me as canadian! lol. i wound up calling and talking to jamie who said he’d sort it out for me which he did while including some lovely samples as well.

lately i’ve had some odd experiences with puerh…. off beat sweetness or an overpowering mossy taste leaving the sense of having been whacked in the tongue by something good tasting but somehow fluffy; a heavy feather pillow to mouth. that is not the case with this puerh.

it steeps up to be very light, very mild smelling: hints of grass and a baseline earth tone. natural sweetness!!! this puerh has also given me insight as to what i appreciate in a puerh… a mild astringency to cut through the fuzz. the good tasting fluff is still present in this puerh, but it is balanced with a very clever astringency that is neither bitter nor acrid— just the tiniest bit sharp.

excellent. i can imagine buddhist monks drinking this to boost clarity, lol. i just had the most awesomely ridiculous image: a room at some immense altitude of orange garbed monks, all sitting cross legged and speaking the mantra in one great voice, ‘teaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa.’

very nice. a savvy sample indeed, jamie! next time i’ll buy…

195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

So very happy you enjoyed this tea! It was one of those teas that I tasted in China, surrounded by samples of all kinds of other mao cha, that would not refuse to let me go. So I bought it all, knowing that I wanted to press a bunch of cakes of it as well and it became Wild Monk. What you tasted is the 2012 crop. Soon the 2013 crop will arrive and I look forward to seeing where it will take me.

I’ll make sure to let Jamie know to read your review! Thank you so much for taking the time to write down your thoughts, my friend! I am grateful!


this blend is your baby? very nice! i’m picky about the blends i rate this highly…. i even had it naked, lol. i usually have my teas sugared and creamed!

just so you know garret, i’ve been stockpiling the last few weeks because i am officially back at school and have to be careful about spending. i chose to allocate some of my budget to your company’s brilliant rep! i cannot wait to try the black pearls! they’ve been on my list for months.


Welcome to the wonderful world of Mandala pu’erh. The Wild Monk sheng pressed cake is really good too. Did you get some Noble Mark? All their pu’erh blends are fantastic, but Noble Mark is AMAZING. Let me know if you would like to try some…


jamie included a sample of that as well!


Awwww isn’t Jamie wonderful. Hope you enjoy it. :))

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148 tasting notes

This tea just helped me rock my finals. It’s no secret I have a lot of love for the folks over at Mandala, so last week I emailed Garret about a new thermos and some tea to go in it. Every morning this last week I popped about a teaspoon of this in the bottom of the new thermos, filled it up with water, and then topped it off when it started getting low.

Like the cake form of this tea, this stuff is good. This is really sweet, slightly sour, and not a very strong young sheng. I found even with keeping the leaves essentially steeping all day, it never gets overpowering either.

And if you need to get through finals week, this tea will give you a nice buzz. :)


hmmmm on my list of teas to try now!

Terri HarpLady

yeah,Ivebeen planning on trying this one for awhile

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493 tasting notes

I’m surprised I didnt review this. very pleasant,some faint spiciness, no bitterness,sweet and juicy like bell peppers. rinse 5 sec, multiple short steeps 5/5/5/10/10/15. keeps going strong

175 °F / 79 °C 0 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 5 OZ / 150 ML

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612 tasting notes

This tea is crazy juicy, a bursting-in-the-mouth quality that reminds me a bit of standing over the sink peeling lychees and biting into them one by one. I reckon it’s going to be a lot of fun playing around with temperature over time. It feels like summer with its abundance of ripe clean-tasting fruits, and there’s a hay thing going on too. I don’t get much smoke yet but that might be down to my steeping parameters or the fact we just had dinner and my taste buds are a bit impaired/tired. Regardless, I can definitely see why this is such a favorite. There’s an easy-going sourness that makes one think of fresh fruit; it’s not unpleasant at all because it feels very fresh and there’s that juicy quality to go with it (Amanda posted a ton of tea articles recently and I really related to one about how the author is dismayed “astringency” has become a catch-all term with unpleasant connotations when there’s many types of astringency and how each interacts with the other aspects of a tea can make it good or bad!). As the juicy flavor builds over time a mysterious, sharp-bite-in-a-good-way element emerges that makes me think somehow of exotic fruit (You know how pineapple can make some people’s mouth tingle later? It’s kind of like that) and wet spicy wood (I’m sure that sounds weird but I don’t know quite how else to describe it…the exact thing is eluding me…). The texture is a bit like when you freeze grapes on hot summer days and then bite clean into one while it’s still frosty, the way there’s some thick pull to go with the juiciness. I really like this and it’s not like any pu erh I’ve tried so far.

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 30 sec

i feel like i intended to buy this and accidentally bought something else.. bloody hell lol


they sell it in cake form too, maybe that’s what you got? the first time i ordered from mandala that’s what i grabbed. i still need to try it that way! so much tea so little time…


I should confess that I have written almost no reviews of puerh this year because my friend sent me lots of exquisite samples in January, but most of the labels came off. No idea what I’ve been drinking! In a way, its been refreshing to just appreciate the puerh. There’s always a new discovery around the corner.

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361 tasting notes

After enjoying the puerh yesterday, I was hopeful to find another one that I enjoy too. This one has stellar reviews and i had it on hand, so i gave it a go.

It definitely smells like puerh, but is surprisingly sweet and not fishy at all. As it cools the more hay like notes start to take over, but there is a sweet spot right around 5 mins after cooling where it is perfectly sweet and delicious. I’m on my 4th resteep, drinking it between other cups of teas. Glad I have a bit more of this!

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97 tasting notes

I have a huge backlog of reviews to post. It’s almost daunting.

I received this tea as a sample with my first Mandala Tea order—and I will definitely be ordering most of my pu-er from them from now on. I was planning on saving this tea for tomorrow but my hockey team lost badly and I needed something nice to cheer me up.

1st Steep- 1 minute
Smelled very grassy. Usually this is quite the turn-off for me. It did taste a bit grassy but with a nice smoke flavor that I loved. I am a Lapsang Souchong fan so smoke is kind of my thing. There was also a nice spicy note that I loved. The first steep isn’t usually my favorite but this is definitely a contender.

2nd Steep-2 minutes
I can’t decide if I am getting apple or lemon in this steep. Some sips it’s lemon and some sips it’s apple. I think I prefer to think lemon because I don’t like apple and I very much liked this steep. There was still some smoke but it faded a little.

3rd Steep-3 minutes
The flavor completely morphed. It lost all of the smoke and citrus—bummer because I liked it. But this beautiful clover honey taste took its place. There was a lovely natural sweetness about this steep. This is actually a contender for my favorite steep. To be honest, I would have thought this was a completely different tea from the previous steeps.

4th Steep-10 minutes—It was supposed to be 5 minutes but I forgot about it.
This steep was lovely as well. It was still honeyish but a bit of floral flavor had snuck in there. This is definitely not my favorite steep but it’s good enough. I could have probably steeped this one at least two more times even with my timing fiasco.

Overall-I really loved this tea. I am almost beating myself up because I had it in my cart to buy a cake but I went with another one. I’ll buy a cake of it someday. Not near close to now because I did buy six cakes. But I am happy that I squirreled away half of the sample for tomorrow.

I am noticing a noticeable mood lift that normally would not happen on days where my team loses—I’m pretty obsessed I don’t know if it’s the tea but I’m feeling pretty peppy right now and I am most definitely not a peppy person.

180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec

I am so happy you enjoy this tea. I was enamored by it the first time I drank it while on my last buying trip. I also am intrigues by how many comment about this tea’s mood-lifting capabiliteas! It totally helped get me out of jet lag and just makes me feel so good. Already working on buying this years crop from the same place! Will have is in loose-leaf and will also press 250 gram cakes of it this year… thank you for taking the time to write up your tasting, my friend!

Jamie Groth

The Wild Monk deserves mindful tasting, but I’d add that it one of my favorite chuggable thermos teas when I am on the go. In fact, my wife and I make this in large mason jars before work sometimes. I love the way it seems to open up my chest and and lungs with a cooling sensation. And yes, by the third refill of the ol’ jar that enjoyable sweetness really does take over. The cakes are tightly compressed and we like to steam them apart – it is remarkable how this dense little cake makes such a huge pile of loose leaf.


Garret: This tea is definitely something special. It was one of my first (and best) experiences with sheng pu-er. The mood lift was definitely unexpected but very welcome. I will be buying a cake (or two) with my next order.

I do have a question about pu-er cake storage. Is it okay to store them in cardboard boxes? I’m fairly new to pu-er and I don’t want to destroy them.

Jamie: Any tea that I can stand up to a thermos is a tea for me. I carry my 16oz thermos everywhere. I still prefer my fancypants teacups :) I never thought of using mason jars to drink tea. Sounds kind of brilliant. I have a couple stored in my kitchen from my jam making escapade/tragedy.

Jamie Groth

Add one of these to the top of your mason jar and you’re in business!

A jar without a handle will get pretty warm to the touch depending on water temp, though.

A cardboard box will do just fine for storing your cakes and they can be left in normal dry storage conditions (counter top or cupboard, etc), but there is more to consider if you are looking for long term storage and aging. Good discussion and a chime-in from Garret here:

A cake of Wild Monk never lasts more than a couple weeks at my house, so I just steam it, break it up, and put it in loosely sealed container on the counter.


Those Cuppow things look pretty awesome. Especially for iced tea which I really don’t drink much of but would if I could drink it out of a mason jar.

That thread is super helpful. I put them in cardboard boxes on a bookshelf. Tea doesn’t tend to last too long around me so I don’t think I’m planning on aging them unless I get really ambitious. I wish I had more cupboard space not in a kitchen to store them.

I could see myself becoming obsessed with Wild Monk and hoarding cakes of it. I will probably buy a cake when I finish at least one of the ones on my bookshelf.


nice teas thankes :)

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