359 Tasting Notes


So, nothing against it, but I’m not much of a Valentine’s day type of gal. I much prefer unexpected love days throughout the year :-)

But since today is supposed to be about love (and not about picking up some cheap flowers last minute at a grocery store cause you feel you have too), I chose to do things I really love.

Drinking this tea was one of them. Top 3 favourite tea of all time for me. Discovered Da Yu Ling last year, I keep two from different companies, equally good. Learned that it is grown at the highest plantation in the world, 8500 feet altitude!

This green oolong is similar to some of my favourites Tie Guan Yin, but brings it to the next level.

I’m using the yixing pot I dedicate to fragrant green oolongs. The brew is a beautiful bright yellow colour.

The aroma is breathtaking. I picture a vast garden with luxuriant vegetation all around as I sip on it. Think orchids and lilac scent, mixed up in a twirl of honey and fruity notes. Not sure what’s the specific fruit I get, but it feels like apricot to me.

It’s very sweet, and yet, the finish is minty fresh. Not in your face mint, more of a sweet faint spearmint. The most fabulous phenomena about this tea is how long the taste lingers in the mouth. Long after I’m done drinking it, I can still feel its imprint.

This type of thick buttery mouthfeel always reminds me a silk ribbon dancing in my mouth!

It’s pure liquid gold, but I rarely see people reviewing any Da yu ling at all.

Is there other Steepsterites out there that are as taken by it as I am??

I’ll end this note with a little love story…

It might have been the side effects of the snowstorm, but my cat Happy today was such a little bugger. Dexter (my dog) and I were trying to chill, me having tea and reading a book, him all curled up next to me. Happy likes Dexter’s ears. He’s obsessed with them . He keeps toying with them while Dexter tries to nap. Eventually, Dexter wakes up and gives me the helpless puppy look while Happy takes over his whole head. So what does a 100 pound dog do to an anoying kitty you ask? Well, have a look here:


No worries, although it looks like it, Dexter is not having a “Happy meal”, lol!

Here’s how it usually ends:


As the song goes «…so “happy” to-ge-therrr…»


aww…cute critters…


Yours is pretty cute too, Cryptickoi :-)


thanks..that’s Sprout,he’s a quite the character…


Your animal buddies are adorable!


Haha! Love Sprout as a name!

Thanks Gmathis, I think so too :-)


AAAAWWWWwwwwwwwwweeeeeeeeee – how cute is that….


So cute!

caile That is so cute!!

OMG!!! cryptickoi, what’s up with that??? Awwww, don’t I love poeple and their fury friends:-) A French Bulldog? They look so in love!!


Gus is a Boston Terrier…


here’s Sprout and Mr.Krinkle(named after the Primus song)…http://www.flickr.com/photos/117587293@N05/12531782284/


they’re comedy…


Your family bunch is so awesome cryptickoi! (Lol, Mr.Krinkle )


yours are very cute…how many do you have?


Four cats, one dog…all rescues, except for the doberman. They all seem to knock at my door winter time, how can I say no??


very nice…food gets scarce in winter I guess..saying no is difficult for me as well…

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Yesterday was such a lazy day that I feel just a tad guilty this morning… It’s VERY tempting to do the same today…hmmm, will have to debate on that.

This morning I woke up early and went to the grocery store to pick up some dragon fruits (pitaya). A friend mentioned them in a conversation and I’ve had a huge craving since then.

It’s the most spectacular fruit I know, the fushia skin aroud the snowy white flesh and black dots is just fascinating, isn’t it?


Anyways, I wanted malty and fruity black morning tea to go along. I chose this assam cause I have only one serving left and I know more is on the way, so no need to be all sad about it!

This is a golden tip second flush with a long bud. This tea is one if my favourite assam. It’s very good quality and thanks to Zen Tea, very affordable! It’s on sale right now at 30% that’s why I took the opportunity to replenish.

Because it is second flush, it’s very creamy and malty, with fruity and chocolaty notes.

There’s an earthy/tobacco undertone that makes this tea feel organic.

It’s on the strong side, full bodied but no bitterness, just a little astringent. Very smooth considering it produces such a strong cup. Like pretty much all western brewed assams, the second steep is of no interest to me, I steep the first cup long enough that I extract all the good stuff I need from it, the second steep being just a pale version of the first, I choose not to have it. I do cold steep the used leaves occasionally though. Makes a decent ice tea the next morning.

This tea made my permanent stash a long time ago, and it’s not going anywhere!!

(See previous note)


mmm dragonfruit! So good!! It is making me crave my favorite exotic fruit (soursop) since they usually show up at the same time.


Oh, they look very fleshy and refreshing! Just looked them up, unfortunately, we don’t seem to have those around here, but I’ll keep my eyes open the next time I go to the fruit department!


pitayas are gorgeous! they have to be one of nature’s most astounding fruits..such a work of art. i never actually tasted one tho, although i bought it…twice! lol

maybe the third time’s the charm ;) also really want to try guanabana!


Ok, stop you guys, I’m gonna have to go back to the store and buy all exotic fruits I can lay eyes on!!!
Pyarkaallo, how could you have bought them twice and not having tasted them yet? Do they have a life of their own and escape you fridge at night???

Sami Kelsh

Oh man, that is a gorgeous fruit. Never had one myself though, is it awesome?

I’ve just found a greengrocer in the city that stocks cherimoya, though, and I’m over the moon. One of my favourites! Now, if only I could find durian…


Yeah, pitayas are so good and refreshing, like a cross between watermelon and kiwi but a lot less sweet. The flesh is very “crunchy”.
I tell you, this thread is really making me hungry for exotic fruits!!!

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Reading my book and sipping on this for the last two hours.

I made it the way I really like it when I have all the time in the world for it. I fill the gaiwan with leaves, really, I fill it almost to the top. This tea is light in weight, so for me, that’s the best way to extract all the goodness I know is in there. It might seems like a lot of tea to waist, but it’s no waist when you can brew it for several hours. And the steeps remain rich and flavourful. A good night companion…

This is another one from Butiki I’m hoping will never disappear!

(See previous notes)


Interesting method!


Yes, I find I’m not achieving the results I,m seeking with short steeps if I use less. I know this tea is good no matter what, but this method elevates it to the tenth power for me!

Terri HarpLady

I still haven’t tried that with this tea…yet!


I have no doubt time will come, Terri!


Reading anything good?


Well Teabrat, I just finished Rebecca from Daphne Du Maurier and I’m now contemplating either Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth’s sequel World Without End or Camilla Läckberg ‘s Ice Princess. Hard to choose sometimes isn’t it?

Butiki Teas

Interesting! I will have to try that. I usually fill the gaiwan about half way full.


Stacy, I know, that’s what I do too with regular teas (meaning other than pu’erh and oolongs, those I weigh instead) but I wanted a bolder flavour and that’s what works best for me, very short steeps, lots of leaves. (Which I’ll be running out of real soon!!)
I would’t recommend it to someone not like a strong brew, but I know you do!

Butiki Teas

Are doing a 10 second steep on that? I’d like to try it how you recommend. :)


OMG i would never dream of recommending ANYTHING to you on this tea, madam!!!

But 10seconds is probably what I do, I never really count, I “estimate” to give people and idea. So yes, I would estimate 10sec for the first 3 steeps and increase by 10 also for the subsequents. And as I often do, I read while brewing, so I forget it and it becomes almost syrupy…But call me crazy, I still like it!!!

I haven’t tried this with your Wild mountain yet, but i will.

Butiki Teas

Well, I would love to try your method. I will give it a try tonight. For this tea and the TWMB, I normally just do a 1/2 gaiwan filled steep for 30ish seconds. I like the first steep to come out a bit strong. It will be interesting to try it this way. :)

Butiki Teas

Whoa, the 10 second steep with a full gaiwan is delicious! Excellent recommendation. Very malty but still sweet.


Phew! thanks for letting me know, lol, i was a little nervous that you might think I’m just a fool!!! So happy you liked it this way. Is it possible to ever mess up this tea i ask you???

Butiki Teas

It was absolutely delicious! Very different than what I normally do but I love how different it is. It reminded me of coffee a little bit in flavor though only what I would imagine coffee would taste like since I’ve only tasted like maybe twice in my life.


Yay! You’re right Stacy, it does bring more of coffee almost mocha feel to it!

Terri HarpLady

Guess I’ll have to give this a try…

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
359 tasting notes

OMG is this ever good!

The lovely Sil sent me this pu’erh. I won’t give you an elaborated review of it, cause really, two main notes are the superstars here: chocolate and raisin (oh, chocolate covered raisins???) It’s so obvious, I find it almost hard to believe there’s no added flavouring to it.
I also get some buckwheat feel in the background.

I did a strong brew, cause the smell told me it could handle it. Yes, don’t laugh, the tea does talk to me sometimes, haha! (yeah, I do see a shrink for that, thanks for asking!)

So it’s a little astringent, and I like that, it acts as a flavour booster.

I know not many people appreciate astringency in a tea, I feel a little like an outsider :-(

Hello? anyone else out there who’s a fan?

Anyways, this feels round in the mouth, super rich and decadent. And I have some on the way, so it will be in my cup again really soon!

Sil, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to try this beautiful tea…


i’m so glad you loved this! I like this brewed both western and gaiwan!


I used my yixing pot, but yes, I can imagine it working basket brew as well. It’s the kind of tea that’s very forgiving I think. Will give you a good cup no matter what :-)


I like well balanced astringency in a tea too… and yes, I do feel like an outsider sometimes as well. lol


Aw! Kamyria, so happy to have found a partner in this :-) That,s why I really like Darjeeling teas also.
But the key resides in what you said: balanced. I don’t like a squeaky mouth, lol!

Sami Kelsh

I like a good dry tea sometimes, but it really depends on the type of tea. I didn’t think that was unusual.


This one is actually very smooth, it’s my over steep that made it a little astringent.
From the notes I read, it just seems that not many people appreciate that.

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Thanks to Dexter3657, I now have a VAST collection of chai to choose from!!

Hey, I know a good morning in a cup when I see one. This screams «good morning, you can’t ignore me so wake up sleepy head!!»

Although there are no chocolate in this blend, it sure feels like a chocolate chai to me. The base must be spectacular on its own.
I really like the depth that peppercorn adds in this tea, in makes all the other flavours pop and tingle like Pop Rock candies!

Once you swallow, you get a warming heat feeling from the ginger. I like that it is not overly spicy, cinnamon, cardamom, fennel, they don’t fight with one another, it’s pure harmony in Yu Lu Yan Wonderland :-)

I could definitely see myself ordering this…but I wont, cause it would mean I have to place an order with Verdant, and if I’d place an order with them, it would also mean increasing my stash significantly which I’m suppose to bring down instead!!

Thanks you Dexter for another hit! Love!!


Glad you liked it. :)) (just for the record – I only sent you 6 chai – that’s hardly a “vast” – when you get through these I can send you more…LOL)


Well, I think I had only two, now I have eight total…from rags to riches, haha!!

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drank Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea
359 tasting notes

Backlog from yesterday…

Ahhh…Gongfu love in the afternoon…yes, being off work allows me to have tea sessions in the middle of the day if I choose to!

Dexter3657 sent me this generous sample. Me and milk oolong have a history. I have tried several, I like both the scented and the non scented version so I always keep a provision of both from two different companies. I thought I had find my favourite non scented milk oolong and have been sticking to it. Then came along Mandala, and all of a sudden we are caught in a love triangle. Yes this tea just blurred my focus, and made me question my current relationship.

First, the smell of the dry nuggets is quite interesting. It’s a mix of sweet and creamy, almost candy like. No sign of the strong dairy smell you get from a scented version.

As soon I took my first sip, I noted cotton candy on my pad. The sweetness I found in the first two steeps just evoked that. I get some nuttiness and creaminess, but not so much buttery notes. The milk oolong I’m used to is more floral than this one. This is fruitier.

At the 3rd steep, I got less sweets and a slight bitterness.

The 4th infusion brought the sweets back, some more present buttery notes and I got a very distinct fresh and clean mouthfeel, light camphor note, reminiscent of Ginseng oolong.

The subsequent steeps all brought their share of deliciousness and happiness. It eventually evolved in a more fruity and floral taste. I cold steeped the used leaves and 12 hours later, I’m having a delicious fruity and refreshing beverage. In conclusion, this tea is more complex than your average milk oolong. It transforms along the way, giving a lot of unexpected notes. Yet, the usual creaminess of such a tea stays present.

Thank you so much Dexter for this wonderful tea…I am grateful…but my budget might not be!

(Now, I have to hurt some other tea’s feeling by dumping it. Sorry, but a more exciting fellow milk oolong just came into my life and can’t be ignored!)


Love this. I know all teas are special in their own way, yadda, yadda, yadda, but if I want to confuse and intrigue a non-tea lover, this is where I start.


Can you love them both? Is there room in your heart, budget. cupboard for both?


I totally agree, Flowery!

Hmmm, Dexter, I could always keep them both, but it wouldn’t work out, I’m a one love kind of gal :-)
( says the girl with 300+ teas in the cupboard…)
Thanks for recommending them, I foresee a long and lasting relashionship with Mandala…Garrett, please to meat meet you, watch it, here I come :-)


Here I am, TeaFairy! A pleasure to make your acquaintance! I dig your review style.




One of the best is Garret! He has some fine teas over there.

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Kamyria’s review yesterday about the forest inspired me to go have a long walk today and write this review.

By now, you probably know that the forest is my backyard. I’ve written many times here on Steepster about my little adventures and how lucky and privileged I feel when I look outside my window or go for a walk, it never gets old.

This lifestyle is Nature’s gift to me, and that gift keeps on giving as long as I care for it in return. It’s pretty simple and yet, I wish more people could fully grasp that concept. The tea I’m reviewing today also keeps on giving…

I tell you, my snow shoes really get a run for their money this winter. I made my own trail and I try to go as often as possible. There’s a spot that we always stop at. It’s on top of a small hill and a huge rock stands there, under the trees. it is shaped as a loveseat, I call it my rocky chair.

I take a break as I watch my dog Dexter chase squirrels, his favourite sport. They like to tease him and sometimes, I think they’re playing with him, knowing full well he’ll never catch one of them!

The day is magnificent, sunshine coming at me from all directions, immaculate snow everywhere you look at, pine trees with heavy arms from all the snow weighing on them…

When I got back inside, I was freezing and seeking warmth, I love that feeling. My head still felt clear and peaceful from all the beauty I had just laid eyes on, and of course, the right tea amplified that feeling and made it linger a while longer.

I was waiting for a special moment to choose this sheng pu’erh, sent to me by the generous and wonderful Dexter3657. She read on a post that I wanted to experience more with shengs, and offered to send me this one. She wrote that this tea is the highest rated on Steepster, so I read nothing about it, not wanting to be influenced by other reviews.

I used 7g, 5oz yixing pot. The piece of cake is tight and compressed. Quick rinse. Already the aroma brings me somewhere, but I don’t want to go there yet, I want to take my time with it.

I pour the very light coloured liquor, close my eyes and smell, have my first sip.

Instant Nirvana!

Sweet sugarcane is what I notice first. Then, a feast for the senses. The smell that comes out of the pot can’t be ignored. I can describe it easily, cause it’s leading me there. If you’ve done camping in your life (most of us did), you have to think about the next morning, when you get out of the tent.

The smokey scent from the firecamp is still in the air, but it’s just a shadow of what is was the day before. It mixes with fresh morning dew, humid grass and moss. Earthy and smokey tones, fresh menthol. Take all these “ingredients”, gather them in a cake, and later, when you hit it with hot water, the memory trap is released and you experience that moment again.

I choose not to describe more. As it happens when I drink something really special, I give in to the tea, not wanting to think anymore but just be in the moment and feel the pure energy. Cha qi. The best thing that can happen. I’ve had these moments before, but not often enough. I plan on having a lot more in the future…

Thank you so much Dexter3657 for wanting me to discover how special your beloved Mandala truly is. You were right :-)

(Cough, Implacinganorderscrewthehiatus, cough, cough)

7 tsp 5 OZ / 147 ML

Lovely note.


So lovely!


cough waituntilyou’vetriedsomeoftheothersbeforeordering cough


Thanks Morgana and Caile!

Dexter, cough, okbutitwillbereallyhardtowait, cough.


Wow.. that was a beautiful note! I’m honoured to have a mention in it too! :) I have to have this sheng… I hear too many good things about it to ignore it for much longer. I feel it… the order will be happening soon.


Beautiful note!


I’m really happy that you liked it. Mandala teas are special to me, and it makes me happy that you are experiencing some of that.
I’m not saying to wait until you’ve tried ALL the tea I sent you, but IMHO you will like the Milk Oolong. As much as I love this one, I think Noble Mark is better – different but better. :))


Kamyria, thanks, I loved your review of yesterday:-) and yes i hear you about the order happening real soon, lol!

Keychange, thank you:-)

Dexter, yes, I will refrain just a bit longer!! ( gee, I wonder if I can handle better than this one, lol)


That’s so awesome that you have snow shoes! I always wanted to try them out.


that sounds really nice I’ve always been curious about Mandala teas. I’m so jealous of your forest backyard…Y-a-t-il un plus joli jardin ? certainement pas.


Fjellrev, snow boots are awesome, and very useful around here!!

Ysaurella, I’m lucky to have other samples to try, I have a feeling an order will be placed very soon once I got to try a few more… Shipping seems to be very reasonable too. And yes, to me it is “le plus beau des jardins”, you got this right missy:-)


(I meant snow shoes)


I wish we got more snow here. That sounds so awesome! Man, I need to skip out of work early one day this week and go for a trail run. :)


So excited that you enjoyed this tea! I had a lengthy gong fu cha session with it on Sunday afternoon and I was more enamored with it than ever before. Always interesting when I find myself wanting to keep the rest of a stash rather than sell it :)

I loved your review of this. Thank you so much for taking the time to write it.

I have a new pressing of this tea happening right now in China. I got the leaf from the same farmer but it’s autumn 2013 versus spring 2012. I’m looking forward to trying the new one, too. The mao cha itself is darned good and already going through changes since it arrived in the pu’er vault. Yahooooo!!!!!


Listen Garrett, please don’t make it even more tempting than it already is, lol!
Thanks for sharing it, but wait for me, please don,t lock it in the vault all to yourself!! I’m browsing your website and will be placing an order soon, how can I resist???

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I am French Canadian, so please forgive me if my English is not always perfect :-/

My relationship with tea in a nutshell:

I’m married to straight Black. I have torrid love affairs with Oolong and Puerh. I party with Green and White occasionally. Flavored are not my BFF, I usually stay away from them.

Love Steepster, a place for tea lovers, where you learn and share with others.

About me:

I am a free spirit, I let people be who they are and expect the same in return.

Books! I love classic literature, but also modern and pretty much anything that captures my attention.

Music is also something I can’t live without… From Bach to Nirvana, my ears know no boundaries…

Animal and nature lover, amateur photographer.

I’ve been drinking tea for as long as I can remember.

Drinking tea is a sensorial experience. The name in itself “Camellia Sinensis” lingers the promess of an adventure for the senses…

Not a big «swapper», but will occasionally. Not because I don’t want to share but because I’m trying not to hoard so much.

Also, I have narrowed down the teas I really like over the years, and I don’t feel the need to try and buy everything the way I used to. (Maybe I have become a tea snob? Sigh…)

My ratings: because I pretty much drink only teas that I judge exceptional, my ratings are usually high. Don’t be shocked to see lots of 90’s and a few 100’s. That’s because I’ve had my share of crapy teas and I’m done with that ;-)

You can find me on Instagram here, I post about my tea sessions mostly, but also about the beautiful nature that surrounds me, and my fury companions :-)



The Laurentians, Canada

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