A few months ago I did a tea swap with the lovely Oolong Owl, and knowing how much I love shu, she sent me quite a bit of it. I am still working through those countless little baggies of joy. Today I came across one labeled “2006 Special Dark Loose Shu Pu’er – Mandala Tea.” She further states on the label that it’s not for sale anywhere but that she thought I’d like it, and that’s it’s very strong – so quick steeps. She is correct on all counts! Absolutely love it; it’s probably one of the strongest loose leaf shu I have ever had. The wet leaf has such a uniquely pungent aroma – it’s not the sourness of fermentation or storage funk at all. It’s something totally different. Oh, it’s baked bread! Yeast bread! It’s like having yeast bread and coffee all in one cup. Yum!


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For many years I drank cheap asian market-bought oolongs because I really didn’t know what was out there. For the last year or so I’ve been educating myself and making a foray into better quality teas. During the course of my journey I have fallen hard down the puerh rabbit hole – it started with young sheng, but now there’s another even deeper hole in the aged category, and I may be careening down this particular rabbit hole forever. I do still find time for aged oolong, a good wuyi yancha, and the occasional aged white.

I stopped rating teas awhile ago. I guess the numbers stopping meaning anything after awhile. For a long time I was pretty good about keeping my cupboard up to date and reviewing teas, mostly to help me keep track and remember what I like. I’ve gotten lazy about that for the last several months.

The tea addiction has also spawned a new addiction to throwing pottery, and I have become mildly obsessed with making tea cups, shibos, and teapots.


Southestern USA

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