97 Tasting Notes


I decided to review this one again because I was a pu’er rookie when I tried it the first time and I am a bit more prepared this time around…and I am going to spend much longer with it. I stopped at 2 minutes the last time.

1st Steep- 30 seconds
Starts out on just the right note. Has a very thick mouthfeel with a nice sweetness to it. Tastes like almonds. I think it was right the first time around when I compared the taste to Amaretti cookies because there is kind of a doughyness.

2nd Steep- 45 seconds
Not as doughy. Still sweet. Less almond though. A touch of fruit.

3rd Steep- 1 minute
Cherries with amaretto. Probably one of the best combinations in the world. I love this tea even more than the first time.

4th Steep- 1.30 seconds
Still cherries and amaretto but the almond is kind of fading. There is a creamy vanilla note on the finish.

5th to 10th Steep- 2-4 minutes
Varying degrees of vanilla. Sometimes it’s straight vanilla extract. Sometimes it’s vanilla bean steeped in heavy cream. And sometimes, it’s lemon and vanilla. Very good.

10th Steep-5 minutes
Vanilla and cinnamon. It’s a sweet cinnamon. Not spicy. Very mild flavored.

11th Steep-15 minutes
The flavor seems to be fading so I thought I’d blast it with one extra long steep. It tastes like cinnamon bark. Spicy this time.

I don’t quite know what it is with Golden Gong Ting. This experience was so different from my first time around. This one was more versatile. Doesn’t quite beat my Special Dark but it’s pretty darn close.

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I have been dying to try a tea from 52teas and Blueberry Cream Cheese Danish sounded particularly appealing. I haven’t gotten around to ordering from them yet…but I will. I was thrilled to receive a surprise sample from Sil.

Dry the tea smelled lovely. Blueberry with a bit of something extra. The only way I can describe it without sounding like a lunatic is like when you walk into an old school bakery the first thing that hits you is that smell of pastry. That’s what I got here. And it was lovely. I could not stop smelling the tea. My family thought I was insane.

Brewed all that lovely pastry smell disappears. Some slight spice remains but it is nothing near the “Holy crap!” of the dry tea. The blueberry taste was pleasant but it’s not my favorite blueberry tea ever. I did get a nice bit of tang that did remind me of cream cheese. I also wish there had been a bit more flavor from the black tea.

Update Okay so when this tea cools off, the flavor profile completely changes. The pastry taste comes out, the blueberry tames itself, the cream cheese tang does its thing and the black tea tastes like black tea. Sugar helps too. Now I’m getting it.

Thanks to Sil for the surprising and joy inducing sample.

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I like this one steeped for 3 minutes at 185 degrees. The pastry flavors seem to come out more. :)


Thanks Tealizzy for posting that comment. I am going to go and make some of this following those parameters.


I have another serving left so I will try it again. Thanks!

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I received this sample in the mail and immediately began brewing it. I’ve been curious about Misty Peak Teas for quite some time and this was the perfect opportunity to try some of their pu’er.

The dry tea smelled sorta herbacious and a bit earthy. I was also getting a bit of a tobacco-like smell in there. It was interesting to say the least. I experimented with the steep time a little bit as I usually so the first time brewing. I found my sweet spot at about the 9th steep at 3 minutes but each steep was amazing.

1st Steep-30 sec
Slightly grassy. Very fruity. Apple or pear. I can’t place it right now. Lightly smoky. Kinda like walking into a room where a match had been lit. You get whisps of it. The smoke is not in every sip but you catch a bit of it here and there.

2nd Steep-45 sec
I’m getting a little bit more of the smoke. Not overpowering. Still very fruity. Definitely apple this time. A bit of spice…sometimes nutmeg, sometimes clove.

3rd Steep-1 minute
Tastes almost exactly like apricot jam. I am not even kidding. This pu’er is so gentle yet flavorful.

4th Steep-1.30 minutes
Still tastes like apricot jam but with a bit more astringency. Seems like it pops up in later brews. There is also something minty going on.

5th Steep-2 minutes
A little bit more astringent. Not in an overpowering way and nothing close to what I expect from a young sheng but just enough that you notice it. Still tastes like apricot but it’s getting sweeter.

6th, 7th, 8th Steeps-2.30 minutes
Very mellow steeps. All of a sudden, the apricots are gone and replaced by pears and honey. Very very surprising.

9th Steep-3 minutes
When I brew a tea for the first time, especially a pu’er, I experiment with different brew times to find the sweet spot—sometimes I get a bit crazy. I think 3 minutes is this tea’s sweet spot. At least for me. This steep reminds me of roasted pears with a caramel sauce and spices. It tastes like the holidays.

10th Steep-5 minutes
Steeped at 5 minutes just to see if I could without getting kicked in the face with astringency. And I didn’t. So smooth and it tastes like apples, pears and a spicy cinnamon.

11th Steep-10 minutes
If you’re going to push it far why not push it farther? So I did and steeped for 10 minutes. It’s ridiculous and bordering on tea abuse but it worked well. I probably wouldn’t do this earlier but in later steeps, why not? It was a bit astringent but not the unpleasant sort. Kind of minty actually.

12th Steep-Overnight
In my defense, I’m all allergied up and I fell asleep while brewing. But it was still good in the morning when I did drink it. It tasted like pears and molasses. Not bad.

Overall, this is one of the best sheng pu’ers I have ever tried. It’s young but it’s gentle and flavorful. I’m considering buying a cake because I can only imagine how lovely this tea will be with some age on it.

Thank you to Misty Peak Teas for the generous sample.

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 30 sec
Misty Peak Teas

Thank you for your eloquent descriptions. Your descriptions are very accurate.

Enjoy and have a great week.


Very exquisite sheng for sure.

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drank Apres Ski by DAVIDsTEA
97 tasting notes

Had this again tonight and love it even more. I added brown sugar instead of regular white sugar and it really kicked up the fig flavor. Oddly enough, this may just be my favorite fig tea that I’ve tried. There was more orange flavor in this brew than the last one. Not sure how I feel about that.

But one slightly panicky question, why oh why is this blend not on the Davids site anymore? Please tell me it’s seasonal. Because I NEED this tea in my cupboard.

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It was part of the 2011 winter collection, if I recall correctly…. but I don’t think it has been available for a while, nor do I think they plan on bringing it back (I don’t think it was terribly popular). Sorry to be the bearer of bad news :(


Hmm. I just bought it right before this Christmas. I thought it was safe because it was never on the discontinued tea page or anything. Oh well…that should teach me not to get attached :(


I could be wrong, it may have been brought back this past winter as well, and I just wasn’t paying enough attention. However, all of their seasonal collections are now limited-time, which really sucks, so unless they bring it back, you’re probably out of luck. You could contact DT and see if there are any stores that do have it… alternately, make a discussion post requesting it if anyone has it. Unfortunately, I think I only have about a cup or two left, otherwise I’d send it your way. Wasn’t my favourite.

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I am not typically a fan of chocolate orange blends. Usually artificial orange flavor tastes like perfume to me and, so, any orange blend just rings yuck to me. The perfume taste combined with Exlax tasting chocolate is just not good. But I figured that if anyone could give me a chocolate orange tea that would be delicious, it would be Stacy. So I bought it. And I really really like it.

The chocolate taste is magnificent. It reminds me of the chocolate in Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha. It’s that perfect. It’s the perfect dark chocolate. Not too bitter and not too milky. The orange taste is PERFECT. It’s refreshing and it’s just enough orange that you know it’s there but it’s not overpowering at all. It’s like someone zested an orange in ganache. I didn’t really get much marshmallow but I assume that the creaminess and slight vanilla taste is the marshmallow. The Zhen Qu base is the perfect platform for all these strong flavors because it lets them shine and shows up in the taste when it feels like it.

I really like this one a lot. Perhaps not enough to buy more than an ounce at a time but definitely enough that I’ll reorder…along with an ounce or 4 of that licorice blend.

Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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drank Irish Breakfast by Twinings
97 tasting notes

I had a craving for Irish Breakfast tea today so I brewed it the way I usually do. Two bags, 5 minutes, no milk, raw sugar. It comes out looking like espresso. Very malty with a fruity raisin note. There is a bit of astringency. Perhaps more than most would like but I love it like that. I will always compare every Irish Breakfast tea I have to the lovely Irish Breakfast tea from Butiki but, in the absence of that, Twinings will do just fine. And I can brew this one just as crazypants as I want without feeling guilty.

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

I really love this tea too.

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
97 tasting notes

I’ve been going on and on about Special Dark pu’er. It’s probably gotten quite annoying. I am happy to say that it lived up to every single one of my expectations. I like it better than the Phatty Cake and Bu Lang Gong Ting and they are my benchmark pu’ers.

1st Steep-30 seconds
Garret said it would taste like chocolate but, honestly, I was a little skeptical. Dry it smells a bit like cocoa powder. I am not kidding about that. Not even the Hershey kind but the expensive Valrhona powder. And the most amazing thing is that it tastes like cocoa when brewed too. I didn’t put any sugar in it at first so it tasted like unsweetened hot cocoa with a really rich cocoa. I added a touch of raw sugar and it really brought out the chocolate flavor.

2nd Steep-45 seconds
Still very chocolaty with a creamy finish. Almost like a good chocolate mousse.

3rd Steep-1 minute
Milk chocolate. Some spice is coming through but not much yet. Is it sane to say a tea is completely blowing my mind?

4th Steep-2 minutes
Suddenly it’s back to dark, dark chocolate again and there is cinnamon on the finish. Mexican hot chocolate? Yes, please.

5th Steep-3 minutes
And just like that, the chocolate has left the building. It’s sort of butterscotchy. The chocolate isn’t gone really. It’s there in some sips but the butterscotch is really dominating.

6th Steep-5 minutes
Honey and maybe a bit of brown sugar. Still so smooth and tasty. So happy I have 4 oz of it.

7th Steep-Overnight
I know. Overnight sounds crazy and it is. I dropped the leaves in my tea thermos and left it to steep overnight. Can’t say that the result was bad. It tasted like whipped cream and caramel. Not bad at all.

This is the smoothest, tastiest, loveliest pu’er I have ever tried. Pu’ers are typically earthy but this has none of that. It’s starts out smooth and sweet and it finishes that way. Seriously, put a blindfold on and you think your drinking hot cocoa or, at least, chocolate flavored tea. It’s really one unique tea.

And this tea also proved that “tea drunk” does, in fact, exist.

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This makes me want to get some to try! I’ll have to see if I can squeeze time in this weekend to try the others you sent me :)


I can’t wait for you to try them. Especially the Yong De. This one kind of reminds me of it but the Yong De starts out a bit earthy.


Wow, that sounds awesome!!

Oolong Owl

OOoooh I need to try this! DROOOOOOOL


This sounds amazing! I can’t see it on their site. Where do I acquire some?


They haven’t put it on the site yet but Garret let me order some. You can email him and ask :)

Mandala Tea

I thought you might adore this one!!! We are crazy busy right now with the new shop and haven’t even had a chance to get this pu’er up online yet. But, as our dear friend, Grace said, I would be happy to help you to acquire some of this in the meantime. Just shoot me an email at: garret@mandalatea.com. I have a feeling we’ll be hoping we had bought a whole bunch more of this crop. It was expensive because of the super small batch ripening, but we thought it totally worth it. Tea ya!!!


wow…thank you for this lovely review! what a description, this tea sounds marvelous…my only experience with Pu’erh is Chocolate pu’erh by Numi… have yet to try a cake! from what i understand, pu’erhs have an inherently earthy quality to them, but this sounds like a very special one


this one is wonderful Pyarkaaloo! Garret has a number of wonderful puerhs!


thank you, Sil :) who is this famed Garret i keep hearing about on here? he’s practically a legend…everyone is always thanking him… it is perhaps, a rite of passage, to being on this site! ;p


Pyarkaaloo: Sorry it took me so long to see this. Best Buy was holding my computer hostage for repairs today. Special Dark is one of the great loves of my life. It tastes like one of those fancypants dark chocolate bars. I just had a bit with honey at a 7 minute steep and it was perfect. It’s so special and when Garret runs out, I will cry.

Garret is the man behind Mandala Tea. He is singlehandedly responsible for my love of pu’er. He’s pretty awesome :)


pyarkaaloo – I agree to all of this – graceatblb helped me discover Mandala – and Garrett – yep amazing pu’erhs. I can’t believe I haven’t tried this one yet – but if it’s half as good as most of the ones I’ve tried it will be amazing. Garret + Mandala + pu’erh = an amazing tea experience. :))

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I knew this tea reminded me of something. My mother makes a roast chicken with a lavender and mint rub. Well, not the chicken but the spices most definitely.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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This probably won’t be my most detailed tea note ever. I’m in a particularly lazy mood. Not exactly a normal reaction when drinking guayusa but it tends to zen me out.

I am enjoying a cuppa The Killer’s Vanilla right now and it is just blowing my mind. It’s very unique. This is probably one of the best vanilla teas I’ve ever tried. It’s real vanilla not artificial at all. The spearmint and the lavender were genius additions to this tea. Pure brilliance. Each sip was a new experience in and of itself. There were so many different combinations of flavors that came out with each sip and none of them were bad.

In a way, I am still trying to figure out this tea. I love it. I know that at least. But I don’t quite know why.

Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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Oh my. I have had Irish Breakfast tea before. Usually, I brew it to the extreme. You know, could easily work as pine tar in baseball. Not much on flavor but provides a good kick in the pants in the morning. This one is so much smoother with a chocolate-like flavor with a touch of malt. It’s perfect. Absolutely and positively perfect.

I steeped this one multiple times because that’s what I do.

1st steep-3.30 minutes
Nice dark brew but not astringent at all. Very smooth and chocolaty with a nice malty flavor. A bit of fruitiness on the finish.

2nd Steep-7 minutes
Raisin-like sweetness and a bit of maltiness. I was betting on their being some astringency but there was none. It was as smooth as can be.

3rd Steep-14 minutes
A bit fruity with honey notes. So nice. A bit mild on the last steep but still very tasty.

I think my search for a morning breakfast tea may be over. I am regretting removing the 4oz out of my shopping cart. Thanks to Stacy for the sample.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec

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Book blogger. Hockey fan. Reformed coffee drinker. Newly minted tea addict. I grammar police myself and no one else. Pu’er lover.

My favorite type of tea is pu’er. I can see myself living in a house alone with just pu’er cakes, a electric tea kettle, my trusty pu’er pick from Mandala and a thermos. I prefer ripe pu’er but love raw pu’er as well. My current favorite is the Special Dark from Mandala Tea.

Black Tea-I also love all forms of black tea. Black tea is where I started and I still love the malty loveliness of a good black tea. My current favorite is Grandpa’s Anytime Tea from Butiki.

Green Tea-Green tea is pretty hit and miss with me. I have never really developed a liking towards it. I have been dying to explore green tea more. Especially matcha and genmaicha. My current favorite is Autumn Harvest Laoshan Green from Verdant Tea.

Herbals/Mate-It depends on what’s in them. I gravitate more to herbs and spices rather than fruit flavors. My current favorite is Fired Up Fennel from Davids Tea.

I love mate (and guayusa). It helped me kick my coffee habit to one cup a day. I will try any blend with mate in it. My current favorite is Chocolate Rocket from Davids Tea.

White Tea-Sadly, I haven’t tried many white teas but I am planning on it very soon.

Oolong Tea-I have tried one or two oolong teas but in blends only. I am dying to try a straight oolong. My current favorite is Milk Oolong by Mandala Tea.

Rooibos-I love rooibos blends but they are very hit and miss with me. I love the woodiness of rooibos. My favorite is currently Oh Canada from Davids Tea.

Flavored Tea-I love flavored teas. I am willing to try just about any flavor combination and the weirder the better. My current favorite flavored tea is Laoshan Black Chocolate Genmaicha by Verdant Tea.

I am always searching for a tea with fig or chili in it.

My favorite tea companies-Mandala Tea (their Phatty Cake was my first ever “Oh My God” tea moment), Butiki Teas, Verdant Tea, and Davids Tea


Staten Island, New York



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