5 Tasting Notes

Here’s a check-in on some young, rapidly improving tea. I won’t do a number rating since I work for Mandala.

7 grams into a 5oz. yixing pot, quick rinse, water at full boil. I combined two infusions into one sharing pitcher for each tasting stop.

10 seconds (x2) – tastes a little like sweet corn with a slight cooling sensation at the back of the throat. Very clear tea liquor.

15 seconds (x2) – increased sweetness now with some grape flavor starting in and a lot more tongue-drying astringency

15 seconds (x2) – the energy of this tea is really hitting now – sort of a full cardiovascular system opener. Garret says, “This is why I called it HEART of the old tree!”

30 seconds (x2) – just getting tastier, the flavors are really rounded and well-incorporated. Clean.

1 minute (x2) – sweet cooking grain flavor and after-sweet are taking over. Less of that grape-like sweetness initially. Excellent flavor left in my mouth long after sipping.

Loving where this tea is right now and excited about where it’s headed!

Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 147 ML

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I work with Garret and Sarah at Mandala Tea so I won’t be doing a rating – just personal reflections and a “check-in” on this young sheng.

Method: 7g in gaiwan, boiling water, rinse followed by two infusions of 30 seconds, then five 1 minute infusions and one 5 minute infusion.

After the rinse I poked around in the material and noticed a number of dark reddish leaves and a nice grape-like scent. All infusions brewed up a relatively deep amber/yellow color. It’s a perilous term, but what I think of as a pleasant “sour” in tea is present. It seems to refresh, awaken my tongue and mouth. No smokey smell or flavor, which allows me to enjoy some subtle grape and mineral action as the sourness fades. This stuff feels velvety as I sip.

There is great Qi with this high altitude wild picked stuff. I’m accustomed to it from the Mandala Wild Monk and it is strong with this cake, too. Long after I drink a cup, there is a coolness in my mouth as I draw in breath and my chest feels opened. The sweetness that lingers long after the last cup is just a bonus.

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Garret sent me home with one of these – my first 10 year old ripe pu’er, and an affordable one. I was working with water at 208 and my dedicated Yixing pot for ripes. The cake fell apart easily with the breaking knife.

30 second infusion: Clean and mild. The flavors are not intense, but work as an integrated whole with nothing spiking out at me. Yes, “clean” is the word.

1 minute infusion: Again, impressively clean-tasting now with a slight cooling sensation. I confess that I don’t like eating mushrooms so I don’t have a good benchmark on some of those flavors others describe. What I do taste is a pleasant leather scent, vanilla, and even slight cinnamon. The extra steeping time brought the flavor intensity way up. Hearty flavor, but not HUGE.

1.5 minute infusion: very much the same cup – it seems to have leveled out at this nice, easy-drinking plateau

3 minute infusion: still the same cup as the 1 minute infusion, the same flavors remain integrated in a nice, round whole. It is pleasant.

Homerun infusion: I don’t know…maybe it was 6 minutes, 10 minutes? Did it for the sake of science and guess what? Pretty much the same cup as the 1 minute infusion.

I’m really glad to have Yellow Mark in my home. This could be brewed in a semi-intentional way for some consistently good pu’er drinking.

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I work with Garret and Sarah at Mandala Tea in Rochester, MN. I drink it out of glass thermoses, porcelain lined yixing sippers, and mason jars. As my sphere of knowledge expands, so does the surface area of my ignorance.


Rochester Minnesota



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