97 Tasting Notes


I was surprised by how much I liked this. It has the pumpkin pie spice to it but with a little grassiness. It should not work in all logic but it does. I also like how it is heavier on the cinnamon than the clove. Clove is one of the reasons I hate pumpkin pie.

I also expected Davids matcha to be bitter for some reason but it is not at all.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Cream, Grass

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drank GABA Oolong by Mandala Tea
97 tasting notes

GABA Oolong is like Milk Oolong’s older hipster brother. It has that same grassy sort of creaminess to it but it is more assertive with the bitter finish. Not unpleasant at all but a little too floral for my tastes. I think I have to be in a specific mood for this one as I prefer darker oolongs or milk oolong.

Flavors: Bitter, Cream, Grass, Vegetal


Wow! That must have held up fairly well as we haven’t sold that tea in a couple of years. Nice!!!


Hi Garret!! It did hold up extremely well. It may even be a little bit better. It also kept me quite mellow during a long work day :)

I am also planning a very large Mandala order. I have had my eye on some of the newer ripe pu-erhs. Especially Rama Lama and Temple Stairs.


Those are both teas I drink tons of! Great to hear from you! Let me know if you have any questions. Grateful, Garret

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drank Black Gold by Mandala Tea
97 tasting notes

Black Gold is one of those teas from Mandala that I bought but never opened. Terrible. But it probably slipped through the cracks when I was on a pu’er kick.

I tried to brew this one in short steeps around a minute or so but this one was made for the morning. A good old kick in the pants before work. A long brew produced one of the best black tea experiences I have had in a long time. It’s malty. It’s chocolaty. Sort of sweet but sort of bitter at the same time. There is a molasses like sweetness to this tea. This will be my every morning tea.

Flavors: Bitter, Chocolate, Grain, Molasses

5 min, 0 sec

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In rediscovering my love of tea, I decided to try one of the teas I first bought when I started my tea journey back in 2012. Big Leaf Sheng was my first try with raw pu’er and I loved it. It was a kick in the face of camphor and smoky goodness. I am interested to see how this has changed in the four years since I bought it.

1st Steep-30 seconds-
So much more mellow than I remember. Still has slight camphor and smoke but much calmer. More sedate. Less aggressive than I remember. Very little fruitiness.

2nd Steep-45 seconds-
There is the apple flavor. Big red apple. Crisp. This tea has matured well. It has become more sedate yet more complex. Just realized I am drinking 10 year old tea. That was one of 2012 Grace’s dreams.

3rd Steep-1 minute-
Camphor is back. Mixed with apple. So pleasant. More creaminess in this steep.

4th-1 minute 45 seconds
And there is the assertive tea that I love. A kick in the face of camphor and crisp apple. A bit of honey on the finish.

5th Steep-2 minutes
Apple and pear. Starting to mellow. It’s leaning more on the creamy side. Getting a bit of honey in there.

6th Steep- 2 minutes 30 seconds
Honey and a little bit of cream.Less fruity. Very smooth.

7th Steep-Overnight
I intended to brew this one for 3 minutes but I fell asleep and it brewed overnight. I drank this one iced while at work. Very fruity. Almost pineapple. Still smooth. I really do feel sad that I have to let this tea go.

Overall-I still love this tea. It has matured over the years in such a beautiful way. When I bought this cake it was full of punch.A little intimidating. But it has matured and calmed down. It’s less chaotic. More refined.

Flavors: Apple, Camphor, Cream, Honey, Mint, Pear, Smoke

0 min, 30 sec 7 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

And we are glad to see you back!


Thank you!

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drank Special Dark by Mandala Tea
97 tasting notes

I have been away from tea—and Steepster— for quite a while. I missed everyone here and am happy to be back to my tea loving ways. I am incredibly sad that this tea has been retired. I just used my last bit at work. It gets better as it ages—as pu’er is known to do. More chocolaty and creamier if that is even possible. It gave me that happy tea drunk feeling while at work. I am not exaggerating by saying I would give up just about anything to get more of this tea.

Flavors: Cherry, Coffee, Cream, Dark Chocolate


welcome back!


Thank you, Sil. Happy to be back.


i have a stash of special dark that i could probably share with you for when you need a pick me up. Keep it in mind…i’ll have it for a while yet because i can’t bring myself to really work on drinking it all up….‘cause then it’ll be gone :(

Evol Ving Ness

Sil, you are adorable. :)

Welcome back, graceatblb!

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I brewed my last bit of this one today. I’ve been craving pu’er in a big way and I missed it and I have been slacking with the tea brewing. I just did one steep so far and, for some reason, this time the brew is very weak. It’s very lightly woodsy and a bit nutty but a bit bland. I am going to try a longer brew time for my next steep. Maybe the leaves have to open up a bit more.

Flavors: Nuts, Wood

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 8 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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drank Fired Up Fennel by DAVIDsTEA
97 tasting notes

I tried this one before and loved it. I am a fennel and licorice fan. I made it iced this time and the sweet and spice of the chili pepper really work well together with a bit of honey and orange zest. I am pretty much the only one who liked it though. There are apparently few fans of fennel and licorice in my life. It’s odd considering my Grandma made us all drink a tea similar to this when we were sick.

I also just discovered—I’m so behind in tea and everything else—that Davids doesn’t make this one any longer. I am going to have to try to blend it myself. Now to find bulk fennel seed, licorice root, star anise and dried chili peppers.

Flavors: Fennel, Licorice, Spices

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

Yay! Love it when old friends pop in :)

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I just drank my last bit of this fine tea. I didn’t really want it hot for some reason so I decided to make it iced. I’ve never really tried that with a sheng before but it turned out perfectly. I took it on a run with me and the minty, slightly smoky kick was just what I needed. Managed to run to the library and then run home with an overstuffed bag of books—they were having a book sale and I am weak. I blame Wild Monk not for my book hoarding but for the energy to run home with a 10+lb bag of books.

Iced 8 min or more 5 g 16 OZ / 473 ML

mmmm so good…


It is. I have to get a cake of this one. I’ve heard that Mandala orders come in bunches right. That’s an excuse. I think.


Any excuse for a tea order, right?


caaaareful grace lol


Love this one, working on my second cake of it….

Jiāng Luo

I bought a cake and wild monk loose maocha because I didnt want to break off any of the cake, are they fairly similar in taste?


Soooo very happy you are enjoying this! It is perfect tea for before a run. I had a joyful 6 mile run this morning after being fueled by the mao cha from this same farm this morning.

Jiang… the current Wild Monk cake is from spring material I bought from producer in 2012. The mao cha that is available right now is autumn-picked 2013. Definitely similarities, but the cake is taking some interesting turns in flavor/aroma as it ages. Both are nice. We are awaiting the arrival of the new wild monk cakes that I had pressed using the autumn 2013 material. I hope you enjoy it! Big difference between sheng and shu pu’er. I like both styles.

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I just ordered more—darn sale— so I decided to finish off the last of my sample. It’s like seeing an old friend again after a long time. You miss them, you know they are there if you need them but you just never get around to calling them. That’s how I feel about this tea. I love it so much and I know I have a cake waiting for me but I feel better waiting to drink it. Does that sound crazy?

It’s still my favorite gentleman’s shu after all this time. It’s creamy milk chocolate with a nutty background. There’s also a heavy cream-ish taste in the background. So nice. Like hot cocoa. I’m totally okay with having bought 4 more ounces of this. So okay.

Flavors: Chocolate, Cream, Nuts

Boiling 1 min, 0 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

Awesome…. that’s exactly how I feel about some of my favorite teas. Nice to know they are there, but you just don’t get around to “calling” them as often as you should.
You introduced me to this one, and I still LOVE it – thank you.


I went for the shou sale and got a lot of sheng to go with it! looking forward to my order from Mandala!


YES! I just packaged up your order, my dear and shipped it out! John, you should see yours soon, too! I’ve got a few new pressings in the works that I am quite excited about. It’ll be a few months before we see them (they have to be pressed, dried, sit for a while before shipping to US) but I look forward to sharing them with y’all when they finally land stateside!

Thank you each so much for spreading the word of our humble company. It truly means so very much. We are proud to have friends like you.



Dexter: A part of me thinks it’s my tendency towards hoarding. If I don’t drink it, I know its there but yeah buy more so I can hoard that too. It’s a vicious cycle. I am so happy that I could introduce you to Noble Mark. Although it doesn’t take much convincing with this one.

mrmopar: I have to load up on sheng one of these days. I am stocked up on shu for the next decade or so but I haven’t found a sheng that I love that much. Aside from Wild Monk that is.

Garret: I can’t wait for the new blends. I kind of fell of the wagon with coffee but now I am all teaified again.

Terri HarpLady

I keep thinking I should start a business called, “Terri’s Tea Library”. I could invite people over for tea, take a love donation, offer to sell them a bit at a reasonable price. OR Do a local subscription thing, where they have a small container that I fill once a month with the tea of their choice. I already do that with a couple of my harp students, I gave them a little tin for HoliDaze, & they can bring it & refill it. It only holds a couple of T worth, but that’s enough to try something out.

Anyway, I’d never really make a real profit, but maybe it could be a non-profit thing. The catch is I’d get to deduct all of my tea & teaware purchases when I do my taxes!! :")


Grace I agree about the shouQ Sheng is where my next direction is. I am trying to get some good stuff now to age in the pumidor. We will discuss some shengs in the future, you should join our discussion on puerh of the day.
Garret I am jumping for joy. I should have my box from you tomorrow!
Terri, can I join you in this venture or have you seen my cupboard lately! ACK!!


This will be my breakfast tea this morning. I haven’t tried it yet but am looking forward to it.

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I didn’t know this when I posted my last note about my Phatty Cake but I had hidden a piece of it from myself. My Phatty Cake is now an ex-Phatty Cake. It’s pining for the fjords and I am all sad. Still delicious though.

Flavors: Earth, Nuts

Boiling 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 8 OZ / 236 ML



You always know how to make me smile. The both of ya’s :) Happy day, you two!

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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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