16 Tasting Notes


Yummy yummy. Menghai makes some good tea.

I tell you what, I think this might be the best Shou I’ve tasted so far. There’s different kind of Shou for different kind of folks.

For me, this is what I like. No funkiness, very little wood, slight hit of sweetness, smooth and creamy.

Wet leaves are just like freshly polished shoe leather. You get a little bit of that in the flavor. Cake is real tight but I got off a nice couple chunks with a knife.

This is all good and a quality product from Mandala.

Flavors: Creamy, Leather, Raisins

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Very solid, high quality shou puer.

no funkiness or fishiness here. Leaves are deep brown/black. Very clean, very high quality look and feel.

Brews up real dark, real quick.

I’m getting mostly mushroom on the first waves of quick infusions. There’s an underlying dried fruit sweetness, very subtle, but it’s there. Maybe fig, or dates. Creaminess too. Real clean, leaves the mouth refreshed, but nothing lingering around.

I’m tempted to put a drop of honey in, maybe next time, just to round it out a touch. Very solid component of a well stocked tea stash.

Flavors: Fig, Mushrooms

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Autumn 2013 Yiwu Mountain 200g cake

Sometimes you read these descriptions of wines, cigars, and of course tea. “Oak, vanilla, blackberry, cocoa,” etc. Then you go to try it and it’s like, ummm, yeah, not really.

Well, let me tell you this. PEACHES PEACHES PEACHES. Honestly, if I was blindfolded and someone put the wet leaves to my nose, I would swear on my life it was freshly sliced peaches with a slight hint of apricot as it cools down. And if I proceeded to taste, still blindfolded, I would swear i was drinking mashed up peaches with hot water.

This is just fabulous sheng. No bitterness. No astringency. No smoke. Pure sweet nectar.

The only thing that prevents me going higher is maybe a lack of complexity or 2nd or 3rd wave of flavors. But what’s there is absolutely delicious.

Make sure you brew at a lower temp than most shengs. My first brew was too hot, and it tasted flat. You need to be in the 180 range. 10-15 seconds in the gaiwan.

The leaves are gorgeous. You can tell this is artisan craftmanship and made with passion.

Flavors: Apricot, Peach

180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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It’s official. I love me some sheng.

Received as a sample and wishing I now had a cake in my hands.

Dry and wet leaves smell really floral and smoky. Flavor wise, 98% of the smoke goes away. Instead you get this gorgeous honeydew melon fruitiness. I’m on infusion 4 and it’s gotten sweeter with each.

Tiny, tiny, tiny bit of bitterness/tanin. That usual “camphor” that comes through. Floral notes. Buttery smoothness. Enchanting aroma. All good here.

Just a wonderful sheng.

Flavors: Butter, Camphor, Floral, Honey Dew

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

One of the best purple buds out there for sure, Never bitter like some others.
Oh and I guess it’s a sheng thing now huh! LOL!


LOL. So it is buds only? That’s a killer for my caffeine intake. But I guess I can cheat here and there. It’s this one, right?



That’s the one! I am contemplating an order from them with EMS, Anyone want to get in and pool an order?


Is it better to order from China store or US? I might get that Menghai 7592 cake that I like as well.


The US store much faster for sure. You would probably have your order from that site quicker than an EMS shipping from the China site. Just watch the site it can be dangerous to you wallet!


LOL. I know. I already figured out I have more tea than I could drink in a year. But I rationalize by saying “this is Puer. It’ll age and get even better”

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drank Autumn Song by Mandala Tea
16 tasting notes

Sticking my toe into the water of Sheng. I’m sure my score number is going to change, probably going up. Just want to get a few more under my belt so I can properly rate.

This stuff is pretty good. Took a leap of faith and ordered a whole cake on Garret’s suggestion.

I’m on infusion #11 and still getting this beautiful yellow liquor that has gotten sweeter with every steep.

There’s an underlying bitterness (more on the earlier steeps), kind of like the pith of a lemon. Not overwhelming, but provides that tannic cleanliness like in a good red wine.

Definitely getting some citrus zest too, and very very light menthol. Maybe a very light hint of smoke. Just delicious and very well balanced.

It’s just a zesty, tingly sort of thing. Really smooth. Based on this tea alone, I want to try more sheng. This is the kind of thing I can picture a Shaolin monk drinking by the side of a creek while he’s meditating.

Flavors: Camphor, Citrus Zest, Menthol, Sweat

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Good to see you are finding the goodness in this very young sheng, my friend! We’ve had some good sessions with it here in the shop, for sure, and are getting good feedback from customers so far – with a few whole tongs already purchased.

I love your visual about the meditating monk. I definitely get that with good tea, as well. Amazing how many poems that I’ve written about that same sort of thing have been inspired by a great tea. Musing and tea. Two good things that go great together!

I am grateful that you wrote up your thoughts on this!


Good stuff, Garret. You’ve got some quality product. Hopefully getting to the Phatty Cake today or tomorrow. Keep you posted.

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Working my way through many Shu samples.

I’m starting to think Shu is like pizza. Most pizza is adequate. It’s really hard to mess up. When it is messed up though, it’s yucky stuff. And on the opposite end, when pizza is really good, then it’s really, really good.

This Shu falls into the “adequate” category. It’s fine. Nothing I’d probably crave or be memorable.

The flavor is very wood forward, leathery tannic kind of thing. There’s a very distinct fine leather smell to the wet leaves, think calf skin seats in a brand new Porsche.

I barely picked up any sweetness. Color of liquor is typical and very nice, deep reddish brown. The quality of the leaves look good.

No funkiness at all if you’re worried about this Shu. But definitely a lot of wood.

All in all, it’s fine, but with so much tea out there and so little time, nothing something I’d reach out for again, but wouldn’t necessarily turn it away either.

Flavors: Leather, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

I need to get you some sheng in your hands. It is way more complex.


funny you say that. Was going to try a sheng sample tomorrow and hopefully get into my Autumn Song this weekend.


I just tried my sample today. I get the sweet bready elements clear as day. Tasty. Solid. Some mineral effects. On the light side.

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Absolutely no “funk” smell or taste that you get with a lot of Shu. Super clean and smooth. There’s a bit of a nice roast of meat that’s been cooked on the grill in the scent of wet leaves.

Initially I got some vanilla upfront but that goes away very quickly. Mostly getting wood and light smoke. I kind of want to say a sort of wool sort of flavor as well, and maybe a slight touch of watered down coffee.

Pretty solid shu, but nothing spectacular in the depth of flavor. Maybe age will bring out some more of the vanilla and maybe some sweetness.

Flavors: Meat, Smoke, Vanilla, Wood

195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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Very nice Puer. I tasted this after same year 7592.

This one was a very similar taste profile to that but two distinct differences. One, I noticed less of the funkiness smell. Instead I got way more wood smell and flavor, and less sweetness. I also noticed more branches, stems, etc. Maybe just the sample I had, but I wonder if that’s why I got more wood or if this is just the formula.

Liquor is a nice deep red. Smell very wood forward, not so much of that typical shu musty.

I like this one a lot but I think the 7592 had a touch more depth and variety.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Leather, Wood

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 15 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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I’m new to the world of Puer. I got several samples from a fellow steepster and just working my way through.

This literally is the 2nd Puer I’ve ever had so I may come back to adjust my score at some point, but all in all, I thought this was just great. A bit of a funky smell upfront, but you don’t get much of that in the flavor.

Really beautiful liquor, like a deep garnet red. Nice smell, a little bit of that wet barnyard, damp straw/hay with a tinge of fishiness, but all in a good way.

Still developing my palate, but this kind of reminds me of a rich cab. Has some smoke, wood (think like oak in a wine), hint of sweetness, puckerness of a dark chocolate. All in all very tasty stuff.

Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Honey, Leather, Straw, Tobacco

200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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This tea was quite a journey for me. I took me several steeps to get it right, so to speak. I experimented with western, gaiwan, amount of tea, temperature, steep time. I almost gave up on it, but given so many high ratings, I knew I was doing something wrong.

Long story short, I finally got it to the point of perfection for me. What I found was gaiwan style, about 4 grams in a 100ml cup. First infusions are on the cooler side, like 180-185. Then I get hotter with every 5. I’ve gotten a solid 15 out of this tea no problem.

The tea itself is just gorgeous. The leaves (buds really) have a spring to them. They’re not brittle at all. Once wet, they release a beautiful scent of yams or sweet potato.

The liquor is sweet, reddish/black, and is just delicious. The leaves keep giving. My wife prefers to drink a mug of tea, so I’ll give her the first 4 or 5 infusions, longer time, into a single mug. And then I’ll continue to drink shorter 2-3 oz cups through out the day. Just a high quality, forever giving tea.

Flavors: Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Smoke, Sweet Potatoes

185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 45 sec 4 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

Your persistence in searching for the best way to brew each tea inspires me to do the same!

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My Rating Scale:

95-100 Nirvana. Reserving this for once I try many more teas. This is sort of like your last meal (tea) before the electric chair kind of category.

90-94 Just awesome. I’d be happy if I had nothing but this to drink for the rest of my life.

85-89 Excellent. Very top notch stuff. Solid anchor in the cupboard and a staple in the rotation of what I drink.

80-84 Very good. Glad I drank it, probably will drink it again.

75-79 Good. Has something “good” about it making it interesting, but maybe isn’t as well rounded or is missing something to make it better. Something I wouldn’t be disappointed to drink, but nothing I’d go back to if I have something better.

70-74 OK. I’m not spitting it out or dumping the pot, but kind of unhappy about spending some of my limited daily caffeine intake on this and would prefer something else.

Not rating anything below 70. At that point, it’s not worth drinking and definitely not worth taking the time to describe it.


Woodland Hills, Ca.

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