Thursday, January 22, 2015
Mandala, Temple Stairs 2014 Ripe Pu'er Mini Tuocha
We are pleased to present yet another Mandala Tea exclusive ripe pu’er. This creamy and smooth two leaf blend was created using grade one material that was spring-picked and ripened in 2012 and 2013. Not only were both pickings from plantations that are pesticide free, but the two growing areas (at Bada and Mengsong) are far from any cities or air pollution. This is 100% pure tea and some of the finest ripe tea available. We also note that the leaf was expertly cared for in the process of fermentation, yielding a perfectly ripened leaf with full integrity. Teas from these areas are famous for their uplifting nature as well as their qi raising goodness. As this tea warms your lower dan tien (in laymen terms - the “energy bank account”), you will note hints of cocoa in aroma and taste. Flavors of sweet root vegetables with hints of dark brown sugar dance on your tongue alongside the clean and well-rounded essence of minerals.
This is a ripe pu-erh and each toucha weighs in at about 5.1g. Unwrapped it is a typical nest shape of dark browns with lighter cinnamon colored leaf. It has a typical toucha scent- that means hints of barnyard and earthy but not offensive.
I used a 90ml (3oz) gaiwan today with boiling water. The first steep was 20 seconds. I don't do rinses.
The first cup is a dark orange. It has an aroma similar to the dry leaf. The toucha has swollen but remains almost entirely intact.
With second cup I poured boiling water into the gaiwan and immediately put on the lid and began to pour. It takes a few seconds to pour from the kettle and the gaiwan - so lets call it 10s. I was shooting for 5.
The brew is as dark brown as coffee. The toucha has pretty much disintegrated. This has a bit rougher edge. It seems more bitter, but not horribly so. I am still not getting the brown sugar or cocoa Mandala mentions. What I am getting is similar to the first cup. Not sure why, but this reminds me of coffee even though it tastes nothing like coffee.
Third cup prepared similar to the last but my pouring was a little quicker. This is still very dark and has more of a burgundy cast to it. The edge is lighter in this cup and as it subsides. drifts into the pleasant leather tone hiding beneath. This has a pleasant calming effect.
Fourth cup, it occurred to me I was not reviewing this tea on an even playing field. Normally I use a big clay teapot and prepare 8 oz at a time. So, to rectify this I prepared this cup, at 10 seconds, in the gaiwan and poured into my mug, then added enough water from the kettle to make an 8 oz serving. The color is a deep burgundy tinted orange.
The rough edge has been taken off the cup. Now I am back to smooth leather along with earth and sweet hay. It again finishes with a nice rounded mineral taste.
OK, this proves to me I much prefer a Western mug method when preparing touchas. It is also a reminder to you to always be willing to experiment with alternate parameters when you think something can be improved upon - or maybe more so when you are pretty sure it can't. The results might surprise you.
This is a good ripe toucha. It will go more steeps, but this is where I am stopping today.
You can find Mandala Temple Stairs here.