The Tea Practitioner’s Mandala Muscatel (Spring 2019) | Tea Review

by Tea in Spoons

I tend lean toward black teas for my morning routine, but this oolong tea sounded like a nice morning treat!

Description: “This oolong is essential to start off the day right, with a slight unami tone that is complemented by subtle smokiness.”

Instructions: ceramic teapot | 2g to 3g | 150ml @ 80°C (176°F) | 2 to 3 minutes*

Review: The tea leaves were twisted and various shades of dark brown to chocolate brown with a scattering of tan and reddish brown from the fuzzy buds. The dry leaves smelled like honey, caramel, baked bread, and roses.

I tasted this tea with 2 to 3 grams of tea from 2 to 3 minutes. Between all the brews, the liquor brewed into a golden amber colour. There were a few fuzzy hairs from the buds floating on top of the liquor and it had a muted smell rose and woody smell. There was also little fanning at the bottom cup.

At first sip, the liquor was delicate in taste. But, after another sip the flavour started to build up. It tasted sweet, cocoa, and woody. Once the liquor left the mouth, the tea was tannic and the back of the throat drying.

The wet leaves lived up to the name of the tea and smelled like muscatel grapes with a fruity, woody, and roasted smell. The unified coloured green-brown leaves didn’t fully unfurl and the leaves and stems remained stiff and twisted but the buds had opened up.

*Right before I posted this review, I noticed that The Tea Practitioner website had been updated which had slightly different recommendations: 90°C, 250 ml, 1 teaspoon, and 3 to 4 minutes. So, I decided to try it too since it was different from what was on the packaging. The liquor brewed into a golden amber colour and had a sweet and fruity smell. The taste was roasted and barley-like with a fair bit of astringency at the back of the throat. The astringency hit much quicker and washed out the other flavours. The leaves also had unfurled more.

When the tea was brewed with the packaging instructions and the flavour were more muted, I found myself quickly sipping the whole cup since the flavours kept building on top of each other sip after sip. It is an easy drinking tea and only a little bit drying. With the website instructions, while the hotter water did open up the leaves more and provided a broader range of flavours, the astringency quickly muted that range of flavours.

Since this is an older tea, I feel a hotter water temperature would help with “waking up the leaves.” With some tinkering, I believe there is a steeping parameter that could open up the leaves to release the flavours but without all the bitterness. That being said, sometimes in the morning, you aren’t looking for a brisk or strong tea but something easy to drink. While this oolong has more muted flavours, I see the potential in it. It just needs a little bit of experimentation to bring out the flavours (3/5 rating).

  • Type: Oolong tea
  • Origin: Ilam, Nepal
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Ingredients: Oolong tea
  • Company: The Tea Practitioner

The question of the post: What is your go-to breakfast tea?

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Tea in Spoons is where I share my love of teas through tea reviews, tea travel, tea tips, information, and more. New tea adventure every Thursday!