Today's tea for review was kindly provided to me by a tea chum on one of the best websites for finding new teas, organizing your existing teas, and connecting with other tea lovers: Steepster.com. This review was not sponsored by them, but I highly recommend you check out their website! To the tea...
Mandala Tea's Morning Sun intrigues me, before I even begin to heat the water. Gazing upon the leaves, dark and light leaves are swirled together, wrapped tightly in small balls, curled and compressed without uniform shape or size. This tea is crafted by rolling the bud of the tea plant together with young leaves before processing, a technique that reminds me slightly of gunpowder green tea. Yet the color sets this tea apart from many others with its swirl of opposites.
I take a breath of the aroma, rising from the dry leaves. The smell is surprisingly floral with a touch of maltiness. Some deep, dark sweetness lurks in the leaves, awaiting release by hot water, which I am glad to provide.
Preparing the tea, I following the suggestions of Mandala Tea's website, wherein I use water that has been heated to just short of boiling, along with one teaspoon of leaf per eight ounces of water. The teaspoon and a half of Morning Sun go into my twelve ounce cup, followed by enough steaming water to cover the leaves, briefly, for the suggested short rinse. The goal with the rinse is to wash away any final impurities and begin to awaken the leaves for their first steeping.
The first steeping, per the suggestion in the tea's description, lasts only one minute. The aroma that wafts from the mug contain strong notes of honey - the dark sweetness from the dry leaf (not that the tea actually has honey in it). The hint of maltiness persists in the aroma, and the impression of "smooth" comes through the smell. The first steep, after only a minute, is a dark amber color, quite clear, minuscule tea fibers adrift in a dark ocean. Morning Sun tastes smooth and dark, the natural sweetness showing through the flavors of a rich cup of black tea. The slight maltiness that has previously revealed itself reminds me of a Darjeeling in some ways. The cup is incredibly pleasant and goes down easily. Overall, the flavors are not strong. I could see them being easily overwhelmed by most foods, but light chocolates or sugar cookies might be complementary.
Mandala Tea's website suggests steeping the tea a second time for two minutes and a third time for four minutes. The second steep appeared lighter in color but provided a cup of the same excellent flavor, perhaps a tad richer in taste. The third steep, at four minutes, was back to color of the first with a taste that was the strongest, yet! Remember, tea does not come with set rules. One should experiment to experience it fully.
Morning Sun provided me with a delicious experience and one that I found different than other black teas. If the smooth richness with natural sweetness sounds appealing to you, I highly recommend that you give it a try. This one may be going on my wishlist for the future. On my personal enjoyment scale, I would rate it a 95/100.
Photo credit to Built from Ink and Tea.
Mandala Tea's Morning Sun is available for purchase from their website, here.
This review was unsolicited and uncompensated.
Text is copyright 2014, Built from Ink and Tea.