Tea of the Week: Mandala’s Noble Mark Ripe Pu’er 2011

Welcome to my first Tea of the Week post! There are so many wonderful (and not so wonderful) teas out there, so I thought it might a good idea to start being a bit more purposeful about sharing my favorites with you. Each week, look out for my Tea of the Week posts to learn more about unique teas, what they taste like, and how to get them. Like wine, tea is difficult to judge from a mere photo, so I’m here to take some of the mystery out of the process. And if you have a tea that you simply love, please drop me a line…I’d love to hear about it, and maybe even introduce it to my readers! Now, on to our Tea of the Week…Mandala Tea’s Noble Mark Ripe Loose Leaf Pu-er Blend 2011.

Pu-erh is a tea for serious tea lovers. Nothing fruity or floral here–just earthy, mellow taste and aroma that’s one-of-a-kind and distinctively Chinese. Mandala Tea’s Noble Mark Ripe Loose Leaf Pu-er Blend 2011 is ideal for those who have never tried this unique fermented dark tea before. The brew is medium-bodied and well-balanced with creamy, woody notes of sweetness. Another wonderful characteristic of this tea is that it isn’t overly earthy like other pu-erhs can be.

The tea leaves themselves will look almost dusty when you see them, but surprisingly, they will brew to the most beautiful color of clear coppery amber. With successive infusions, the color of this brew will continue to darken to a chestnut-brown without becoming too bitter or musty–a characteristic that can be off-putting to first time Pu-erh drinkers.

Unlike raw purer, this blend is ripe, which means that it has undergone a fermentation process called piling. The piling process involves dampening the tea leaves while controlling factors like humidity and heat to encourage oxidation (i.e. flavor development). It’s a lengthy process, and if you can get your hands on some of Mandala Tea’s Noble Mark Ripe Pu’er 2011 you’ll be able to taste the satisfying results of all that labor.

Tasting Notes for Mandela Tea’s Noble Mark Ripe Loose Leaf Pu’er 2011:

ORIGIN:  Southwest China

BREWING TIPS:  1st infusion: 30 seconds @ 212 degrees F. Add 15 seconds to each infusion afterwards. Leaves are good for up to 4 infusions.

THE LEAF:  Dark, twisted leaves in various shades of brown. The leaves have a dusty appearance, as if they’ve been laced with reddish looking clay.

THE SCENT:   Savory and woody, like damp leaves.

THE STEEP:  Brews to a coppery amber-like mahogany. Rich and medium bodied. Mellow and mildly earthy.

GET IT:  The blend is available at Mandala Tea’s website.

FOOD PAIRING:  Serve this hot with Chicken Curry Puffs for a truly Cantonese dim sum tea treat!

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I love this post! I can’t wait to learn about your favorite teas. I know these weekly posts will introduce me to new and exciting teas. It’s great to have recommendations.

Ngan R.

Great idea to share your favorite teas. I started buying loose teas to brew recently, partly for the flavor, partly for the joy of slowing down and enjoying a cup of tea. Except, I’ve made some bad choices at tea shops and haven’t been enjoying the actual tea itself as much as I’d hoped for. I look forward to seeing your tea selections and trying some of them myself.

Bonnie Eng

Loose leaf tea…another simple joy that’s the perfect way to slow down and take care of yourself! I feel so disappointed when I purchase a pricey tea that doesn’t have good flavor or at least some other redeeming quality. Hopefully I’ll find you a few to love, Ngan!


Love the start of this new tea series from you and really looking forward to it 🙂 Never tried Pu erh before but thanks for the tip on trying the one from Mandelas Tea! I heard that Pu erh can get quite expensive the older it gets. Does the flavour change over time for the better?

Bonnie Eng

You should really try some Beatrice! Some people say that Pu-erh is like the “Pinot Noir of teas”…it’s thought that the older it gets the more mellow, sweet, and complex it gets too. This Mandala Pu-erh is aged in a shortened aging process called Wo Dui (wet piling) that’s used to mimic a traditional aging process that usually takes 20-30 years. This shortened ripening process is good for people like me because 1.) it’s cheaper, and 2.) I can afford it. Maybe someday, I’ll be rich enough to try the 20 year old stuff!