A Tea Addict's Journal

The retaste project 8: Mandarin’s Tea 2006 Yiwu

October 26, 2011 · 7 Comments


This is a cake that I received from Toki, proprietor of Mandarin’s Tearoom, way back when.  It wasn’t too long after we met, if I remembered correctly, and he gave it to me when we met up one of those times in New York City.  Strictly speaking, this doesn’t belong to the retaste project, because I have been lugging this tea around with me in various parts of the US, rather than storing it in Hong Kong.  It has spent time in Boston, Ohio, New York state, and Maine.  I drank it once before after receiving this cake, and am now trying it for the second time.




The cake is full of little buds, and very few larger leaves.  I remember when I first tried it, the tea was somewhat smokey, and was not the most pleasant to drink. It’s rather loose, compression wise, and after a few years of moving around, the wrapper has accumulated a fair amount of broken leaves and bits.  I brewed those instead of breaking more leaves off.


The resulting cup is rather interesting – a nice minty taste that touches the throat, a good, solid, Yiwu profile, and reasonable viscosity. There is still just a hint of that smoke left in there somewhere. It tastes like old tree tea to me, and these days, those things cost a pretty penny. It’s a pretty good tea, and I can see it getting better over time. I guess my roaming US storage didn’t kill it, now I wonder if my Hong Kong storage can improve the tea.

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7 responses so far ↓

  • Kate // October 26, 2011 at 11:13 am | Reply

    What, in you opinion, is the effect of storage in places like New York? I’m storing some bings in Toronto, and don’t know how the environment will affect them. Any advice?

    • MarshalN // October 26, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Reply

      I think it really depends on where you are. Rural Ohio was surprisingly decent for storing tea, I think. It was damp at times, and not too hot nor too cold (well, with the aid of heaters anyway). I liked how the rains in the summer would linger afterwards, and I think that was good for the tea.

      Toronto is rather dry, IIRC, with brutal winters. You want to make sure your cakes don’t suffer from lack of moisture.

      • Kate // October 27, 2011 at 8:14 am | Reply

        Ohio? I was talking about Toronto, Canada. The big Toronto, the one with 5 million people? I wasn’t even aware that there was a tiny town in the US also called Toronto.

        • MarshalN // October 27, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Reply

          I was responding partly to your question about storing in places like New York. Of course I know where Toronto is – been there a number of times, and not impressed by the weather there for storing tea. cf. brutal winters.

  • Marlon // October 26, 2011 at 2:50 pm | Reply

    I have a solid 07 Yiwu but it doesn’t have much smokiness in my opinion. Unfortunately I have very little information on my tea but was wondering if you had any thoughts on what causes this smokiness?

    Also, do you expect the mintiness to decrease over time?


    • MarshalN // October 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Reply

      Smoke comes from processing – whether it be smoke getting into the tea while they’re pan frying, or some people using some heat to try to dry leaves quickly on wet days. Smoke will always go away, even though sometimes it takes quite a while. Give it 5 years and you won’t see a lot of smoke left, and only a hint of it.

      Mintiness will go away, sort of, but it should be replaced by other things that will continue to stimulate your tongue or throat.

  • Lew Perin // October 29, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Reply

    When I read this I remembered I had one of these cakes lying around where, disappointed by its smokiness, I had left it years ago. So I tried it, and my experience matches yours quite closely. Thanks, Toki, and sorry I ever doubted this cake! For the record, the storage has been in New York without any attempt to keep it more humid than the ambient air.

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