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Recent Tasting Notes
The roast isn’t very heavy and doesn’t overpower the lighter floral notes while also bringing out some nuttiness and hints of spice. It finishes strongly citric, but not sour. Overall, it’s medium bodied with mild astringency and not very complex, but enjoyable.
Flavors: Citrus, Earth, Floral, Nutty, Spicy
After 22 months, I’m at the bottom of my 5oz bag of this.
Filtered Santa Monica municipal water to my Taiwanese purple clay tea-pot, to my glass cha hai, into my porcelain cup.
1st steep (20 seconds): Butterscotch liquor; floral-backed charcoal aromatics; sweet dark roast palate entry with hints of ash and Ovaltine; velvety medium-thick body.Subsequent infusions (45 seconds, slowly ramping up to 2min): Rust liquor; smoke and burnt sugar in the nose; dark (not quite French or Italian) roast coffee notes, more charcoal in the middle of the flavor profile, with a dry slightly astringent finish.
While I generally appreciate and prefer heavy fire/dark roast/baked oolongs, there is not much left of the tea’s own character underlying the charcoal here; not a good candidate for aging, but adequate (and inexpensive) as a daily drinker.
Notes of cherry, wood, peach, and red current. molasses. Slight sweetness like dried fruit (figs, dried currents). The fruity + woody notes are really nice, and combines with the slight sweetness well. This is a fairly stemy tea, and highly oxidized. Going in, I wasn’t sure if this was black or oolong. It tastes like a black tea, but the rolled leaf attached to the stems are characteristically oolong.
Flavors: Black Currant, Cranberry, Dried Fruit, Fig, Fruity, Peach, Sweet, Wood
Meh, it’s basically a black tea. Not bad, but certainly not an oolong I would go to often. I picked this up many months ago, before I had much of any idea where my tea-preferences lie. The leaves have a malty, cocoa aroma.
Early steeps are malty with just a touch of cinnamon. By the third steep, a nice dark chocolate note asserts itself, along with a pleasant thickness. The cinnamon is gone by then. As soon as it arrives, the chocolate notes start to fade – steep number five is still quite nice though. It reminds me of a cookie or sweet biscuit. Steep six was pretty decent as well, with sweet maltiness and a distant chocolate echo. All steeps after were wimpy, malty, and thin.
I would recommend this to fans of black tea. I found it pleasurable enough, but distressingly short-lived.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Malt, Sweet, Thick
I have a friend who knows what he likes. Most of the tea I give him, he kind of screws up his face and nods carefully and is like, “Yeah, that’s alright.” But if you give him an assam, or some Yunnan black, every time, he sighs and sits back and says, “Yeah, that’s really nice.”
He’d like this tea.
I’ve never had anything in the rolled oolong space that’s this close to the yunnan black thing: that particular malty-sweet-subtle sour thing. On the first taste, you might mistake it for an extra-roasty, extra-hearty yunnan black. But then this other, dongding weirdness comes through underneath – some weird fat spinachy-stemmy fuzzy sour-junk. It’s weird. Is this a traditional tea type? Some part of me suspects that this has been pushed to meet a certain taste in the Western market for big, malty, roasty teas, and it sits weirdly with that spinach bottom. But I’m probably wrong. I’m sure it’s utterly traditional or something.
But it’s strange. The parts don’t quite fit together, but still, it’s pleasant, and kind of amusing.
Oh yeah: it goes really well with buttered toast. And with pork liver pate. (Don’t ask.)
Totally good value for the (bargain) asking price.
Brewing this in my Taiwanese pear-shaped unglazed purple-clay teapot (paired with a glass cha hai and a bone-china teacup). No scale or thermometer. In-line-filtered municipal (Santa Monica) water, a few moments off the boil from my electric kettle. Roughly a 2.5 hour workday session (my second with this tea).
60 second 1st steep: Pale arylide yellow liquid; gentle floral nose; slightly malty palate with hints of hay.
45 second 2nd steep: Color shifts to marigold; sweet nose with hints of peach and orange blossom; the roast suggests hazelnuts and adds a lingering dryness in the finish with some very low touches of cocoa or coffee (as indicated by Mountain Tea Co) and faded mint at the extreme edges of discernment – perhaps a touch of honey and milk as well, though these perceptions could be artifacts of the creamy mouth-feel.
45 second 3rd steep: Slightly paler – shifting to a Mikado yellow now; the leaves are faintly vegetal and also smell something like ink; the honey/milk flavor resolves to caramel-topped custard. I’ve started seasoning this teapot with dark roast/high fire oolong – if a bit more of that quality had been absorbed, one wonders if the resulting liquor would resemble crème brûlée? It’s not far off now…
60 second 4th steep: Mikado yellow again; aroma/flavor much the same as before; vague hints of cinnamon deep into the aftertaste; osmanthus is subtle but pervasive – I can see how using too much would lead quickly to perfume/soap qualities – but here I think it harmonizes with (while not really accentuating) the floral notes of the tea itself.
75 second 5th steep: Much the same as before – perhaps a little less creamy now with slightly less contribution from the roast; hints of river stones at the back of the finish.
90 second 6th steep: Significantly paler – more of a Stil de grain yellow; leaves have fully unfurled at this point; need to push the leaf more aggressively.
2 minute 7th steep (using near-boiling water now): Stil de grain yellow again; aroma suggests marshmallow; vague citrus note appears – the osmanthus is fading more slowly than the tea ; lighter flavors and mouth-feel overall.
4 minute 8th steep: Color and mouth-feel only just holding; a last gasp of flavor, but the contribution of the roast is greatly diminished and the finish is increasingly floral.
Soft and delightful with a pleasant roast – my second-favorite “flavored” oolong (after Ten Ren’s King’s 409 dark roast oolong with ginseng) thus far.
I have to admit, I’ve had this tea about three times now, and for the first two I wasn’t impressed. It was somewhat bland, and got bitter when pushed.
This time, however, it’s turning out much better! Brews an attractive amber color. Honey, apricot, date, mint, and mulling spice notes with a slight floral background. The mouthfeel is thick and syrupy, matching it’s sweet taste.
Flavors: Apricot, Cinnamon, Clove, Dates, Mint
A nice and light tasting oolong from Mountain Tea. Vegetal and soft fruity flavors dominate the flavor of this tea. The early steeps were a sweet vegetal taste with a bit of fruity undertone, like peas or cucumber and melon. After the initial three or so steeps, the vegetal flavor became more savory – almost salty. So the tea had an interesting combination of a vegetable-broth start and a sweet fruity finish. In some of the steeps I also noted a bit of a pine flavor which accented the vegetal notes well. The decent thickness of the body lent further credence to my thinking of the flavor as broth-like. Pretty enjoyable green oolong tea.
Flavors: Cucumber, Fruity, Melon, Peas, Vegetable Broth, Vegetal
I used boiling water for this one and I think it brought out some nice flavors. Might try cooler water next time just to see how that goes. Lots of maltiness, some chocolatey notes early on. Later steeps I noticed more fruity flavors – maybe raisins, plums, or cherries. They aren’t as prominent as many people seem to make them out to be in Oriental Beauty (though this is the first one I’ve tried). Definitely very sweet, and had a good thick feeling in the mouth. Increased steep times a little faster than I would with some other teas and it never got bitter or anything. Perhaps a little astringent, but I suspect that’s because it was decently oxidized.
Flavors: Chocolate, Honey, Malt, Plum, Raisins, Stonefruit, Thick
This tea is pretty good, and for the price they have it, it’s a steal. Aroma of the leaves definitely was honey-esque. Throughout the session I got floral and honey notes, with a bit of fruitiness in some of the later steeps (and it wasn’t particularly strong or noticeable). Reminds me a bit of mead. The body was relatively thick, but not “creamy” feeling so much. At least not as much as Jin Xuan oolongs.
Flavors: Floral, Fruity, Honey, Peach
Another one I got out of curiosity and the description online. Caramel, coffee, and cocoa were the notes that sold me.
Something told me that this was a tea specifically designed for Gongfu. I’ve had it western for comparison later on, but the roasted nutty vegetal character this has hides the natural sweeter notes like honey, caramel, coffee, and cocoa. This is one that you honestly have to master steeping in order to fully enjoy. Gongfu means “skilled art” after all. Also, the water should be between 190-to just under boiling to enjoy.
#1. Rinse that is really a 15 second steep. Creamy, nutty….caramel?
#2. 45 seconds. Nutty, caramel, smooth, light…and even a little bit like coffee. Dig it!
#3. 60 seconds. Not nearly as strong as the first or second steep, but still complex. Maybe toffee, but not quite. Somehow, it reminds me of a Dian Hong.
#4. 80 seconds….over steep at around 2 1/2 minutes. Very forgiving. More floral, but still reminiscent of coffee. Awesome while listening to Linkin Park under thunder.
#5. 6 minutes after incremental checks. Mostly nutty, and kinda like toffee.
Overall, I was surprised and impressed. Much sweeter than I was actually expecting. It was almost exactly what I was looking for when I was painting. I can’t help but wonder now what the regular osmanthus one tastes like…
Anyway, the Gongfu session is easily a 90 for me, but western a 70. Subjective, I know, but one that I really like. Not quite sure who I would recommend this to.
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Floral, Nuts, Salt, Smooth, Toffee, Vegetal
I like this one a lot, and makes me feel relieved in terms of budget. I was actually recommended this one as a bagged, and based on the descriptions of caramel, I had to try it.
First time, I tried to do it Gongfu, but wound up Western on accident. I definitely got something like a spicier yet lighter black tea, but the more subtle notes like caramel were overwhelmed after two minutes. There were even seaweed notes that were kinda good, but something I have to be in the mood for. It got sweeter in the later steeps with something that reminded me of a cooked cherry, but not entirely.
Finally got to do it Gongfu tonight, with a ten second rinse at 195 degrees, using six grams in six ounces. The first rinse had a taste that replicates rose water. This tea is VERY close to a Laoshan black because it has the same type of rosy, cooked fruit character. Laoshan’s are one of my favorites, and in comparison, this one is a lighter brother or cousin that does not have the robust malt or chocolate of a black. It also doesn’t have the same dehydrating effect that a black does.
Steep two, 30 seconds, and still very rosy with a faded molasses bitter sweetness. Steep three, a full minute, and darker, redder, and something closer to a black tea. Four at two minutes, and something like a cherry black, but lighter. Five at three, and cooked cherry.
I really liked this one, but it is a toss up. When I’m in the mood for it, I would probably rate this one a 90; when I’m not, an 80. I still need to figure out better steeping parameters for this one. It was sweet, but not as sweet as I was expecting. I didn’t get the full caramel or honey like described, so I’ll be back on this one pretty soon.
Flavors: Cherry, Molasses, Roasted, Rose, Salt, Seaweed, Smooth
I bought this Dong Ding since it was relatively well-regarded online, and it was reasonably priced enough that I could share it with the small Tea Club that I run. Plus, I’ve had very positive experiences with Mountain Tea so far. I didn’t have super high expectations for this tea, since I figured that a decent Dong Ding would cost at least double this. But I was pleasantly surprised!
This particular tea is a bit unique in the sense that some people may not consider it a true Dong Ding due to its origin. Technically speaking, Dong Ding or Tung Ting teas should come from the area around Dong Ding Mountain in Lugu, which is in Nantou County, Taiwan. TeaVivre published this lovely map that shows the location of Lugu.
However, this offering from Mountain Tea was grown outside of the traditional Dong Ding region. According to Mountain Tea’s website, “Dong Ding is both a famous mountain and a style of tea preparation; the golden ratio of fermentation to roast to which it owes its fame is elusive and difficult to master with consistency.” I have never heard this before, but I suppose I’ll allow it. In general, I’m more concerned with the taste of the tea than with tradition.
This tea is grown at an elevation of 1400 meters above sea level, which is actually a little bit higher than many of the mountains in the usual Dong Ding region. This tea was made using QingXin leaves.
These leaves are very tightly rolled into lovely grey-green balls. The leaf structure is very consistent. There area a few stems in the mix, which seems to be the case with most Dong Ding teas that I encounter.
The dry leaf smells very similar to most Dong Ding oolongs…pleasantly roasty, robust yet not overpowering. To me, this tea has aromas of yeast or bread, toasted grain, wood, and a slight sweet and caramelized fruit or sugar scent. There is still a touch of a green, unroasted tea smell.
I used a 110 mL gaiwan and 6.5 grams of leaf for this review. All of the infusions were completed with 93˚C/200˚F water.
The first steep came out a transparent golden yellow color. The predominant flavor of this tea is the strong roasted taste. I wouldn’t say that this Dong Ding tastes over-roasted, but it is definitely a noticeable part of the flavor.
Once the roasted taste passes over the palate, a bright citrus taste comes through. I would describe it as a sour lemon note. This tea actually tastes somewhat similar to a GABA treated oolong, since GABA treated teas tend to have a slight sour taste. This sour character is not particularly pleasant or unpleasant, it’s just sort of…there. There is also a noticeable spicy flavor in this tea, perhaps cinnamon or clove.
The mouthfeel is quite thick and viscous, while the sour character leaves behind a light dryness.
The second infusion is a bit darker, sort of a dark golden yellow that almost fades into orange. In this steep, the bright citrus flavor dies down quite a bit. A vegetal taste and aroma develops and replaces the citrus note. The spice flavors are much lighter as well.
By the third steep, this tea fades into a simple lightly roasted oolong. The brew is very refreshing and pleasant. This tea has plenty of life to it, and I can tell that it will last through several infusions. The citrus and spice notes have died down and are now just a light accent, letting the vegetal roasted oolong flavors shine through.
The fourth infusion has a similar flavor, but the mouthfeel changes noticeably. The fourth infusion is where this tea really starts to “thin out” and go down easily.
I continued drinking this tea for a few more infusions, but nothing noticeable changed after the fourth steep.
The finished leaves were quite beautiful. About half of them turn a dark grey-green color, while the remaining leaves turn a dark purple. These leaves are very large and full, with no dust or broken leaves.
This tea is perhaps not quite as deep or complex as a really top notch Dong Ding oolong, but it is still very good and definitely a great value. I will probably buy this tea again in the future, if that’s any indication of quality. For newcomers to the Taiwanese oolong world, this tea can offer a nice introduction to Dong Ding style oolong tea.
This oolong is incredibly cheap, at only $18 for 5 ounces. If you prefer to buy tea in smaller quantities, you can also buy 2 ounces for $9. This tea is cheap enough that I have been using it as my go-to office tea for drinking “grandpa style.” I don’t usually use super high end teas for drinking in the office, since I would rather save the best teas for when I can really relax and enjoy them in a long gongfu session. But this tea is also good enough that I like to drink it gongfu style as well. It’s pretty tough to find teas that are good enough to drink gongfu style and cheap enough to drink “grandpa style,” so this tea is a winner in my book!
I think that Mountain Tea is a pretty great company. Their prices are a lot better than most competitors, and they still offer very high quality teas. The Mountain Tea website is also very well designed and easy to navigate.
“If this is coffee, please bring me some tea; but if this is tea, please bring me some coffee.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
A decent bargain (though i bought it during their 2 for 1.) I wasn’t sure what to expect with this tea as there’s no date on it (and it’s a cake) but it tastes really fresh. Somewhat earthy like sweet potatoes but mostly lower floral and stonefruits. It’s not overly floral like getting hit in the face with an orchid but there’s enough there to keep you going back for more. Light enough that it’s easy to drink many cups at a time but you still feel like you’re drinking tea. Very, very little astringency, just a bit in the back of the throat. Perfect darkness in my opinion. Very glad i bought as much of it as i did.
It’s a chilly, rainy day today and this tea is perfect.
Flavors: Apricot, Orchid, Stonefruit
My 200th tasting note! And I can’t think of a better tea to review. I’ve loved every oolong I’ve tried from Mountain Tea, and yet I was still surprised with how divine this one is. Just perfect buttery mountain oolong with incredibly potent spice notes. Cinnamon and nutmeg seem to be close to what I’m tasting. It’s a bit difficult to describe so I highly recommend just buying some for yourself!
Flavors: Butter, Cinnamon, Cream, Nutmeg
Was really looking forward to this one, all these “honey oolongs” keep making me assume that there are honey notes in them! Which is not true for me, sadly. :(
This one tasted mainly buttery to me, but not like a salty buttery. More like a creamy buttery. Which I don’t usually find in teas. It’s usually like a salty buttery flavor. xD That probably makes 0 sense. I blame it on my druggy brain-on pain killers 24/7,so things can get pretty off sometimes.
This had some hints of floral, but not enough to outweigh the butteriness. I can’t do the buttery flavors in oolongs, they just make me feel sick. :( Which I get enough of when I eat normal food anyway! So yeah, not my favorite. :(
Thanks for the sample though, Cookies!
Flavors: Butter, Creamy, Floral
Hmmm. I feel like I am missing something from this tea. It was much too grassy for me this morning. I got slight peach notes from the thick broth. After the third steep, it mellowed out quite significantly. This is just my kind of oolong, but I wasn’t digging it today. I hope it’s just the moon phase, or my allergies.
Thanks cookies for the sample!
ETA: I grandpa brewed this at work today with much better results. Much more complex and mellow. You’d think that a gaiwan would be ideal, but hey. Some teas ask for different parameters!
Got a sample of this tea from the package Cookies sent me! I think this is the right tea on here, but took me a bit to find it for some reason. xD
Anyway, she sent me a bunch of oolongs, which was awesome because I love oolongs! I seriously will try any oolong, unless I know for a fact it’s only going to be roasty xD
Anyway, this one was smooth and thick. The main flavor was butter, which really is not my thing. There was a touch of floral in the background but not enough of it to balance out the salty butter taste. For the sake of my stomach I decided not to finish the cup. Don’t do so well with buttery teas. :S
But glad to have tried it. Thank you for the sample, Cookies!!
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Salt, Thick
For my debut into the online tea world, I chose the Medium Roast TieGuanYin from Mountain Tea. Mountain Tea specializes in Taiwanese oolong teas, but they sell a few green and puerh teas from other countries as well. This particular tea is very popular in the online tea community, and won 1st Place in the Traditional TieGuanYin Category of the 2012 North American Tea Championship.
In case you aren’t as obsessed with tea as I am, I can describe the tea a bit. TieGuanYin, also called 铁观音 or 鐵觀音, is a variety of oolong tea from Anxi in Fujian Province, China. The name translates roughly to “Iron Goddess of Mercy,” but you will sometimes see it sold as “Iron Buddha” as well.
The dry leaf has the appearance of a typical rolled style oolong. The leaves seem to be high quality. The leaves have a very notable roasted aroma, which is quite pleasant. They smell very sweet and caramelized. But overall, the smell is not too intense.
I brewed five grams of the leaves in my new tea tasting set. I bought this set at the Beipu Farmers’ Market in Beipu Township, which is in Hsinchu County in northern Taiwan. I’m pretty happy with it, although I had to carry it in my backpack for a week. I’m pretty surprised that this tasting set managed to make it home undamaged.
This tea is very interesting and complex. The first taste that hits my palate is the notable roasted taste. I suppose since the tea is called “medium roast,” I expected the roasted taste to be a bit more subtle. But it is certainly very enjoyable either way. With that said, this tea does still have a slight bit of the bite that is typical of greener oolongs.
As a result of this roasting process, the tea’s head note has a very caramelized flavor, with a noticeable honey sweetness. The tea is very nutty tasting, as roasted oolongs tend to be. Surprisingly, I also picked up on a toasted bread-like taste in this body notes of this tea, which many other reviewers online have noted. The aftertaste is very fruity, similar to the lingering apricot or peach notes that are common to some oolongs. However, this fruity flavor is a bit more like a dried fruit taste, perhaps a raisin note?
As I progressed through some repeated steepings, I was a bit disappointed that this tea did not keep its flavor so well. The roasted flavor of this tea became rather flat by the third and fourth steep. However, the fruitiness is more pronounced in the later steeps.
The tightly rolled leaves unfurled nicely. A few of the leaves are a bit choppy and bruised looking, which is generally not a great sign in rolled oolongs. However, this tea still appears to be high quality.
All in all, this tea is quite solid. If you tend to enjoy more roasted tasting oolongs, you will probably enjoy this. I wouldn’t say that this is the absolute best TieGuanYin oolong I’ve had, but it is certainly one of the best TieGuanYin oolongs I have had for the price. At only $9 for 2 ounces, or $18 for 5 ounces, this tea is pretty affordable. I probably wouldn’t go out of my way to buy this tea again, but I will certainly enjoy the rest of the bag and I would recommend it to others.
Flavors: Fruity, Nuts, Peach, Plum, Raisins, Roasted