535 Tasting Notes
Backlog. Another share from Cameron.
This was an exquisite tea. Soft and creamy with mellow grassy notes and a taste that’s reminiscent of mountain mist and tender spring vegetables. It develops a rich, hearty body over successive steeps while remaining well-balanced and smooth. Notes of soy milk and cream along the way before ending bright and fruity. It’s also got staying power as I was able to push it for 4 good steeps.
Flavors: Soybean, Umami, Vegetables
The last tea from my Mountain Stream order before I move on to Floating Leaves. This one turned out to be the best one of the bunch. I had a very similar Orange Blossom from Mountain Stream a couple of years ago – it might even be the same tea – and there are a few differences in this one. It’s cleaner tasting while the other was more rough around the edges with a sharper orange taste.
Grandpa steeped 1.2g in an 8oz glass using 200 F water. Dry leaf smell is very inviting and juicy. Creamy with citrusy notes of tangerine and bergamot. The brewed tea tastes like perfumery orange blossom water and apricot. The taste is evocative of baklava with its sweetness and exotic floral flavor. After topping off with boiling water, the orange fades and gives way to jasmine like florals. Doesn’t become bitter as long as you don’t overleaf.
A great scented tea if you’re looking for a citrusy floral oolong.
Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus, Jasmine, Orange Blossom
Winter 2020 picking.
Another Mountain Stream Teas oolong that had tremendous promise but didn’t quite deliver. The aroma of the tea enchants the senses with a fruity fragrance of papaya and granny Smith apple followed by buttered flowers when the leaves are placed in a warmed gaiwan. A rinse reveals more complex aromas of custard, coconut cream pie, and meadow flowers.
The brewed tea though is a pale shadow of it’s aroma. Fairly light and nondescript, with vague florals and a little fruitiness here and there. There are echos of the heady aroma but they are faint and not much if any of it comes through in the tea itself. I haven’t tried cold brewing it yet, but I suspect that like the other Mountain Stream oolongs, this too will taste better cold brewed.
Flavors: Apple, Coconut, Custard, Flowers
So glad I bought another pouch of this tea, especially in the midst of this brutal cold spell that’s hit Chicago and doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon (thanks Polar Vortex). The windchill was -15 F the other day and I knew my usual morning green tea or green oolong wasn’t going to cut it. I was craving something warm and toasty and this tea came to the rescue.
It’s been a year since I last had this tea which was picked nearly 3 years ago. Despite the age it was still mind-blowingly good. Credit to TTC’s hermetically sealed foil bags…I wish every company packed their tea like they do.
Grandpa steeped 1.3g of leaf in my 8oz mug @ 200 F. I was immediately greeted by that familiar yet delicious honeyed flavor. Nectar sweet with notes of wildflowers, toasted pine nuts, and caramelized minerals. As the tea steeps, wildflower honey gets mingled with a subtle bug bitten sweetness. A wonderful example of a skillfully roasted tea that brings out complex flavors without tasting roasty.
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Mineral, Muscatel, Roast nuts, Toasted
I was excited to try this tea as I haven’t had kukicha in ages. This sample was once again courtesy of Cameron who has been broadening my Japanese tea horizons.
Just looking at the leaves, I could tell this was different from the twiggy kukichas I’ve had before. In fact, it looked more like a standard Sencha with its mostly forestry green leaf and absence of any thick twigs and stems.
The leaves themselves have a very light grassy aroma but upon heating, emit a strong aroma of steamed asparagus. Sure enough, the asparagus came through in the first steep along with umami and edamame. The second infusion is kabusecha like and heavier on the grass. More specifically dry grass on a hot summer day. Last infusion was earthy with a light brothyness and notes of edamame and chestnut.
This was a really interesting tea that evolves over steeps. It’s decidedly more vegetal than Sencha and adds a unique spin on familiar flavor profile. This is a high grade kukicha that holds its own against any Japanese green.
Flavors: Asparagus, Chestnut, Dry Grass, Earth, Soybean, Straw, Umami
Mountain Stream Teas offers 3 different grades of this Li Shan. All of them sourced from the same farm and processed the same, but on different days. The earlier the picking the better the tea is supposed to be. This is their “B” grade which was picked 6 days after the first harvest.
It has similar floral-fruity aromatics as Pear Mountain A with added notes of dried peaches and orchid. I would not recommend following Mountain Stream’s steeping instructions though as I ended up ruining my first cup. Not every tea takes well to boiling water. Anyway, the steeped tea is buttery and thick with mild floral undertones. It leans slightly savory and at time edges towards bitterness which goes away once the water temperature is lowered. Overall, it’s smooth and buttery though not very complex or nuanced.
Now the ambient brew was a totally different story and super delicious. Creamy and elegant, with jasmine like florals and a fruity note akin to strawberry. It had such a clean, effervescent quality to it like fresh water from a mountain spring. I wish I had the finesse to coax out this same flavor from hot steeping.
Flavors: Butter, Floral, Jasmine, Orchid, Peach, Strawberry
Fall 2020 harvest.
Had quite a few sessions with tea thanks to the extra 15g that Mountain Stream Teas generously provided with my sample. High mountain oolongs are so unpredictable that I seldom order anything but samples these days.
Opening the bag, I was greeted by a pleasant aroma of flowers and ripe fruit. This turned to buttered beans after dropping the leaves into a heated shibo. A flowery clover like aroma emerged following a rinse. First steep was buttery with an almost pear-like fruity flavor. Next few steeps settled into a light and slightly sweet flavor with muted florals. Thin bodied and flat in the mouth. Very little of the wonderful aromatics found their way into the brewed tea.
Compared to other Li Shans, this one lacked fullness and staying power. I did have better results with ambient brewing but then again, that’s not really the point.
Flavors: Floral, Pear
Hmm, so this Baozhong is made from a Tie Guan Yin cultivar but it doesn’t really exhibit the characteristics of either. The lightly twisted long leaves have a slightly pungent vegetal smell and quite a few stems. Flavor wise, it isn’t terribly exciting. It tastes like a generic Chinese oolong. Grassy, with a nondescript floral element, and the barest hint of fruit. It lacks the thick buttery florals of TGY and the lilac bouquet that is classic Baozhong.
Flavors: Floral, Vegetal
Lupicia really nailed it here. This was a phenomenal tea! I don’t often rate teas this high but this was an easy 100.
This tea is about as close to perfection as you can get. So smooth, luscious, and has an incredibly natural flavor of ripe Alfonso mango. If you’ve ever had Mango flavored Waterloo sparkling water, this tastes just like it. You don’t taste the underlying Baozhong much but it lends a touch of creaminess that reminds me of mango lassi and a yummy mango cheesecake I once had at an Indian restaurant.
I’ve been grandpa steeping it so far but I bet this would make a refreshing cold brew as well. So far the best tea from the Lupicia group buy.
Flavors: Mango, Tropical
This was an exquisite Sencha with a very gyokuro-esque character. It’s probably the most umami laden sencha I’ve ever had. Clean and crisp with a velvety rich umami flavor, steamed spinach, and what tastes like morning mist on prairie grass. This is also the first green in a long while that left me a feeling bit light headed and on the verge of being tea drunk. Powerful stuff.
The quality of this tea is evident not only from how immaculate the leaves are but the number of infusions it gives. I got 5 excellent steeps from it while most Sencha can only give 2 or 3. Thanks Cameron!
Flavors: Spinach, Umami