Mountain Stream Teas

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Recent Tasting Notes

90

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

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 g 7 OZ / 197 ML

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81

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

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 min, 0 sec 7 g 5 OZ / 160 ML

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86

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

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 4 tsp 2 OZ / 68 ML

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83

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

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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72

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

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 g 7 OZ / 214 ML

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95

This tea is delicious and the smell after brewing is simply intoxicating.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Creamy, Raisins

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C

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Flavors: Butter, Cream

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C

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93

Spring 2020 harvest.

I was on a relaxing, zen-like theanine high all Sunday long thanks to this tea. Most of the time I solo brew small amounts of Taiwanese oolong in my 50ml mini shibo. However, the family wanted to join the post-breakfast gongfu session so I broke out my much loved but neglected TTC purple clay pear shaped teapot and doubled my usual leaf quantity. After a few sips though, they wandered off leaving me to drink the rest and I went to town with it.

This was a delicious Ali Shan. Buttery and sumptuously floral with a thick mouthfeel that thoroughly coats the mouth leaving behind a lingering nectar sweetness. I was a little hesitant about brewing with boiling water as Mountain Stream Teas suggested but this brought out a more rounded body and taste without any bitterness – a testament to its quality. And of course it gives a very nice L-theanine buzz! The only knock on this tea is the longevity. It lasted a mere 5 steeps before fading.

I steeped this in my purple clay pot which holds the ghosts of oolongs past. I wonder how much that helped enhance the tea. Will have to brew this in porcelain next time to see how it tastes on its own.

Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Fruity, Round

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 0 min, 30 sec 5 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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Sample sipdown! I had half of a foil sample pack of this inside a mini Adagio fandom tin. (Speaking of which, I checked the Adagio site and they have an adorable holiday sampler available now… NO, I do not need it!)

I’ll admit, I don’t generally gravitate to high mountain oolong teas, as they often tend to be too floral for me. Regardless, here we are.

This one has some elements of Li Shan oolongs that I’ve had before, but is also quite different. There is a strong stonefruit presence, but instead of the usual sweeter peach, it’s quite tart, and reminds me of an underripe plum or apricot. Perhaps with even a hint of lemon? The slight sourness lasts throughout the sip and is particularly present in the aftertaste. There is floral here as well, and it’s the type that is not my favorite, though I don’t know enough about flowers to pin it down. I would describe it as more heady and perfumey than sweet. I get grassiness, and a “leafy” sort of almost-but-not-quite vegetal flavor. Maybe something nearing arugula? There’s also a sparkling clear minerally spring water note, and a lovely hint of warm cinnamon near the end.

And, of course, let’s not forget that thick, silky, creamy texture that is the hallmark of green oolong.

Very pleasant, and a bit surprising, but still not something I could see myself drinking regularly as it’s just not my favorite genre. Still happy to try it nonetheless!

Flavors: Apricot, Cinnamon, Creamy, Floral, Grass, Lemon, Mineral, Perfume, Plums, Smooth, Stonefruits, Sweet, Tart, Thick

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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88

I had half of a sample packet of this inside an empty Adagio fandom mini tin. I was shocked that there was no entry on Steepster… I feel bad being the only one to write a note for it, since I’m drinking it Western style, and lazily at that. Looking at the website, it looks like I ordered in March of last year, so at least it’s not that terribly old…?

Regardless, this is super delicious. I love the amount of oxidation here, it’s such a good middle ground between too green and floral (for me) and highly oxidized. It retains some of those nice green and fresh mineral notes but has a lovely rich bready and dried fruit flavor too. There are also some strong honeyed fig notes which are to die for! Maybe a hint of cinnamon as well? And of course, the lovely thick and silky mouthfeel that is a hallmark of oolong.

Nom nom nom!

Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Baked Bread, Cinnamon, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Fig, Floral, Grass, Honey, Mineral, Nectar, Smooth, Sweet, Thick

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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80

A delicious tea. The dry leaves smell like dark chocolate, and this gets even stronger after heating them. Tastes like cocoa and wood, with fruity undertones and a little astringency.

Flavors: Cocoa, Fruity, Wood

Preparation
Boiling 0 min, 30 sec 6 g 4 OZ / 110 ML

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83

I received this generous 15 g free sample in an order I placed last fall, so I assume it is from the spring 2019 harvest. Gardenia is one of those flowers whose fragrance is sometimes hard for me to pin down in tea, so I was happy to get an example of what it’s supposed to taste like. I steeped 6 g of leaf in a 120 ml teapot at 195F for 25, 20, 25, 30, 30, 45, 60, 90, 120, and 240 seconds.

The dry aroma is of gardenias, other heady flowers, peaches, and sweet cream. The first steep tastes strongly of gardenia, orchid, butter, cream, peach, banana, and grass. It’s simultaneously sweet and kind of waxy, and drying in the mouth. The banana and peach persist in the second and third steeps. I get a distinctly floral gardenia flavour as well. The banana becomes more prominent as the session goes on, especially if I let the tea cool. The tea develops a lovely, thick body with a gardenia aftertaste. The florals and grass take over by steep seven, and the session ends as one with a regular green oolong would, with floral, vegetal, and grassy notes.

Although some people might consider this oolong to be too perfumey, I like floral teas and enjoyed this one. I also think it would make a great cold brew.

Flavors: banana, Butter, Cream, Floral, Gardenias, Grass, Orchid, Peach, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 6 g 4 OZ / 120 ML
LuckyMe

I once had a gardenia scented oolong from Eco-Cha but wasn’t terribly impressed by it. Didn’t really have a distinct gardenia flavor. Tempted to order this one as Mountain Stream scented teas have generally been pretty good.

Leafhopper

I’m not terribly familiar with gardenia so I can’t vouch for how authentic the flavour is, but it seemed convincing to me.

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75

Spring 2019. This is one of my favorites from my Mountain Stream order. It’s very buttery, and has a mild floral finish. A very easy drinker that I gulped down. No bitterness or astringency at all.

tea-sipper

I think I need to tuck into some high quality lovely oolongs in these times.

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34

I’m finding a lot of Mountain Stream Teas to be misses for me. The last 3-4 I brewed all tasted about the same- slightly vegetal, slightly bitter, but overall boring and similar. I’ve found they’re generally very weak, even using 10g of tea and just a few ounces of water. Not sure I would make a repeat purchase anytime soon.

LuckyMe

That’s been my experience with Mountain Stream Teas too. I feel kinda bad for bashing them because I really admire the owner’s passion, honesty, and support for sustainable tea farming but many of the teas just haven’t been up to par. I did like their baozhong and some of their flavored oolongs though.

amandastory516

I feel bad swell. I always like supporting small businesses (especially ones that are passionate about their products), but it seems like they need to find different farms to source from.

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63

I drank this a few days ago and it was forgettable. Buttery and vegetal, a bit floral. No bitterness, but the flavor was pretty one dimensional.

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51

I drank this about 2 hours ago and have already forgotten almost everything about it. Just very average and not something I ever need to try again.

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48

This tea is very meh. It tastes fine. Mostly like roasted vegetables and artichoke. But, it’s distinct un-milky. It’s actually pretty un-extraordinary. Even reading the description on the website post-sip makes me wonder why I bought this. Luckily it’s only a sample.

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76

Finished my sample off, and I did really enjoy this tea. If I were the type to partake in daily drinkers, this would fall into that category for me. Not extraordinary, but very easy to drink and very conforting.

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76

Got this in a recent Mountain Stream sample order. This tastes exactly like an artichoke dipped in melting butter. The savoriness is especially delightful today. Upon looking at the Mountain Stream website after my first cup, I’m surprised to see how affordable it is ($5/25g). Definitely something I’d like to have on hand in my stash.

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65

Sipdown

I would randomly drink this from time to time, but I never remembered the sessions all too well. However, upon drinking this, I realized that it wasn’t an oolong that I favored a lot. It’s bitter and very temperamental. Bringing the water to 195F (my usual temperature for an oolong) made the blossoms come through a lot, but also made the brew extremely bitter. I turned the temperature down to 180F, which did help, but I had to get through a few steeps to get it to workout.

When the temperature was right, I noticed heavy citrus, floral, and fruity flavors. I brewed out 6-8 steeps before moving on to the next tea session. It’s unfortunate that this is so low on my tea rating scale, on the account that this is the first oolong I’ve disliked from MST.

Flavors: Bitter, Citrus, Floral, Fruity, Orange

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72

Gongfu Sipdown (800)!

Picked up this sample, along with a sample of the Pomelo black tea and a full black tea stuffed lemon, during Black Friday. I went back and forth on whether I was going to place the order or not, but curiosity eventually got the better of me. I started with this one because it’s sort of the “most normal” of these aged fruit type teas and I thought it would be the best base line…

It took me a little while to warm up to the flavour; the oolong was deep, lightly bitter and roasty, with strong and drying woody and nutty characteristics and more of a high acidic note in the finish. The Valencia Orange, by contrast, had a sweeter flavour and was more lively. It wasn’t until seven or eight steeps in that I was able to find harmony in the differences between those two profiles, with the emergence of a sweet cocoa note – prior to that my brain found the sweetness of the orange but the more astringent and roasted oolong cacophonous. I’m still not sure exactly where I land on this sample, even after finishing the session…

Now I’m especially curious to try the two others, though!

Photos: https://www.instagram.com/p/B7UW5ilgmbe/

Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVZQPJQykpg

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94

This tea kinda reminds me of that dress color optical illusion the Internet was arguing about a few years ago. As I drink it, I internally debate with myself whether it’s really an oolong or a black/red. I lean towards it being a red tea but like Darjeeling, it straddles the line between oolong and red. This is the Spring 2019 version which is new and improved according to Mountain Stream Teas.

Judging from appearances, the dark balled leaves certainly look like an oolong. The dry leaves have a very oxidized but sweet aroma. On the nose I get cherries, honey, and rose. The taste is more delicate than your typical black for sure. It’s smooth with a gentle malt and a prominent rose flavor that I really dig. Later on I get woodsy oak notes. Nothing tannic or harsh here, just a mellow and pleasant drinking experience.

Flavors: Oak wood, Rose

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 1 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

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