Mountain View Tea VillageEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Followed my Bi Lou Chun with this, after a hearty bike ride to get more purified water (I don’t trust the taps in the dorms, even after a run through my brita, for my finer teas.) It was a rough journey indeed – peddling uphill against a strong wind to get to the convenience store, it was like treading water. Ah, the things I do for a good cup of tea!
Well, it was worth it. I’ve had this tea for about two or three months, and I finally got to open it. While Darjeeling teas are splendid, I’ve always been more enchanted with Yunnan’s offerings. What a wonderful infusion!
The leaves, as the name implies, were abundant with golden tips, and the infusion… golden is the only word I can think of to describe the hue and chroma of my first decanter-full. While I rarely use a gaiwan tea set for a black tea, being prone more to a tetsubin tea press my sister gave me, this is a very exquisite leaf, and I wouldn’t think of brewing it in anything but small proportions. I didn’t count the infusions, but this tea held its own through them all.
It’s perhaps a bit expensive, at $16 for two ounces, but definitely worth it. While you can get 2-4 times as much tea for your dollar at some places, if I had just sixteen bucks, I’d go for this quality over quantity any day, even if I were tea-starved.
Well, this tea is especially exquisite, a first-place competition grade tea. Definitely one of, if not the finest green tea I’ve experienced. While I’m not too much of a green tea enthusiast, as my tastes lay more in the realm of the broad boldness of Oolongs rather than the more piquant flavor of its less oxidized cousin, there’s nothing I don’t adore about this tea. A very full flavor, while remaining light – airy rather than watery, if you get what I’m saying. Not astringent, very mellow, and… well, I have little more to say. It’s one of those teas you don’t just enjoy, you completely embrace it, and it affects you with tea’s intoxication. Simply, Elegance (with the capital ‘E’) in a cup.
So, I tried this with good water now – the Goddess was in better spirits.
Though, admittedly, the liquor had less of a gorgeous hue… maybe there’s some balance in water hardness to be found, when I have the resources to experiment with that.
My first infusion was light… delicate. I think I understeeped it. Or, perhaps, I had the right steep time, but not enough leaf. The flavor just wasn’t strong enough.
The next time, I used a bit hotter water, and purposefully oversteeped it. It came out bitter – perfect. I’ve always been a fan of hard oolong. The first sip always kicks you, and the drink will be harsher, but it’s much… bolder experience.
And, eh, call me a cynic, but I like my oolong bitter for a reason.
I went digging through a collection of tea quotes, Tea Wisdom, to find this one, because I think it gives a good insight into my love of “ruining” darker oolongs. (I usually brew the Green ones properly.)
“There is no single recipe for making good tea, as there are no rules for producing a Titian or Session.” – Kakuzo Okakura
Perhaps I misconstrue that statement, or take it out of context. But those are the words, and I’ll infer them as I will. Oolong, of the four major types, is the only one, as I see it, that can handle harsh astringency. I think there’s a reason for that.
So, I slept in late today – somehow my alarm didn’t wake me. Got up around noon – strike that, 12 exactly, I checked the time. I was an hour late for my class, so I didn’t bother going.
After wasting some time online, I felt like tea, and I thought about the unopened two ounces of Competition grade (3rd place) TKY in the tea cupboard.
So, the Iron Goddess and I sat down for a conversation, of the Gong Fu persuasion. She was a little touchy – I think the water was bad. I didn’t realize I had bought purified water that was “enhanced with minerals”. Left a bit of a sour taste in mouth.
Wonderful tea, though. The instant I added the water, her fragrances were apparent. If I may so compare the leaves and liquor to the goddess’ eyes, as I feel, poetically, not only effective but necessary – the darkness of the roast made of the tight-rolled leaves intense, black pupils, and the round iris in my decanter was the most gorgeous liquid amber I’ve seen.
ahem Purple prose aside, I think I initially approached this tea in the wrong frame of mind. I’ve been taking in finer Formosan teas for a while now, so I believe I’ve conditioned my tongue towards greener oolongs. I don’t remember the last time I enjoyed a TKY – the cheap one I had the other day doesn’t count.
So, upon drinking this, I noticed the lack of smooth after-nuance, and forgot to appreciate the boldness of darker oolongs. After an infusion or two, I started using hotter water, and bracing myself for the kick. Much better.
But still, I think my bad water left the tea with something to desire. I’ll go out tonight and by some clean water, and try her again.
Aside from that detail, the quality of this tea was undeniable. I can tell that simply by the feeling it gave me. I found myself floating a little in reminiscence of the beginning of my tea exploration. Back when tea was little more than a choice from Peet’s selection of oolongs (all of three teas), steeped indefinitely in a white beehouse teapot, and then served through a sake set from a San Francisco flea market. But I digress.
Being as Merciful as she is, the Iron Goddess let me finish off with a nice brew or two before I had to bike off to Sociology. I need to get back into darker oolongs – definitely a must for next time I visit China town. I used to be an addict to the kick of dark oolong! What’s become of me? Sheesh.
Normally one of my favorites, but tonight was a little different.
I take the blame for this one, it was my own steeping that ruined it. But I learned something: while this tea can handle longer brew times, it shouldn’t be steeped indefinitely.
I got home from hanging out with my sister and her friend, and decided to brew myself the last of my Dragon Bone, (mostly because it opened up a tin for an awaiting tea).
Turns out I forgot about it, and left it on my desk.
So, a five hour nap later…
The liquor is REALLY dark…like, black, almost. The taste is unpleasant – harsh, with a sour finish. I only took a few sips before pouring it out. It made me feel gross.
So, lesson of the day:
Don’t hot-brew a tea, even one that is almost entirely stems, for five or six hours. Seriously.
A very unique tea – it’s almost all stems. From what I could understand through the accent of the woman selling it to me, they’re prepared Ti Kwan Yin style.
While it lacks some of the nuance of Oolong leaves, it’s very bold, well balanced, and has that dark-Oolong taste that I personally love. A bright, strong orangish liquor, and can hold out through a number of infusions.
I’m not sure if this tea has an alternate name, or where else it’s available. I found it in a large tea shop run by an elderly Chinese couple, in Mountain View, on Castro street.
Prepped in a ceramic gaiwan that holds 6 oz. Multi-colored leaves, from white to orange/red, to dark brown. Dry leaves have spicey,floral smell. Steeped 2 generous pinches, enough to coat the bottom of the gaiwan for 3 minutes. Leaves are large so a tea scoop would work too. The dark amber brew is sweet, with hints of cinnamon, citrus flavors round out the aftertaste.