Mountain View Tea Village

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Recent Tasting Notes

92

The tea looks like little rolled-up balls of oolong leaf, with the occasional rosebud mixed in. When I sniffed it in the store, I couldn’t detect the rose but my boyfriend claimed it was dead-on, so I bought it. ($12.99 for 2 oz seemed pretty pricey, but the owner of MV Tea Village was so sweet that I wanted to get something.) The owner emphasized that the teas he carries come from higher altitudes, away from the pollution. So that’s cool.

The brew is light and refreshing. To my delight, it smells like a freshly-cut pink rose. The taste is also quite rose-y, but a little green, too. Drinking this makes me feel like a fairy princess sipping flower nectar or something equally girly.

Preparation
5 min, 0 sec

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96

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.

TEArender

The Choicest Yunan is one of the rarely drunk teas throughout and without being insipid, I like it’s taste when it’s hot only, otherwise the flavor is light with orchid petal aroma that just doesn’t taste as well from anything but small tea pot

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98

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.

Angrboda

Bi Lou Chun was one of the first green teas I had. I think my second ever after Gunpowder. I remember being very fond of it. Next time I shop, I think I’ll get some of it again.

JMKauftheil

Oddly enough, I’m not too crazy about Chinese teas. Unless I’m dealing with the finer product, I tend to look more into the Japanese selection.
When I have gunpowder, I tend to make a houseblend Moroccan tea, rather than drink it straight. A real crowd-pleaser, though, when you have the equipment for it.

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

What is Moroccan tea? I’m assuming this is a preparation style and not a type of tea.

Auggy

chrine just asked the same question I was going to!

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

I’m glad I’m not the only one wondering. I thought it might be common knowledge among serious tea drinkers.

JMKauftheil

It’s what most companies call “Moroccan Mint”, and it’s how they do tea in Morocco – Gunpowder, Mint, and a load of sugar (this is one of the few teas I’ll add sugar to. Period.). I’m not sure of the certain of mint they use there, but I usually use Adagio’s peppermint.
It’s brewed in a decorated metal teapot, like this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/37543692@N06/3474760588/ and it’s served, oddly enough, in glasses. You kind of need to use a cloth while pouring, because the handle is metal, and conducts heat rather well… a small design flaw, but one they never seemed to care too much about fixing. There’s some ceremony involved, which I’m vaguely aware of I try to replicate.
The pot’s design makes it so you can get a clean pour from several feet up, which I think is supposed to cool the tea a bit, but it looks really cool and, in my experience, it really amazes guests. When I have older guests bring over new ones to tea time, they usually tell them about Moroccan tea…
If you ever go to a Moroccan restaurant, ask for tea and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

Hope that helped :P

I ♥ NewYorkCiTEA

Thank JM! It turns out I do know what it is and have tried it in bagged form before. I just didn’t connect Moroccan tea with Moroccan Mint tea. I’m not a big mint fan in general so didn’t explore further.

JMKauftheil

Honestly, from comparisons I’ve made, Moroccan tastes much better when you blend the ingredients fresh rather than buy it pre-mixed. The “Moroccan Mint” products I’ve tried usually taste a bit stale, whether bagged or loose.
The sugar also is a bit of a important touch to the total package. It off-sets the bitterness of the gunpowder and then some – gotta use a lot of sugar. In that sense, it’s definitely not an everyday tea for most tea enthusiasts, but it’s nice for special occasions.

Jillian

Is it just sugar that’s normally used, or can you substitute honey or cane juice or some other sweetener and get the same taste?

JMKauftheil

Ah… not much of an expert on this. Neither on the side of Moroccan tradition, or sweeteners. I think they use exclusively sugar, though I’ve never actually been there… Not sure if honey or cane juice would change the taste at all, because I’m generally a purist when it comes to tea, and the only teas I add any sweetener at all to are Matevana (teavana’s best tea, in my eyes), Moroccan, and Lupicia’s chocolate tea. And I usually only really use sugar for them.
Maybe when I go home for winter break in a few months, I’ll buy some various sweeteners, try the tea different ways, and record the results.

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95

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.

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95

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.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C

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50

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.

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50

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.

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75

4/22: Part of tea tasting. I used a gaiwain, serving/infuser pot, and four ceramic tasting cups.

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75

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.

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75

Days 3 and 4, Calendar dates 4/16-4/17. Raised temperature of the water to 210 and 215 respectively. Steeped 10 and 12 minutes respectively using the same 12 oz yixing cup. Tea still holds its taste after 4 days, just altering brewing process.

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75

Day 2, Raised temperature of the water by and the steeping time, for infusions 3 and 4.
Brews were still very smooth.

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75

Prepared tea in a yixing infuser cup (12 oz), drank 2 infusions. Looking at the dry leaves you would never think that this green tea, aged but still green tea. The brew is dark and very smooth. Taste is smoky,earthy. We’ll see what tomorrow brings.

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75

Prepared in a small glass teapot. Tea has rich, smoky flavor to the casual sip, followed by a distinct sweet after taste.

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