The Mountain Tea coEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
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, Plums, Raisins, Stonefruits, 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
Decided to go the bowl brew route for this one so I can taste as the tea develops. The initial impact is definitely sweet, mostly honey. As the time presses on, about the 4 minute mark there’s more of a caramel tinge to the honey, and a sweet grape note appear on top of everything. By this point the body has developed considerably into a very creamy mouthfeel. Another few minutes in, and onto the second steep, the astringency picks up and the finish is colored by a minty, metallic tinge, interesting. The finish is not so long on this one regardless of brew method. No throatiness or lingering flavors apart from a bit of astringency. I could see this particular tea getting a bit boring if it’s all you drink for a couple weeks.
Read my full review with pretty pictures and radar charts here: http://deathbyshushu.com/2016/03/07/mountain-tea-oriental-beauty-cake-oolong/
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Metallic, Mint, Muscatel
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, Stonefruits
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, Plums, Raisins, Roasted
Finally cracked this bad boy open today
My hopes were mixed as I know MT tea co has amazing dongfang meiren, award winning in fact, as well as other grades. That being said I am aware of the aging potential but have yet to see another cake of this nature so I was thinking is maybe more of a gimmick/way of turning lemons into lemonade (stale tea into a collector’s item). I purchased about a year ago and stored the cake in a big tin that is fairly airtight with approximately a LB of other various Dongfang meiren teas (the whiff once I opened it was intoxicating) in my cabinet of my kitchen which I am sure the temperature and humidity varies wildly.
All that being said not sure if I stored it with the best care but the tea was a bit of disappointment. The dry leaf still wasn’t sweet or much a smell at all. The first steeping was not like any other bai hao i’ve had before. It was the hallmark liquor color and the playful muscatel light tannic quality but no sweetness up front like usual and actually a rather strange menthol quality on the back end. I realize later that the cultivar might be red jade tai cha #18 due to the camphor flavors.
While not a bad tea, as I stated it reminded of red jade cultivar also from taiwan, I was hoping and expecting something completely different. I did end up prying a rather lot of fanning and dust rather than whole leaves so Im sure that was a factor. I will surely tinker with the brewing parameters/prying technique fairly soon so at the moment holding off on numerical rating.
Bottom line if you expecting something sweet look else where it reminded me of a cross between a darjeeling and tai cha #18 both of which I happen to like from time to time.
Flavors: Camphor, Menthol, Muscatel, White Grapes
Large leaves of dark green and brown fill my Gongfu teapot on this beautiful afternoon. This High Elevation Green was a birthday gift from my husband (which was much earlier in the year). I’m currently sorting my tea cupboard to group similar teas together, at the moment my green tea binge has grouped my green teas together for today’s use with this being the first on my list.
The leaves have a mild seaweed like scent, perfumed though heavily mineral and green.
A 30 second steep reveals a light yellow tea that smells like mild flowers and grass. Flavour is floral with light perfume style flavour with some sweetness.
A further 30 second steep reveals a more mineral tasting green tea, albeit remaining light and floral. A little dryness in the after taste. Rather smooth and lightly buttery. Floral wise I liken it to sweet pea.
Another steep which was increased to one minute brings out the dryness. This is by far the lightest of the steeps, though the mild floral and light butter notes remain.
A very gentle green tea with light floral and buttery notes with some mineral green. Not a favourite but a solid light and pure tasting green tea, a nice palate cleanser.
Flavors: Butter, Flowers, Sweet, warm grass
This is an extremely dark, smooth, oolong that’s rather unlike what I think of when I think of an oolong; the malty notes are reminiscent of a good Assam accompanied by a thick honey taste that’s oh-so-delicious. This is a perfect after-dinner treat (try it with red bean cakes, it’s great).
Flavors: Caramel, Honey, Malt, Molasses
Buoyed by Dexter’s glowing review of this tea, I finally drank this tea last night.
It has quite a lovely rich, warm flavour. The first steep tasted a little like Chinese grocery store oolong in the orange tin if perhaps a little less nutty but subsequent steeps were much rounder, and richer in flavour with good roasted charred notes, balanced with caramel, cinnamon, stewed black cherries and apricots, cocoa, fall leaves, vanilla cream, and mineral notes. The first steep does have that odd mauvish colour that Dexter noted. Pretty tasty if you like dark roast teas.
The dry leaf is like the picture appearing very dark brown to black. They are heavily charred. The tea was well packaged as the nuggets remain solid and tightly wrapped in shape as I think the level of roasting may make them prone to crumbling.I steeped the tea 9 times at @95°C after a rinse (40, 35,40,50,70,90,150s, 4min, 6 min), 1.5 TSP in 170ml Taiwan.
The broth was a eddish grey tinged brown for first steep, more red tinged golden brown for others.
40s. Scent Charcoal tinged roasted grain note, caramel, sweet dried apricot mixed with cherry and plum, hint of fall leaves spice note
Taste Toasted grains up front opening to brown sugar caramel note, hints of fruit and leaves layered in bbetween, bitter cocoa mixes with sweet sugar in the aftertaste. black cherry like fruit note becomes stronger as it cools and charcoal moves to the background.
35s scent roasted note, caramel over cherry with cinnamon, cocoa, fall leaves.
Taste Roasted note blended with much stronger cocoa note and fall leaves, over caramel, stewed black cherry and cinnamon.
40s scent. fruit, spice and caramel, moving to the front combined with the cocoa, roasted note moving into background
Taste Caramel, cocoa, with roasted notes over stewed cherries and cinnamon, leaf note gone.
50s. Taste Roasted note caramel cocoa, fruit heading more to dried apricot.
70s taste . Roasted grain, cocoa, caramel, joint of warm fruit with cinnamon. Black liquorice tone in aftertaste.
90s. Taste same as above with a little vanilla cream and the caramel notes are mellowing, but the tea is quite sweet, with a hint of roasted ash note, less fruit, and more cream, cocoa and mineral notes
150 taste sweet notes fading, roasted grain notes, cream, and mineral notes, with fading caramel and cocoa.
5min taste cream, cocoa,roasted,notes,vanilla, caramel., mineral note.
6min taste continuing to fade but still flavourful.
The spent leaves are charred in such away that even though they have unwound the blades remain mostly wound and are curly not flat leaves are dark chocolate brown.
A really nice warm tasting tea!
I’m really in love with this tea. If you weren’t told it was an oolong, you would never guess. It kind of reminds me of a Yunnan Gold/Red.
If you brew hotter and longer, you get more spice. But I brewed about 185 in gaiwan, short steeps. Then I slowly increased time and temp with every 4 or 5 steeps.
The liquor is just gorgeous, especially once the leaves open up. The scent of the wet leaves is just intoxicating. Get a lot of prune, malt, honey, and hint of spice, like a cinnamon.
Flavor is great, really rich and luxurious. There’s a sweetness to it, but little kick of spice as well. It peaked for me about steep 4 or 5 in 100ml gaiwan. But I still got about 12 solid steeps from it. After the 5th or so, it becomes more one note, sometimes more honey, sometimes more spice.
Just a great tea. Real high quality leaves. Very happy, and great price. I’ve paid a lot more for much less.
Flavors: Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Honey, Malt
Upped the gram to water 7g/12oz and time (4 mins) which finally resulted in the taste and energy(weirdly enough because it seems to have zero bitterness) I was looking for. More of the flavor came through and I finally tasted the herbaceous brininess I smelled in the dry leaves. The more I drink this tea the more I like it.