Mountain Stream TeasEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
We haven’t had a gong fu session in quite a while. I began to have trouble sleeping so we stopped having caffeine in the evening and we just haven’t made time during the day on weekends, plus it has been in the 90’s and humid so not the first idea that springs to mind on a Saturday after mowing.
Derk gave this tea a glowing report and I was intrigued because Ashman and I love the Dong Ding from Tin Roof Teas, and when I buy it we tend to speed through the 100 gram bag because we make big pots of it for breakfast.
This was the perfect tea to renew our gong fu sessions. It was everything I love about Dong Ding plus so much more.
The wet leaf after the very quick rinse had little aroma. It was saving it for later.
Ashman jokes about his inability to make notes on tea, saying, “This is hot and tea-ish.” For this one, he sniffed and said it reminded him of the smell of wood. I agree, and all Dong Ding smells of wood and toast to me. He agreed it was toast and not smoke.
The first sip was a mind bender. Creamy? Was that creamy? Not milky, mind you, but creamy. Yes, yes, it was. Then fresh wood aroma and fruit, and a flitting of sweetness through the cup. The sweetness lay on the tongue a moment and I was startled to be reminded of fruity gum. I think it was what others more accurately called roasted sugarcane. I need to try some real sugarcane.
Steep two was magnificent. All the flavors increased. I can not say that the woodiness took a back seat and the fruit stepped forward, rather EVERYTHING stepped forward. In fact, I felt there was more fruit and Ashman said he thought there was more wood. The flavor overall increased, and it stayed that way for all five steeps.
Magnificent. Worth the price and worth the wait. I can hardly wait to try the others, including the exciting free sample that was sent. I ordered enough to get free shipping and the package came quickly, registered mail. A good experience start to finish.
First time had, it was so pithy bitter. Second time had, so sweet! Too sweet? How did I brew it the first time? I don’t remember. Second time was western with a strainer in a mug. Equal parts pomelo rind both times. So why so sweet this time? Roasted honey sweetness and a hint of raisin from the black tea balanced well by dark, citrusy-medicinal taste of the pomelo peel along with mild pithy bitterness and the vibrant sweet-n-sour pomelo note from the pulp mixed in with tea during processing. Minglemingle. The sweet and sour interplay is dynamic. Would make a great wintertime boiler on the stove.
Flavors: Bitter, Citrus Zest, Citrusy, Honey, Medicinal, Raisins, Roasted, Sweet
Complex layered and intense roasted sugarcane-caramel and floral sweet top/mid notes with a seamless transition into equally complex, mild nutty mid/base tones. Mouthwatering fruity peach finish with a long-lasting returning sweet fragrance. And look at that leaf!
This Spring 2021 harvest is structured in depth of taste, sweetness and feeling. Had two early (430am) mornings in a row and this evening during Mandarin class, this tea suited both situations so well. The way the tea melded with my constitution astounded me — the subtle complexity, the way it drank and how it felt with each swallow; it traveled with a light touch and with its heaviness, nudged itself into all the right nooks and crannies of my being. The 10g freebie made 3 bowls that absolutely changed my mind about Dong Ding.
Bravo, Old Master!
Flavors: Caramel, Floral, Mineral, Nutty, Peach, Roasted, Roasted Nuts, Sugarcane, Sweet
Sweet caramel-floral top notes underpinned by a supple, gentle umami along the lines of that understated seaweed-like vibe I find in some Taiwanese roasted oolong. Apricot finish and aftertaste which is in later bowls augmented by a minty-fresh throatiness. Well executed roast highlights the cream-turned-caramel notes of a roasted Jin Xuan. Can be a little drying at times (never to detriment), but the saliva-thickening character amplifies the caramel impression. Great bowl tea that handles boiling water with ease and has above average longevity when prepared in this manner. Soothing and just overall pleasant. Leaves are healthy and well cared for <3
Thank you for the freebie Mountain Stream :)
Flavors: Apricot, Caramel, Drying, Floral, Mint, Round , Seaweed, Smooth, Thick
Sipdown. Finished this today at work. Solid tea that works well at higher temperatures.
I wasn’t quite sure how to describe the flavor. It’s thick and smooth with not a lot of individual notes to pick out. LuckyMe ’s review calls it soupy and brothy and I agree. Some very light vegetal notes and a little bit of floral in the aftertaste.
Flavors: Broth, Floral, Vegetal
Gongfu Sipdown (1428)!
Feeling summery so I broke out this Honey Black Pomelo sample to have a sipdown session with this afternoon!! I’m a big fan of chenpi, but I have to say that the intensity of this quirky pomelo infused black tea does give it a run for its money!! Steeps start out dark and sweet with notes of smoky burnt sugar, leather, buckwheat honey & woody undertones. From there they take a quick left turn into this super bright and lively citrus burst – sweet and sour like a good Lemonade but balanced by a gentle pithy bitterness from the pomelo rind! This feels like it could very easily become an addictive summer tea stash staple!
Song Pairing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28BLVxOifwQ
Sipdown! (12 | 289)
Had this one yesterday and forgot to write a note, oops!
What a delicious tea! So sweet and thick with lovely syrupy honey notes alongside rich fruit leather, brown sugar, and nutty oats. A green bean-like vegetal quality appeared in the middle few steeps before disappearing again. Unroasted oxidized oolongs are always my favorite types, and this was no exception! It had such a lovely lingering sweet taste.
I had it with some mochi filled with marshmallow and tart plum jam, and it was a lovely pairing. :3
Flavors: Autumn Leaf Pile, Brown Sugar, Dried Fruit, Grain, Grapes, Green Beans, Honey, Honeysuckle, Nuts, Oats, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
Mountain Stream Teas was kind to include this as a freebie in my order last month. Thank you :)
Looking back, the first 5 grams I wasted on shorter steepings. I went that way because of the roast; I didn’t want to be overwhelmed by it since me and roasted Taiwanese oolong aren’t the best of friends. It was very light and watered down tasting, spring water sweet, tingly minerality, hints of umeboshi and caramel.
Because I was underwhelmed, I followed the suggested steeping parameters on the bag for the remaining leaf. What a transformation! The jinxuan character became pretty pronounced. It was very smooth and light- to medium-bodied with a deep, mellow pear-like sweetness, creamy caramel, still hints of umeboshi, tender sweet grass, roasted flavor but well integrated (this is a 2019 electric roast tea so it has had time to settle). Thick aftertaste of creamy dried peaches. The longer the tea was left to cool, the more the flavors of the tea developed. It seems to be very low in caffeine.
This friendly tea is pretty reserved but not challenging in taste. If you do buy this, you’ll be rewarded by following the suggested preparation in the description/on the bag.
Flavors: Caramel, Coffee, Cream, Creamy, Dried Fruit, Mineral, Peach, Pear, Plum, Roasted, Smooth, Spring Water, Sweet, Sweet, Warm Grass
Cold brew is pretty good. Green and grassy, a little brassy, lightly creamy with a high note of orange blossom and the ginger flower beneath that. I’ll probably stick to tiny teapots for this tea, though.
Flavors: Cream, Creamy, Flowers, Ginger, Grass, Green, Metallic, Mineral, Orange Blossom
Unflavored milk oolong scented with wild ginger flowers. An oddity I had to try. The site says Spring 2020; my packet states Summer 2020.
So far, I’ve prepared it both gongfu with moderate steeping times and western. Western produces a good cup in which more of the jinxuan creaminess comes through. Gongfu is really how this tea needs to be treated.
It’s not spectacular leaf, but it is very good. At first the taste is watery and the body light, but the ginger flower scenting makes up for it. Creamy, sweet, spicy, floral and green aroma. The flavors become fully integrated though somewhat muted and the body fuller as the session progresses. The ginger flower scenting I think is in balance with the tea qualities. It is floral and spicy but not in the sense that the root is spicy. It lingers in the aftertaste, which is mellow but very long and evolving. It moves around from spicy-floral ginger and mineral to apricot-grass-banana leaf, to creamy with delicate sweet floral mango and lilies. The minerality of the tea tingles my whole mouth, not quite astringent. Mouth and throat feel full and a little dry; the throat then feels minty cool.
This is a very enjoyable tea and is not overbearing in any one facet. The ginger flower scenting adds an exotic experience to a jinxuan oolong, which I don’t drink often. I’m happy that this tea can handle near-boiling water. This tea is definitely worth a try. Glad I bought 25g — let’s see what cold-brewing does.
Flavors: Apricot, Cookie, Cream, Creamy, Drying, Floral, Flowers, Ginger, Grass, Mango, Milk, Mineral, Mint, Plants, Spicy, Spinach
I wish I had bought a larger package of this winter 2020 harvest Taiwanese white tea so I could have more to play around with. It takes boiling water with no issue whatsoever. The liquor is a bit drying and the flavor a little lacking early, with watery notes of hay, oats, orange, ginger, beeswax, canned lychee syrup. Longer, hotter steeps develop more juiciness and creamy-smooth heft, while a deep orange character comes to the fore. Is this similar to what white tea stuffed mandarins taste like? Check out the wet leaves: they’re pretty small, rounded and many with blunted tips.
I want to boil this tea so bad. And grandpa it. And brew a big pot of it.
Flavors: Citrusy, Cream, Creamy, Drying, Earth, Flowers, Ginger, Grass, Hay, Honey, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Lychee, Malt, Metallic, Mineral, Oats, Orange, Orange Zest, Osmanthus, Rose, Rosehips, Salt, Smooth, Spearmint, Tangy, Wheat
I can’t believe it has been 3 years since I last ordered from Mountain Stream Teas. After drinking two samples from them that were clearly rancid (not stale), I moved on to other avenues. This year, I felt called to them again, something about wanting, for whatever reason, to try some less than perfect leaf. They have a range of certified organic and no pesticide teas. There are the familiar balled oolong and some lesser known styles of Taiwanese tea, both processed in traditional and experimental manners.
This tea is a part of a series of tea-stuffed citrus fruits that I think Mountain Stream Teas released in the past year or two. Cursory reading shows this method of preserving tea originated with the Hakka people of China and the knowledge migrated with them to Taiwan.
I’m very much a citrus lover and have enjoyed but never been wowed by shou pu’er stuffed oranges/tangerines. When I saw the combination of teas and citrus fruits, I had to try a few. They offer black tea stuffed lemons and pomelos and an oolong stuffed orange (which is only currently available as the whole fruit and not a sample).
I brewed this yesterday morning by stewing it in my work thermos, tossing in a big chunk of rock-hard lemon rind and what tea was stuck to it. It produced a dark and rich medicinal-citrus brew. Lots of sweet, dark raisiny, roasted honey flavor from the black tea mixed with the bright and tart taste of the lemon pulp that was processed with the black tea. The lemon rind looks like something you’d expect to find next to a mummy – this tea was meant to store for the long haul. The peel contributes an earthy, rich and brothy, fermented medicinal zesty overtone.
I think I’d actually like to add this to my collection. It may not get drank often but I really enjoyed it. If the black tea stuffed pomelo is as comforting and satisfying, I may sequester the collection of 3 fruits for the afterlife ;) I’d love to see Roswell Strange’s take on these!
Also, it’s good to see MST got their game together and now vacuum pack all their oolong, even the 10g samples. That should help keep the tea from going stale or turning rancid.
Flavors: Broth, Citrusy, Earth, Honey, Lemon, Lemon Zest, Medicinal, Molasses, Raisins, Roasted, Sweet, Tart
Sipdown! (23 | 227)
Just now getting around to drinking this pot of tea that I steeped this morning… I got sidetracked by looking at tea trays and then went to the store and have been cooking all evening. Now I’m so tired and drinking this cold.
It’s delicious though! Very sweet, thick, and fruity. It has some wonderful honey and molasses notes along with soft, malty bread and grains. A tart yet jammy fruitiness that reminds me of dried cherries. The honey aftertaste is amazing, just like licking the leftover honey from a spoon. It’s a richer and creamier honey note, without much floral presence.
Thankful to be sipping on this on the couch, and thankful that I’m not sensitive to caffeine ha ha…
Flavors: Baked Bread, Cherry, Dried Fruit, Grain, Hay, Honey, Jam, Malt, Oats, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
Sipdown! (17 | 221)
Finishing off another tasty Taiwanese black tea sample this morning! This one is actually from Lishan, which is obviously famous for high-mountain oolongs. It’ll be interesting to see how those notes carry over in a black tea!
I can definitely see some similarities to a Lishan oolong. This has a lovely smooth creaminess to it, and the ubiquitous notes of nectarous peach. Happily for me, it’s not quite as floral as I generally find high-mountain oolongs, but there are some lovely light floral notes at the end of the sip. It also has some lower raisiny tones, and another fruity note that reminds me of overripe grapes. The bread and honey that I often find in Taiwanese black teas are there as well, rounding out the middle, as well as a hint of musty hay at the top of my mouth.
Super yummy! I like the extra creamy and peachy flavors here, and it’s definitely on the light end of things.
Flavors: Baked Bread, Creamy, Floral, Grapes, Hay, Honey, Honeysuckle, Milk, Musty, Nectar, Peach, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet
Drafting this note as I drink the tea. I drew from Leafhoppers and Lucky Me notes, and well, sense and instinct. I’ll add more as I drink it throughout the day, so expect some changes and edits.
Dryleaf is fruity and creamy, bordering on reminding me of sugarcane. First steep was a rinse, and it’s very sweet. Sweet corn, butter, honeydew (faint), sugar.
Second one after 25 seconds….flower water. Not much of anything.
Wet leaf smells like strawberries and cream. Third about 35 ish seconds in 4 ish oz, and more corn and whatever creamy floral. “Berries and cream,” osmanthus, melon of some form and something else. I’m feeling a little unoriginal, but I am liking this more than I thought I would. The vegetals might come soon, but so far, not so much. We’ll see as the session continues.
Now, 30-40ish seconds (maybe less), PEACH, orchids, osmanthus. Some green alpine-ness in the earlier part, barely vegetal. Very fresh and juicy.
Another round I did not count, probably close to less than a minute, and peach, but more floral. Orchid, herbs, osmanthus, and peachy finish.
47 seconds and heavy fruity aroma. Thick. Tasting it, thick fruit. Peach, jasmine, butter, and cantelope? More melon than peach personally. Immensely fruity.
And I think I’m ready for the waiting. Corn, peach, melon, cream, and florals are prominent for me. I felt very off for the florals though they are clearly present. I’ve been half tempted to write hyacinth for steep two, but I wasn’t sure. It could be the way I brewed it, but it was not as vegetal as the Fall A selection. This one was softer in comparison, though I didn’t expect it to be fruitier. I actually liked this one a little bit more despite it being more subdued. I also think it’s due to a little bit less leaves that I used, or I could be wrong. I’ll write a few things more soon, but I think I’ve gotten what I could out of the tea. Or have I?
Next steep. Vegetal spinach. Floral, but green, buttery, savory and herbaceous.
Flavors: Butter, Corn Husk, Floral, Fruity, Herbaceous, Herbs, Honeysuckle, Osmanthus, Peach, Sugarcane, Sweet
Reviewing the shared Leafhopper batch is going to be fun. I had a hard time deciding which to try first. Mountain Stream teas tend to have a shorter shelf life, so I started here.
I unceremoniously put the entire sample in my jerry rigged Crimson Lotus Gongfu2Go tumbler. Dry leaf was buttery, with some of the cookie dessert vegetable notes I associate with most of Mountain Stream teas. I did not time it it, but I let it steep until the leaves partly opened. I snuck a peaky sip, maybe after 45 seconds (or a minute-I was bad), and the flower butter taste confirmed it was ready.
First steep was a light yellow brew with a deceptive amount of flavor. The notes were heavy with butter, milk, brown sugar, swiss chard, and cream followed by some of the trademark orange blossom note from the company (that I totally made up-I swear most of their teas have an orange blossom taste even if their black teas). If I were to drink it blind, I might have thought it was a milk oolong. I also got some weird linens texture wise.
Second steep is a little more vegetal and floral as the leaves were closer to being totally unfurled quickly. I’d assume a minute or less. More orange blossom and….osmanthus? It’s not quite “sprite” like, but it’s very creamy. I’m trying to think of the other florals this time. The tea still leans more into milk and brown sugar direction, but still lightly floral. The chard also grows, but less vanilla association than in steep one.
Wet leaves had broccoli and green bean scent, but still floral. Third brew…don’t ask me the timing. ’Nother sip-creamsicle. Let it sit longer…better. Again, having a hard time pinning it down. Very floral, definite hyacinth, honeysuckle, rising into a buttery and sweet finish. The lingering aftertaste is really nice. Again, kinda like a creamsicle. Joy to orange blossom.
Fourth, not sure what to do. I poured another sip. Sweet and flavorful, osmanthus. I got some peachiness from the leaves, before I rinsed it, but let’s see. I let it sit a few more seconds, and much the same leaning into the butter and swiss chard qualities. More seconds, and osmanthus and swiss chard. Again.
Few seconds later…and finally, full peach along vegetal notes. Spinach.
I’m going to pause writing here and confer the other notes real quick. I don’t have a lot of hot water left and am debating how many more steeps I want to push. To be continued in a few minutes.
Okay, I can now come to a conclusion. I still did another steep, and it’s milky. Orange blossom vegetable creamsicle.
So do I like it? Heck yes. Would I have bought it? In the past, yes, but when my preferences were younger. I’ve had older year packs before when the company started out. Mountain Stream has some very unique teas that are hard to find anywhere else, but they are experimental and very temperamental based on seasons. All teas are, but no tea is ever the same from this company.
Thank you Leafhopper! I finished this one with great joy.
Flavors: Broccoli, Brown Sugar, Butter, Cream, Creamy, Floral, Milk, Orange Blossom, Osmanthus, Peach, Smooth, Spinach, Sweet, Thick, Vegetal
In 2019, I bought a sample set of two fall Li Shan oolongs picked several days apart on the same farm. This is the one that was harvested later in the year. 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.
This tea has a stronger cookie aroma than the Li Shan A, along with citrus, cream, flowers, and spinach. The first steep has notes of cookies, butter, orchids, honeysuckle, other florals, cream, honey, faint citrus, grass, broccoli, and spinach. I get a strong mandarin orange note in the teapot, but steep two just offers more of the cookie and vegetal flavours. I get a strongly vegetal aftertaste. Orange and peach appear faintly in the aroma and taste of steeps three and four, but I really have to look for them. I also get more veggies and the high mountain herbaceousness I found in Li Shan A, along with a lovely apricot/peach aftertaste. The next couple steeps have a soft peach note that’s kind of overwhelmed by spinach, broccoli, kale, and grass. As in previous steeps, the aftertaste is the best part of this tea. The final steeps are a little floral but mostly vegetal, with broccoli, kale, spinach, and some astringency.
Judging from the very similar smell of the dry leaves, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to distinguish this tea from its earlier-harvested counterpart. I needn’t have worried, though, since most of the aroma didn’t make it into the cup. I might need to experiment with cold brewing like LuckyMe to pull out more of the fruity flavours.
Flavors: Apricot, Astringent, Broccoli, Butter, Citrus, Cookie, Cream, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honey, Honeysuckle, Kale, Orange, Orchid, Peach, Spinach, Vegetal
In 2019, Mountain Stream offered a set of two Li Shan teas produced a few days apart on the same farm. This is the first of these teas. Mountain Stream used to have a long description for both of them, but I can no longer find it online. 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 of these large nuggets is of cookies, orchids, other flowers, butter, and citrus. The first steep has notes of mandarin orange, orange blossom, orchid, honeysuckle, butter, grass, spinach, and cookies. The second adds peach and more intense florals; it has a thick texture while still being sort of drying. I get canned peaches and nectarines in the aroma of the third steep, but the tea also becomes more savory, with umami, veggies, and that herbaceous note I tend to pick up in high mountain oolongs. The vegetal notes of brussels sprouts and beans are more prominent in steeps four and five, though the lovely peachy aftertaste persists. The next couple steeps see the veggies tip the balance, and the session ends with notes of broccoli, beans, spinach, and grass.
This tea peaked fast, but those first few steeps were great. It’s on the burlier side for a Li Shan and the vegetal notes are more pronounced than I’d like, but overall, I’ll have no trouble finishing it.
Flavors: Beany, Broccoli, Butter, Citrus, Cookie, Drying, Floral, Grass, Herbaceous, Honeysuckle, Orange, Orange Blossom, Orchid, Peach, Savory, Spinach, Stonefruit, Thick, Umami, Vegetal
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
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