Thunder Mountain TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
I actually sipped down two of my Thunder Mountain Teas yesterday (Phoenix Rising and Forever Spring Oolong); nice to finally have a routine in my life again and to be drinking tea again. My new companion animal, a black cat that looks a lot like Toothless wakes me quite early for breakfast (I never give in but she still hasn’t learned!) and now my body clock is starting to wake earlier, giving me time to sit and enjoy a cuppa before work in the mornings. I’ve pulled this sampler, which was kindly provided to me by Thunder Mountain Teas, to work through next as my morning tea.
The dry leaf smells just like a fudge brownie to me. Brewed up, the top of the cup is a wee bit filmy from the chocolate bits that melted into the tea, but the aroma is just as desserty and pleasing, especially since I’m (BURN THE WITCH!) not a very big pu’erh fan. This is my second pu’erh from this small independant local business (she works out of her home from Boise, Idaho) and while I don’t like it as much as the Strawberry Dawn (which tastes like strawberries dipped in Nutella to me, which is a hard flavor combo to beat in my opinion) this is pretty great… and again, this is from someone who is, in general, just not a fan of pu’erh (they tend to usually taste a little too much like a mouthful of dirt to me). I’m not getting any of the unpleasant “dirt/marsh mud” notes that tend to turn me away, there are some rich earthy flavors beneath a sweet chocolately flavor, and the chocolate helps temper it a lot. The chocolate has a slight fudginess to it but isn’t overbearingly sweet, with more of a dark chocolate/bittersweet note that is left on the tongue after the sip. I also get a slight nutty note toward the end of the sip and in the aftertaste.
This is a satisfying morning cup, and Chiya is just going to have to wait until I finish at least half of it to get her bowl refilled.
Patience is a virtue.
Flavors: Chocolate, Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Nutty, Roasted nuts
Another blend from the tea box! The flavor for this definitely gets better as it cools, and it’s best of all with sugar and milk. I like mixes of black and green tea since just black teas can sometimes be too strong for me. This tea has a pleasant almond flavor that’s not overwhelming. It’s really nice! But with how much sugar and milk I put in this one, any tea would taste nice…it was just a little bitter at first, so I decided to help it out.
14th day of Sara’s Advent
Wow, the flavors really come together in the right balance!
I swear there’s chocolate in here, but it must be a combination of the other flavors, maybe the pu-errh and hazelnut. It tastes like chocolate-dipped strawberries. I can taste the hazelnut a bit at the end of the sip.
I remember them from my yearly visit to the Boise farmer’s market. I will definitely hit them up next time.
This is really, really good.
Flavors: Chocolate, Hazelnut, Nutty, Strawberry
Autumn Harvest! Decided to go with another nutty offering this morning. I got this tea from a Boise Farmer’s Market, and it is a black/green blend with roasted almonds and almond flavoring. The smell of the leaf at the booth had me sold! It reminds me a bit of amaretto, with those sweet honey and cherry notes, and has a sweet marzipan dessertiness to the aroma, but it has a bit more toasty and nutty depth to the scent than many almond teas I’ve found.
Since the tea is a blend of leaf that normally get such different brewing parameters, steeping took a bit of experimentation to get it the way I liked it. I use 190F water, the best happy medium I can get to not turn the green tea bitter while extracting as much flavor as possible from the black tea, and steep for 2-3 minutes depending on how dark I want my tea that morning — no longer, or the tea gets too astringent for my tastes.
The tea brews a very toasty brown color, and despite the leaf having the strongly sweet marzipan smell, it isn’t a syrupy-sweet cup. It actually has a more roasty nutty flavor, with a bit of a sweet or dessert-like finish that is slightly honey-like that surfaces right at the finish of the sip. The base of the tea has a very subtle earthy/vegetal quality that compliments the nuttiness really nicely, and the mouthfeel comes off somewhat thick or rich. I like the transition of the deep nuttiness to the sweet marzipan finish. It reminds me a bit of TeaSource’s Roasted Chestnut tea, as both are quite good in getting a nice savory almond nut quality to their flavor, except Roasted Chestnut has a more roasty profile overall to its nuttiness, and this one has a sweeter, more honeyed quality.
Flavors: Almond, Earth, Honey, Marzipan, Nutty, Roasted nuts, Thick, Vegetal
Revisit Review! My initial review of this tea was over a year ago, and since it’s one of my oldest teas, I’ve moved it into my sipdown corner. I figured since I’ve been drinking it a lot lately working on clearing it out of my stash, I should revisit it.
My initial review was for this tea brewed western style, and can be viewed here: https://steepster.com/mastressalita/posts/379618 . Lately I’ve been making liters of this oolong cold brewed and taking it to work in my water bottle. The flavor is very floral, like a spring meadow, with honeysuckle, lilac, orchid, and perhaps a subtle touch of a soft perfumey jasmine note being the main floral flavors I taste, and it has a very strong aromatic quality and sweetness to it. I’m also getting a subtle hint of pear after some of the florality subsides. It’s been very refreshingly green and it will probably be easy to clear this older tea out pretty quickly gulping down iced brews.
But since I hadn’t tried this oolong gong fu style yet, I wanted to make sure I tried it that way at least once while I still had some leaf, so I decided to dedicate the time to it this evening. Since it was pretty late, I only used around half capacity in my shiboridashi; I didn’t want to use my little baby-gaiwan since big leafy oolong don’t really have the room to open up properly in it.
70ml / 4.5g / 205F / Rinse|30s|35s|45s|50s|60s|75s
The aroma is very floral, smelling of violets, orchids, and lilacs, with a slightly sharp minerality. The flavor after the first steep was floral, soft, and sweet, with just a hint of a pear note toward the finish. The second steep brought in much stronger aromatics, with the floral note having a somewhat perfumey aroma. The tea is quite sweet, like honey, and the orchid flavor settles thick and syrupy on the tongue. When the flowery flavor fades, a vegetal taste is left on the tongue; it’s a leafy green taste that is slightly like brocolli, but it is quite subtle. The third steep was more of the same, though a sharp mineral flavor came forward toward the finish. The fourth and fifth steeps found the aroma softening a little, and the tea sweetening some, with slightly stronger honeysuckle/honey/cream notes, but the mouthfeel was thinning out a bit. By the sixth steep the tea had grown thin in flavor and tasted a little soapy and astringent to me, so it seemed the right place to wrap things up.
This is a tea that I didn’t see much difference in the gong fu brew compared to western and cold brew. It’s highly floral and I like the strong orchid/lilac flavor, but those that don’t like floral teas would not like this tea. It almost borders on being too perfumey for me to handle, but somehow stays just within that fine line where the aroma doesn’t set my sensitive migraine head off. Since I don’t really get anything new from gong fu with this one for the time and effort it takes me to brew that way, I’m pretty happy to finish this off cold brew style (plus, it makes a really nice cold brew!)
Flavors: Broccoli, Cream, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Mineral, Orchid, Pear, Perfume, Sweet, Vegetal, Violet
Summer Vacation! This tea comes from a small independant tea seller in Boise, Idaho, that was selling tea at the Farmer’s Market in 2017 (she refrained and stuck to online sales only in 2018 due to her father’s health). When I stopped by her booth I picked up both the Taiwanese oolongs she sourced, which at the time were Zhushan Natural Oolong, which she told me was being discontinued by the tea farm it was being sourced from and she only had a few bags left, and Forever Spring Oolong, the replacement for the Zhushan Natural Oolong. I ended up not liking the Zhushan Natural Oolong very much, because it was just way too perfumy in aroma for me. It reminded me too much of a heavily-scented jasmine tea, only with an orchid aroma/flavor instead. My migraine-head doesn’t do well with perfume-like teas. As I remember, I liked this replacement oolong much better, because it didn’t have that strong, heady perfume aroma, but was still floral and sweet. Time to revisit and see if my abysmal memory holds up!
3.7g brewed in 370ml 200F water in a gravity well infuser. I still need to try this one gong fu style, but just don’t have the time tonight; I need to limit my caffeine intake because I have an early morning tomorrow, and I have to cut off my tea/food at a certain hour tonight because the reason for the early morning tomorrow is health evals at work (which means a blood draw). The brewed tea has a light yellow color and an aroma has notes of flowers, honey, and minerals. It definitely doesn’t have that strong “cheap perfume” smell the other oolong had. The flavor is quite nice; surprisingly sweet, a bit like honey and cream, with a sweet orchid note, and a finish that comes off with a slight mineral tang.
Will need to try this gong fu when I have the time, but it’s quite tasty even as a western brew. I like the sweet honeyed/floral profile with the slightly sharper earthy finish.
Flavors: Cream, Floral, Honey, Honeysuckle, Mineral, Orchid, Sweet
Brewed the last 5g this morning western style at slightly lower temp and untimed steeps. It became a little more medicinal in taste with a less drying mouthfeel, more silky. I figured western would not allow some of the nuances to develop, which was the case, but I didn’t expect the cheap perfume to completely overtake the liquor for all three steeps, just the first. It was a very mediocre cup.
I did some searching around last night and it looks like this is probably a 2014 harvest from Goe Tea farm, so not exactly fresh. Grown at low elevation. I’d like to try a fresher version, so I’ll be on the lookout for teas from this farm.
I chose this as the first tea to try from a tea swap with Mastress Alita (thanks!) based on her disdain for the perfume aroma (which is totally understandable).
Man, this tea has so much going for it but it really needs just a slight touch of creaminess to add to the experience and temper the forward florals. It’s very 3-dimensional. Like I can pick out distinct stacks of flavor and sensation in my mouth. I bet a lot of snobs might think this tea is unrefined and clunky. I concluded if I could find more of this tea, I’d like to use it as an instructional experience for people who are wanting to move past the beginners Taiwanese oolong and are comfortable with adventuring.
The dry leaves are super tiny nuggets that smell kind of like cheap white floral perfume, woody and floral sweet cinnamon, green wood, wet wood and woody peach. The majority of the nuggets opened quickly and fully after the second steep, revealing some of the most beautiful leaves I’ve ever seen. Most of them are pretty small with shades of copper, olive green, bronze, and brown. Looked damn fine in my purple clay gaiwan. This oolong is not picked as 2-4 leaf and a bud. It’s all pretty robust and small leaf with only 1 or 2 buds attached to the few stems present. Looks machine harvested.
The first steep started out thick leading into a pleasantly drying but not thin mouthfeel in the following steeps. I don’t know how else to describe it. At first, the aroma of the wet leaves really put me off because it smelled so strongly of cheap floral perfume. The liquor was thankfully not as strong in smell but stood in its own right throughout the whole session. By the time I got to the third steep, the perfume scent of the wet leaves separated into very distinct tastes in my mouth. The woody, floral cinnamon and woody peach of the dry leaf lined my whole mouth. Some mineral produced a tingling side-tongue and my saliva glands felt active but not producing. A light, bitter medicinal elderberry and black cherry went down my tongue. Florals stacked on top of my tongue and hit the roof of my mouth. It started with a base of bittersweet violet blanketing my tongue. Going up there was a penetrating orchid and at the top it was some kind of earthy base-y white floral with a very high note. Above that was a cooling sensation that opened my sinuses and allowed the white floral to float higher.
The cooling sensation eventually sat at the back of the tongue, along with that medicinal black cherry and elderberry. A very faint butteriness turned up mid-session at the top back of the mouth. The florals eventually mellowed. The bitterness was never overwhelming and despite oversteeping here and there, the liquor never became offensive. Toward the end, a light sweetness presented and salivation finally became noticeable. I ate a few cilantro leaves and that really amplified some wonderful flavors between tea and herb. The session faded away smoothly with 10 steeps.
I can’t wait to try the remaining 5 grams in a long-steep/higher-water-volume western style brew. I get a feeling that might produce something quite interesting and much more medicinal. For me, this isn’t an everyday tea. I was going to say I can’t figure out where it would fit in my life beyond an instructional tea but it’s certainly perking me up on this dreadful, um, cramping day. Warming and lightly relaxing.
Thanks again, Mastress Alita. It’s always nice for a tea to find a good home.
Flavors: Berries, Bitter, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Floral, Green Wood, Medicinal, Menthol, Mineral, Orchid, Orchids, Peach, Perfume, Sweet, Tannic, Violet, Wood
May Flowers! So, this ended up being another overleafed gong fu attempt… I wonder when I’ll figure out the secret? Seems that any time I look up what I should be doing based on the amount of water it holds and the type of tea I’ll be brewing, I need to take about a gram off of what the estimates say or my results are too bitter to drink. Because both times now that is what I’ve done, and my second attempt has been fine…
I used 4g of leaf in my 150 ml beginner’s gaiwan (though to be fair, I only fill it about halfway since I’m making a single cup, and even then I end up emptying a bit of each infusion into a “drainage” cup), at 190 F using a first steep of 20 seconds with subsequent steeps starting at 10 seconds and increasing in 5 second intervals. My session was a quick 7 infusions before my tea felt weak enough that I decided to wrap things up.
This tea has a very vegetal dry smell, but steeped has a very strong, perfumy aroma. In fact, the aroma was almost as perfume-floral potent as Jasmine Pearls… phew. And that isn’t exactly my tea, because of the extremely heady aroma. So the first few infusions were a bit strong for me, with a very thick floral orchid taste and scent. This is probably the most orchid oolong I have ever had! There was a very subtle hint of a nutty taste and a bit of cinnamon left on my tongue in the aftertaste. Around the fourth and fifth infusions the tea mellowed out a bit, and those were probably the most pleasant infusions, as the floral had tamed itself a bit more to my liking, and the aroma wasn’t so overwhelming. By the sixth and seventh steeps, the flavor was still pleasant, but noticably starting to loose steam.
Unlike many oolongs I’ve tried, I didn’t really notice the flavor changing from infusion to infusion, so in the future this is probably an oolong I’ll prepare western style instead; I think that may also produce a slightly less overwhelmingly “perfumey” experience out of the gate as well, which is the one thing about this tea I didn’t like. Perfumey teas tend to aggrevate my head the way strongly scented hand lotions or perfumes do, as far as migraines go, so I tend to avoid them. The mid-infusions didn’t have that problem, so I think a western brew will do this tea well, so I do plan to explore it again.
The tea was just a bit one-note… granted, it was a note I enjoy, flavor-wise, but the strong aroma, lack of flavor versatility, and short staying power don’t make this a favorite oolong overall. It is certainly a good choice for a strong floral hit that isn’t jasmine, though!
Flavors: Cinnamon, Floral, Nuts, Orchid, Perfume
This is such a great tea! I found it at the Farmer’s Market in Boise, Idaho, from a tea vendor called Thunder Mountain Teas. The pu-erh base has a lovely rich, smooth flavor, with some slightly earthy and chocolate notes. So many flavored pu-erhs I try have this really cheap, “dirty” or “fishy” tasting pu-erh base, but this one is fantastic, and the flavoring is perfect! The tea has a very rich hazelnut flavor, with a natural berry sweetness, and a taste of strawberry right in the finish! It reminds me of dipping strawberries into a jar of Nutella! The tea has a robustness to it that makes me enjoy it in the mornings when I really need a pick-me-up, but it is smooth, contains no astringencies, and is naturally sweet and requires no extra sweetening unlike most black breakfast teas. It’s one of my favorites!
Flavors: Chocolate, Earth, Hazelnut, Nutty, Smooth, Strawberry, Sweet