Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

Here is a sample from Taiwan that has been put aside for too long. Today’s review will focus on the Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company, based in Nantou County, Taiwan. I have covered Mountain Tea Company in several previous posts, so I will spare you all the redundancy.

The sample packet has been opened, and the classic roasty, robust scent of Dong Ding oolong is immediately recognizable. Let the journey begin…

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform dark brownish-green color. The leaves are shaped in the standard semi-ball form. The semi-balls consist of whole leaves with stems intact. I am assuming a pluck of three to four leaves per stem. There are no bare stems in the mix. The semi-balls have a dense, rigid texture. The leaves have been roasted, and appear to be in the 50% to 60% range in terms of oxidation level. The smell has scents of char, wood, raw cacao, light brown sugar, baked apple and toasted grains.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 2:00 to 2:30 minutes. Expect at least three or four quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. Reduce second infusion steep time to 1:30, then increase to 1:45 for the third infusion, and 15 additional seconds to each subsequent infusion.

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infusion
Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a bright, pale yellow color, clear and transparent, with a few course particles. The aroma had scents of char, wood, apple, brown sugar, and toasted grains. The body was medium, with a clean, gentle texture, and a refreshing effect. There is a very mild astringency when the liquor is hot, and diminishes as the liquor cools. The taste has notes of char, wood, mineral, apple, brown sugar, toasted grains, and apple blossoms. The aftertaste carries the woody and apple blossom notes, and a pleasant, lingering flowery essence can be felt on the breath.

Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform dark brown color with a light greenish tint. The leaves are mostly whole, although cracked and ripped from processing. The stems show a three leaf pluck. The leaves have a thin, wet leather texture. The leaves are smaller than I originally expected, with many measuring under one and a half inches (38 mm). Most of the leaves are long and narrow. I believe these leaves are from the Chin Shin (TTES 17) cultivar. The leaves have scents of char, wood, mineral, light apple, and light raw cacao.

The Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company has the roasty, sweet, and woody scents and tastes that are expected from roasted, highly oxidized oolongs. This tea is a great way to warm up the body on a cold day. The pleasant aroma and taste will be consistent through at least three to four infusions. The sweet and flowery essence is very enjoyable, and seems to last for minutes after the tea is swallowed.  If you like roasted oolongs, then this is a reasonably priced tea that will satisfy what you are looking for.

Thank you to the sales team at Mountain Tea Company for providing this sample of Medium Roast Dong Ding Oolong Tea. Cheers.

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Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company

I am in the process of organizing all of my samples from this year, and I must admit that it has been quite the task. I am going against my will, and simply organizing the samples by country of origin. Quite honestly, I did not have enough boxes to organize by region, which I would certainly prefer. On the bright side, I am finding some really great samples that came in small packets that simply shifted little by little to the bottom of other boxes.

This sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is one of those great samples that got lost in the mix for a while. Thankfully, it has resurfaced at a perfect time, as I have been desiring a Taiwanese oolong for a few weeks. I have been enjoying oolongs from Thailand and China, with the occasional Vietnam or Indonesia oolong, but my supply of Taiwan oolongs has become quite low, except for a few Jin Xuan products of varying quality. I love Jin Xuan, but I need a break!

The leaves of this Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea are harvested from the Si Ji Chun cultivar grown in Nantou County, Taiwan. Mountain Tea Company owns three tea gardens, one on Wushe Mountain. I cannot say with certainty whether the tea bushes that produced these leaves grow at the Wushe Mountain garden, or one of the other two. Regardless, all gardens are considered high mountain locations, thus I am expecting a very happy oolong experience out of this review. For more information on the Mountain Tea Company, please click here.

The sample packet has been opened, and despite the months that have passed since first receiving this sample, the scent of the dry leaves is remarkably sweet and fragrant. Let the journey begin…

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Dry Leaves

The dry leaves range in color from light green to dark green. The leaves are in the compact, semi-ball shape, with few stems, but not as many as I commonly see in semi-ball oolongs. This fact indicates more time and effort by the manufacturer during production to remove the majority of stems. From the few stems that are present, I am seeing only two leaves on the pluck, and I expect very small buds to be present also. The scent of the dry leaves is truly incredible! Full, sweet scents of brown sugar, ripe peaches and apricots, gardenia flowers, honey, and sweet cream are all present. I am starting to be reminded of the reasons why Taiwanese oolongs are so expensive and yet worth every penny.

Three grams of dry leaves were placed in a five ounce (150 ml) porcelain infusion cup. Purified water was heated to 205°F (96°C). The leaves were infused for 4:00 minutes.

My suggestion for at home preparation is to use three grams of dry leaves for every six to eight ounces (180 to 240 ml) of water to be used. Heat the water to 195°F (90°C). Steep the leaves for 3:00 minutes. Expect three or more quality infusions out of the same serving of leaves. I recommend cutting at least a full minute off the steep time for the second infusion (1:30 to 2:00 total steep time), and then 2:00 to 2:30 minutes for the third.

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a very bright greenish-yellow color, perfectly clear and transparent. The aroma is phenomenal, with full scents of gardenia flowers, honey, stewed peaches and apricots, sweet cream, and carmelized sugar. The body is medium, with a clean, silky texture. The taste carries notes of peaches, apricots, gardenia flowers, sweet cream, honey, brown sugar, and a very light but noticeable hint of cooked spinach. The aftertaste is top notch, combining gardenia with sweet cream. As the aftertaste lingers, the sweet cream trails off and a hint of honeydew melon sets in, while the gardenia holds its potency. This is an incredible tea from start through the lingering finish!

Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Infused Leaves Closeup
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf
Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea Single Infused Leaf

The infused leaves have a uniform fresh forest green color. Many leaves display a rather dark shade of red on the edges. I would estimate the oxidation at 30%, give or take 5%. Most of the leaves are whole, with a few large fragments. Many leaves are totally disconnected from the stem. The leaves that are connected to the stem show a two leaf and tiny bud pluck. Only one stem had a third leaf. The leaves have a thicker, leathery texture, evidence that the Si Ji Chun cultivar is a close relative of the TieGuanYin cultivar. Most of the leaves are fairly young, but the few larger leaves are longer and fairly broad, not quite as broad as the Jin Xuan leaves, but close. The smell is again incredible, with full scents of gardenia flowers, peaches and apricots, brown sugar, sweet cream, and honey.

I am officially obsessed with Taiwanese oolongs again. The Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea Company is fully responsible for reviving this obsession. Awe-inspiring from the scent of the dry leaves through the entire drinking experience and the inspection of the infused leaves, this tea is a phenomenal product that is easy to afford and appreciate. Although not everyone will taste the many notes that are listed above, any level of tea drinker will quickly notice that this tea is simply delicious. The lingering aftertaste will not let you forget just how good this product is.

Thank you to the management at Mountain Tea Company for providing this sample of Four Seasons of Spring Oolong Tea. You can purchase some of this tea from Mountain Tea Company by clicking here.

Amber Oolong Tea from Mountain Tea

Over the past three months, I have reviewed a number of Jin Xuan (milk) wulong products from various companies. Today’s review is another Jin Xuan wulong, but it is quite different. This Amber Oolong from Mountain Tea has an oxidation of 30%, and a 50% roast. Although I do not have a specific percentage of roasts on the other Jin Xuan teas that I have reviewed, I can tell you that they are nowhere near 50%. I know the tastes and characteristics of “greener” Jin Xuan teas quite well, so I am excited to see how the higher oxidation and roasting levels will affect the attributes of the aroma and flavor.

The Jin Xuan tea bushes are grown in the Wushe Mountains of central Taiwan, at an average elevation of 1,500 meters (4,500 feet) about sea level.

The sample packet has been opened, and the smell is quite intriguing … Let the journey begin…

Amber Oolong Dry Leaves
Amber Oolong Dry Leaves

The dry leaves have a uniform hazey brownish-tan, roasted color. The leaves are in the standard semi-ball shape. Some leaves have a stem attached. Leaves appear to be mostly unbroken, but there are some crumbs present from roasting. The aroma is quite complex, with different scents appearing with each inhale. At first, scents of char, wood, and cocoa are most noticeable. With additional inhales, scents of baked apples, light brown sugar, and cinnamon can be felt.

Five grams of dry leaves were placed in an 8.5 ounce (240 ml) kyusu teapot. Filtered tap water was heated to 190°F (90°C). Leaves were infused for one minute thirty seconds.

Amber Oolong 1st Infusion
Amber Oolong 1st Infusion

The first infusion produced a liquor with a light amber (orange with a brown tint) color, clear and transparent. The aroma is bakey, with scents of toast, fruit juice, and a light floral character. The body is medium, with a lush, juicy feel. The taste reminds me of a light liquid form of hot apple pie, having notes of baked butter, apples, light brown sugar, and a very light spice (cinnamon). The aftertaste is bakey and floral, and lingering. I was sad to get to the bottom of this cup. The taste of apple was so obvious that I thought I was mistaking another taste. Additional infusions produced the same general results.

Amber Oolong 2nd Infusion
Amber Oolong 2nd Infusion

The second infusion produced a liquor that had a much darker amber color. The aroma was juicy, to best describe it, and retained the toasty character, slightly floral. The body remained medium. The taste was bolder than the first infusion, and reminded me more of apple cider than apple pie. It was juicy, and had a noticeable spice (cinnamon) to it. I liked the first infusion better, but this was very interesting.

Amber Oolong 3rd Infusion
Amber Oolong 3rd Infusion

The third infusion produced a shade of amber color that was slightly lighter than the second infusion, but darker than the first. The aroma remains toasty and juicy, with light floral. The taste has balanced out nicely, having the baked apple, spice, and light brown sugar notes. The feel is more lush than the first infusion, but not as bold as the second. The third infusion has been the best of the three, in my opinion. The bakey and floral aftertaste has been retained through all three infusions.

Although I did not bother taking photos of additional infusions, I did infuse these leaves three more times before retiring them. Even in the sixth infusion, this tea provided a great aroma and taste experience.

Amber Oolong Infused Leaves
Amber Oolong Infused Leaves

The infused leaves have a uniform copper color. Most of the leaves are full, with some tears or holes in the leaves due to processing. Some stems have up to three leaves attached. The leaves certainly have the characteristics of the Jin Xuan cultivar, being long and broad. The aroma is roasty, with slight wood, spice, and floral notes.

On a quick side note, I used the remaining product in the sample packet in a professional ceramic tasting set, used purified water instead of filtered tap water, and extended the brew time on the first infusion to two minutes. I ended up getting completely different results, with the aroma and taste being mostly roasty, with toast, slight apple, and floral notes.

I may have to order another sample (or more) of this Amber Oolong just to see if I can replicate the results from the review above. Honestly, if that taste can be replicated, then this is an instant favorite of mine. I have never had a tea, especially a roasted variety, with such an obvious apple taste. Rest assured, this taste did not come from other sources, as I eat maybe one apple every couple of months. Whether the taste reminded me of apple cider or apple pie, I found it truly intriguing and tasteful. My greatest fear with this product is that I will not be able to mimic these results in future brewing. Regardless, this experience was great, and I look forward to having it in the future. Thank you to Mountain Tea for providing the sample. Cheers!

Dark Roast TieGuanYin from Tealet Teas and Mountain Tea

On October 6th of 2013, my journey through the world of tea tasting took me back to the Wushe Mountains (I think) of Nantou County, Taiwan. This sample of Dark Roast TieGuanYin was purchased from Tealet Teas, who sourced it directly from Mountain Tea in Taiwan. For information on Tealet and Mountain Tea, please visit Tealet’s website here.

If you have followed my blog for even a short time, then you have noticed that I have reviewed several TieGuanYin (Ti Kwan Yin) products. So what is the difference between this TieGuanYin and the other Ti Kwan Yin’s that I have previously reviewed? There are two main differences. First, this TieGuanYin was grown in the mountains of Taiwan, and the other Ti Kwan Yin’s were grown in the Fujian Province of mainland China. Second, this TieGuanYin is dark roasted, and the other Ti Kwan Yins seemed on the lighter side of the roasting. Both of these factors are going to create a completely different taste and feel to this TieGuanYin compared to previously reviewed Ti Kwan Yins.

Although my preferences in oolong tea are beginning to strengthen on the lighter oxidized and greener varieties due to their fruity and floral characteristics, I will always get excited to try a dark roasted and higher oxidized oolong such as this. With that being said, let the journey begin…

The dry tea leaves are dark brown to black in color. The average size is that of a black bean. There is no breakage or crumbs whatsoever. The leaves are rolled in semi-ball shape, with many leaves appearing to be attached to the stem. There are no bare stems. The aroma is roasty, char, and lightly sweet.

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The standard preparation method was used for this sampling. Filtered tap water was heated to 200ºF (96ºC). Twelve grams of tea were placed in a 32 ounce (950ml) glass teapot. The tea leaves were infused in the water for two minutes, then strained into a separate decantor.

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The first infusion produced a liquor that was bright orange in color, clear and transparent, with some particulates from baking. The aroma is roasty and char, with a light sweetness. The liquor is medium to full bodied with a smooth texture. The most outstanding taste is char, with overpowered but recognizable notes of caramel and cocoa. The aftertaste is roasty and smooth, with a pleasantly lasting taste. On the next sampling, I am going to try to “prime” the tea leaves prior to beginning the first full infusion to see if the balance of tastes can be improved, as I expect the second infusion to.

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The second infusion produced a noticeably darker orange liquor color. The aroma remains roasty and char, but has lightened some, exposing more of a sweet character. The liquor remains on the heavier medium body and smooth. The strongest taste is still char, but it has lightened some to allow the sweet tastes of caramel and cocoa to be more evident. The balance of tastes is much better. The aftertaste has sweetened some, but remains strongly char. This second infusion was much better than the first. However, I expect the third infusion to be the best of the three, as I believe the tastes will continue to improve in balance.

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The third infusion produced a liquor with a color that is darker than the first infusion but lighter than the second. The char aroma has lightened some, and sweet scents are standing out more. The body remains medium heavy. The taste has an improved balance of char and sweetness, with the caramel notes being more evident. Aftertaste has lightened some, but still has a pleasant, full taste. This third infusion has been the best of the three. In fact, although I do not intend on taking photos on additional infusions, I do intend on infusing these leaves at least two more times.

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The wet leaves of the Dark Roast TieGuanYin are pitch black in color, and appear almost like onyx. The aroma is sweet and roasty. The leaves, after five infusions, are fairly delicate and are breaking from the stem before I am able to put enough pressure on them to spread the leaves. I believe these leaves may be able to provide a sixth infusion with an acceptable flavor. The stems appear to be holding two to three leaves. Almost all leaves are fully intact, with no crumbs or small fragments whatsoever.

Even after five infusions, the taste was very high quality. The caramel tastes improved with each infusion. The first infusion was quite strong on the char tastes, and I would recommend a light priming of the leaves prior to the first full infusion. In my mind, TieGuanYin is recognized as a lighter oolong tea, with more gentle characteristics of fruit, flowers, and vegetation. Although this dark roast was very tasteful and enjoyable, I feel as though I was not able to appreciate the better known characteristics of the TieGuanYin. That is more of a statement of personal reflection, not in any way a negative notation on the tea itself. I literally brewed the first pot at 9:30 AM, and finished the last sips at about 5:30 PM. This was a tea that went through five infusions, remained tasteful all day, and could have gone one more round, if not two. I have nothing but good experiences with this tea, and look forward to experiencing it again.

Thank you for taking your time to read this review. Please leave a comment and start a discussion.