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  • Writer's pictureNeldon Hamblin

Purple Bud TuoCha from Mountain Stream Teas

Hi friends! Sorry for the delay. It's been a very warm summer (temperatures have been in the triple digits) so I haven't been drinking tea as much lately. I'm back now though as it's slightly cooled down to a more tolerable 95°F instead of 107°F.

Today, I'm drinking this delicious purple bud tuo from Mountain Stream Teas. This tea is pretty great and unique. According to Matt at Mountain Stream Teas, it's a "100% purple bud, organic, Taiwanese-grown Tuo Cha produced by Buddhist Monks and Nuns on a tea garden just outside of Taipei" and sells for $46 a tuo. They offer the following additional information on this tea as well:

Elevation: 300-400m

Status: Certified Organic

Cultivar: Chinese Purple Bud Varietal

Season: Spring 2019

Method: Hand and Machine picked, processed on site, small batch

Oxidization: Pu'er Processing Style

Region: Pinglin, New Taipei City

So, it's an organic, purple bud tea grown in Taiwan and produced similar to a puerh! It's a very, very unique tea and as soon as they announced this, I bought a tuo. It's been sitting in my tea storage for about a year now (I got it in February of 2020) and with a year rest, it's really interesting how it has developed. So, without further ado, let's get into this review!

Brewing Parameters:

85°C water

100ml gaiwan

5g of leaf

Dry leaf: Right out of the bag I've been storing it in, the tuo smells sweet. It has a very sweet, vegetal aroma to it. It's very nice and enticing. It kind of reminds me of sweet grass, as if you covered a young corn or alfalfa plant in honey.

Warmed gaiwan: I'm getting notes of sugarcane, prunes, cherries, alfalfa, and a bit of bread-y wheat smell coming from the leaves. I'm excited to dig into this.

Rinse 10s: This is a very light and refreshing brew with a pleasant sweetness, reminiscent of alfalfa but with sugar cane juice and a hint of honey. I'm getting strong notes of raisins and plums towards the back of the mouth. It's nice brew overall, especially for a rinse. There's also a very sweet, lingering aftertaste.

1st steep 10s: Wow. This one has an explosion of dates and raisins. So, so sweet. This is literally the sweetest tea I've had yet. It's grassy like an alfalfa but in a good way. The aftertaste is straight sugarcane. If you've ever chewed on a raw sugarcane, this is what it's tasting like. That sort-of green, plant material with the fresh sweetness of the sugarcane juice.

2nd steep 15s: This steep is more wheat/grain forward on the tip of the tongue. There's a pervading sweetness that coats the entire tongue and cheeks and seems to last forever. It's very cooling and the tea itself is a medium thick, not too oily broth when going down, and the aftertaste is long lasting.

3rd steep 20s: Wow. I'm flabbergasted. This tea, while a bit drying in the mouth now, refuses to give up its sweetness. It's more cocoa forward and very chocolatey. There's definitely a nice bit of grassy and greenish notes but SUGAR HONEY ICE TEA is it good. Weirdly potent, too. My stomach is feeling the energy? It's calming and relaxing.

4th steep 25s: It's now a lighter flavor wheat wise, but still super strong on the sweetness.

5th steep 30s: It's still going strong. The color is a deeper orange now, too. Still very sweet. I'm feeling tea drunk, though, which is amazing.

At this point, I was feeling more relaxed than I have in a while. I haven't been this tea drunk since I drank some 2005 Xiaguan 8633. While off my rocker tea drunk, I neglected to take proper notes or pictures for the rest of the steeps, so you instead get the ramblings of a tea-drunken 22-year-old.

6th steep 45s: Woooooow. This steep is just straight wheaty sugar water, basically. It's strange how sweet this is.

7th steep 60ish seconds: Hey, it's orange again. It looks like a yancha. Wow. This color is cute. I should post a picture of it to insta

8th steep 75s: light color, kinda yellowy now. Still sweeeeeet. My stomach feels warm and my arms are tingly. This is nice.

9th steep 90s: I love this tea. I need to drink it more often. It's like a dessert.

Okay, to spare you the rest, I've consolidated the last steep reviews into this and made them semi-coherent:

10th-15th steeps: I managed to push this 15 steeps before I gave up. The flavor kept getting weaker but the aftertaste of sugar kept lingering in my mouth. It was strange how intense that was and how long it lasted. I was still tasting it as I was breathing in a good while later. This is definitely a mesmerizing tea. I also got tea drunk, which is rare for me. This really was a fun and relaxing experience.

Overall review: 5/5. This tea can handle being pushed without getting too bitter. It's a great happy-middle between a red oolong and an aged sheng flavor. In terms of price, at $46 for 100g, it breaks down to $0.46/g. For a tea that can go 10+ steeps, I'd definitely say this is worth paying for. It'll only get better with age, too. I'm sure the sweetness will continue to pop and develop as it ages and this will be amazing in a few years, if I can keep it that long without drinking it! I'd definitely recommend this for anyone who loves darker oolongs and wants to get into puerh but isn't quite sure yet, or for anyone who wants to try a unique tea. Definitely look into this one for your stash.

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