Mountain Stream Teas’ Alishan GABA Oolong | Tea Review

by Tea in Spoons

I was craving a Taiwanese oolong this week and found this in my tea collection! A sweet tea sounded delightful.

Description: “Creamy, rich fruit leather and sweet black raisins are the dominant flavor for this tea[.]”

Instructions: Gong Fu Style: 3-5g per 100ml | 95°C (205°F) | 30, 45, 60 then add 5-10 seconds steeps in gaiwan | Lasts 4-5 steeps

Western Style: 3g per 100ml* | 95C(205f) water for 2 minutes. Lasts 2-3 steeps

*The label indicated 3-5 grams per mug

Review: I want to first preface that I am not reviewing this tea because of any health or wellness claims that are associated with GABA teas. That being said, this is my first GABA tea and I was intrigued by the “oxygen free fermentation” process. I know very little about it and I thought it would be nice to explore a new tea!

The dry tea was tightly rolled and had a dark brown and ash grey colour. It smelled woody, sweet and earthy. Since I only had 10 grams of tea I decided to brew this tea three times – twice Gong Fu style and once Western, as the label and website suggested brewing with either style.

Gong Fu Style

I brewed this tea using 3 and 4 grams of tea in a 100ml gaiwan. After warming the gaiwan, I added the dry leaves to the cup and the leaves had a sweet, earthy, bread, malt, and toasted smell.

Infusion 1 (30 seconds): The pale tan yellow liquor had a roasted, earthy, mineral, and vegetal smell. It tasted sweet, with lingering floral, woody, and cocoa notes. The liquor had a refreshing taste and a slightly thicker mouthful but was drying in the mouth.

Infusion 2 (40 seconds): There was a drastic shift in colour of the liquor and the colour was more of a golden yellow. It had a similar earthy, woodsy and mineral smell with a stronger woody and earthy taste along with some mineral and floral undertones. The dryness was still present at the end of the sip.

Infusion 3 (60 seconds): The liquor reminded a dark yellow with a stronger charcoal smell and taste in addition to the previous woody and mineral taste. There was also a faint medical and sweet flavour that interweaved between the other notes. The dryness was very apparent and reminded in the mouth.

Infusion 4 (1 minute and 15 seconds): The sweetness disappeared and was replaced with a strong earthy, mineral, and damp undergrowth taste. It personally felt like “licking a rock” and was slightly bitter and sour. The liquor was very drying in the mouth.

Infusion 5 (1 minute and 30 seconds): The taste was minimal and similar profile of the previous infusion which tasted mineral and damp earthy.

The wet leaves were a mixture of smaller and larger brown leaves and smelled smoked and earthy.

Western Style

Depending on the brewing style, tea will have an opportunity to shine in a different manner. That being said, there was a slight discrepancy between the website and the label. The label mentioned 3 to 5 grams “per mug” whereas the website suggested 100 ml of water. I used an 8 oz. of water because that is typical with Western Style brewing parameters.

Infusion 1 (2 minutes): After 2 minutes, the liquor was a dark brown colour with a strong smoky charcoal and woody smell. The liquor tasted woodsy, sweet, malty, and earthy with some charcoal notes and was very drying.

Infusion 2 (2 minutes ): The liquor was a darker brown with the same woodsy smell from the first infusion. The taste was on the muter side with some sweet and woody flavour.

Infusion 3 (2 minutes): The only remaining taste was a faint mushroom and medical notes.

Overall, the taste of the brewed liquor was charcoal, woody with some faint sweetness.

Final Thoughts

When tasting this tea, I decided to brew it twice Gong Fu style because I felt the tea had more nuances that way. However, I am personally not a huge fan of the very mineral taste (think rocks vs seaweed) or drying teas. I ended up tasting the tea with some sea salt dark chocolate which tapered down the mineral notes.

Overall, when it comes to the Gong Fu Style, I personally enjoyed the first two infusions the best as they were sweeter. As for the Western, I either needed more leaf or less water but the first infusion was nice.

Since this is my first GABA tea, I personally could not tell what the processing has done to the tea. I would be interested in trying other GABA teas and seeing how the processing affects the flavour of the tea as a whole (3/5 rating).

  • Type: Oolong tea
  • Origin: Taiwan, Alishan, Meishan District, Nantou County
  • Caffeine: Unknown
  • Other: Agrochemical Free Farming 
  • Ingredients: Oolong tea
  • Company: Mountain Stream Teas

The question of the post: Have you ever had GABA tea?

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Tea in Spoons is where I share my love of teas through tea reviews, tea travel, tea tips, information, and more. New tea adventure every Thursday!