Upton Tea ImportsEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This must be a revamp of an earlier reviewed tea as this one clearly includes natural flavors and not artificial ones. Needless to say I really enjoyed this tea. I was first struck by the luxurious smell of tropical fruit amongst the chai spices. A gander at the contents of the sample revealed nice long pieces of coconut amongst an almost potpourri of a chai - just what I like in a good chai.
One taste of the tea confirmed two things to me: I’d
1. I probably under-dosed the steeping basket (my husband had heard me puttering around the kitchen and asked if he could cadge a cup along with me- I quickly added more chai and water to the teapot). It could be stronger but that’s probably my fault and not the teas. Upton’s so good about giving exact directions/suggestions for steeping. Oh well, try again I guess.
2. I knew I wanted to order a full bag of this stuff. Even under-steeped I knew this was a really nice chai - a really nice departure from the usual chais. Our go-to chai, is the Bollywood Chai from Reluctant Traders (a tea I have yet to review here —my bad-) which I’d purchased because of raves and because RT does such powerful work sourcing direct from growers and working towards equity and real fair trade). It’s just a solid classical chai. But it’s nice to have a few chais to reach for and a tropical chai with fruit is the tea I didn’t know I needed (or wanted).
Flavors: Butterscotch, Caramel, Cinnamon, Coconut
Got this as a sample from Upton Tea Imports. Made for a nice stiff cup of tea in the morning. Just what I was looking for. Managed to get a second steeping. Very fine with a little cream and honey. Now I just have to rustle up a good scone to go with it the next time. And yes, I will definitely be ordering this from them again.
Flavors: Malt, Molasses
Plowing through the teas from White Antlers. This order was ‘Processed on 11/2015’ so it’s at least 5 years old.
The dry leaf is aromatic and smells of orchid and burnt, roasted peach. Prepared close to the directions on the bag which called for 1+tsp, 212F, 4-5min. One+ teaspoon for me ended up being 3g, so I went for my usual 1g:100mL and brewed the tea in 300mL of water off the boil for 4min.
Wow, that is strong! I can’t imagine brewing 1+ tsp for a standard 6oz cup for 5 minutes. Wow, bitter and tannic! Let it cool for a bit. Strong aroma of orchid, malt, complex dried fruitiness like cherry-peach-muscatel; wood, soy sauce, soft cinnamon. The taste is bitter, brisk, biting and tangy with malt, rosewood, oak wood, walnut skin, autumn leaf, mild earth. Finishes a touch umami with complex… long-lingering… slightly perfumey… aromatic tastes of orchid and bitter lavender, muscatel and buttery dried orchard fruits — blackberry, cherry, peach and apple; a hint of soft cinnamon. Second steep is much lighter and lemony!
I recently had a sample of What-Cha’s summer 2019 Benifuuki black tea from Martin Bednar. In comparison, this one hasn’t lost a step in it’s 5+ years of existence. It’s just as strong in presentation and a very unique tea, though too much for me. That said, I wouldn’t search this out but I do recommend it to experienced people who are comfortable with bitterness and playing with brewing parameters. I have another ~3g left and don’t know if I can be fussed to bring this closer to perfection.
Flavors: Apple, Astringent, Autumn Leaf Pile, Biting, Bitter, Blackberry, Burnt, Butter, Cherry, Cinnamon, Dried Fruit, Earth, Floral, Fruity, Lavender, Lemon, Malt, Muscatel, Oak wood, Orchid, Peach, Perfume, Roasted, Rose, Soy sauce, Stonefruits, Tangy, Tannic, Umami, Walnut, Wood
Organic Colombian black tea with cacao husks and nibs brought to my tea table by White Antlers. My first knowing taste of Colombian tea! All I drank in Colombia was coffee… very good coffee.
Dry, the blend smells of cocoa butter and raisin-tobacco. The steeping time range given by Upton says 4-6 minutes; I was aiming for 4 but ended up at 6. The liquor is a dark amber-red color with a chocolate aroma filled out by a complex fruity midtone.
The liquor is very full-bodied, very fruity taste almost like cherry-orange-raisin and tobacco with some rose. The influence of the cacao isn’t so evident but I feel it provides some grounding to the fruity brightness and a unique sweetness to the tea. In general, the flavors beyond the fruitiness are subtle and in a good way. The same fruit taste lingers with wood in the aftertaste.
There is some neat, seamless texture transition going on. It starts like a thick ball on the sip to midmouth where it turns brisk, finally leaving the palate clean and tingly with oily lubrication.
One thing that threw me was sometimes a soapy taste. It could have been the result of the oils in the cacao going rancid but I think this is a relatively fresh tea. Or maybe the temperature was too high and steep time too long. Regardless, I wish I didn’t save only a sample of this approachable tea for myself before dispersing the rest of the bag across the world.
Song pairing: Queens of the Stone Age — Mosquito Song
This was a perfectly serviceable tea that I bought a small sample of. It tasted fine, but did not make any sort of strong impression on me, aside from noting that it smelled rather “dark” in my mind. It was strong enough to brew three cups from the leaves and have the third cup only taste slightly week, but overall, I didn’t find it particularly chocolatey or otherwise noteworthy.
Way past time for me to try my little unopened sample packet. When I originally added it to the shopping cart, I reasoned that although fannings are “what they sweep up off the floor,” fannings from a really quality congou would have to be better than brand name grocery store tea bags.
I was right. (I don’t get to say that very often.) Even after 2+ years of storage, these make a decent morning cuppa with some faint aftertaste hints of toast and cocoa.
Of course, now I can’t find them on the Upton website … that’s what I get for hoarding.
Cocoa aroma. Toasty cocoa taste and honeysuckle-sweet with notes of steamed milk, earth and grass. It was thick and flavorful though bizarrely unbalanced for the first few steeps. It promptly waltzed right off the cliff with the third infusion. What a tragedy. Don’t be tempted to look.
Flavors: Cocoa, Earth, Grass, Honeysuckle, Milk, Toasted
I was delighted to share this with my grandmother today. She is a very picky British (has never actually lived in England) woman who is particular about which teas she likes. She almost always drinks straight black teas. She read something about teabags containing harmful micro plastics and now she doesn’t want to drink any tea bags. The problem is that she is not computer savvy and doesn’t like to buy anything online, but is trying not to be in stores right now.
I can say this blend has passed the “picky grandmother” test! She liked it so much she actually let me give her the rest of my sample pouch (I believe this is from a previous TTB). Norm,ally she will not let me leave until I agree to take every bit of food I brought with me + all of the leftovers and a bunch of things from her pantry that she thinks I will like. xD She expresses love be feeding us. Anyway, she seems happy to be able to drink this for a while since she has been a bit limited in her black tea options. I don’t drink a lot of breakfast teas, but it fills me with love that I could share this one with her.
We steeped it quite strong (2 tsp for ~8 minutes, boiling water, ~400 mL teapot) and it was a bit too strong for me plain so I added some soy milk (she took hers with milk, as usual). It is strong/lots of tannin (steeps a deep orange colour), rich, thick. Delicious. If you like strong teas, this one is a good choice for you.
Flavors: Tannin, Thick
Delightful fragrance of flowers, tea, and a touch of grape. Strong bitterness obscures other notes, though it is also medium tannic. Stands up to milk. Probably not for me.
Next time, I will try steeping it with less time to see if it improves. But as of now it’s a no.
This is a fair example of an Assam. A smooth metalic, coppery taste without a lot of bitterness or bite. I may have under leafed this for a morning cup, but I’m not sure it would get very much bolder with more leaf . I don’t mind a bit of an aftertaste in an Assam, so this one seems a bit bland to me. I have been blending tea lately, a scoop of this and a scoop of that in a cup. I might try this with a bit of honeybush next.
Flavors: Bitter, Metallic, Tannic
Thanks very much, Meowster! For a Darjeeling, I would never guess this is a Darjeeling by the flavor profile. It tastes much more like a straight-forward black tea. I like the “gold and silver tips” in the description – I agree! The dry blend has very small leaves but the resulting flavor is mostly sweet and fruity quality while still having that brisk black tea characteristic. Like rye bread, but on the lighter side. One teaspoon is enough! It’s a good tea but not a tea that really fits a Darj craving. Wish I had more to say! But this is an enjoyable black tea if I’m not expecting a Darj profile.
Steep #1 // 1 teaspoon for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling // 1 1/2 minute steep
Steep #2 // 5 minutes after boiling // 3 min steep
WAIT a minute… why the heck was I expecting Darjeeling from anything about this? Now I’m confused. It’s not in the name or description… sigh. This is possibly not a Darjeeling at all then… which explains LOTS.
From Tamarindel a LONG time ago. THANK YOU. It was so delicious yesterday that I looked to see if I had written a tasting note and nope, I did not. Of course. Though green and flavored, it’s still fantastic, more than I remembered from past steeps. The almond is spot on. Toasty yet sweet and buttery – an amazing pairing with this green tea and hint of cinnamon. Two excellent steeps.It is tough for me to focus on reading normally and this virus is not helping with that at ALL. Doubly not helpful and I’m really missing my mindscape books.
Even if the virus might be slowing, people have to realize it is because most people have only been doing the essential things for an entire month around where I live anyway. So it took a MONTH for things to slightly slow down and I really hope people don’t run out partying just because things are slowly slowing. Isolated parties, sure. Have at em.
A BIG musical calmer (every song really) is M. Ward and here is Along the Santa Fe Trail: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnMPxsy8AsU
Thanks so much for this, Meowster! I don’t love the flavor of this, so this won’t be a very inspired tasting note. The green tea is a little seaweedy at this point, so I’m sure the supplier just added peppermint oil to disguise a subpar gunpowder. And I wonder how peppermint flavoring is cheaper than actual peppermint leaves? I drank the cup but it was a rare occasion when I didn’t re-steep the leaves. It’s interesting (to me) I’m at 25 sipdowns for the year when I’m aiming for 100 sipdowns for the year. Now that we’re at the beginning of April and a quarter of the year is done, that means I’m on track!
I got a sample size of this tea and brewed about half western style. The wet leaf smells like caramel and woodsy tobacco. The first steep brewed up strong, but its more of a subtle tasting tea. Its not an astringent, metallic, or robust black tea flavor. A bit hard to describe, the front of the tea is a toasty, slight tobacco flavor, and the end of the tea is a toasty, hay, caramel finish. I’m thinking this is more like a cross between an oolong and a keemun, with a bit more of a roasty finish. As this first cup cools, I’m getting more light chocolate notes. The second steeping is a watered down version of the first, rather weak tea.
It certainly is interesting, not sure I’d go out of my way to purchase, but I might be tempted to add it to an order.
Flavors: Caramel, Chocolate, Hay, Roasted, Tobacco