911 Tasting Notes

77

The Final Sipdown: Day 8
Decupboarding Total: 16

I’ve had a number of Upton samples lately and think I’ve just gotten it in my head that Upton teas don’t sparkle for me. I’ve tried too many samples for me to have coincidentally only picked bad teas. There have been a few teas that are quite good but still nothing that has changed my developing view of the overall lack of wonder Upton provides.

This one is one of the few tasty teas. The dry leaf has a very malty smell to it – it’s surprisingly strong. The tea tastes smooth and malty and has a bit of dry hay note. It’s very tasty and I like it. It reminds me a ton of Teavana’s Golden Monkey and so which would be a great tea… if I hadn’t tried Teas Etc’s Golden Monkey.

Still, it’s strong and bold but smooth and sweet with perhaps a bit of a peppery tingle that’s left on the end of my tongue. It’s not overly nuanced and I’m not detecting any milkiness to it, but there would be worse things to buy if you had to buy tea from Upton.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Lori

I agree w/your upton assessment. I have never had anything truly outstanding from Upton’s either..

Auggy

Such a shame, too. Some of their descriptions sound so wonderful but I don’t know if they just have too many teas to keep fresh stock in all of them or if they have to source in such large quantity that they miss out on the smaller, stellar growers or what. But yeah, don’t think I’ll be ordering from them again.

takgoti

Poor Upton. I feel like I tried something of theirs that I enjoyed. I can’t remember what it was, though, which means it probably wasn’t as good as I’m thinking it was… I’ll have to look and see if it’s one you’ve tried. Once I figure out what the hell it was.

Auggy

I sent you some of their St. Isaac blend, the only one of theirs that I wasn’t able to just get a sample size of. I think I’ve only had it with milk and sugar and it’s pretty good. But I’m thinking straight it wouldn’t be as fun because none of the Upton teas have been.

Jim Marks

Upton’s “black dragon” lapsang souchoung is the most well balanced tea of that category I have ever tried and their “Celestial Tribute” pu-erh is my benchmark for fermented pu-erh.

TeaGeschwedner definitely spoiled me on dazzling teas, but their prices make them tough to use as a daily cup vendor. My most recent Upton order contained over a kilogram of total tea by weight, much of it at sampler price points because Liz tried 8 different earl grays or something crazy, and the order was still less than $150 with shipping. A kilo of tea from TeaG would run you double that, easily, or more.

I tend to think of Upton as my “better than bulk bins at grocery stores, not over priced like Teavana, but more affordable than TeaG” vendor for daily cuppa stuff.

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97
drank Keemun Hao Ya A by TeaSpring
911 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 8
Decupboarding Total: 15

Today, The Final Sipdown feels a bit like a beating. Mostly because it seems like I have all of these meh to okay teas that I have to finish off – and I have a lot of them left (a lot of each tea more than a lot of tea… well, actually I have both). Anyway, I’ve decided to do something that is leaving me feeling a little mixed: Decupboard a good tea.

No, not just good. A great tea.

So in some ways, I’m all “Yay! One more tea decupboarded! One more step closer to allowing myself to make a Kusmi order! YAY!” But on the other hand, I’m all “But, but, but! This means this tea is gone. Why can’t I save this tea forever and ever and then I’ll never have to worry about being out of it? WHY?”

So yeah, mixed.

Angrboda

I miss it too. Unfortunately I think it’s a wee bit on the expensive side to be a regular…

Shinobi_cha

Oh how our love for tea (or anything) can quickly feel like slavery! What if we only had one tea, so we could enjoy it completely, without the experience being ‘watered-down’ because as we enjoy it, we also have in mind the new that is to come?

Auggy

Angrboda, at least it is cheaper than Adagio’s Anhui Keemun! Chicago Tea Garden’s version is cheaper though I don’t know what shipping would be internationally (I’m assuming you could arrange that with Tony).
Shinobicha, no slavery here! The final experience with this one was tinged with sadness since I didn’t want to see it go. The only reason I was thinking of new teas to come was trying to find a silver lining to my Keemun-less cloud.

takgoti

Regardless of how bittersweet saying goodbye may have been, your accountability buddy is proud of you for forging on through TFS! [And it will simply make the reacquaintance sweeter, should you find yourself buying more in the future!]

Auggy

Yay! And I still have CTG’s Keemun so I feel kind of like I get to have my cake and eat it too – accountability buddy is giving me the thumbs up AND I still have tasty Keemun in my pantry!

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79

Finally rating this one today. If I needed to buy pu-erh for some reason or another, I’d probably pick up this one (or Samovar’s Blood Orange pu-erh, but since that’s flavored I kind of think that would be cheating). I don’t think I’m going to run out and get some of this RIGHT NOW but I do like it and won’t have a problem drinking up the remainder of the sample (which will probably be soon given all the decupboarding required by The Final Sipdown). It’s got the ‘normal’ pu-erh taste (dirt) but it’s not so thick or overpowering so I like that. It makes it an easy drinker for me.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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76

Just a little note to say how the face off between this tea and Arbor Tea’s Organic Earl Grey went.

This one wasn’t the winner. It doesn’t have the astringency Arbor Tea’s version does, but it doesn’t have as much bergamot either. What’s there is mostly on the aftertaste. There’s also a flat, woody note in it that makes it kind of unexciting.

In defense of this tea, I do like it a lot with additives. I forgot to doctor the Arbor Tea’s EG before finishing off the sample so it’s possible this one still might win the ‘With Milk and Sugar’ taste off battle. But it doesn’t with the unadulterated battle so I’m lowering the rating just a tad.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Jaime

Thanks for an update on the Battle of the Earls!

Auggy

Ironically, without additives the husband liked this one better than the Arbor Tea’s version. But with milk and sugar he liked Arbor Tea’s better. Hunting for the Earl is fraught with difficulties! :)

Jaime

He such an elusive chap.

Jaime

Rather “he’s” such an elusive chap. I need spelling/grammar check built-in!

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89

The Final Sipdown: Day 7
Decupboarding Total: 14

Per the husband’s request we are having this one again, which works out nicely since it can then be my second tea decupboarded today. However, if he likes it without additives as much as he liked it with additives, I’m thinking this one won’t stay gone from my pantry long as I will be buying a big tin of it.

Honestly, this one is such a nice relief from the Upton samples I’ve been trying to get through. This has a nice smooth and full tea taste with some light but pleasant astringency to the end of the sip. The scent and flavor is lightly but noticeably Earl Grey. And the EG bit is very nice – not perfume-ish, not frou-frou. If I can call a tea ‘manly’ without making it sound like it’s a nasty b.o. type thing, this EG is manly. Masculine, maybe? Strong. Not as in strong tasting but the strength that confident men seem have – noticeably masculine without being a muscle-bound bully. Perhaps because the astringency makes it nicely bracing even with the flavoring, making it not a girlie or soft tea.

Sigh. I need to just face facts. This is an Earl Grey that a man like Jean Luc Picard would drink. Which is pretty much exactly what we were looking for. So win!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
takgoti

It’s tea. It’s tea in tights! [TIGHT tights!] It roams around in forests, looking for fights.

Auggy

Wow, blast from the past there! And apparently not near as blocked from my brain as I thought since now that song KEEPS LOOPING IN MY HEAD! AGH!

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67

The Final Sipdown: Day 7
Decupboarding Total: 13

Because of the less-than-stellar interaction I had with this one the other day, I tried to think of what to do to make this final experience more satisfactory. I bumped up the steep time by a minute and added a pinch of sugar.

It sort of worked. The sugar is mild enough that I really can’t tell any added sweetness but I’m not having the bitter wrong taste at the end. Instead, I have a raw Nilgiri type taste a few beats after I sip. But it’s not near as distracting as the bitter was so I’m able to focus more on the taste of the tea.

Yeah, still just not quite my ideal lapsang. It’s not tarry (which is good because that’s usually a little too rough/thick for me) but at least tarry is interesting. This one is just tasting… thin. Almost like I didn’t use enough leaf or I massively understeeped it. (Which yeah, I didn’t on either of those.) It is smoky but it’s not an interesting smoky. It doesn’t evoke thoughts of walking in the woods on a crisp fall day, it doesn’t make me think someone in the neighborhood is barbecuing, it doesn’t make me think the house is on fire… It’s just… smoke and tea. Kind of flat and straight-forward but not bold enough to be such a one-note tea.

Anyway, it’s just not a lapsang for me but I’m glad lots of others seem to like it. Every tea deserves someone to love it, even if it is only its mother.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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42
drank Carol by Lupicia
911 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 6
Decupboarding Total: 12

I both cupboarded and am decupboarding this tea today. And I’m totally counting it towards my total for The Final Sipdown.

I don’t hate this as much as I did when I had it last year (also as a freebie) and I’m guessing that’s from decreasing the steep time by a minute. It decreases the taste of the tea so there isn’t a disconnect between the Quik flavoring and the tea flaor.

Better or not, I still don’t love it. It’s sweet and creamy but Lupicia’s strawberry flavoring is just a big miss for me. Maybe it’s the strawberry + vanilla thing but it tastes like Strawberry Quik. It’s kind of powdery tasting and just not very strawberry-y. And I love strawberries. So when I want strawberries, Quik just doesn’t do it. Yeah, I like Quik but as a tea flavor, it just ends up being okay.

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 2 min, 30 sec

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82
drank Osmanthus Oolong by The Tao of Tea
911 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 6
Decupboarding Total: 11

I had the steep time of Royal Phoenix Oolong stuck in my head so I might have massively underbrewed this. Oopsies. But I did end up going a little heavy on the leaf (just so I wouldn’t have to make a 4oz cup of this later today to finish this off) and I’m sure that helped things because this tea is really fantastic. It’s sweet and mildly grapey. There’s no astringency but a lot of sweetness, almost like the sweet/tart balance in a frozen grape more than a fresh one.

Unlike before, I’m not getting woodsy or honey but I am getting nectar. Grapey nectar. It’s pretty awesome. And gorgeous. As it cools, there’s a tiny tingle of astringency on the tip of my tongue and the frozen grape flavor begins to step back and the soft nectar flavor steps up. A little solid tasting something comes in, something like sweet bread? It’s fairly faint but adds a nice base note to balance the pretty.

I’m giving this last cup (yay for decupboarding!) a little points bump because this is now officially a tea I would pick up and park in my pantry. It’s a beautiful cup.
8.2g/12oz

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 0 min, 45 sec
sophistre

Yay for that! Definitely going to try these parameters, because this sounds deeeelicious.

Auggy

It totally was! The second steep had a good bit more astringency and more of the ‘normal’ flavors but that first steep was accidental awesomeness.

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79
drank Irish Morning Tea by A C Perch's
911 tasting notes

The Final Sipdown: Day 6
Decupboarding Total: 10

Apparently it is BOP day at my house. The vendor notes say goes well with milk so you can bet I’ll be putting some in. Hopefully it will stand up better than this morning’s Uptons EG FBOP. Just to be difficult, I added a touch of sugar, too. I need tea-cuddles at the moment. I’m exhausted.

The smell certainly is promising. Thick and chewy and honey-malty. And the taste, oh yeah, that is nice. I can tell I’ve added milk to it, but the tea isn’t covered up like (ahem) some teas I might mention that I had this morning. It’s not an overly complex tea but I needed something comforting and relaxing and this definitely qualifies. It’s thick and a little textured feeling in my mouth and has a nice nutty/malty/sweet taste going on that is very cuddly. Yay for comfort teas! This plus a kitty napping on my lap have me well on the way to feeling rejuvinated and perky again!

Thanks to Angrboda for the chance to try this!

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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58

Since it is broken leaf, I went straight for the additives here. Ironically though, there is no bitter aftertaste here like what I ran into with a few other Upton blends in the past couple of days. (The husband even commented on the nutty-bitter of River Shannon and he didn’t even try it without sugar and milk.) Actually, there’s not a whole lot of anything really. I taste milky and I taste sweet. Which, yeah, from the sugar and half & half I added. And I didn’t add that much – less than 1tsp of sugar and 2tsp of half & half for a 12oz cup. There is a mild hint of flavoring that I assume is Earl Grey and an even milder hint of tea flavor but only really as a hint of boring cardboard. Yes, not even the fancy, tasty cardboard.

Definitely not what I was expecting from anything with any kind of BOP in the description.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Jillian

Maybe steep it longer? I usually give an black tea-based Earl Grey 5 minutes.

Auggy

I’m so used to broken leaf being so much stronger though and everything from Upton lately has been seeming a hint bitter. So I tried to counter those things but yeah, fail. Next time I’ll have to try a longer steep just so it’s not sweet milk.

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Profile

Bio

I’m trying to be a better tea logger and actually post semi-regularly again! I’ve let my tea tasting senses become too complacent – it’s time for some focused and attentive tea drinking!

Sometimes my notices for PMs and such have been questionable. Email me at your own risk at aug3zimm at gmail dot com.


1 – 10 – Bleck. Didn’t finish the cup.
11 – 25 – Drinkable. But don’t punish me by making me have it again.
26 – 40 – Meh. Most likely will see if the husband likes it iced.
41 – 60 – Okayish. Maybe one day I’ll kill off what I have in my pantry.
61 – 75 – Decent. I might pick some up if I needed tea.
76 – 85 – Nice. I’d probably buy but wouldn’t hunt it down.
86 – 100 – Yum! I will hunt down the vendor to get this tea!

Not that anyone but me particularly cares, but there it is.

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Texas

Website

http://pinkness.danzimmermann...

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