Upton Tea

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Recent Tasting Notes

I always look forward to the first flush options from Upton. I have a goal, thwarted most years by problems (storms &c.) either with first flush harvest or follow-up harvests to someday have more than one flush from the same estate in the same year, in order to do detailed comparisons of how timing affects flavor. Maybe this is the tea and this is the year!

I brewed this using a large tempered glass measuring cup so that the leaf had lots of room to open up and so that I had a wide-mouthed vessel to fish the remains out when I was done my session. Consequently I did have to use a screen to ensure that only the water, not the leaf, got into my cup.

Nonetheless the results were thick, full, dense and delightful. This tea reminds me a very great deal, to the point I had to keep reminding myself what I’m drinking, of a bai mu dan white tea. Very fuzzy, soft, notes including warm hay as well as floral, green brightness &c.

This is excellent leaf. A “good year” for first flush.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 0 min, 30 sec 15 g 17 OZ / 500 ML

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~100ml yixing
~7g

Leaf color: spectrum from brown via green to silver
Dry aroma: nutty, then rich with muscatel
Wet aroma: sweet, sweet muscatel
Steep taste: faintest tropical fruit, flower, not complex ( is that camphor at the back of my throat, in my chest)
Steep texture: light, dry
Quenchless: mouthwatering, then descends to rest & warm a sweet spot in the belly
Chaqi: buzzy, feels like my ears are about to pop

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90

Golden monkey style teas have always been a staple in my tea cupboard and Upton always offers a couple solid versions that serve well as regular drinkers. This one has a nice aroma—raisin, plum and a little smokey tobacco. The taste reminds me of the brittle caramelized top of a creme brulee partnered with the earthiness of prunes. It’s very smooth, moderately dark, a tad smokey and has a great, long-lasting aftertaste.

Everyone has experienced that moment when you stand in front of your stash, ruminating over your choice for the day, saying to yourself, “I really should drink this one today; it’s been awhile.” But then you choose that same comforting selection that you reach for maybe six or seven times out of ten. This golden monkey is one of the latter.

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 295 ML
TeaBrat

I want some!

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Not loving this. It’s pretty smokey, though not as bad as the Mincing Lane Breakfast Blend I tried and gave away last week. I bought an absolutely (to me) enormous bag of it because there wasn’t a sample size — 4.4 oz. Will probably offer to send it to someone on the Discussions board, unless someone reading my tasting notes would like it :)

Flavors: Smoke

S.G. Sanders

Yunnan teas are nice teas! Very earthy, rich, and smokey (in the woodsy sense of the word; not the campfire taste that a Lapsang has).They have a tendency to have a pu-erh kind of taste. If you’re looking for a good black tea without the smokey taste, try something like an Earl Grey (or anything flavored). However, I know a majority of my friends who like tea, but not black tea (although they want to like it) go with something with flavor, or an oolong.

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68

Overall, I felt this tea was very promising. The dry leaves had a pleasant scent; the tea brewed to a rich deep red color and had a delicious flavor, but in this steeping, there was just a shade too much astringency for my taste. I will slightly reduce the steeping time in my next steeping. I hope that, with that minor adjustment, I will be able to recommend this tea.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 24 OZ / 709 ML

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65

I found this tea to be underwhelming. It wasn’t unenjoyable, just typical, expected. It tasted much like a standard bagged green tea to me without many defining features. It was grassy and astringent.

Flavors: Astringent, Grass

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 32 OZ / 950 ML

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80

This was quite a nice black tea. It was very smooth, slightly sweet, and had no astringency.

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 4 tsp 30 OZ / 900 ML

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71

Every time I offer someone yellow tea, I get the same reaction, “I don’t taste much” or “This tastes like water.” Yeah, ok, so yellows are pretty subtle, but that’s what I find appealing about them. Sometimes. The wet leaves on this one are a bit nutty, almost like warm cookies. Subtle, yes, but cozy. By the second steep, the leaves were bright and pretty. They looked like what they are: pretty much unadulterated tea. The taste was already drying out, but still tasty in that low-key yellow way. This doesn’t stand out, but it’s nice if you want a quiet, smooth tea.

Flavors: Cookie, Nutty

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 5 OZ / 140 ML

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75

I am usually not a big fan of African teas. Most of them are CTC and I think they are formulated too strong. This one is an exception. It’s robust, but has a soft mouth feel and tones of chicory and something flowery that I can’t quite name because I’m a bit stuffed up at the moment. Unlike many of its ilk, this one does not require milk to soften. It dries out a bit as it cools, but still goes down good.

This tea comes via Upton Tea, they of the huge selection and ancient-seeming and quirky website. Apparently they’ve gotten the message and are in the process of revamping the site. Check back around the end of this month for a new and improved version.

Flavors: Flowers, Roasted

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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70

So, it would appear that I have had this tea before at least 2 times. :) I guess it is unremarkable. Either that or I’ve simply had too many black teas to remember them all at this point. This time I got some mild fruity notes when hot that vanished as the tea cooled. But yeah, unremarkable basic black tea. Thanks, NayLynn!

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70

This is not one of the tiny CTC teas like a lot of the African teas are. The leaves are not huge, but still much larger than you find in most standard tea bags. There is an odd taste to this – fishy? Lake-y? Lake-y, I think is the best way to describe it. Woody and lake-y. It is a fairly consistent taste across Tanzanian teas I have had. All the bagged teas I had while over there had this same flavor profile. Not sure if this is because maybe the bagged teas I had were all made with Livingstonia Estate teas (doubtful), or if it is the terrior there that leads to the similar flavor.

Regardless this is a perfectly acceptable cup of tea. Nothing awesome, nothing standout, nothing to keep around but nothing to refuse a cup of. :)

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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75
drank hao ya 'A' select by Upton Tea
55 tasting notes

Wow, I LIKE this. I’m a big fan of keemuns and this one is so nice. It seemed to change character a lot as it cooled in the cup. The first sip was surprisingly astringent, but that quickly gave way to lovely maltiness with a subtle sweet note. Subsequent tastes got almost chocolate-like, and through to the bottom, it has a wonderfully full and soft mouth feel.

Now, here’s the thing: the second steep was almost completely flat. Maybe a tiny bit of malt, but really, it was almost like drinking hot colored water. Weird. This is a keeper for me, but I’ll have to remember that it’s a one-cup wonder.

Flavors: Chocolate, Malt

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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75
drank hao ya 'A' select by Upton Tea
55 tasting notes

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33

This came as a free sample in my last order from Upton. I needed a strong cuppa when I got home from work yesterday and thought, sure, I’ll give this a try. “Strong cuppa” indeed! The dry nose was somewhat smoky with maybe a touch of malt, but the wet aroma (I like to stick my nose way down deep in the leaves) was strangely flat. The brew was very smooth and full, with a somewhat coffee-y touch and minimal tannins. I found no hidden flavors or much aftertaste. It just is what it is: strong black tea. Note to the caffeine-conscious: this one packs a wallop. Perhaps next time, if there is a next time, I’ll add a spot of milk to see if that brings out some of the malt. I’m in no rush to try this one again.

Flavors: Malt, Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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50

I lean toward bolder black teas, so perhaps my tasting of this dainty green is somewhat skewed. I saw what I was in for when the dry nose was dusty and smelled of hay. After a three-minute steep at 180° (per Upton’s instructions), the leaves were now bright green and smelled somewhat of bread dough (that’s a compliment – I bake a lot of challah and other breads and I love the smell of the dough). The pale yellow liquor still had a bit of hay, plus some citrus. It had very little finish and overall did not excite me much. Then again, perhaps my palate is not refined enough for this delicate brew.

Flavors: Citrus, Hay

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 5 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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