Upton Tea Imports

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Recent Tasting Notes

85

a Japanese black :D I’m very excited, I don’t think I’ve ever had one.

Oh wow, this is lovely. the first steep is nice and earthy, with hints of fruits, apricot, apple but also vegetal, with mild astringency, and light cocoa notes.

The second brings a bit of earthy spinach, a small amount of meaty notes, and nice cocoa, with still apricot and apple

Very distinctly spinach now, it’s like the vegetality and the earthiness separated into two different components, everything became really clear in the third steep; theres also a sort of carrotty thing going on, and maybe a sort of radish taste. There’s also sort of orange notes, or tangerine, a bit more astringent now.

Fourth steep is about the same, just a bit creamier and more chocolatey, sweeter, more astringent.

Fifth has more chocolate, and it seems like the clarity developed in the third steep is gone, all the flavours melded together again in a dark chocolatey radishy sweet carrotty .. earthy.. thing

Sixth is developing a bit of vanilla, very chocolatey, very astringent

The seventh tastes almost like bergamot, maybe I’m crazy though cause I had an earl grey for the first time in months yesterday so..

It fades into sweet, fruity, vegetal goodness :) it’s really a lovely black.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Astringent, Bergamot, Carrot, Chocolate, Cocoa, Dark Chocolate, Earth, Fruity, Grass, Orange, Spinach, Sweet, Vanilla, Vegetal

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72

No notes yet. Add one?

Flavors: Vanilla

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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77

Hmm nice I like this, I’m brewing with a 90ml Gaiwan gongfu cha:

It starts out sweet and spiced, with a bit of vegetality, and a hint of meat notes. It has a very thick mouthfeel, but very smooth and silky.

Second steep is thicker, sweeter, less meaty, almost a bit of cucumber, spinach, even hints of citrus.

Third steep is less complex, I definitely choked on this steep, so uh its sort of grassier and getting a slight astringency.

Fourth has less of the spices, a bit of carrotty notes, its very leafy, lettuce and spinach

Fifth is sweeter, peas, carrots, slightly bitter and moderately astringent now. it still has that very silky thick mouthfeel, which is really quite nice.

Sixth is a bit darker, its getting very astringent now, but still even sweeter and predominantly vegetal.

Seventh is a bit weaker, very astringent and bitter, a bit of rocky and earthy notes,

Eighth is getting overwhelmingly astringent, slightly metallic, vegetal and citrus

Ninth has much citrus, less sweet

Flavors: Astringent, Carrot, Citrus, Cucumber, Earth, Grass, Lettuce, Meat, Metallic, Peas, Spinach, Sweet, Vegetables, Vegetal, Wet Rocks

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This is as much of a confession as a review. I went nuts back in November 2013 with a huge order from Upton tea. I’m still drinking down that order, to the extent that i just opened this tea in May 2016. The amazing thing is that the tea is still very good!

The dry aroma from the bag was really pleasant. in the cup, the tea smells of citrus fruit and melon. the taste is similar but with a bitter undercurrent that detracts a bit from the taste. The finish is long and pleasant, with the fruit easily dominating just a hint of bitterness. i’m not going to give this a numerical rating since i have no idea what it tasted like when it went on sale. All I can say is that it is still very good.

I’m drinking this as part of the “week of tea exploration” suggested by Lion. Good idea Lion!

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C

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300ml zisha yixing
12g

INF1–5
212º
probably why they came out more sour & metallic than roasted

195º

INFs started at 2min (by accident; was going to try 1m)

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80

Sipdown no. 58 of the year 2016 (no. 269 total).

Combined the last bit of this with the Kusmi Makaibari first flush in a pitcher that is now doing its cold brew thing in the fridge.

Honestly, I feel as though my tea breeds at night when I’m not looking. No matter what I do, I really don’t seem to be making a substantial dent in the stash. Bah.

hawkband1

I totally agree. I’ve been doing a lot of sipdowns lately, but I don’t seem to be making any progress.

juliebeth

b/c of renovations to the house, i lived in a hotel for all of april, and i swear when i returned to the house, the tea corner of the kitchen had expanded by at least 3 square feet. i think it is bent on world domination!

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80

Another tea of which I have very little left and yet have managed somehow not to have done a tasting note. I think I mostly enjoyed this as a cold brew and then forgot about it when I ended up with less than I need to make my standard pitcher.

The leaves are darker than some other darjeelings I’ve had and I they are indeed longer, though to be honest, if I hadn’t opened up a another Makaibari darjeeling to compare I might not have noticed. They don’t have a strong piquancy in the dry leaf aroma, and the tea’s aroma is smooth and almost sweet, though a subdued muscat note is definitely there.

I steeped this in the Breville at the first temp that came up when googled darjeeling, which may be lower than I’ve used in the past (though most of my darjeelings are second flush, which is probably why). It generated a dark champagne colored liquor, and a gentle, pleasant flavor.

The flavor is lighter and greener than I expected, which again, may be the first flush/second flush distinction. The difference seems analogous to the difference between green oolongs and dark oolongs, though the flavors are quite different. There’s nothing green oolongy about the flavor of this. If anything, it’s more dark oolongy. There’s a nuttiness in the finish, a suggestion of chestnut.

I’m sort of assigning a random rating to this because it has been so long since I had a first flush darjeeling hot; I honestly can’t remember how it compares to others I’ve had, I’m just enjoying it quite a bit.

Flavors: Chestnut, Muscatel

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 17 OZ / 500 ML

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67

Very weird taste. It’s green but not strong and has a zing sort of deal when it first enters your mouth, especially on the outer edges of your tongue.

It’s a yellow grassy green that then moves farther into the yellow as you swallow.

It’s a medium-light strength green tea taste, with a sentcha like dark green bitterness deep underneath the flavor and it hits and sits on the bag center of the tongue.

Makes mouth water but doesn’t have a distinct astringent. I feel like that astringent sensation, itself, is buried by the rest of it all.

Certainly a zing to it, each sip.

Parchment sensation. Yep, that is what it makes me feel. Odd, fair enough, but that’s what my mind goes “ah ha!” on all of a sudden as right. Hm.

This is definitely good and an interesting character, but I’m not sure if it’s a rebuy for me. Is a good decision to buy a handful of samples in this shipment instead of larger sizes of any one thing so that I only have this small amount.

I give it a thumbs up as it also has a looongg finish I’m noting as I write. A dark, heavy and still having some weird zing sort of green stuffed sort of deep low in the back of my throat. Heavier and lower than anything else I can recall ever having, really…

Hm.

Interesting.

Again, not sure if it’s for me, but it certainly is something it was good to try out.

Flavors: Astringent, Bok Choy, Grass, Green, Heavy, Vegetal

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 3 min, 0 sec 4 g 12 OZ / 354 ML

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87

The dry leaves smell wonderful! Sort of a plum/berry and green tea. The wet leaves smell of barley.

Steep 1 (5min):
Color: Light yellow/green.
Taste: A bit of honey like sweetness, fruit like back note (sort of apricot and apple), also the toasty barely-like note I like in oolongs (Da Hong Pao), but lighter. Crisp finish, though not dry.

Steep 2 (8min – distracted by work):
Color: Deep yellow/gold
Taste: Very forgiving to oversteeping. The fruit/honey note is now just a background note. Wonderfully toasty though. Very good TGY oolong

Steep 3 (5-6 min): Lighter toasty. Maybe one more steep in the leaves.

Steep 4 (6-7 min): Little bit of the sweetness back because the leaves are about done. Quite good.

Flavors: Apple, Apricot, Honey, Roasted Barley, Toasty

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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85

Sitting on my desk anyway so I steeped a few more cups.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 5 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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85

This tea has an absolutely wonderful aroma in the leaves (dry smells of spiced apple cider, wet of orange zest and vanilla) and in the tea itself. I’ve been experimenting with flavored black teas lately and this one was another pleasant surprise. The cinnamon is the most notable flavor, but it blends with the apple and orange in a way that doesn’t make it at all overpowering. Makes me think of Christmas pies when I drink it.

Flavors: Apple, Cinnamon, Orange

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML

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80

So the first Tie-Guan-Yin I ever had really impressed me. I ended up adding it to my regular stock of tea. This one is good, but also kind of underwhelming. It’s a very green/light oolong that has a slightly dry finish. It has a toasty note that reminds me a bit of Da Hong Pao, but other than that I don’t have much to say for this one. I will either finish it or share it with someone else that wants to try it.
Ah! So I forgot that this is a second grade TGY. I bought this as part of a tasting experiment so it will be interesting to see how this compares to TGY First-grade, Special grade and premium.

Flavors: Grass, Toasted Rice

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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80

The dry leaves have a sweet green, grass, apple scent.
Wet leaves have a pleasant green oolong scent
Only time for one steeping. :(

Feel like I should have steeped this longer.
Color: Pale green. Very light flavor, a little sweetness to it like honeydew. Bit of a grassy note, but not in a bad way. A good oolong, but nothing to write home about in this steeping. I’ll try again tomorrow with a longer steep.

Flavors: Cut grass, Melon

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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90

This is really good! If you want a little more of the black tea flavor steep more towards 4 minutes, if you want the mango flavoring steep more towards 3 – 3:30 minutes.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 270 OZ / 7984 ML

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90

Forgot to actually rate the tea _
This one is quite good. I’ll be happily drinking this one again. _

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 270 OZ / 7984 ML

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90

Aroma of the wet leaves is a mellow and pleasant mango. I’m sure I’m noting this because the cranberry black tea I had yesterday had an overpowering almost unnatural aroma to the wet leaves.

1st Steeping (3 min): Color – light amber. Aroma – subtle mango. Taste – Smooth blend of black tea and mango with neither overpowering the other. Has some fruity, floral notes going on. Pleasant dry finish. Really like that the taste of the black tea is still readily discerned. I probably should have steeped for an additional 30sec to give the flavor of the black tea a little more bite.

2nd Steeping (3.5min): Really balanced tea. I usually don’t like flavored teas because the added scents and flavors usually drown out the taste of the tea, but this one is a wonderful blend with a dry fruity finish

Flavors: Apple, Fruity, Mango, Tea

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 270 ML

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90

Ok, I shortened my steeping time just a little bit and man is the is yummy flavored tea. I’m generally not partial to flavored teas, but this one could grow on me. Still not sure I’ll buy it in any large amount, but I won’t hesitate to share a cup if it’s available! :)
The only negative for me is just how powerful the cranberry aroma is in the wet leaves after the first couple of steepings.

Flavors: Apple, Cranberry, Fruity, Plums

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 270 OZ / 7984 ML

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90

Wow, the aroma of the the wet leaves is unreal! Almost over powering when I initially opened the teapot.

First steep: Bit of a tangy note with a dry finish. Has a real fruity taste beyond the obvious cranberry flavor that’s hard to describe. I can detect almonds in the finish. That maybe part of the fruity flavor I’m trying to pin down.

Second steep: Tangy note is gone (perhaps I over steeped a bit on the 1st one) and the fruity note is bright and pronounced with notes of apple and plum. I don’t know that this is one that I’d keep regularly stocked, but it’s really good.

Third steep: That’s REALLY good! I think I should make the first few steepings a bit shorter. Has a nice sweetness to it now. Wonderful fruity flavor with a crisp dry finish and a mellow plum and apple aftertaste.

I’ll have to play around with this tea more. It may actually be better than I gave it credit for.

Flavors: Almond, Cranberry, Fruity, Tangy

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 9 OZ / 270 ML

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90

This was a surprisingly good white tea! Far more body than I ever would have expected in a white tea with pronounce peach flavor. The aroma is a wonderful, gentle floral and fruit combination. So good! This is the first time I’ve ever come across a white tea I want to keep in stock at home.

Flavors: Apple, Peach

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp

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90

I’ve only tried 2 or 3 Tie-Guan-Yins and this one is by far my favorite. As long as you don’t oversteep this tea it has no bitterness though it does have a sort or astringent/dry finish that you’d experience with red wine. There is a pronounce woodsy caramel note to this tea, but I usually can’t steep it more than 4 or 5 times as the flavor has faded too much by then. Brewed in a 250cc Hei Liao YiXing teapot.

Flavors: Caramel, Wood

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 15 sec

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88

One of my first oolongs, this is a darkly roasted tieguanyin a very traditional and classic oolong but with a strong nutty kick. Perhaps not Upton’s highest grade of tieguanyin, and perhaps it wouldn’t satisfy some of the most pretentious tea masters of the world but for the incredibly cheap price and great taste this tea is absolutely worth it.

The pricing like all of Upton’s wares are incredible. I stocked up with as much as I could once it came back in season and have been making it gongfu whenever possible. Always left me satisfied.

Flavors: Nutty, Stonefruits

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 3 OZ / 90 ML

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This is a backlog. I wrote down some notes on an index card the first time I tried it. I just found the card and thought that it would only be fair to include the notes. I steeped it in a Gaiwan. I didn’t write down quantity, temp or time. It was bitter the whole way throughout. There was a celery/cilantro/burnt flavor that I didn’t find desirable in the first steeps. When the flavor was pretty much dead there was some caramel and smoothness to it. Certainly less one dimensional sounding than my other tasting note. At the time I remember it not being complex, and not liking it, which is weird given what I wrote about it. Go figure.

CWarren

Do you ever find that Upton can be a real hit or miss? It’s been rare for me to be totally blown away by one of their teas. Glad to see you backlog. I’ve been tempted to do that too with old notes though my tastes have changed considerably since then.

Tea and Cheese Lover

I only got from them because there were some rave reviews about their Rooibos. The Rooibos wasn’t bad but Premium Steap’s (my local shop) was better for me. I figured I might as well get a bunch of samples while I was at it… Darjeelings (apparently they’re very strong there), some oddball black and green, and herbal. My experience is the same as yours so far. I haven’t been blown away by anything. I still samples left to try, so who knows, one of them may be great.

CWarren

Darjeeling is what everyone says they are best for but I’ve yet to purchase any from them. Be interested to read your impressions.

Whiteantlers

Upton has not impressed me with anything so far. I was on a ’builder’s tea’ kick not so long ago and got close to a dozen samples so I could get my fill of the malty brutes. Nothing was really bad, nothing was particularly good and a lot of things tasted very much the same. I think one gets lulled by the low prices of samples which usually range from $1 to $3.50 for an envelope that can afford quite a few steeps, should you have sufficient interest in going back to re-brewing your sample.

Tea and Cheese Lover

@CWarren: I’m very inexperienced with Darjeeling, so you’ll have to take my tasting notes on them with a grain of salt. Since my local shop is extremely consistent with quality, I’ll get a couple from there for comparison.
@Whiteantlers: Exactly what you said about the samples is what lured me in.

Whiteantlers

Me too, @Tea and Cheese Lover. I am hankering to put in an order with Premuium Steap. I was told the bricks and mortar store is closed but I have drooled over the website.

Tea and Cheese Lover

@Whiteantlers: Their old storefront is closed, but they have office space in Chinatown (13th between Race and Vine) which they have pretty much set up like the shop. WAY more selection available than they have online, especially with the harder to get teas.
“Our office location 211 N. 13th St.
Philadelphia, PA 19107
Phone 215-568-2920”
They’re generally there from 12-5 M-F. Call ahead, because there’s a good chance that they’re there longer hours on some days. It’s nice to be able to smell them in person and be guided by someone who knows the teas well. The owner is very straight to the point and knows her stuff. Very Philly!

Whiteantlers

Excellent! Nothing like being up close and personal with the product. I always love an excuse to hop on the #9 bus. I’ve read Yelp reviews saying the owner is not a hand holder or warm and cuddly, but neither am I, so I’m sure she’s a wonderful tea guide.

R.F. Hill

Looks like a need to take a trip to Philly!

Whiteantlers

Everyone needs to take a trip to Philly! :-D

R.F. Hill

I have week off in August, I might make an excuse to explore the city. I’ve been to Philadelphia once when I was younger. I think a historic place such as Philly would be good to write in. :)

Whiteantlers

That is probably one of the hottest and most humid months of the summer, but you can visit E.A. Poe’s house, Old City, great beer gardens and floating parks-well, I am biased. This is my home and I love nearly everything about it.

R.F. Hill

Sounds splendid! :)

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I got some samples from Upton and couldn’t resist a black Japanese tea, I never knew such a thing existed. I’m expecting some unique new flavors but no dice. It was a standard black, nothing special. I love tea, so I enjoyed it like I would just about any tea. It pretty much just had a “black tea” flavor. It would make a pretty good iced tea, too. I guess that would be malty. It’s not incredibly expensive but not a bargain either. For the price, there are other teas that are far more complex and interesting. If you can get it for cheap I would recommend it, but unless the yen crashes I doubt that will happen with any Japanese tea.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 4 g 15 OZ / 443 ML
Whiteantlers

Thanks; you saved me from buying this. I had it earmarked for my next sample buy because it looked intriguing.

Tea and Cheese Lover

No problem. I think I have about 1 or 2 grams of it left if you’re curious and want to do a super mini steep.

Whiteantlers

Oh. Sure! I’ll PM you. Thanks.

CWarren

Yuuki Cha has some incredible Japanese Blacks. Organic Makurazaki Black Tea Hime Momiji is one of my favorites. I’m a big fan of all their teas to be honest. The oolongs are worth a try as well.

Whiteantlers

Thanks @CWarren. I have bookmarked them as well as the Hime Momiji.

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I’ll do a full tasting note of this later. Just a few thoughts. I got this as a sample from Upton when I was getting some herbals from them. I’ve never done too much with Darjeeling, was curious and they had a lot of them, so I got a few samples.
There was a definite grape must/wine flavor to it, a medium-high amount of bitterness, medium thickness body. Other flavors in there but I drank it a couple hours ago and didn’t get a work break until now, so I forgot them. I enjoyed it. I just steeped up a small amount. About 3g in a 110ml gaiwan and wasn’t filling it all the way for a lot of the steeps (8, I think) steeps lasting between 5 and 45 seconds, temp 180F.
The tea says FTGFOP1 but I couldn’t find one full leaf in there, so that designation shouldn’t be on there. FTGBOP would have been more appropriate. If it is the last of their stock and all that is left on the bottom is broken leaf that should be accounted for in the description. Maybe this is something that is normal with Darjeeling but I was certainly surprised by it. I only spent a few bucks on the sample, so not that big of a deal financially, but I’d really like to know what the tea is like full leaf. I’m guessing less bitterness, which would let more of the flavor shine through, different body, thinner? thicker?

I’d be curious to know what the more experienced Darjeeling drinkers think about the broken leaves?

Here’s a picture of what the leaves looked like.
https://www.instagram.com/p/BD0306hEX0G/?taken-by=thecheesenerd

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 0 min, 15 sec 3 g 2 OZ / 70 ML

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