Upton Tea Imports

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Recent Tasting Notes


This is okay; I first tried cold-brewing it and it was really earthy and tasted like kinda dirty and sharp and a bit floral, but anyways that’s not as important to me as brewing gongfu:

The first steep was decent, it definitely wasn’t awake and you could tell, since the body was quite a bit thinner than it should’ve been, but still floral and earthy;

The second is thicker, thankfully, and earthy, floral, tastes like stems of a flower.. Wait how do I know what those taste like? When have I ever eaten a flower stem….. I.. well whatever, that’s what I’m going with. It’s a little sweet, and a little sour, there’s even a bit of mint in the aftertaste.

The third is much earthier, and astringent this time, with a kind of gross sour flower aftertaste, but the soup does have a very nice mouthfeel,

I’m really enjoying how thick it is, I think this time I used more leaves than I usually would for any tea, and it’s working out nicely for this one, not that the tea’s all that great or special,

I’m getting about the same in the fourth, but with some grassy notes as well.

The fifth gives me a very astringent feel, a bit of tangerine, quite a bit grassier, maybe a bit of hay,

Shorter steeps lend a lighter, warmer, fruiter (a bit of orange, lime, cranberry) tea while longer steeps give a darker, earthier, floral astringent cup, I much prefer the shorter steeps; but I think this tea is giving me a headache……. in fact, it definitely is. But it’s okay, I gave the rest of this one to my friend. I don’t really like it that much. Also the leaves are really, really ugly like shou mei’s usually aren’t pretty like at all but this one is very torn and seems to have an abnormally large amount of stems. Not that that really means that much, but I mean at the same time it kind of makes me disregard shou mei and bai mu dan teas, well actually I don’t think it’s because of how they look but that contributes a bit wow I’m rambling so ..

Flavors: Citrus, Cranberry, Earth, Floral, Flowers, Grass, Lime, Mint, Orange, Sour, Stems, Sweet

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Received as a free sample from Upton, thought I would give this a whirl.

I initially brewed this up as a breakfast tea in my 6 cup Chatsford teapot – served in a bone china tea cup:

The dry leaf aroma is malty with subtle floral and stone-fruit notes as well.

Tawny-copper liquid while clean is not especially aromatic, though there are some low biscuit notes and hints of putty. The wet leaves are somewhat vegetal, though not unpleasantly so.

Moderate malt character on the palate along with a light (pink?) peppercorn note – faintly floral and spicy with a very smooth finish. Hints of marconi almonds or biscotti as well.

Infusing the tea for an additional 4 minutes leads to a darker more reddish liquor. The tea is increasingly brisk, and while not especially bitter, the tannins make themselves known in the finish. Takes milk fairly well – all in all a decent morning cup, more refined but also less robust than a comparable Assam or Kenyan tea perhaps.

Boiling 3 min, 30 sec 6 g 36 OZ / 1064 ML

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This ones a bit sour, it’s grassy at first, earthy, bitter, quite acidic actually, with some cocoa notes,
the second steep gives oats, milk chocolate, caramel, and burnt notes
Then i get some sort of plum or apricot, wood, sort of like licking a popsickle stick that had just a bit of chocolate ice cream left on it still, the next steep is creamier.

The tea fades to earthy, woody caramelness, wit a bit of burnt ntes and an increasing bitterness, with some minerals; the caramel eventually the caramel steeps out, after which it was quite bland, a bit roasty, with some wood and earth .

Flavors: Apricot, Bitter, Burnt, Caramel, Chocolate, Cocoa, Creamy, Earth, Grass, Mineral, Oats, Plums, Roasted, Sour, Wood

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Nice tea, I think I may try to steep a little longer at maybe 90c next time as this was a bit more bitter and astringent than I liked.

Flavors: Earth, Floral, Muscatel, Vegetal

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 6 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

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Ceylon is a region that’s been left relatively untouched by me, so uh

The leaves here smell a bit smokey and musty, it actually smells quite good, I think I’ll enjoy this one.

it’s buttery and creamy, with a light smoke, and a lot of astringency. This is genuinely the least vegetal green I think I’ve ever had, it’s maybe slightly grassy? but that’s kinda debatable;

it really isn’t very complex, though my mouth is extremely dry

I tried doing really short steeps, but the astringency is still very uncomfortable, it’s very powerful, and makes the tea very hard to enjoy. It’s nice and creamy while sipping, but after, it just dries out your mouth.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Butter, Cream, Grass, Smoke

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Why are these ratings so low? I don’t even like smokey teas but I genuinely enjoyed drinking this, much more than I expected to anyways.

The dry leaves smell of campfires, charcoal, smoked meat

I’ve only ever had one lapsang souchong other than this and i believe it was from davidstea (do they have one? They must, I don’t know where else I could’ve gotten it.) but I dont even know if DT properly counts because this smells much stronger. Oh wait I think it might’ve been zen tea. oh it totally was, anyways dont worry about that:

The tea itself is much sweeter than it smells, it’s a bit peppery, but it does still have all of the campfire, charcoal, smoked meat of its smell, but it tastes a bit more like barbecue sauce.

There’s quite a strong astringency near the end, and I get hints of cocoa, vanilla, cinnamon, which are really easy to discern; it’s almost like the smokey notes show at the back of my mouth, but the leaf’s own sweetness settles on the tip of my tongue, creating sort of a spectrum of sweetness beginning at the front of my mouth and smokiness at the back, it’s an interesting sensation.

The smokiness is nearly gone by the fifth steep but after that point it stops steeping out, so it never really leaves,

the tea finishes sweet, with a honey-like taste and a very slight bitterness creeping in

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Campfire, Cinnamon, Cocoa, Meat, Pepper, Smoke, Smoked, Sweet, Vanilla

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I actually quite enjoyed this despite its heavy bitterness, it’s a bit more complex than the Bi Luo Chuns I’ve had before:

It starts out lightly vegetal with notes of melon, a little bit roasty and a smooth mouthfeel in the first steep, no bitterness as the leaves are unfurling, which only took one steep so

After that, it became bitter and reminiscent of smoked meat, but not overly prominently, there was also a lot of melon, cabbage, spinach, and a bit roasty,

Later, in the middle of the session I was getting somewhat tropical notes of mango, and also some orange as the bitterness was steeped out and was replaced with very noticable astringency

The session faded into a very astringent, very plain tasting vegetal green, with still the slightest bitterness.

I really just appreciate the mango notes I found in there, it was very unexpected, which is always fun; the middle steeps made me think much higher about it than I would have after the beginning, it was very strong and smokey to start with.

Flavors: Astringent, Bitter, Green, Mango, Melon, Orange, Roasted, Smoke, Spinach, Tannic, Vegetal, Wood

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Nothing overly special here for me, it has the nice sweetness of a bai hao yin zhen, with a nice floral finish,mild astringency, but there’s a lot of earthy and almost woody notes, and these for me made it slightly imperfect, my friend really liked this one though, so I wound up giving her the rest of my sample, thus the lack of real depth in this review.

Flavors: Astringent, Earth, Floral, Sweet, Wood

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I’m really not in a good mood (I don’t know why, it’s frustrating) and instead of getting a tea that’s going to be comforting for me I decided to review a standard grade Formosa oolong, and honestly just from smelling the dry leaves I’m pretty sure I’m not going to enjoy this one, also the leaves look much nicer in the picture than in person, they’re much more broken up and aren’t as dark as shown, in fact a few of my leaves are green, but anyways

It’s very woody, and mildly roasty and nutty with this sort of dark decadence about it, its rich and actually quite nice, except for this slight .. oddly acidic aftertaste which in all honestly is very unpleasant, so I’d have to recommend just not stopping your sipping, like ever because then you’ll just be sad and that’s no good, there’s also kind of a very concentrated sort of astringency that’s just sorta setting up camp in the back of my mouth, also not very excited about that, really though in all honestly it isn’t that bad, it’s mildly complex, it just doesn’t excite me at all, and i’m not typically big on darker oolongs personally, but I could see people liking this


Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Wood, Fruity, Nuts, Peach, Roasted, Wood

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Well its been a while since my last indian tea, let alone one that I liked. Which makes this a wonderful occasion!

For me whenever I drink indian teas, they’re very distinctly ‘Indian.’ Something about the terroir gives it a sort of spiciness, but this one doesn’t have very much of that, and personally I’m quite happy about that.

So, what it does have is lots of lemon, thats very prominent. Theres some bitterness behind that and some spices, maybe a bit floral? But it’s really not that complex, but its still quite nice for an everyday afternoon sort of tea

Flavors: Bitter, Lemon

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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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No notes yet. Add one?

Flavors: Vanilla

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

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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!

185 °F / 85 °C

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300ml zisha yixing

probably why they came out more sour & metallic than roasted


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

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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.


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


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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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

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

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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…



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

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

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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

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

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

Flavors: Cinnamon, Orange

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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

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

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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.

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

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