Upton Tea Imports
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Recent Tasting Notes
Ahhh time to relax for a bit after lots of kitchen time. Randomly chosen Upton tea turned out to be a Lumbini Ceylon! I know that I tried a Lumbini Ceylon from Capital Tea Limited, and I remember it being mellow and smooth. We’ll see if this one is similar! The leaves are very thin and small but not at all broken, and they’re very dark with a few silvery-golden tips mixed in. Dry scent is somewhat malty and savory.
I didn’t get a good grasp of the steeped aroma, because I was distracted and now the cup is warm as opposed to hot, so most of the aroma has dissipated. Still tastes good though! It’s thick and a touch meaty and there’s an intensity that borders on bitterness but doesn’t quite get there. Near the end a little bit of Assam-ish molasses/raisin flavor rears its head, as does a touch of astringency. I think there’s possibly some bittersweet cocoa flavor here, but it’s always so hard for me to tell when there’s no sweetness. Pretty good, but not too special.
Flavors: Cocoa, Dark Bittersweet, Malt, Meat, Molasses, Raisins, Thick
Time for black tea! I picked another random Upton sample, and this is what I got. Oddly enough, the dry leaf reminds me a lot of Chinese black tea, both by look and by scent. The leaves are on the small side, but there are a lot of golden tips and a bit of magical fairy fuzz on the inside of the bag. Dry scent is thick and somewhat savory, and it reminds me of the Yunnan sweet potato aroma. There’s a syrupy dried fruit scent that brings me back to Assam as well.
The steeped tea smells quite similar to the dry form – there’s a rich sort of sweet potato-y aroma as well as sweet dried fruit notes. Ooooh! The beginning of the sip is quite savory with a rich flavor that does remind me of a Chinese black. However, the end is all Assam, with strong molasses and raisin notes and a touch of astringency. What a cool tea! The molasses flavor lingers on my tongue in the aftertaste, and it’s so rich and authentic. Tasty. :)
Flavors: Molasses, Raisins, Sweet Potatoes, Thick
Next! This is one of the few teas from my Upton order that isn’t Assam or Ceylon. I’m generally a big fan of Taiwanese black teas, though I think this will be my first Keemun from there. The leaves are somewhat broken and pitch black in color, and they have a fragile, feathery look about them. Dry scent is slightly earthy with sweet hay notes.
This is a simple but fairly tasty tea. The flavor is somewhat strong with malt, earth, and wood flavors. It doesn’t have the harshness that earthy teas sometimes have. It’s smooth and has no hint of bitterness or astringency (gotta love that about Chinese/Taiwanese blacks). I can’t say that this would be a repurchase for me, but I’ll definitely have no trouble finishing my sample packet. This is an excellent tea for mindlessly sipping while distracted by other things. :)
Flavors: Earth, Malt, Smooth, Wood
Time to try one from my Upton order! I admit, I chose a pouch at random… All of the pouches are identical with a small white label that tells you the tea name. However, this makes no difference to me as I just ordered mostly a bunch of different Assams and Ceylons, and I don’t remember the differences between them. So, random it is! This is a Ceylon from Tea Bank Estate. I was expecting a much smaller leaf size since this is a Broken Orange Pekoe, but the leaves are actually on par with other Ceylon teas I’ve tried. Dry scent is rich and strong on the molasses.
Mm, the steeped tea smells sweet, malty, and rich with raisin and molasses notes. Yum! The flavor is also deep and rich with a very strong molasses presence. The mouthfeel is thick and smooth, and I’m not noticing much astringency here. I can also taste syrupy dried fruits such as fig, date, and raisin. Yum, overall this is rich and intense with lovely sweet notes. There’s a little bit of astringency, but no bitterness.
Flavors: Dates, Fig, Malt, Molasses, Raisins, Smooth, Sweet, Thick
Bought this sample with my last Upton order because the boyfriend was intrigued. And he also has short term memory loss because he cannot recall said interest. Good thing it was a.) cheap, and b.) I like Earl Grey, although I do prefer the Earl Grey Cream iterations.
Steeped per package directions, which happens to be my preferred method of steeping a black tea anyway. It smelled super bergamot-ty, which made me nervous initially because know I’ve had an Earl Grey from Teavana that seemed to give me headaches.
This tea, despite it’s very strong bergamot taste and scent, didn’t affect me that way though! Yay! Maybe it was just something in the Teavana blend, or maybe I’ve just upped my tolerance of it since the many years between that Earl Grey and this one. It is definitely too sharp of a flavor to have without additives, however. And there is not really much in the way of a ‘tea’ flavor to be had.
So: with milk and sugar, this turns into quite a good Earl Grey. I don’t miss out on the lack of vanilla as much, either. According to Upton’s site it is one of their more popular blends and I see why. I will definitely drink up the rest of the sample (and make the boyfriend drink some of it too, haha) but I think Earl Grey Creams are still my preferred varietal.
I’m not sure whose “choisest” this is, but it doesn’t seem like mainline oolong to me. The first steep had a bit of that oolong nuttiness, but not the creamy texture I look for and it was sweeter than I expected. It got even sweeter on the second steep, and by the end of the third, it was fading. I’m glad I got a sample size so I could try another variant on oolong, but I won’t be ordering more.
Flavors: Nutty, Sweet
Someone spent a lot of time tearing up these leaves into small chunks. The result is a honey gold liquor with a smooth lightly sweet tea. Not full bodies, but still reasonably satisfying. I wouldn’t drink this to get me fired up in the morning, but it’s satisfying to come home to when relaxing at the end of the day.
Flavors: Smooth, Sweet
This tea was quite interesting. It was earthy, and almost leathery in flavor. It reminds me a bit of barns and country living. It was definitely smooth but difficult to place taste-wise. I will need to have this one a few more times to develop my feelings on it.
Flavors: Earth, Leather
This is my first time brewing a loose full-leaf Assam (have tried a CTC before). As with all loose teas, I am brewing this gongfu style. Even with the Indian and Sri Lankan teas meant for Western style brewing, I just don’t really find myself enjoying them as much when they are brewed really potent. I prefer to fragment the taste into shorter infusions rather than getting it all in one cup.
This Assam reminds me of something between a Yunnan and a Darjeeling. It’s got a nice floral aroma at first, but with deep, rich flavors like molasses and yeast. In the second infusion it’s got a flavor reminiscent of cranberries, with the bitterness to accompany, and it’s slightly astringent.
By the third infusion, the flavor’s seeming kind of flat to me. It’s tangy and bitter, still reminding me of cranberries.
I understand that many tea drinkers drink these heavier Indian black teas with cream and sugar. This may be the way to go in regard to this kind of tea, for me. I may make this East Frisian style and update with another review in a bit.
Update: Okay… so for the sake of like… science and stuff… I brewed some Western style with cream and sugar. I’m just not really sure what to think. It has a bitter finish even with sugar that really sticks in my mouth and I don’t like it. The taste is sort of pruney and woody. It’s not awful, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to drink this tea again. I’ve had bagged black teas that I enjoyed more.
Flavors: Cranberry, Molasses, Yeast
My morning cup. This is biscuity with a sweetness I don’t normally associate with Assams. The sweetness was almost floral in nature, and, though it threw me for a loop, I liked it. It’s a full bodied tea, but it’s also very smooth. The combination of the two gave the tea a cream-like texture. Between its strength and smoothness I’d place this firmly in my breakfast tea category. It’ll get ya up and moving!
It’s definitely different from the other Assams in my cupboard, but that’s a good thing. I’m happy I have more of this to play around with. I can see myself possibly becoming attached to this one.
I really enjoyed the smoky flavor and smell of this tea. It was actually reminiscent of coffee or hot chocolate. It was nice and smooth while being full-bodied. It was not astringent or grassy.
Flavors: Campfire, Cocoa, Coffee, Mocha, Smoke, Smooth
I’ve had a bad history with caramel-flavored teas in that I haven’t yet found one I liked. Sadly, this tea continues the trend.
When I opened the sample, I didn’t like the smell at all. It was a very strong, very artificial smell. At that alone my hopes for this tea dropped, because if I can’t abide the smell I’m probably not going to like the taste much either. And, well, I didn’t. The result was a mix of a strange sour flavor and that fake caramel taste. No amount of milk and sugar could ever make this okay. It went down the drain, and the rest of the sample went in the trash.
From now on I’m sticking to candy when I want caramel flavor. Normally I like Upton’s teas, but I’m more than a little disappointed in this one.
I found this tea to be smooth, yet very delicate for a black tea. I definitely used too little leaf… I will try to adjust that the next time I prepare it. I definitely pick up on the fruity and floral notes. Overall it is a very drinkable tea, but lacks anything of particular note to be memorable.
Flavors: Berry, Grapes, Muscatel, Red Wine