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Recent Tasting Notes
“If I were a coffee drinker easing into the world of tea, I’d like this,” I thought as I sniffed the aromas of my freshly brewed cup of Upton TI69: Jolotigo Estate Orthodox Java BT. Richly tannic and woody smells were evident in the leaves after brewing (it’s wise to use an easily-cleaned strainer with this tea, since the leaf pieces are rather small), so I was surprised when I tasted the cup without milk and found the tea tasted so mild. I added milk to tone down the tannins and that subdued most of the flavor; even though my cup was a good strong color, my milky tea tasted more like tea-ish milk. It was nice of Upton to send this to me as a free sample with my recent order, but this is not my cup of tea.
Flavors: Tannin, Wet wood
What is “bop” anyway?
Had this tea with breakfast this morning. I’m going to be seeing my in-laws today and they enjoy tea quite a bit, so I’m actually going to give the rest of my sample tin to them! I thought of just plowing through the rest of it myself, but I just feel like life is too short to be drinking tea I’m not loving. I will never be a sipdown champion for this reason, although it also probably speaks to my not being good at picking teas i’ll like haha.
Anyway, still nothing wrong with this tea. It just tastes like tea, you know?
So glad it’s almost Friday. This week hasn’t been nearly as stressful as last week, but working full-time is just really draining on my overall reserves of just about everything.
Anyway, had this tea again this morning as promised. With a generous amount of cream and sugar, a tea with what felt like ragged jagged edges was transformed into a smooth and flavourful cup. I also only steeped for three minutes, which helped.
So far, this tea still falls into the perfectly acceptable but not scrambling to restock category. And it’s just as well. At least it reminds me that my love for tea isn’t broken.
I’d been off tea for a long while, and have only recently meandered back. I’ve not been having too too much luck, to be honest. A lot of the teas I brew fall flat for me, and I’m quicker to give up this time around, whereas in the past I would have probably soldiered on, attempting to brew this way and that. Anyway, I decided that I’d try to go back to basics for a while and just explore plain blacks again, so I ordered an introduction to fine tea sampler from Upton tea Imports (also an excuse for me to get another finum brewing basket, which I’m in love with). Anyway, I thought I’d try this one first.
Brewed this just under boiling for about four minutes, but might try about three minutes next time. I mean, it’s certainly got a decently strong caffeine kick. If what you want is a brisk tea that will make you sit up and take notice, this will absolutely do the trick. It is quite strong, and tastes quite tannic. It absolutely requires cream and sugar, and even then, I could sort of feel it roiling in my stomach a bit. Once it had additions though, it became a strong breakfast tea, that has that sort of dry, thirst-quenching characteristic I would imagine i get from an unsweetened apple juice, although it doesn’t taste remotely of apple. I liked that aspect of the tea very much. Aside from that, however, it was just an ordinary if perfectly acceptable breakfast tea. So I’ll finish it off (that’s my rule before I’m allowed to open another sample tin), but so far, likely won’t be rushing to reorder. Expect more notes on this one though, and feel free to hit me if I review another Upton tea before this one is out.
I use an extremely fine screen when dealing with any tea that is either (a) not whole leaf or (b) very broken or dusty.
And yet, this tea still manages to fill my cup with things which then stick in my teeth. I have no clue how they can be small enough to get through the screen and then big enough to be visible along my gums, but there it is.
Also, it clumps into itself very badly and clogs my yixing spout so that I end up with a lot of overly long steeps because it is taking longer to pour the water out of the pot than I actually want the length of the steep to be. This results in “burning out” the leaf in too few a number of overall steeps.
I bought this tea specifically for convenience over picking apart an actual brick of pu-erh and it has been the precise opposite.
I don’t recommend this tea unless you’re going to cold brew it and strain the result through cheese cloth.
Flavors: Decayed wood, Earth, Loam
Brewed in an infuser mug. Went for two steepings: 4 minutes, 8.
The name made me purchase a sample. Based on the leaf appearance, I went in thinking I’d be drinking something like Oriental Beauty. The leaves are thin and a little twisty, mostly dark brown with some camouflage green and few silver and downy – although their length is much shorter in comparison.
I had a hard time making out the dry leaf aroma, although the wet leaf’s smells of green grapes. The liquor is quite aromatic. It leaves behind in the mug, after I’ve finished each infusion, a rich clover honey scent. The kind of fresh honey from the farmer’s market. I had a gigantic aroma cup (the mug is on the tall, thin side).
At this point, I’d say this Taiwanese oolong is very much more like an autumn flush Darjeeling than an Oriental Beauty. The liquor is burnt orange, medium-bodied, and slightly thick. A honey flavor dominates and strengthens as the liquor cools. Red grapes take over in the aftertaste. Doesn’t leave a dry throat after I swallow. The honey and muscatel notes are not BOOM POW like they are in OB. They taste more subdued, gentler and kind of muted. Also, it even feels like autumn flush Darjeeling – both in the mouth and in effect of the body.
Decent quality, good price for 80g. I had an interesting experience with this.
Brewed Western method, in a filter bag and mug.
I received this as a free sample from my last order. It is Incredibly brisk in strength. The flavor is heavily malty, so much so that it is overwhelming. This can’t be drunk without milk or sugar, or both (unless you have taste buds of steel). I had to add A LOT of milk. There was still this bitter taste that wouldn’t go away though. Best suited as an early morning tea, for those who need a hammer on the head equivalent of a wake up call in terms of tea.
Mmm, thanks very much to Oolong Owl for sending me a small sample of this.
I’m sipping it right now and the taste is malty, sweet, and complex. The brewed tea smells similarly spicy and chocolaty. In fact, it smells like chocolate-covered raisins! Now I’m craving Glossettes candy, but this will do in a pinch.
I think I’ll add this to my wishlist.
Edit: I just checked the Upton Tea Imports website and found that shipping to Canada starts at $13.60. Yikes. I may not restock this after all. Steepster-folk, do any of you have any suggestions for anything from Yunnan Sourcing that may have a similar flavour profile? Spice, chocolate-covered raisins?
1 heaping tea scoop
~300ml 原矿紫砂 zini yixing
warmed pot, added leaves and smell of tea = smoke in the face by a big gust of wind
1) pours at
5sec: smoke again, being outside on a rainy, autumn day
thick mouth, changing flavours not fast, rather practiced & leisurely
+10sec: qi is relaxing, a massage on the shoulders
the hotter the tea, the more downward the qi
cooler, qi is upward, meditative travelling in head
2) 5, 10, 10
less complex changing of flavours, more dominant first
mouth feel is rounder, follows shape of a long moustache
3) 10, 20, xx
then a hit of salt
smell of leaves is pure smoke
then earth overturned exposing buried leaves, insect life etc
5) minutes, 20min,
30min smokiness is back
2 heaping tea scoops
untimed pours (many)
Second steep in pint glass
after ~8 hours
citrus, not lemon or orange, maybe grapefruit
hiking through rain over earth and leaves towards a welcoming smoke from a cabin chimney
Flavors: Camphor, Citrus, Earth, Peat Moss
Thanks for a sample of this one, MissB! There was about a teaspoon left of these gorgeous Yunnan leaves, so I steeped 3/4 of a mug each time. The leaves are a bit wider than usual, mostly dark gold with hints of black. The brew results in a medium amber color. It’s one of those Yunnan teas that aren’t light or dark, it’s the lovely mid-Yunnan that is like honey with hints of molasses. Not like chocolate but also not a light Yunnan. Hints of pepper and all around sweet, with a very smooth texture because of the sweetness. This one is very special. The three steeps were all fantastic.
Steep #1 // 1 tsp with 3/4 full mug each time // 12 minutes after boiling // 2 min
Steep #2 // couple min a.b. // 2 min
Steep #3 // couple min a.b. // 2 1/2 min
Two golden tips less in the photo would be a little more accurate.
It’s said that a tea master can make any tea taste delicious.
As a novice, I take that statement as license to experiment.
2 tea scoops (~1t)
pours: 30sec to ~7min
per practice of using lower temperature water for longer infusion to coax out the qualities of the tea
transferred tea, including leaves, to a pint glass
tasted after ~6 hours
after ~8 hours
still sweet, with a touch of bitterness in the throat at the end
quick bitter that mellows into almost sweet
Flavors: Bitter, Brown Sugar
1 generous tsp loose tea
4 pours, with steep time increasing by double-digit seconds
early pours the best
smooth filmy texture
another round with a second 6oz
middle pours the best
too much tea to drink alone, i just taste each pour
the rest gets mixed in coffee cup & turned into surprisingly lovely sweet(milk) tea
2 heaping tsp loose tea
small pyrex measuring cup (plate as lid, plate below, merino hat as cozy)
delicious in wine cup
different but no less delicious with touch milk/sugar in coffee cup (better heat retainer)
delicious in coffee cup
flat in wine cup and flattened by milk
1 generous T loose tea
small pyrex measuring cup (plate as lid, kitchen towel wrapped as cozy)
30sec infusions (ea additional +30sec)
one of those is usually good
the rest get poured together & turned into milk/sugar tea
This tea was the first Japanese tea I ever purchased, albeit certainly not the last. From the heavenly-smelling dry leaves comes a light, smooth, and slightly nutty tea that always pleases. This is one of my favorite afternoon teas.