Upton Tea Imports

Recent Tasting Notes

87

I came across this tea as I was sorting through my stash. It’s nice. Top notes of smoke, these are the flavors that cross my palate first but they aren’t overwhelming, and soon they make way for notes of chocolate and caramel.

I find this tea to be much more to my liking than a stronger smoky tea like a lapsang. The amount of smoke here is nice – not too strong, but not too wimpy either. It gives this tea character.

I like this.

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Things are looking up (& sorry for being a whiner earlier).
I filled a hot steamy bath & added a generous amount of lavender essential oil.
I can smell it, at least a little!
This is the first of 3 cups of tea that I brought to the tub. The only thing I can taste (right now), is an earthy feeling, some wood in the back of my throat, & a sensation I’ll call ‘robust’.
I also have a strong nettles infusion, a potent elderberry brew with a pinch of stevia (Cheryl’s herbs has the best tasting & most potent stevia extract powder I’ve ever had), & a nice cold cup of lemon water. This will be a long soak!

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This Shou Mei has a surprising smoky, earthy taste to it, with hints of spice.

By the second steeping it has mellowed out some, with a subtle sweetness similar to dried fruit and slightly earthy gourd-like flavor.

I am not terribly experienced with a diversity of white teas, as a local company here specializes in white teas and has many award-winning offerings that are of wonderful quality, so I do not shop around for white teas much. Thus, I will not rate this one. I find the flavor agreeable but would not likely purchase it.

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75

MUST TRY ALL THE YUNNANS! Lol… Another one from Nicole! This one looks less tippy than the other Upton variety I tried yesterday, or whenever it was. The leaves are small and thin, not remarkably twisty, and almost all black with just a few golden spots. They smell of hay and dried leaves.

Whew, I could tell by the aroma that this is one of those Yunnans. Meaning, the manly kind, lol. The aroma and taste are basically exactly the same. It’s very earthy with a mineral edge. There’s a woody taste along with a definite smoke note (Nicole, you’re not paranoid on this one). A bit of malt in there too, but it mostly tastes like what I would call “forest floor” – earth and rocks and twigs. There’s a bit of a musty taste to it as well.

Finding myself to not be a fan of these darker Yunnan teas. I’ve been far too spoiled by their lighter counterparts! :P

Flavors: Earth, Malt, Mineral, Musty, Smoke, Wood

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML
TheTeaFairy

YOU GO CAMERONALL THE YUNNANS!!!

Cameron B.

I WILL OM NOM NOM THE WORLD! RAWRRRR!

Nicole

“forest floor” is a good description for a lot of these. :) Good phrase.

Cameron B.

I dunno, I think “forest floor” sounds more pleasant than I intend it to. :P

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80

This sample came from the lovely and generous Nicole. There’s quite a bit of gold in these leaves, more so than the others I’ve tried recently. The leaves themselves are quite thin and twisty. I can’t really say much about the dry scent, because it smells like milk oolong. HAH! Clearly some cross-contamination there. :P

The brewed aroma is light malt with honey and that lovely stonefruit note I’ve been missing. Confession, I kind of forgot about this tea while I was browsing stuff online… Oops! Luckily for me, it didn’t get bitter or astringent or anything. Definitely a mark in its favor! It has that lovely light malty toast flavor that I’ve come to expect from lighter Yunnans, drizzled with honey. There’s a little hint of raisin in the background, but it’s more of a golden raisin. I also get a bit of stonefruit, yum! I suspect I’m getting more fruit because the tea has cooled so much, so I would assume it’ll be less prominent when hot. Still delicious though! I would have a hard time differentiating this from other similar teas. It’s not unique, but it has all the things I love about Yunnan!

Flavors: Baked Bread, Honey, Malt, Raisins, Stonefruits

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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88

This one was a sample someone sent me! It smells delicious. The taste is nice. It’s creamy, smooth, has a nice base, and has a lot of natural tasting vanilla.

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81

MzPriss’ Unflavored Tea Box – Tea #7
Another nice keemun! Again, not really smoky… I could swear keemun is supposed to be a little smoky but it seems none of them are. I love the scent of dry keemun leaves. The flavor is on a mid level – tangy again. It seems only keemun have this tangy flavor I’m talking about. I wish I could describe it better. It was almost like the Andrews & Dunham Spring Keemun I had a few days ago. I also had this tea a couple days ago, which is why my note is more terrible than usual. Whoops. Not a bad two steeps (the second cup was similar) but I’d prefer my keemun darker.

MzPriss

I’m still looking for my perfect keemun.

TeaTiff

I have seen both of you sampling Keenums. What are your favorites? The Pine Peak for WP just peaked my curiosity enough to start exploring. (as if I need another type of tea to explore).

MzPriss

I’m afraid to even try that one. I already have a WP problem

MzPriss

I wanted to love that A&D one and I just didn’t. I tried.

Tea Sipper

I feel like I haven’t tried my perfect keemun yet (though I’ve heard great things about the WP keemun and that one would probably be it). Butiki once had a couple nice ones which I don’t think they have any more (which might be why I can’t find my favorite keemun now – Butiki’s high standards). I suggest trying the four from Teavivre and finding which one you like more. I just bought some of the Grade 1 and actually had some today… I think the Grade 1 is my favorite at the moment. Also, Zentealife.com’s China Keemun is good and I think they have a new one. I’m probably forgetting some!

TeaTiff

TeaSipper/MzPriss If you guys need a sample of WP let me know I can pass a cup or two along. Teas from Zen Tea are stacking up on my wish list so I might have to order a sample of theirs soon, same with Teavivre. I don’t remember seeing anything on Butiki’s sight but I will have to take a closer look. Thanks TeaSipper.

MzPriss

Thanks Tiff. I may have done a small little WP order last night and included the PPK in it :)

Angrboda

Not all Keemuns are smoky, and they’re not smoky to everybody. It’s a naturally occuring note, so it’s quite subjective. To me it’s sometimes smoky but also sometimes floral. I believe that this is actually the very same note that just comes across differently to me. I’ve found that for me higher grade Keemuns are usually more on the floral end of the spectrum, while lower grade Keemuns are more on the smoky end. I tend to prefer the lower grades. :)

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79

These cute but eminently stinky Tuo Cha from Upton Tea Imports were my very first purchase ever of this type of tea. That was more than a decade ago. Seriously. They sat in a drawer alone, neglected and scorned for all this time, never to be infused until today. They aren’t nearly as stinky as I recall, but I figured, how can pu-ehr go bad, really? Perhaps they have improved with age!

The strong scent of the initial sample (which contained 6 tuo cha, now 5) left such a lasting impression on me that I completely avoided this entire category of tea. Why would I want to drink such a thing? I asked myself most logically.

After seeing the throngs of pu-erh devotees out there in the world wide web, some of whom spend time here at Steepster, I realized, at last, that first impressions might deceive. Perhaps it’s really true:

Don’t judge a book by its cover or a tuo cha by its stench!

I tossed the first short infusion and proceeded to brew this tea using near-boiling water, which swiftly produced a dark brownish amber liquor with not a trace of its former stinkiness lingering in the air. To be honest, and a bit surprisingly (or not!) the flavor strikes me as a cross between a Yunnan black and a Lapsang Souchong tea. Does anyone else find similarities between pu-erh and Lapsang? Or is it just this particular batch?

Anyway, it’s good, and now I’m off to the races for many new adventures in the vast land of pu-erh! I needed to clear this hurdle before I could try any other pure pu-erhs. Mission accomplished, and happily, too!

Flavors: Smoke

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 295 ML
boychik

Was it sheng ?

sherapop

Sheng is ripe? Or is that raw? Do I even know the difference? I simply assumed that anything in cake form would be ripe! ;-)

boychik

Sorry I didn’t read a description. It’s shou/ ripe. Boiling for sure. Still I like gongfu super short steeps.

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30

to be honest, i don’t like this tea anymore. its too strong for me even at short steep times :(

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 8 OZ / 250 ML

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100

still the best ive ever had :) so i ordered a bunch of Pu-ehr from Yunnan sourcing and i thought, “maybe i might have some left.” :) and i had one square left!

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86

The leaves smell soooo vanilla with sweet bergamot… reminds me a lot of Paris from Harney. But when steeped, there isn’t much vanilla or bergamot. It is however, massively Darjeeling. Deeply muscatel with stone fruits and some grassyness. I got zero astringency as well. I quite like this one, even if it wasn’t quite what I was expecting.

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72

This has darker leaves than the Yunnan Black Buds from Upton. It also has more of the flavor I expect. Hay, dust, minor hint of smoke (or maybe it’s just my super paranoid smoke detector tastebuds), some sharpness. I normally would expect sweetness rather than sharpness though. While this is better than the Black Buds, it is still a wholly unremarkable Yunnan. Still, better than no Yunnan, but nothing I’ll get more of.

Cameron B.

I definitely get smokiness in some of the less tippy Yunnans.

Nicole

So at least my tastebuds aren’t alone in their tinfoil-hattiness. :)

boychik

Tiny bit of maple syrup( Terri and Sil recommendation )

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70

This was a fairly plain Yunnan to me. I steeped for 1 minute and then for 3. Not much change and the flavor didn’t really deepen or expand at all. At 5 minutes there was more classic Yunnan flavor. It’s better than no Yunnan, but aside from the dry leaves being very pretty with a goldeny mix, this is not a standout for me.

boychik

I think you like YS

Nicole

Yes, I think I have been spoiled. :)

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82

This has become another favorite. I really like the lemon pudding flavor this tea has. It’s light but full of flavor while keeping it’s basic Earl Grey feel. Good stuff. I realized I’m starting to get a set of favorite Earl Greys in my cupboard, and I am very happy with my selection. I have everything from Twinnings Lady Grey, to this lovely, to Zen Tea’s EGC, and I adore each one for different reasons. This tea I like because it has a great EG and lemon flavor. It seems like there are a million lemon flavored teas out there, but most of them are too harsh/bitter for me. This one has a softness and a great creamy note from the vanilla that makes it a winner in my book.

Yay for Earl Greys in all their lovely forms!

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 15 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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77

Ugghhh, Photoshop requires extra caffeine. Second round of black tea for today, and it may not be the last.

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77

Super old sample, I think from Tastybrew!

Was actually a decent caramel black tea. I will have to make it side by side with teaG’s caramel tea just for fun :)

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85

I got this sample from KiwiDelight. I’m not really going to go into the dry leaf, because I think most of us know what dry sencha looks and smells like (at least, anyone who reads my notes will know by now). Steeped for 1 minute as per usual.

The aroma is pretty standard but still nice – a mixture of spinach and alfalfa with a buttery edge. Tasting this, I assumed that this was a heavily steamed variety because it has more intense flavors. However, it’s actually because it’s not harvested until autumn (I don’t know how steamed it is, it didn’t say). It’s a nice balance between the intense and sweet flavors of gyokuro and the more savory flavor of sencha. I get notes of spinach, zucchini, and butter with a little touch of savory seaweed. Overall, quite tasty and I would definitely drink it again. :)

Flavors: Butter, Grass, Seaweed, Spinach, Zucchini

Preparation
175 °F / 79 °C 1 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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30

This, like most Ceylon teas, just doesn’t do it for me. I carefully followed Upton’s brewing directions (1 tsp/3 min/212°) and came out with a tea that was mildly tannic, mild all around, and with no aftertaste to keep me interested. Even sticking my nose deep into the gloopy mass of freshly steeped leaves didn’t give me much of an impression. Nope, I’ll pass on this one. Perhaps it has redeeming qualities, but I’m not finding them. Might a bit of milk help?

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

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75

I was surprised at the number of sticks that were mixed in with the leaves. Is this typical of this style? It made it hard to measure, so I had to make my best guess (I really need to get a scale).

I did three 2-minute gaiwan steeps of this tea. The first was almost too subtle. Sort of herby with a clean finish, but nothing really jumped out at me. The second had a darker liquor, with less herb flavor. The final steep seemed slightly more astringent (though not much) and had a bit more forest-floor-dry-sticks flavor.

Overall, I liked this but was not wowed. I’d recommend it for when you’re in the mood for something subtly warming and comforting.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 2 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 4 OZ / 118 ML

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75

No notes yet. Add one?

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 16 OZ / 473 ML

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75

Tea and Card travelling teabox

I wanted to revisit this one as i had it way back when i was first really trying to figure out what i liked and what i didn’t. Dropping the rating on this a few points because after trying so many varieties of black teas in the past year (or two) this one lacks the bolder flavour that i like. This is nice, it’s got a little astringency to it that i don’t mind and overall it’s not a bad cup, i’ve just had better than i love more :)

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88

Oh no, I’m the first to review it. Pressure!

Haha. Okay, so this 88th Night Shincha is kind of magical. It’s traditionally picked on the 88th night of spring , 88 nights after the Vernal Equinox (which puts it somewhere around June 17th most years if I counted right).

This shincha smells a lot like a high quality matcha to me. It is very rich. I’m getting lots of green leafy notes, some pistachio and a hint of green bean in the scent. In the taste it is vegetal and nutty like pistachio, mellow and has a nice sweetness to it, not a sugary sweetness mind you, more of a mild sweetness like you might describe some vegetables as having (carrots for example). There are delicate hints of mint. It’s lacking the mineral and ocean qualities I’ve tasted in other senchas, which is a nice parting from what I’m used to. The color is a beautiful green-yellow.

I’m gonna have to say this is the best sencha I have had yet. I have only had maybe 4 or 5 so my experience with them is not too broad, but this one is definitely the most enjoyable to me, for its mellow sweetness and hearty vegetal taste. Oh, and if anyone is curious, shincha is a first flush (first harvest) sencha, so that’s why I am comparing the two. :3

Edit: I served this tea at an event I held at my house where I served night-themed teas and it was a favorite among the guests. They said it tasted like a green smoothie. I can’t argue with that!

Flavors: Mint, Nuts, Sweet, Vegetal

Preparation
160 °F / 71 °C 1 min, 0 sec 2 g 3 OZ / 100 ML

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78

Dry leaf smells malty and a little earth-like. Liquor is golden, clear, a little astringent, and surprisingly light-bodied. The malt and honey flavor, too, are light, and are roughly equal in strength. A cup of this tea is nice yet stimulating to drink during a summer’s mid-morning.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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