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8 Tasting Notes

66

There are many things to like about this tea- the aroma when opening a tin, the large pieces of fruit that make it look substantially edible. And so many not to like: the artificial flavoring that caused me to have to scrub out my tetsubin not once but twice, the excess of hibiscus that sours the whole thing up and necessitates sugar.

Still, my kids like it provided that I add lots of honey, then its really nice for them.

Do not allow this to steep for the recommended 8 minutes, the longer it steeps the more the hibiscus dominates the cup and masks the peach. 6 minutes is about right for me. YMMV.

And whatever you do, don’t steep this in a cast iron pot! Stick with porcelain so your next pot will taste like tea and not some flavoring agent.

Preparation
Boiling 6 min, 0 sec

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17

I’ve been trying to find my pefect Assam, and this came as one of several samples that I’m trying over the last few and next several weeks.

I couldn’t find any malty or toasty notes in this tea-the dominating flavor and aroma was of tomato. That’s right. Tomato. I don’t know what happened to this in the chest as it came over from Assam- or what it was stored next to, but it was really wretched. Drinking it I thought I was going out of my mind. V8 juice? Really? Really.

Just to be sure, I asked several people to take a whiff. Do you smell tomato? Yes! Every one said the same thing. Sorry Upton, this one was a total bust. If I want tomato in the morning, I won’t look for it in my tea. Not my cup, that’s for sure.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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73

I’ve been experimenting with many of Upton’s Oolongs of late. This was another sample that I tried; just enough for a few cups.

The dry leaf was rather unremarkable, but once the water hit it, the aroma was amazing. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a while, but after several sips and repeated sniffs, I finally identified it: green apple! I had a hard time because I never thought tea could smell like this-

The taste was pleasant enough and did have some nice nutty flavors but everything was overwhelmed by that granny smith apple smell. Its highly unusual. Subsequent steepings reduced both the flavor and the aroma substantially but when the water hits the leaf- watch out!

I don’t think I’ll buy this again, but it was absolutely worth the sample price.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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96

I just got finished reading “All the Tea in China” and this tea is mentioned prominently in the book. There are many legends about this tea, but Robert Fortune had some on his original trip through the region. I knew that this was supposed to be one of the great teas of the world, but I was really very unprepared for what I got.

Not much aroma in the dry leaf but what flavor! Nuts, honeysuckle and …butter?! Just fantastic! Repeated steepings were a delight as well as I increased the steeping time and temperature slightly.

Tea from the three original bushes costs many thousands of dollars per ounce but with the miracle of clones even ordinary people like you and me can afford to taste this and at just over 10 dollars per 60gm, its a bargain. Sipping this gem reminds one that the drinking of tea is part of a 4000 year experiment in human civilization- it is something to treasure.

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec
Marcel Duchamp

Is that the book about Robert Fortune? I loved that book.

excyclist

Yes, that is the one! Very informative!

excyclist

Great suggestion- I will see if I can pick it up at my library!

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82

Upton’s catalogue lists this one as being described by their Indian tea dealer as “absolutely cracker!” That intrigued me. Usually Upton’s descriptions are a bit more sedate. They also said that it had a sweet malty character and was a great value.

It took me a good while to understand this tea. Compared to some of the breakfast monsters out there, and compared to some of the much higher priced assams that really taste strongly of toast and malt, this one was rather more reserved.

I’ve tried 3,4, and five minutes- 4 is the upper limit before it starts getting too bitter, but up to that point it’s truly very well behaved. A splash of milk really brings out the best in this one, but while I usually don’t add milk to my tea I’m doing so with this one.

At just under 6 dollars for 125 gm, it was truly a very good value. Enjoy!

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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52

Got this at a half price tea sale whole foods was having- expiration date on the container was january of 2015, so I thought I would give it a go.

Opening the tin, the aroma was fresh cut grass- pleasant enough- the leaves looked in good shape but there were quite a few stems as well. Not so sure about the descripton as “top grade”

3 minutes at 180 degrees got a pleasantly nutty and vegetal taste. So this one was ok in my book- not thrilling, but decent at the price of just over 4 bucks for 75 g. The full price of 8.75 would be silly though. If you can pick it up for a song, go for it. Otherwise, your money would be better spent elsewhere.

Preparation
180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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79

I don’t normally go for flavored teas but this was an exception that I hope to revisit next winter.

As others have indicated, its sort of like a chai with the cardamom and the cinnamon, but with the addition of a dusting of chocolate, this is really delightful and you don’t have to mix it up with milk to be be yummmy.

I can’t divine what sort of tea is used for the base, clearly something inexpensive as whatever tea is used is going to be overwhelmed by the additional spices. You can steep this one forever and it just keeps getting better and better. I got busy and forgot about it in for more than 10- minutes- it was still very good. Great for kids too.

Will buy again certainly!

Preparation
Boiling 8 min or more
Marcel Duchamp

I like this tea… It would be good for kids.

excyclist

Yeh, totally- with a splash of milk it would be great for children to get them interested in tea.

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27

One of many samples I recently purchased from Upton. Its mostly whole leaf, with some broken pieces- and the aroma- what is that? sweet gherkin pickle juice? Bizarre….

Three minutes of steeping got very little flavor out of this, four got a bit more, so I went with 5. At bit better at that point but really just a meh sort of tea. I don’t get much darjeeling from it, and I don’t get much Earl Grey either.

Mostly this comes off as a weak earl grey, and if I wanted that, there are plenty of those to choose from .

Sorry Upton, this just isn’t worth drinking….

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec

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