Oh how I love this tea. I ordered a big tin from Upton, and it arrived today (along with samples of various black teas – I’m trying to educate myself as to individual varieties!) This tea has a richness that I haven’t found in a lot of breakfast blends – many are too smooth for me, a former coffee drinker who wants some bite to her tea. There is malt and perhaps a touch of smoke (but just a touch.) Milk and sugar go well with this tea, but they don’t smooth it out too much – I don’t want to feel like I’m drinking milk! One caution with this tea – don’t steep it longer than 3 minutes. It does get bitter. But at 3 minutes it is perfect for me. Bumping my rating to my highest – when I was out I missed this tea every morning, and now I hope to not be parted again!
92 Tasting Notes
This is quite nice – brisk yet drinkable! It’s really strong plain, and even with milk/2 sugars it is quite robust! It’s not very nuanced or distinctive, so it’s not going to be my favorite, but I found it enjoyable on this gloomy afternoon.
I was excited for this tea, because I have another chocolate mate that I love (Republic of Tea’s double dark chocolate mate.) I was expecting this to be similar, but with the added malt notes. The leaves didn’t smell very chocolatey to me – they mostly smelled like malt and a bit of mate. I steeped 6 minutes at boiling, having read that it needed a bit longer than some teas.
Sadly, I don’t get any chocolate from this at all. I get a taste that is oddly like musty raisins. I know, that’s weird. I may not like the taste of malt, since I know I like mate. But I’ve been under the weather, so I’ll avoid rating until I can try it again!
Not bad… pretty much tastes like what it says (with milk and sugar, because who ever heard of bitter white chocolate?) I’m not excited by it, but it certainly is drinkable. The tea base is perhaps a touch astringent, but milk smooths it out nicely. I wouldn’t buy a full size, but I will finish my sample.
I thought I would enjoy this tea, as I enjoy jasmine and earl grey, but it was not to be. The initial aroma of the dry leaves is mostly of bergmot. Upon steeping however (4 minutes at boiling) the jasmine rears its head and dominates completely. This is exactly like drinking perfume, and not in a good way (I do like floral and scented perfumes, so I was surprised at my reaction!) I would have liked a tea that was more about the bergmot, as promised by the dry leaves, but the jasmine is too much here. I’m willing to try again iced, as I usually prefer jasmine on ice, but I’m not too hopeful. I also think that a shorter infusion might be a good idea – following the package instructions nets a really strong brew!
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This tea may be a little lost on me, as I add milk to almost all black teas. It has a warm, malty character that is not overwhelmed by the touch of creaminess. I wouldn’t say the cream is vanilla exactly – it just rounds out the boldness of the tea. It did taste just a touch artificial towards the end of the cup, but overall I thought it was very nice – bold, but still polite for difficult mornings.
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Second steeping… not bad! There is a little less bite, but overall this holds up well to reusing the leaves.
Chai seems to be a pretty individual thing. I myself prefer a chai that’s heavy on the black pepper and cardamom, but I wouldn’t mind if there weren’t any cloves at all. I also want the tea itself to be robust, able to stand up to stovetop preparation (and the accompanying milk and sugar!) This is a great chai for my preferences. The smell is strongly of black pepper and cloves, but when brewed the cloves take a backseat to the pepper and cardamom. I gave it 5 minutes, and it’s perfect! The pepper has bite, but it isn’t too much. I really like this – it reminds me of Tazo’s chai, for reference, but it’s better!
The smell of strawberry candies hits my nose when I open the bag. This tea certainly smells more fruity than I was expecting! I can smell the assam as well, which makes me happy – perhaps it won’t be all fruit!
Steeped for 5 minutes at boiling. Without additions the black tea base is strong and a little bitter. The fruit flavors come in at the end, making me think this would be lovely iced.
I added my usual milk and sweetener and tried it again. The addition of sweetness changes the character of this tea a great deal, but not in a bad way! It doesn’t taste of strawberries or lemon – instead it tastes exactly like candied violets. I love that taste, so I’m pretty excited to get violets from what I assumed would be a standard fruity tea. It’s definitely floral – I’d recommend this to anyone who loves rose tea or earl grey (though it isn’t as sharp as either of those blends.) I gave my husband some as a blind test, and he hated it (he hates floral tastes) but definitely did not identify it as being fruity. I really like this one!
This tea is the answer to a common conundrum of mine… what should I drink in the morning when I’m feeling under the weather? I need some caffeine to wake up, but I don’t want the astringency that I usually do in a morning cup. This tea is the answer – cooling peppermint blended in with malty assam (my favorite breakfast tea.) Now, you will note that I completely forgot that this contained black tea and had it at 10 pm… but never you mind. It will be great for mornings!
The tea leaves are really pretty, with the contrasting dark black and bright green colors. The smell is 100% peppermint, so I was expecting the mint to dominate. I let it brew 5 minutes – longer than I would usually let an assam go, but I like my tea strong. To my surprise, the mint doesn’t dominate at all. In fact, without any additions it’s mostly malty assam, with a cool finish. I added milk and sweetener, and the assam stood up nicely while allowing a little more mint through. This is not a mint tea, though as it cools I do get a little more mint. I think it would be decent iced, but it might be too minty. I like this much more than I thought I would, though it doesn’t replace my beloved “Read my lips” for a black tea/mint blend.
Dessert tea of the night! Gingerbread lattes are one of my biggest indulgences around the holiday time, so I thought I’d try this tea. I brewed the tea for 4 minutes, and then added 1/4 cup steamed milk and a little sweetener.
At first, I was a little disappointed at the taste, which I found timid. I put the leaves back in for another minute, and reminded myself that it may not be as strong as Starbucks, but it’s a whole lot better for me! Luckily, both worked. The extra minute brought out a little heat from the ginger, and I stopped wanting it to have coffee in it!
I can taste the ceylon base, so this tea isn’t totally about the flavoring. There is a nice bit of ginger and some cream. I’d still like it to be sharper tasting, but that’s just me. It’s nice and soothing, especially as a dessert!
I love white chocolate, but I’m not sure how the taste translates to tea, since I think it just tastes like sugar and cocoa butter. I threw this into my order because it sounded interesting. The samples from Culinary teas are huge – twice the size of most companies!
The smell of the dry leaves is dusty, and intensely of cloves. I was not excited as cloves are almost my least favorite part of chai (though still, better that than star anise!) I brewed up a whole pot of this to share with my husband. There is an oily sheen to the top of the tea, likely from the melted white chocolate chips. First sip (no additions) is really all about the cloves. It’s sharp and a bit unpleasant. But chai needs milk and sugar, so I added both to my cup.
It’s nicer with the milk, which tames the clove a bit. I still think the flavor is unbalanced. There is a slight creaminess, but I can’t really taste the white chocolate (that’s ok, I didn’t think I would!) I do like the bite of black pepper at the end. My husband, who is far more sensitive to bitter tastes than I, took one sip of his tea and then immediately headed to the fridge for his cinnamon coffee creamer. I don’t believe in non-dairy creamer, so I can’t say, but he said the cinnamon made it much better. I can’t really recommend this one – I would like more spice, but less cloves. Drinkable, but a bit of a last resort tea for me!
Not as assertive as I thought it might be, but still a good cup for breakfast! I thought I totally oversteeped this (left the infuser in for 6 minutes while answering some computer questions) but it’s fine. Apparently it can handle longer steeps than most breakfast teas that I have had! I’m not getting much malt, and it’s not super astringent (with milk and sugar, as I take all breakfast teas.) Not my favorite, but I wouldn’t turn it down!
This is my old stand-by mint tea. I always have to have a box in the house – when I get sick I drink it by the gallon! It has a nice mint zing, but it isn’t overwhelming. I don’t taste the green tea (or the white tea, which the box says is there "for smoothness.) I am almost out, and I’m sure I will buy it again (though I plan to try a few loose leaf mints first!)
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I’m feeling under the weather, so I went with the Bond Street. I prefer Irish breakfast – this is too mild for me, but it is comforting! Any longer than 3 minutes and this tea gets bitter. Drinkable without milk, unlike many breakfast teas, but I still find it rather meh.
I am starting to think that absence makes the heart grow fonder! I finished off my sample tonight. I don’t love the sample bags Upton uses – they don’t close, and besides they have folds in the bottom that tend to hold the larger pieces of the tea. This cup was much better than the last two, which I can only attribute to a noticeable amount of cardamom which had been stuck to the bottom. I also finally tasted the lovely soft chocolate note. It’s still a bit light for my taste, but I can see where the nice reviews come from now. I love cardamom… I must find more teas with that note. And now I know – I’m putting all my upton samples in little tins!
Second cup of this sample. I added more leaf this time (3 tsp to 15 oz of water.) I don’t know how long it steeped, but I’m guessing around 4 minutes. The vanilla seems more subtle than I remember it, and not at all artificial. It’s mostly black tea, but the vanilla is there in the background smoothing it out. This is lovely!
I must have forgotten to shake up the bag for my last cup… this is like a different tea. I’m increasing my rating!
Thank you, Upton for the generous sample sizes – I’ve gotten a lot of use out of this one! I’m about to place an order from Upton, and I’m checking my samples again to see if I want full sizes. I really think this is a nice chai, especially for a decaffinated (non rooibos) version. It’s spicy and warm. But… I don’t think it’s my ultimate spicy chai. I want more cinnamon in my chai, and besides I have Bengal spice filling my decaf chai needs right now. I reserve the right to start missing this in a few months!
When we bought our house it had been empty for several years. The previous owners had allowed their herb garden to run wild, and the most pervasive species was the lemon balm (also called lemon mint… never plant this stuff except in a pot!) For years, every time I cut the lawn it smelled of lemons, and that stuff took over and grew everywhere, until I gave up and tarped the whole lawn until it died. That’s a long way of saying that while I like lemon, I don’t like herbs that are similar to lemon, including lemon myrtle. It gives me flashbacks.
And really, this tea is all about the lemon myrtle. It’s sharp and aggressive, with the jasmine only managing a vague protest in the background. The oolong flavor is missing, but I expected that. I found it undrinkable plain – I could not get over the idea that it tasted of lemon oil furniture polish. Sweetened slightly (with honey) it was a little better, and I finished it, but I will not be trying this again. This was a free sample, and while I didn’t like it, I appreciate the offer to try a tea I wouldn’t usually buy! I have found some great teas that way.
This time I made sure that I saw some rose teals in my infuser, as the last time I made this tea there was no rose in my cup. The result? Success! The rose takes away some of the sweetness of the chocolate/strawberry blend and takes the tea to another level. It’s still a bit like candy, but now it’s fancy candy! I like perfumed teas, so this is what I was looking for.
I drank this while I was teaching (piano) and my student had to stop playing to demand a bit of whatever smelled so lovely. This is a definite reorder for me – next time I will get the tin!