102 Tasting Notes

Upton describes the pre-chingming teas thusly, “The festival of Chingming (Qingming) is a 2500 year-old tradition in which people visit the burial sites of their ancestors to pay respect. It is significant in Chinese tea culture because it serves as a demarcation between a distinct pre-Chingming plucking period and the subsequent plucking period occuring after the festival date (usually around April 5). Pre-Chingming teas are prized for their delicacy and subtle, fresh nuances.”

This Golden Monkey is very intense and chocolatey if steeped in the 4-5 minute range as Upton prescribes. Try a shorter infusion—only then do the subtle fruity flavors come out, revealing a glorious cup that will compel me to try other early spring teas from China.

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A rating of 1, really? maybe best not to give a numerical rating to teas you don’t like altogether, because it can skew the ratings for a tea, like this sencha which IS grassy and wonderfully evocative of the ocean environment it hails from. I’ve had many cups of this sencha and, for those who like this type of tea it is one you can really sink your teeth into. Keep the water below 190 and steep for 2.5 minutes max and you’ll avoid any bitterness.

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Drinking this for the first time and impressed by the reliability of the CNNP mark. The cake is smooth and the leaves are relatively small which makes the unmolested cake look like a piece of beautiful marble. I’m immediately struck by a light effervescence in the broth that tingles my mouth and adds a pleasant dimension to the sweet brew. A little cherry tobacco aftertaste rounds out the sensation. An affordable, quality pu-erh that will only get better.

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I made my way through this fine cake in the past two years and it just got better and better. The sweetness seemed to intensify and the already heavy, mellow body just got thicker and soupier. Yum! I think a reorder is in store. As an afternote, I like dealing with The Puerhshop.com because they never misrepresent their product.

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I ordered the organic version of this tea rather than my usual Kenilworth and I’m quite pleased with the selection. Whereas I find the Kenilworth to be a classic Ceylon, the Greenfield surprised me with an Assam or Yunnan-like richness that I wasn’t expecting. 4-4.5 minutes seems spot on for this tea and I’ glad to see the tea doesn’t break down or get bitter after sitting in the cup for a while.

4 min, 15 sec
Doug F

Revisiting this after another cup and a steeping time in the 3min 15 sec. range. Prounced brown sugar sweetness and the essence of evergreen. A really nice Ceylon and a grower.

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This was a great tea from Upton that disappeared quickly. Pronounced chocolate and tobacco notes, with a red-wine body reminiscent of good Keemuns. Upton has a habit of finding these unique China blacks that can really add a great diversion to our standard daily brews.

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I’ve enjoyed many cups of this tea and almost always replenish when it’s gone. Why? It’s not trying to be something it’s not, like some Assams I know. It tastes the way a proper black tea should, with enough interesting flavor notes of dried fruit to keep me coming back again and again. If you like this, Upton has an organic Greenfield Estate Ceylon that is quite nice.

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I’m surprised that this doesn’t have a higher rating. It is one of Upton’s finest China black teas. Many-layered and well-balanced between sweet and piquant notes. It sells out quickly when it hits Upton’s site.

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I’m not one of those people that will spend a lot of money on green teas because, case in point, you can get a very satisfying green tea that hits all the notes—sweet, light, pleasingly vegetal—for a very reasonable price, from the always reliable Mark T. Wendell company.

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drank Hu Kwa by Mark T. Wendell
102 tasting notes

One of my go-to teas. Very smoky but always mellow—never bitter, which attests to the quality of the base leaf Hu Kwa is made from. The red liquor always sparkles.


One of the coffee shops in town swears by this tea and this company. Do you like any of their other teas?

Doug F

I do. They seem to find great examples of the major types of teas, like Assams, darjeelings, and Keemuns, etc. They don’t offer a lot of options like Upton tea does (they have nearly 100 darjeelings which can be a bit overwhelming) but what they do offer is quality. I’ve enjoyed their dragonwell green and their basic Darjeeling quite a bit. thanks for asking.

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I love tea and living in a place that is cold or cool nine months of the year, tea is a constant source of warmth and education. I always drink tea straight and rarely drink flavored teas or Tisanes, except for the occasional Rooibos. I’m a proud father of two young boys, an avid skier, motorcyclist, reader, and runner. I have a doctorate in English (dissertation on Emily Dickinson.)



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