Upton TeaEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
Until a couple years ago I was a black tea fanatic, particularly 2nd flush Darjeelings, Assams and Fujian blacks. I typically drank them western style with cream. When I got into drinking young sheng gongfu style I quickly determined that a good young Yiwu gushu is what Darjeeling wanted to be when it grew up. I bought some samples of this stuff in 2017 and was impressed with it western style…of course I should be at over a buck a gram! Yesterday I found this in a cupboard and decided to do a gongfu batch in a gaiwan 2g to 60ml 90c. I must say this is the best tasting unaged tea I’ve ever had. Better than young top tier sheng from WanGong. It explodes with tropical fruit, wildflowers and honey. Every steep is amazing and different…but there is no cha qi and for this price I expect that. Would I buy this tea at this price again? Maybe. The flavors are truly remarkable but this tea is at a price point where I expect to get some funky body feels.
Pale amber color in the cup. Fragrance of cinnamon, orange and an almost imperceptible note of almond. On the tongue there is an unpleasant bitterness that seems more like it comes from the orange peels than the tea, but either way, it isn’t pleasant. On the other hand, it is quite nice when combined with a dollop of soy creamer.
Finished this one off today because why not? Getting close to the end of the month so happy to drop my numbers and weight :) My other half is busy building a workbench in the other room so i’m relaxing with tea and books. This one is a little astringent today – must have overleafed a little or something. Feel like this is in general a more finicky tea.
We ordered a sample of this from Upton Tea and I used the full 6 grams in the gaiwan, which ends up being difficult to fill to cover them with water. The buds are beautiful. White with pastel green streaks, and they have a scent that makes them seem like they’ll brew up quite grassy.
The liquor is a very clear, light yellow, and it is, interesting, both light and thick. It’s got a spiced, slightly floral flavor, and of course, the overall flavor is quite light in this steep. It’s quite palate-cleansing.
The second steep comes through also very light in color, but a bit stronger in flavor. Definitely still getting that spiced sweetness, with some very light hints of lemon. The SO compares it to a yellow fruit loop, which I can’t disagree with.
The flavor remains pretty consistent for a good few steeps. All in all, a good experience!
Flavors: Grass, Herbaceous, Lemon, Sweet
I always look forward to the first flush options from Upton. I have a goal, thwarted most years by problems (storms &c.) either with first flush harvest or follow-up harvests to someday have more than one flush from the same estate in the same year, in order to do detailed comparisons of how timing affects flavor. Maybe this is the tea and this is the year!
I brewed this using a large tempered glass measuring cup so that the leaf had lots of room to open up and so that I had a wide-mouthed vessel to fish the remains out when I was done my session. Consequently I did have to use a screen to ensure that only the water, not the leaf, got into my cup.
Nonetheless the results were thick, full, dense and delightful. This tea reminds me a very great deal, to the point I had to keep reminding myself what I’m drinking, of a bai mu dan white tea. Very fuzzy, soft, notes including warm hay as well as floral, green brightness &c.
This is excellent leaf. A “good year” for first flush.
Leaf color: spectrum from brown via green to silver
Dry aroma: nutty, then rich with muscatel
Wet aroma: sweet, sweet muscatel
Steep taste: faintest tropical fruit, flower, not complex ( is that camphor at the back of my throat, in my chest)
Steep texture: light, dry
Quenchless: mouthwatering, then descends to rest & warm a sweet spot in the belly
Chaqi: buzzy, feels like my ears are about to pop
Golden monkey style teas have always been a staple in my tea cupboard and Upton always offers a couple solid versions that serve well as regular drinkers. This one has a nice aroma—raisin, plum and a little smokey tobacco. The taste reminds me of the brittle caramelized top of a creme brulee partnered with the earthiness of prunes. It’s very smooth, moderately dark, a tad smokey and has a great, long-lasting aftertaste.
Everyone has experienced that moment when you stand in front of your stash, ruminating over your choice for the day, saying to yourself, “I really should drink this one today; it’s been awhile.” But then you choose that same comforting selection that you reach for maybe six or seven times out of ten. This golden monkey is one of the latter.
Not loving this. It’s pretty smokey, though not as bad as the Mincing Lane Breakfast Blend I tried and gave away last week. I bought an absolutely (to me) enormous bag of it because there wasn’t a sample size — 4.4 oz. Will probably offer to send it to someone on the Discussions board, unless someone reading my tasting notes would like it :)
For my third cupping of this tea, I reduced the temperature as well as the steep time. This brought out a pleasant smokiness in the flavor, but seemed to leave the overall flavor underdeveloped. Having run through my entire sample of the tea, at this point, I still feel that there is potential in this tea that I have not fully explored, so I will probably purchase another sample in order to continue attempting to bring out its full characteristics.
Overall, I felt this tea was very promising. The dry leaves had a pleasant scent; the tea brewed to a rich deep red color and had a delicious flavor, but in this steeping, there was just a shade too much astringency for my taste. I will slightly reduce the steeping time in my next steeping. I hope that, with that minor adjustment, I will be able to recommend this tea.
Every time I offer someone yellow tea, I get the same reaction, “I don’t taste much” or “This tastes like water.” Yeah, ok, so yellows are pretty subtle, but that’s what I find appealing about them. Sometimes. The wet leaves on this one are a bit nutty, almost like warm cookies. Subtle, yes, but cozy. By the second steep, the leaves were bright and pretty. They looked like what they are: pretty much unadulterated tea. The taste was already drying out, but still tasty in that low-key yellow way. This doesn’t stand out, but it’s nice if you want a quiet, smooth tea.
Flavors: Cookie, Nutty
I am usually not a big fan of African teas. Most of them are CTC and I think they are formulated too strong. This one is an exception. It’s robust, but has a soft mouth feel and tones of chicory and something flowery that I can’t quite name because I’m a bit stuffed up at the moment. Unlike many of its ilk, this one does not require milk to soften. It dries out a bit as it cools, but still goes down good.
This tea comes via Upton Tea, they of the huge selection and ancient-seeming and quirky website. Apparently they’ve gotten the message and are in the process of revamping the site. Check back around the end of this month for a new and improved version.
Flavors: Flowers, Roasted
So, it would appear that I have had this tea before at least 2 times. :) I guess it is unremarkable. Either that or I’ve simply had too many black teas to remember them all at this point. This time I got some mild fruity notes when hot that vanished as the tea cooled. But yeah, unremarkable basic black tea. Thanks, NayLynn!
This is not one of the tiny CTC teas like a lot of the African teas are. The leaves are not huge, but still much larger than you find in most standard tea bags. There is an odd taste to this – fishy? Lake-y? Lake-y, I think is the best way to describe it. Woody and lake-y. It is a fairly consistent taste across Tanzanian teas I have had. All the bagged teas I had while over there had this same flavor profile. Not sure if this is because maybe the bagged teas I had were all made with Livingstonia Estate teas (doubtful), or if it is the terrior there that leads to the similar flavor.
Regardless this is a perfectly acceptable cup of tea. Nothing awesome, nothing standout, nothing to keep around but nothing to refuse a cup of. :)