Upton Tea Imports

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Recent Tasting Notes

(Upton carries several Mao Feng varieties. I’m rolling with this one…hope it’s correct.)

Beautiful long, twisty leaves. Reminds me of a quality Assam; cocoa and wheat toast.

Something this good deserves a lengthy and more luscious write-up, but my eyes will not open and this is the best I can muster :)

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Flavors: Green Beans

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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This is a good Darjeeling to drink straight. It requires no milk.
I prepared this as Upton recommends: 1sp per cup at 212F for 3 minutes. I made a small pot of 3 cups.

It has a classic Darjeeling orange liquor with a citrusy nose. Less muscatel in aroma, but with some muscately and light wood flavor. There is only mild astringency in the finish.

Update 1. Made a pot at 195, 3 teaspoons, 3-cup pot. 3-4 minutes steeping. Good with or without milk. Not as full-bodied as some other Darjeelings I’ve reviewed of late. Astringency
of the long, pleasant variety. Lingering aromatics in the mouth long after you’ve gone about your day.

Flavors: Citrus, Floral, Muscatel, Oak wood

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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Beautiful orange brew is clear and bright. The liquor has a lovely aroma of dried orange peel. Flavor is strong Darjeeling with hints of foxy muscatel, dried orange essence and a long astringent end.

I brewed this per Upton’s instructions at 1 tsp per cup at around 208F. I made a 3-cup pot. The flavor profile mellowed a few minutes after I removed the leaves. It’s good to let it cool and settle down. Still, it’s somewhat too astringent for my taste to drink straight.

Drinking in the English style with a bit of milk (MIL please) mellows and rounds this out, allowing the lighter floral and fruit qualities to rise : it’s a great steep if you enjoy it in this way.

Brewing at 190 degrees changes everything. It becomes a beautiful liqueur with floral and fruit notes, best enjoyed without milk. I couldn’t get enough of the aroma. This could easily become a favorite special tea.

Flavors: Astringent, Honey, Malt, Muscatel, Orange

190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 tsp 18 OZ / 532 ML

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I really wanted to like this. It smelled so good in the pouch, had so many ingredients that I love…

Turns out, put together, they just become a busy mess. What flavor there is is quite confused; the closest I can compare it to is a badly done german gingerbread-dipped-in-german-chocolate cookie, but one that is old enough that most of the flavor has faded.

Flavors: Cinnamon, Dark Chocolate, Raisins

Boiling 4 min, 15 sec 2 tsp 440 OZ / 13000 ML

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I actually don’t like lavender too much as a scent, though I do like it as a flavor. I was worried about that this time, since opening the packet unleashed a massive slap in the face of scent. Once brewed, though, it mellowed out to a lovely floral earl grey with a bit more natural sweetness than most.

Flavors: Floral

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 440 OZ / 13000 ML

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So much bergamot in this tea…The scent is almost overpowering and makes me sneeze! It isn’t as bad once it’s brewed, but it is just too much for my tastes.

Flavors: Bergamot

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 440 OZ / 13000 ML

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It has a woodsy smell to the leaves, but it brews like chocolate. Very nice.

Flavors: Chocolate, Wood

Boiling 4 min, 0 sec

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The smell of the vanilla is definitely there when dry but once it’s brewed most of that is gone. I didn’t get the bergamont at all. It’s a smooth, non-offensive drink but it doesn’t really have enough of anything setting it apart to make it worth a repeat purchase.

Flavors: Vanilla

Boiling 3 min, 45 sec 2 tsp 440 OZ / 13000 ML

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So, that’s what I get for forming an opinion before trying this: I expected a strong, deep, earthy texture and tone. Instead, This one steeped to the color of stained cherry wood and reminds me of dark grainy bread and molasses. Its bite increases a little as it cools, so I’m thinking it would play nicely with milk. Yummy as it is, though.

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If you’re expecting a more conventional, punch-you-in-the-face oolong, this’ll be a shocker. First steep is extremely light gold and delicate with the aroma of lilacs (Upton’s not kidding), hints of malt, hints of spice, and a crisp, clean mouthfeel. The flavor gets a bit breadier as it cools, taking on kind of a rye/caraway note.

Second steep is an unexpectedly major shift, with the lilac smell lingering but the spices coming very much to the forefront of taste. It’s like drinking a pepparkakor. Gingery, peppery, cinnamony.

Flavors: Floral, Malt, Spices

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 6 OZ / 177 ML

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I received this tea as a bonus sample in my order from Upton Tea last November. I have enjoyed several first and second flush Darjeelings from the Tindharia Estate over the years, and loved them all. I was glad to see a green Darjeeling tea from that estate, and decided to cup it today. :-)

The sample pack revealed small darkish green, tender leaves with a few spattered white tips, a “fresh Spring air” aroma, with definite gentle sweetness & creaminess. Steeping leaf exhibits fresh vegetal qualities, a gentle creamy nature, and a very light spinach note. Wet leaves (when hot) also have that very light spinach note, but I mostly get a sweetness, and a Spring fresh quality. Cup color is a light straw yellow, with a light vegetal cream character in the nose. Flavors are also light and smooth with no bitterness. It is only on the back of my tongue where I get that vegetal green quality, with light astringency.

For a second cup, I added dry leaves to the wet ones from the previous cup, hoping to deepen some of the flavors. Steeping Parameters: Eleven ounce cup (9 oz water), roughly 3 grams of dry leaf added, steeped for 3 minutes at 180 degrees. Similar but deeper aromas appeared in the dry/wet leaves, and in the steeping leaves. Was that a very light straw aroma in the dry leaf? Such a mild and elusive tea. Cup color was a slightly darker straw yellow, with similar and slightly deeper sniffed aromas. A gently deeper flavor profile: smooth, creamy and vegetal. Swishing and swirling the tea liquor in my mouth—was that corn on the back of my tongue? Yes, if only for a second or two! Very light corn nuances on the back of my palate….how elusive…there and gone! Mild green tea “pucker”, and still light, unoffensive astringency greets my throat.

Finishing the sample with a single third (removed leaves) and fourth cup; 4 grams dry leaf, steeped for 3 minutes (4th cup 3:15 minutes) at 180 degrees. Dry leaves: Fresh “Spring air” aroma, sweet, creamy, light straw notes. Steeping & wet leaves: fresh vegetal qualities, a gentle creamy nature, and a very light spinach note. Medium yellow cup color & slightly stronger vegetal, sweet cream aromas. Smooth, creamy & vegetal flavor, but astringency (& even bitterness—especially in 4th cup with longer steep) overwhelms my palate at times. Despite this, even the vegetal creamy aspects later return and are not forgotten.

Overall, this is a very nice green tea from the Tindharia Estate, even with the pronounced astringency in the fourth cup. Somewhat mild in the earlier steeps (lower temps & steep times), with a decent vegetal, creamy mouthfeel. I am glad I received a sample of this tea to try. A green tea that green tea lovers would enjoy, and a nice tea for those beginning their green tea journey. :-)

Cupped: Thursday-Friday, February 9-10, 2017. Reviewed: Friday, February 10, 2017.

180 °F / 82 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 9 OZ / 266 ML

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My notion of Scottish breakfast tea (highly influenced by period dramas and literature) is that it should be dark and strong enough to clean a corroded car battery.

Thank you, Upton friends, for helping me adjust that notion somewhat. This Assam-Ceylon-Yunnan blend is definitely a breakfast tea, but it does a nicely choreographed step dance that touches evenly on malty, sharp, and smooth. The leaves second-steeped nicely and tasted a little “sunnier and fresh hay-ier.” Too tasty to mess up with milk.

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The catalog said The dark coppery cup has a lively peppery feel with a light vanilla hint in the aroma. The smooth flavor is rich with notes of dark spices and hints of brown sugar. What’s not to like…copper, pepper, spice, sugar?

This is my first attempt to steep this one, and if I were writing the catalog entry, it would read, “Keemun, only a scooch smoother and a smidge sweeter.” This is probably why I have not been hired to write descriptions for tea catalogs.

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I really love pearl teas and flowering teas! Teas that offer levels of enjoyment visually and in taste, from the first cup to the last! This is a unique tea that I’m glad I purchased from Upton Tea about two months ago. I prepared this tea over two days using two methods with my Bonjour glass tea press (18-20 oz).

These Shai Zhen Zhu Shou Mei Pearls are huge; about the size of a large marble or Super Ball. I tried gongfu brewing for this tea first, each cup being roughly 7 oz each, while I gradually increased steep time & temperature. Cup #1: Water about 185 degrees, 1.5 minute steep time. The tea pearl barely began to unfurl, emitting a lightly sweet aroma, and an equally light nut/fruit aroma. Wet leaf aroma was very toasty, woody and roasty in nature, cooling to reveal more melon aromatics—like ripe cantaloupe. Cup color was a very light ecru, with a gentle, sweet aroma. Tea flavor is sweet, gentle with hints of the woods & melon-very slight.

Cup #2: 200 degrees, steeped for two minutes; the tea pearl half unfurled. The best aroma in wet leaves—again, very toasty, woody and roasted, cooling to a very noticeable fruity, ripe cantaloupe quality. Cup color was ecru to light brown, with good woods and toasty qualities. Cooler cup reveals more fruit & melon aromatics. Tea flavor is fuller but still gentle, good woody notes coat my palate, with a sweetness like honey. This cup reveals the best fruity cantaloupe notes.

Cup #3: 212 degrees for 5 minutes; tea pearl is fully unfurled revealing very large olive green/brown leaves. Waning wet leave aromatics, but still smells like cup #2. Cup color is darkest—still light/medium brown, with similar, but fading aromas. Flavors are milder than second cup, but still toasty, and fruity- with less honey like sweetness.

The next day, I decided to brew a second pearl closer to Upton’s brewing instructions. Filling my tea press with 180 degree filtered water, my first cup steeped at 4 minutes. This was the fullest most delicious cup. Light to medium brown in color with fuller woody, toasty cup aromas, cooling to reveal honey like sweetness & ripe cantaloupe. Satisfying warm woods and toast coated my palate and soothed my throat. The most balance of any cup-still gentle in aromas and flavors. Woods, toast, gentle honey sweetness, later revealing more melon qualities. Delicious! :D

My last cup was steeped a full 5 minutes. Although still present in aroma and flavor, cup aromas and qualities were dissipating, and not quite as flavorful as the previous cup. Flavors and sweetness less defined, with only the very slightest of bitterness-which, for this Pearl Tea, is hardly noticeable.

Keep in mind, because this is a full leaf white tea, the quality cups you savor will be flavorful, gentle and satisfying. :D For these Shou Mei Pearls, I prefer my second day (two cup) brew, because the aromas and flavors were most satisfying & delicious, AND I simply enjoyed these cups more. Not to mention this is a visually satisfying experience as well! :D A tea to treasure when you have time for contemplation & relaxation, perhaps to share among fellow tea friends. ;-)

Cupped: Thursday-Friday, January 26-27, 2017. Reviewed: Sunday, January 29, 2017.

Flavors: Cantaloupe, Honey, Toasted, Wood

180 °F / 82 °C 4 min, 0 sec 5 g 8 OZ / 236 ML

Sounds really good! I was recently gifted some black tea pearls I plan to try and review soon.


That sounds quite nice! Great review!!


QC & Amie, it is a really nice tea! It is a mild tea, even when steeped at four or five minutes. So the aromas & flavors are not POW!! IN YOUR FACE, but more Subtle & Sublime. :)

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My favorite Assams taste like wheat toast. This does. Brevity rules.

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Muji Hakuji Porcelain Tea Pot – 360ml

Dry Leaves: Olive cocoa oblong & rolls, like a bowl of dried leaves & acorns
Dry aroma: Sour plum (酸梅)
Wet Leaves: Olive. Strong stemmed, beautiful archetype of Leaf.
Wet aroma: Sour plum. Dry garden. Wet twigs. Hot sun on wet ocean sand.
Liquor: Amber
Base: Mineral
Texture: creamy, fills the mouth like a hot air balloon
Throatiness: on and on like the duracell bunny
Quenchless: dries the tip of the tongue, dries the mouthroof, warms the throat
Chaqi: Frog’s eyes. Solar plexus as hot water balloon.

Brewing steps:
INFs by 1m
Blanched vegetables. Dry forest. Nutty snack. Sweetness of caramelized root.

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Decided to drink this earlier because I wanted a mug full of something to get through a meeting. Followed the steeping instructions that came with it…sort of. Steeped one pearl in probably close to 10 ounces of water.

Result was a liquor light in color that had the light flavor I would expect early in a white tea session. Vague sweetness and spices. Not enough to really stand out or be engaging, but enough to keep me going.

Came back to this one a day later and hit it with some boiling water to get through a meeting I got called into last minute. Just left the leaves in the mug the whole time. Stronger sweetness, nice spice and some of that syrupy mouthfeel action going on. Still not particularly impressive, but not bad!

Flavors: Spices, Sweet

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A nice assam, noticeable tannins that are just this side of too strong. It has the soft floral/honey on top of the usual toasty black tea flavors and is extra good with cream to balance the ‘dry’ factor.

Flavors: Floral, Honey, Tannin

Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 2 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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Wanted to try a new oolong this morning and this ended up being the winner. I’ve never had an oolong from Japan before, so this was exciting. The leaves themselves also look completely unlike those of any oolong I’ve seen before. A blend of black and greenish leaves with wispy tan bits and stems.

Toss 6 grams of this into the gaiwan and steep without doing a wash. The roast is immediately apparent and quickly fills the nose. It’s got that salty thing going on, especially in the first sip. And it evolves into something floral and woody, with that distinct, creamy oolong sweetness rounding it out.

The next steep is too roasty, woody and sour. It tastes better cooled off than warm, when the sweetness comes through more. We give it one more steep, but ultimately this is not for us. It is not a bad tea at all, just not the flavor profile either of us prefers.

Flavors: Creamy, Floral, Roasted, Salt, Sweet, Wood

6 g

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A really solid breakfast blend. I take it with cream and sugar and it’s got a nice malty smoothness with a sort of floral undertone that doesn’t detract at all from it having that nice strong black tea ‘kick’ I want in a breakfast tea.

Flavors: Floral, Malt

Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 41 OZ / 1200 ML

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Just too subtle for my tastes. I expected something heartier based on the descriptions and the teas included but despite pushing to the very edge of recommended steeping time, there just isn’t a lot of oomph here. If you like soft teas it might appeal to you but just not kicky enough for me.

Boiling 4 min, 45 sec 3 tsp 34 OZ / 1000 ML

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