183 Tasting Notes
I like the soft wither style of darjeelings because I feel they result in a darker, richer cup. The current fashion is for darjeelings to taste more like oolongs, so it’s not easy to find teas of this style. Luckily, Upton always procures a couple. This cup has a pleasant roasted note and a deep muscatel aroma. There’s not a hint of the astringency that can make darjeelings temperamental and it tastes like wild grapes chased with water from a cold rocky stream. A tea like this one is always one of the pillars of my tea collection.
This has a similar flavor profile to other Yunnan teas I’ve been drinking but it has less oomph than I would like in a black tea, even with extra leaf and a longish steep. It does have a nice flavor of bran muffin with raisin and a hint of honey, making it a pleasant, easy tea to drink.
Sometimes I enjoy being a contrarian when the vox populi is overwhelmingly laudatory about something. But in this case, I just can’t. I don’t know what it is about this tea, maybe it’s the perfect balance between spice and sweetness, or the brininess encapsulated in each mouthful, but my thirst for this tea is never slaked. I’m drawn to it like Ishmael to the sea.
I steeped this for a good 5 minutes, thereby ensuring that the the earthy, forest-floor flavor would be emphasized at the expense of any subtler flavors. That’s fine by me—what drew me to ripe pu-erhs in the first place is the muddiness. I’m more likely to do short, multiple steeps for green pu-erhs. This 2007 tea is very easy to drink: smooth and sparkly.
The sun comes out intermittently and teases us with spring, but when it leaves it feels like March. I’m not sure whether to have a fresh or floral spring tea to remind me that warmer days are coming or a darker black tea to warm my core. I spun the wheel and ended up with the last of this very nice Assam—not too heavy, pleasantly fruity, easy to drink straight any time of the day.
Word has it that the first=flush season is not a good one, so I’m glad I have some of this stellar tea left. It has held up well—a heady mixture of honeysuckle, peach and freshly-mown grass, with that singular muscatel essence that makes tasting first-flush darjeelings the non-pareil experience in the tea world.
I forgot I had purchased this and was reminded when I read Angrboda’s review. I brewed this western style for about 4 minutes. The infused leaf smelled fantastic—strangely, it reminded me of a hot day in the Florida Keys when the Bouganvilla is blooming. The initial flavor was chocolate and peanut but what lingered was a pronounced grape soda taste that reminded me of drinking RC and White Rock sodas as a child. The experience was similar to that of Master Han’s Wild Yunnan.
Overall, this is a mild black tea, with the typical Chinese black elements tempered by oolong fruitiness.
I’m always surprised when I read a person’s comment that teas of this type don’t appeal to him or her; I have to restrain myself from ordering every Yunnan golden fleece/bud/tip from every tea purveyor on the web. The first time I had one, I was hooked like the first time I heard Bob Dylan on my parents’ stereo 40 some odd years ago. I even promote this tea to non-tea drinkers (like my wife) who don’t respond to the Assams and Ceylons that make up most blends. How can you not love the creamy, honey-sweet caramel flavors of these Yunnans?
This one from Upton is a little more lemony and peppery than some, but still retains the characteristics that make you feel like you’re drinking from the very wellspring of tea itself.