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Tea Review

Premium Anxi ‘Huang Jin Gui’ Oolong Tea of Fujian * Spring 2016

Yunnan Sourcing. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 200℉. Impression: a whole-leaf tea in tightly compressed bright green nuggets, see photo. Dry tea has a pungent floral scent, the strongest and most distinct I’ve ever smelled in a tea. Brewed tea has same floral scent, but none of the usual oolong baked scents. Taste: Marked floral taste, no other tastes, little body, not sweet. Minimally astringent.

Strong floral taste, but one-dimensional. Oolong teas are baked during their processing, but this tea lacks the typical taste this imparts to oolongs. For a floral-tasting oolong, I much prefer Upton’s Special Grade Tie-Guan-Yin, Product ZO88, which is more subtle and complex.

Tea Review

Imperial Mojiang Golden Bud Yunnan Black Tea * Spring 2016

Yunnan Sourcing. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Curly golden strands, see photo. Appears to be whole leaf. Slightly moist, unusual in a black tea. Tea leaves smell sweet and very fruity. Brewed tea scent smells of fruit with hints of hay. Taste: Mild fruity taste with notes of hay, no body, not sweet. No finish. Not astringent.

A visually beautiful tea with a remarkable scent. Sadly, the brewed tea doesn’t live up to its promise, and has additional uninteresting flavor notes.

Tea Review

Premium Grade Anxi Ben Shan Oolong Tea * Spring 2016.

Yunnan Sourcing. 2.2-2.6 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 200℉. Impression: whole leaf tea with leaves compressed into green nuggets, see photo. Dry tea smells intensely floral. Brewed tea scent is intensely floral. Taste: Strongly floral notes, entirely lacking the usual roasted scents of oolong. Not astringent.

I can’t read the name of this tea without thinking of “The Passion of Sacco and Vanzetti.” Sorry. This tea is similar to the Anxi Huang Jin Gui oolong I reviewed a while ago. Both are very young oolongs with minimal oxidation. I prefer the Ben Shan a little. Perhaps the floral tastes are more complex or less overpowering. However, I still prefer more traditional oolongs, aged and baked.

Tea Review

Pre-Chingming Pi Lo Chun

Upton ZG49. 2.5 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: delicate curly silvery-green strands, see photo. Dry tea smells stale. Brewed tea is very pale yellow-green, see photo. Scent is sweet, hints of cinnamon, almost like fresh pastry. Taste: Slightly floral and savory, faintly sweet, not much body. Not astringent.

Taste is too delicate for me, and does not fulfill the promise made by the tea’s lovely scent. Years ago, Upton had a pre-Chingming pi lo chun that I really liked. It reminded me of bacon and eggs. Their selections since then have been disappointing.

Tea Review

Tippy Orthodox Assam GFOP

Upton Product TA40. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: orange pekoe-size bits, see photo. Dry tea has typical spicy black tea scent. Brewed tea scent is malty and a little stale. Taste: malty, like all Assams. Trace of bitterness. Not astringent.


An excellent Assam black tea. This has been my favorite black tea since I first opened the package in May. I am running out just now, and am sad.

Tea Review

Kandy District Ceylon OP

Upton product TC32. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: orange pekoe size dark bits, see photo. Dry tea smells like typical black tea, slightly spicy. Brewed tea scent is woodsy. Taste: Sweet and brackish notes. Moderately astringent.

A disappointment. I’ve had one prior Kandy District tea, which I enjoyed, and had hopes for this one. I like a little natural sweetness in some green teas, but it seems out of place in a black tea and melds poorly with the normal brackish taste of black tea. My taste may not be typical; this tea gets good reviews on Upton’s site. It is not expensive, and if you like Ceylon teas, you might try a $1 sample packet.

Tea Review

Dimbula District, Ceylon B.O.P.

Upton product TC20. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Very fine bits, see photo. This is the size usually found in commercial teabags, called ‘dust’ in the Chinese tea trade and ‘B.O.P.’ (broken orange pekoe) in the Indian and Ceylon trade. Dry tea has typical spicy black tea scent, hints of cedar, sandalwood and camphor. Brewed tea scent is warm, slightly sweet, with hints of fruit and baked bread. Taste:  typical supermarket black tea. No maltiness. Body is thin. Strongly astringent.

This is a typical supermarket black tea in appearance and taste.

Tea Review

Tea Bank Estate, Ceylon FBOPF EX SP

Upton product TC22. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: broken orange pekoe-size dark bits with a few lighter ones. Dry tea smells has faint citrus scent. Brewed tea scent has scents of citrus, candy-like sweetness, woods and eu de wet dog. Taste: thin and harsh, with some brackishness. Faintly sweet, bitter and brackish finish. Moderately astringent.

Rating: ★★

Reminds me a good bit of Keemun, not a favorite of mine. Incidentally, Upton packets suggests brewing from 3-5 minutes, but when I brewed longer than 3 minutes, the result was unpleasantly bitter. I don’t see why a B.O.P. size tea would require longer than 3 minutes anyway.

Tea Review

Ceylon Select English Breakfast Blend

Upton product TB18. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells of cedar. Brewed tea has scents of warm flannel. Taste: cedar, sandalwood, tobacco, and a hit of fruit. Moderately astringent.

A very pleasant English breakfast tea blend. Nice flavor, smooth, no edge or harshness. Sometimes, this is exactly what I want.