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Archive for Tea Review

Tea Review

Seasons Pick Gunpowder, China Green Tea

Upton ZG04. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 200℉. Impression: dark pellets, see photo. Dry tea smells smells grassy, hay-like. Brewed tea scent is woody, vegetal, savory. Taste: woody, not much depth, bland, little finish. Not astringent.

Upton products marked ‘Season’s Pick’ are inexpensive teas sold to institutional markets in multi-kilogram quantities. Upton also packages them in smaller packages, usually of 200 g, for sale to consumers at modest prices. My experience with these has been positive; this tea was the least impressive of the bunch, though. Not a bad tea, but not a very interesting one.
Tea Review

Kandy BOP Tea, Ceylon Broken Orange Pekoe

Upton TC30. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: uniformly dark BOP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea has typical spicy black tea scent. Brewed tea scent is toasted, yeasty. Taste: mild, briary, with notes of malt and cardboard. Fruity finish. Strongly astringent.

Kandy is a major tea-producing region of Sri Lanka/Ceylon. The maltiness is reminiscent of Assam teas, not usually found in ones from Sri Lanka. I like the malt and the finish, not so crazy about the cardboard.

Tea Review

Ceylon Premium Tea, Ivy Hills Estate Tea FBOPF Ex. Spl.

Upton TC23. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size bits, mostly dark with some pale, see photo. Dry tea scent spicy, camphorous. Brewed tea scent is sweet, lily-like. Taste: sweet, floral. Moderately astringent.

You could not make this tea’s name fancier without putting gold braid and a fourragère on it. Like some other Ceylon tea, it is dominated by a sweet, lily-like flavor which is not to my taste.

Tea Review

Formosa Tung-Ting Jade Oolong Imperial

Upton TT89. 2.2 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 180℉. Impression: leaves compressed into pellets, see photo. Dry tea smells sweet, candy-like. Brewed tea scent is floral with a hard-to-place candy-like scent, almost like bubble gum. Taste: Delicate, floral, with notes of lily in particular. Mildly astringent.

Taiwan (“Formosa,” to the tea trade, which is hilariously conservative with respect to names of origin) is the source of many fine teas, with which I am mostly unfamiliar because they tend to be pricey. This was purchased as a 12 g. sample. It gets only 3.5 stars because I’m just not that fond of flowery oolongs. I prefer baked oolongs, like the wu-yi types.

Tea Review

Mao Feng China Tea, Huang Shan Sunset

Upton TE98. 2.0 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 212℉. Impression: black tea mixed with lighter bits of fruit, flower petals (?), and spices, see photo. Dry tea smells fruity. Brewed tea scent is fruity and flowery. Taste: black tea with notes of peach, rose, and faint spices. Minimally astringent.
This is black tea with flavorings, not an herbal tea. I am not a huge fan of most flavored teas. This one might have been better with milk, sugar, or honey, which I don’t use. If you like fruity teas, you might like it.
Tea Review

China Premium Seasons Pick Green Snail

Upton ZG13. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: leaves tightly curled into flat spirals, see photo. Dry tea scents are vegetal, herbal, grassy. Brewed tea scent is sweet, brothy. Taste: thin, faintly sweet, with notes of fruit and umami. Not astringent.

This is essentially an ersatz Pi Lo Chun in appearance and taste, for a much lower price. Very satisfactory as an everyday green tea. Upton sells a limited number of inexpensive teas in kilogram quantities to institutional buyers, and also in 200 g packs for individual customers, labeled as ‘Seasons Pick.’

Tea Review

Young Hyson Imperial Organic

 “Young Hyson Imperial Organic”Upton ZG14. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: evenly cut small leaf segments, see photo (these would be orange pekoe size, if this were an Indian tea, but it isn’t). Dry tea has faint herbal scent. Brewed tea scent is savory, brothy. Taste: mild, vegetal, slightly grassy. Moderately astringent, unusual for a green tea.
 
Young Hyson is a well-known Chinese green tea, popular in the West since at least the 18th century. It isn’t a legendary superstar tea (like Pi Lo Chun, or Lapsang Souchong), but a pleasant, unassuming tea, satisfactory for everyday drinking.
Tea Review

Da Hong Pao, Upton

China Oolong. Da Hong Pao. Upton, Product ZO25. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 190℉. Impression: Dark brown wiry strands. Dry tea has a woody and fruity scent, reminiscent of apricots. Brewed tea has fruity and floral scents. Taste is mild, with hints of fruit, the ‘mineral’ tastes of Wuyi rock teas, and toasted notes. Grassy, vegetal finish. Mildly astringent.

Da Hong Pao, ‘Big Red Robe,’ is usually listed among China’s ten most famous teas. Upton’s variety was my introduction to the Wuyi oolongs. I’ve posted a review before, but not with photos. I hadn’t drunk this particular tea in three years, because Upton ran out and was unable to obtain more. I noticed a few weeks ago that they had it in stock again, and grabbed it while I could. I’ve tried Da Hong Pao from other vendors, but Upton’s is still my favorite.

Incidentally, this tea is a good example of why tea should be weighed, not measured in a teaspoon. The wiry strands would take up a lot of space in a spoon, resulting in too little tea brewed and a weak tea. Conversely, tightly curled teas like Pi Lo Chun or gunpowder types will take up too little space in a spoon, perhaps resulting in a too-strong tea. Weighing solves this problem.

Tea Review

Lipton Green Tea

“Green Tea.” Lipton. 1 teabag steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Impression: tea: see photo. Brewed tea scent is savory. Taste: Mild, vegetal and herbal with one mild unpleasant note I find hard to characterize. Not astringent.

I don’t drink much supermarket tea, but I wanted an easy bag tea for a trip, and bought this one. It is only labeled ‘Green Tea’, without even the country of origin. I’m guessing it’s from China, probably Chun Mee-style. Not bad for a cheap bagged tea in a pinch.

Tea Review

China Oolong, Huang Jin Gui

“China Oolong, Huang Jin Gui.” Upton No. ZO22. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 200℉. Impression: tighly compressed leaves, see photo. Dry tea has little scent. Brewed tea scent is floral, resembling Tie Guan Yin. Taste: Floral, resembling orchids, mild, milder than the Tie Guan Yins with which I have had experience. Not astringent.

This teas, like many oolongs, is from Anxi, in Fujian. This tea wasn’t bad, but I see no advantage in it over a good Tie Guan Yin.