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Archive for Tea Review

Tea Review

Golden Kenya, Black Tea GFBOP

Upton TK25. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: BOP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells of citrus. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, spicy, brothy. Taste: Clear and bright, no brackishness, hints of peaches, mushrooms and toast. Mildly astringent.

I had never had an African tea before, but Kenya was recommended to me. This is a very pleasant tea, with some unique flavors I haven’t come across before in black tea. A nice switch from my usual round of Ceylons and Assams.

Tea Review

Pettiagalla OP1, Thé noir de Ceylon

Mariage Freres T302. 2.5 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: OP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells like roses and apricots. Brewed tea scent yeasty, malty. Taste: woody, brackish, briary, hints of tobacco. Not much finish. Strongly astringent.

A solid Ceylon, without any unpleasant notes. Similar to blends often called ‘Scottish breakfast tea,’ though this is a varietal, not a blend.

Tea Review

Delmar Estate FBOP, Ceylon Premium Tea

 Upton TC31. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Broken orange pekoe-size bits, see photo. Dry tea smells floral. Brewed tea scent is yeasty, malty. Taste: floral, stone fruit, old paper, tobacco, oregano, weeds, pond muck. Moderately astringent.

Ceylon black teas are quite variable in taste. Some are lovely; some have tastes that are jut not right for me. This is one of the latter.

Tea Review

Twinnings English Breakfast Tea

2.1 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: bag tea, see photo. Brewed tea scent is faintly spicy and yeasty. Taste: flat, thin, brackish. Slight maltiness, mainly in the finish. Moderately astringent.

I wanted tea to take to Readercon, without the bother of bagging my own bulk tea, so I bought a Twinnings Black Tea Variety Pack. It contains English Breakfast, Earl Grey, Lady Grey, and Irish Breakfast. The English Breakfast was disappointing. Twinnings is loved by many, but not, apparently, me. I suspect I’ve been spoiled by the bulk teas of good by-mail suppliers, like Upton and Yunnan. The package says this tea is a blend of Kenyan and Assam. I’ve never had Kenyan, though it was recommended to me recently. I will try a different source for Kenyan at some time.

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.’