Sign up for the newsletter to receive updates and important news!

Archive for Tea Review

Tea Review

Hattialli Estate, Assam GBOP1 SPL

Upton No. TA14. 2.0 grams steeped for 4 minutes at 212℉. Impression: dark brown BOP size fragments, see photo. Dry tea smells slightly spicy, typical dry black tea scent. Brewed tea scent is sweet, woodsy, faint traces of tobacco. Taste: Bitter, somewhat harsh, brackish, tobacco tastes. Not much of the malty tastes Assams are famed for. Moderately astringent.

Drinkable, but not my favorite, and not very Assam-like.

Tea Review

Celestial Tribute China Pu-Erh

Upton ZH60. 2.3 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 200℉. Impression: medium brown, broken pekoe size. Dry tea smells musky, like leaf mould, like an overturned compost pile. Brewed tea is deep red-brown, with scent similar to dry. Taste: musky, woodsy, with unpleasnt compost-like notes, little body, not sweet. Not astringent.

A sample ordered a year ago, finally got around to trying it. I mightn’t have bothered. This is a ripe pu-erh. I like some raw pu-erhs, but have never liked a ripe one. Ripe pu-erh processing amounts to composting tea leaves in a heap, and the taste is what would expect of composted tea leaves. Chacun à son goût, as my mom used to say (who actually spoke French, rather than having to fake it, as I do), and there is a ripe pu-erh cult that adores the stuff and pays larcenous prices for it, but I am not a member.

Tea Review

Season’s Pick, Young Hyson

Upton ZG02. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 180℉. Tea comes as leaf segments of about 1/2-1 inch, each rolled into a tiny tube. Dry tea has vegetal, spicy, fruity scents, with a trace of mustiness. Brewed tea scent is sweet, spicy, floral. Taste: brackish, woody. Trace of tobacco? No body, faintly sweet finish. Not astringent.

An average, undistinguished green tea. Hyson is a well-known variety. I received this tea as a free sample with my last Upton order. ‘Season’s Pick’ is an Upton marketing segment. Upton sells a limited stock of inexpensive teas in kilograms to institutional customers, and also makes those teas available in 200 g quantities (still quite a lot of tea) to individual customers at a price of about 5 cents per cup. A bargain, if you like the tea.

Tea Review

Kandy District, Ceylon B.O.P.

Upton TC30. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: fannings-size dark bits, see photo. Dry tea has typical spicy black tea scent. Brewed tea scent is slightly sweet and musty. Taste: Flatter, less bright, more murky, brackish and harsher than some other black teas. Moderately astringent.

Kandy is an important and famous Ceylon tea-growing region. This tea strongly reminds me of black tea blends that are often called ‘Scottish Breakfast Tea’, in that the taste is somewhat harsher, less round and open than ‘English Breakfast Tea’ blends.

Tea Review

Shui Jin Gui ‘Golden Water Turtle’ Wu Yi Rock Oolong Tea

Yunnan Sourcing. 3 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 200℉. Impression: wiry dark strands, see photo. Dry tea smells sweet, floral, fruity, baked. Brewed tea scent is sweet, with hints of baked bread. Taste: Typical wuyi oolong ‘baked’ flavor, with woodsy notes, little body, not sweet. No unpleasant notes. Not astringent.

A very pleasant wuyi oolong. As with other teas of this type, 3 grams were required to achieve proper flavor, not 2-2.4 g, as with most other teas.

Tea Review

Formosa Black Tea, Keemun

Upton TT51. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: pieces in all sizes from near-whole leaf down to dust, see photo. This is known as ‘choppy’. Dry tea has typical black tea scent. Brewed tea scent has woody, briery scents. Taste: woody, earthy, with an occasional hint of ripe pu-erh funk. Little body, not sweet. Moderately astringent.

Rating: ★★

Keemun is a well-known variety of Chinese black tea. I’ve had a mainland version of Keemun once before, but this is the first Taiwan Keemun I’ve had. I didn’t much like the mainland version, don’t much like this one. Tastes are very different from black teas from South Asia, more like some Chinese green teas. I don’t seem to like Keemun as a type, and probably won’t try another.

Tea Review

Kenilworth Estate, Ceylon OP1

Upton TC86. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: OP-size dark bits, see photo. Dry tea has typical black tea scent, with spice and hints of citrus. Brewed tea scent suggests nutmeg, cinnamon, and citrus. Taste: bright, open, with some woody and brackish notes, slight body, not sweet. Moderately astringent.

Very pleasant black tea, with characteristics of both ‘English’ and ‘Scottish’ type breakfast teas.

Tea Review

Strathdon Estate, Ceylon CTC BP1

Upton TC15. 2.2 grams steeped for 3 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Tiny rounded dark bits, typical CTC appearance, see photo. Dry tea has typical slightly spicy black tea scent. Brewed tea scent is musty, with hints of bait fish and wet dog. Taste: Flat, woody, unpleasant funky notes, no body, not sweet. Moderately astringent.

I did not like this tea. This was a sample packet of 15 g. I did not finish it.

Tea Review

Victorian Brew, Ceylon BOP1

Upton TC64. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: Dark OP-sized pieces, see photo. Dry tea smells sweet, strong floral notes with hints of spice. Brewed tea has scents of herbs, grass, a trace of citrus. Taste: flat, brackish, woody and tobacco notes,  little body, not sweet. Pleasant, fruity finish. Moderately astringent.

Another rather harsh Ceylon. The pleasant aftertaste is the only thing interesting in this tea.

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.