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Archive for Tea Review

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.

Tea Review

Lung Ching, ‘Dragonwell’

Lung Ching, ‘Dragonwell’. Upton No. ZG71. 2.2 grams steeped at 160 ℉ for 2 min.

Impression: Large light whole green leaves, flat, as if they’d been pressed in a flower press. Well sorted, no fannings or dust. Musty scent. Very pale green-amber liquor. Scent of brewed tea is savory and sweet, almost perfume-like. Taste: some fruity character, some vegetal quality, a little musty, woody quality. Not much mouth-feel. Mildly astringent. Quite pleasant

Lung Ching (there are different romanizations of the Chinese) is a famous tea, found consistently on lists of “Ten Famous Chinese Teas” (of which there are many). Dr. K.S. Tom, in Echoes from Old China, says that Lung Ching is the finest of all Chinese Teas. Others will differ, but it is certainly a fine and famous tea, and if you have any interest in tea, you owe it to yourself to try it. The name ‘Dragonwell’ is said to come from a well near where the tea was originally grown, in which water swirls around in a manner that suggests the coils of a dragon.

Tea Review

Tea Bank Estate, Ceylon FBOPF EX SP

“Tea Bank Estate, Ceylon FBOPF EX SP” Upton No. TC23. 2.2 grams steeped for 5 minutes at 212℉. Impression: dark BOP-size bits, see photo. Dry tea has scents of wood, spice and fruit. Brewed tea scent is flowery, lily-like. Taste: typical black tea flavor, slight woodiness, but without other marked notes. Not harsh. Minimal finish. Moderately astringent.

This Ceylon tea is unusual in its usualness. Most black teas have the typical black tea taste, plus other flavor notes. Except for a slight woodiness, this tea has no special flavor notes. An interesting tea, if that’s what you’re looking for.

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.