Sunday, October 31, 2010

Upton Tea Imports: My Favorite and Least Favorite Teas

Upton Tea Imports is one of my favorite tea companies. I've sampled more teas from them (87 as of writing this) than any other company. As usual, this collection or list represents my own sometimes peculiar opinion. Someone who has tried some of these teas may notice my tendency for enjoying sharp and strong-tasting green teas; if you are also a fan of these greens, you may enjoy trying some of these for yourself.

My Favorite Teas from Upton:

Unfortunately, some of my favorite teas from Upton were small batches that have been discontinued, including a long-leaf Darjeeling green from Makaibari estate (this estate never ceases to impress me!), a large-leaf green tea from Thailand, grown from the cultivar normally used to make Assam, and a broken-leaf blend of teas from the Himalayan region which I found brighter and sharper than a typical Darjeeling BOP.

Some of Upton's more stable offerings have also grabbed my attention, though. I'm often talking about Upton's Oolong Se Chung (including their Osmanthus Se Chung), and those are probably my two favorite offerings from Upton, but I've talked about them enough, so I'll focus on green teas that stood out when I sampled them. One such tea was their chun mee dao ming, a nuanced version of a familiar style of tea, chun mee, which is not frequently viewed as a connoisseur's tea. I found this tea to have a surprising complexity to its aroma. Another one was a ceylon green from Oliphant estate; it struck me as pleasantly tobacco-like, just as in Upton's description. Yet another green tea I loved was ZG36: Organic Wuyuan Ruikang Hairpoint. This tea was cleaner and grassier, but had a very pleasant edge to it.

My Least Favorite Teas from Upton:

Many of these are not bad teas, but are just a question of personal taste. For example, I tried BH60: Hibiscus Flowers, Coarse Cut and didn't like them, but this isn't because they're bad, just because I apparently don't like straight hibiscus--too sour for me.

But some teas I just didn't think were all that good, for example, the two Oolongs from Tindharia estate, TD90: Tindharia Estate First Flush Green Oolong (EX-10) and TDC2 - Tindharia Estate Oolong (DJ-54), were both rather pricey greener Darjeeling oolong that just didn't do it for me. I know that it's not that I dislike greener Darjeeling oolongs, as the Soureni Organic Oolong from Fresh Darjeeling Tea (which is close in price) proved. Other disappointments were Upton's BOP Ceylons from the Dimbula and Kandy regions; I found both to be strong, harsh, not particularly aromatic, and not particularly interesting.

I've had plenty of solidly good teas from Upton, and continue to be impressed with their offerings and prices. But these are the teas that stood out as the ones I was most and least impressed with!

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