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Upton Tea

Upton Digital Pocket Tea Scale/Upton Tea – Ashmanra

Photo Credit: Upton Tea

One thing teaheads love almost as much as tea is tea accoutrements, all the little doodads and helpers and tea making paraphernalia that money can buy. Some tea people specialize in Chinese or Japanese accoutrements, some in Yixing clay or Korean ceramics, but most have an eclectic array of helpers, like timers and infusers of every size and style you can imagine.

I finally purchased an item that I have had my eye on for a very long time. You see, most of the accoutrements are not actually NECESSARY. They can be very helpful and a lot of fun. This one will be helpful. I am sure of it. Also fun, because I will be playing with tea when I use it!

When you are trying to get the very most out of your tea and you have purchased some really fine quality leaf, you want it to taste the very best. But some leaf almost defies measurement. Sometimes silver needle can be too long to rest in your teaspoon. Shou mei can be so large and fluffy that guessing what amount it takes to weigh 2.25 grams can be daunting, and again, it refuses to behave itself in a teaspoon. Loosely pressed puerh and iron cake puerh can be hard to gauge.

I tried measuring tea on my kitchen scale, but it wasn’t sensitive enough and I had to keep piling leaves on before the scale even knew tea was there. That’s when I decided to order the Upton Tea Company scale.

The scale arrived very quickly and was very well packed. I ordered the calibration weight as well, because why have a scale if you don’t know if it is accurate?

The scale was so easy to use, right out of the box. It has a nice little case and feels like it will last. It has a tare feature, naturally, and was easy to check and calibrate. It would fit in most pockets so it isn’t going to be a space hog and is very portable.

In addition to weighing in grams, pennyweight(dwt), and ounces, Upton had it programmed with a cupweight mode, meaning you place the amount of leaf you have or wish to use on the scale and it tells you how many cups of tea you can make with that amount of leaf. That is a great feature when you are determined to do a sipdown or when you just want to know which capacity teapot to pull out.

Is it necessary? No. Is it going to be helpful when I am reviewing a new tea like a super fluffy white or a very compact puerh, or when I have guests and I want to get the proportions right the FIRST time? Absolutely!


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Where to Buy: Upton Tea

Description

The tremendous range of leaf styles in loose leaf teas makes measuring by volume imprecise. Our digital pocket tea scale solves this problem in a unique way, by introducing a special ‘Cupweight’ mode. In this mode, the scale displays the precise number of cups that a portion of tea will yield, based on the industry standard of 2 1/4 grams per 6-ounce cup. Note that this scale will also weigh in grams, ounces and pennyweight (dwt mode). One year limited warranty. Each scale is precisely calibrated at the factory.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Original Earl Grey (TE10)/Upton Tea Imports -VariaTEA

Photo Credit: Upton Tea

I don’t really like strong bergamot flavor. Every now and then I’ll reach for an Earl Grey Cream or a flavored Earl Grey but a straight Earl Grey has never been my thing. However, a friend was kind enough to share a sample of Upton Tea Imports’ Original Earl Grey (TE10) and so I figured it was at least worth a try. Doesn’t mean I wasn’t going to try and make the best of it so I found a London Fog recipe online and got to prepping.

I steeped 3 perfect teaspoons in 8 ounces of boiling water for 4 minutes per the company’s steeping parameters. I used the 3/4 of cup of leftover coconut milk in my fridge, topped with some 1% milk to get to 1 cup. I frothed the milk with 2 teaspoons of honey and one removed from the heat I added 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla extract. This got poured over the steeped tea.

This is a super creamy latte with a whole lot of coconut and vanilla flavor. Coconut milk is always very rich but to me it is always a touch heavy and seems ever-so-slightly savory (for lack of a better word and maybe because I associate it with thai food more than anything else). I am glad I diluted it down with the 1% milk as well. The honey comes through as a nice balance to the coconut and vanilla, adding some sweetness but not as much as I expected, which is preferable for my tastes.

Of course, how could I talk about a London Fog without mentioning the earl grey itself. I actually am happily sipping away at this one because the bergamot is very nicely balanced. It adds a freshness and a nice citrus flavor but one that is more suited to the cool fall weather. Whereas lemon and lime are typically bright and zingy and make for a nice and refreshing tea in the spring and summer, London Fogs are more cozy. This definitely fits that description.

Unfortunately given all the other ingredients I can’t definitively say that this tea is good or bad but as a base for a London Fog, this tea is perfect. It’s got enough bergamot flavor to push through everything else in the mug without being too harsh or overbearing. Furthermore, from what I can taste, I would say this is good quality given the base is not bitter or astringent either. I still have a fair amount of leaf left in the sample but with this new recipe, courtesy of the Nourishing Gourmet .  I am sure I will make quick work of it.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Description

China Black tea base with bergamot flavor. Produced for the British market, this tea has less bergamot than some American counterparts.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

China Keemun First Grade/Upton Tea Imports -Ashmanra-

I received a gift of this tea in the mail from a fellow tea lover. Tea people are THE BEST! And Keemun is one of my favorite tea types, so let’s get down to business!

The package says First Grade China Keemun but the website puts it the other way around as China Keemun First Grade. This is an entry level Keemun with an astonishingly low price, so if you are not overly picky and want a daily drinker, this would be very economical.

The aroma of the dry leaves is very nostalgic for me. It smells just like the tea section of A Southern Season, harkening back to my earliest explorations of tea. This smells like TEA. The aroma is bracing and rich, and very comforting to me.

I erred on the side of caution and made this more like they would in China with a slightly lower temperature and a short three minute first steep, followed by a four minute re-steep.

Wow. I can not imagine taking this to five minutes with boiling water unless you are adding milk and sugar. Strong stuff.

I am getting no cocoa at all, no chocolate. The overwhelming impression is tobacco and wood.
There is a touch of wine or muscatel, like a darjeeling. There is a definite natural smokey flavor, not like lapsang but rather the light smoke often found in daily drinker Chinese black tea.

The aroma had so many layers and was so rich that I really thought the tea was going to blow me away. But it isn’t quite my favorite profile. I enjoyed it without milk or sugar with my breakfast, but this wouldn’t do double duty for me as an afternoon tea or a dessert accompaniment.

What I think it WILL do very well is sweet iced tea. It has the heft and smoothness to carry it off.

UPDATE: I made it as a sweet tea and let it chill overnight because we all know iced tea tastes best after it has had time to meld.

The taste really surprised me. I thought it would be a really classic iced black tea flavor but somehow the fruity aspect really amped up, to the point that it almost tastes like a flavored tea! Interesting!

Not a favorite Keemun type for me, but glad to have tried it. If you like winey Keemuns and are looking for a super economical price point, this is worth checking out.

 


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Description

With its rich flavor profile and smooth mouth feel, this standard grade Keemun represents a great value for a China black tea. Hints of wine and a suggestion of smoke round out the earthy, full-bodied cup.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Mist Valley Estate TGBOP1/Upton Tea

I usually drink black tea from China, but today I am making a little excursion to Nepalese black tea! My expectation is that it will taste more similar to tea from India than from China, and I was correct. It even had a tiny darjeeling vibe!

This is a high-grown tea from an estate that has been in operation since 1989 and has been processing their own tea since 2004. They are currently converting their operations to all organic, so I am looking forward to trying it again in the future!

This is indeed a broken orange pekoe with shades ranging from golden tan to deep brown. In the photo online it shows a lot of green like a darjeeling but my own sample is more tan and almost a cream color mixed with the darker leaves.

I kept the steep on the short side (two minutes) in case this was more reminiscent of an Assam, a tea that is tasty but wreaks havoc on my tender tummy, but I must say it was very well-behaved and perfectly drinkable without additions.

Being high-grown, I thought it might be a bit on the astringent side, but it is only pleasantly brisk. It has a truly classic black tea aroma and taste, mild but not wimpy, lightly brisk but not tart and puckery, and I would call it all around a good basic black tea. It is not overly complex drinking it western style as I am, but at this price I do not expect complex tea. It was a very good accompaniment to my lunch.


Want to Know More About This Tea?

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea

Description

In hues ranging from light to dark brown, the small, neatly made leaves of this Nepal black tea offering are sprinkled with silver tips. The golden amber liquor is fragrant with a light, fresh aroma. The flavor is rich with floral notes and a sweet, lingering finish.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

First Flush 2019 Darjeeling Blend / Upton Tea Imports

Did you know that one of the aroma descriptors for wet tea leaves is wet leaves? I laugh every time I read it and yet it perfectly makes sense.

If we really want to get complicated we could define how wet leaves differ in smell. For instance the wet leaf of this Darjeeling smells different from the wet leaf that falls in our forests around here in MN.

The wet leaves around here have a somewhat musty and crisp smell in fall whereas this Darjeeling smell is smooth and clear. Generally I don’t like to use clear as a descriptor but it literally feels like the air is clear and being cleansed when you smell it.

Perhaps there is some unknown air cleansing property to it like coffee.

This Darjeeling is quite lovely. It brews up a medium dark, clear, amber. Typical crisp Darjeeling flavor with a silky mouth feel and only a tiny amount of astringency in the after taste.


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Darjeeling / Black
Where to Buy: Upton Teas
Description:

This 2018 first flush Darjeeling blend has a sweet aroma, hinting of honey and flowers. Those classic hints spill over into the golden amber cup, complementing the silky smooth mouth feel. The finish lingers on a clean, crisp note. A great value.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!