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Upton Tea Imports

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!

Japanese Sun Rouge from Upton Tea Imports. . . .

Ever once in a while, I will come across a tea that will awaken my test buds and remind me of exactly why I love tea so very much. This blend will wrap me in a warm cozy hug and delight my tastebuds all while soothing my ever stressed out soul.

Today, this particular green tea did just that.

Brewed up with a tea spoon of leaves, 6 oz of water prepped at 170F and allowed to brew for 3 minutes, this tea gives you such a simple yet complex variety of flavors in each and every sip.  Each and every sip you are greeted with a lovely sweet note that doesn’t overpower but brings a smile to your face with a subtle melon/floral note coming not far behind.  Then the sip takes you on a different direction with a more vegetal feel. Every once in a while, I do pick up this adorable nutty flavor that I really adore. With this tea you are greeted with both the sweetness and vegetal feel that only a green tea can provide.

I have brewed up the sames leaves three times and still am greeted with this gorgeous sweet yet vetegal melon floral beautiful brew that is making my heart sing. Exactly what I needed to start my day off right. This tea is for sure is a recommended delight.  I don’t believe I have ever had an Upton Tea Import tea before but I am so happy to finally have enjoyed their offerings. I have already placed an order and am looking forward to placing several more.  I may actually need to pick up another oz or so of this tea since I don’t know if I’ll be able to share this particular delight with the rest of the Sisters. I may be a little stingy with this one!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Green
Where to Buy: Upton Tea Imports
Description

This selection has an interesting pedigree, being a mix of two special varietals. The result is a cup somewhat akin to a Kenyan purple tea, with its lavender-brown colored liquor. The aroma has a toasty/nutty sweetness. The cup is delicate and smooth with sweet herbaceous notes and hints of flowers and melon.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Baker Street Afternoon Blend from Upton Tea Imports

BakerStreetBlendTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

A bit of Lapsang Souchong is blended with Keemun and Darjeeling, yielding a mildly smoky tea. Perfect for an afternoon uplift. Another special (whole-leaf) blend from our London source of fine teas.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

As I’ve confessed many times, I’m not a big fan of Lapsang Souchong so when I receive a blend with Lapsang Souchong in it, I’m a little timid.  I don’t hate Lapsang Souchong, but there are so many other teas that I’d rather be drinking.  The overwhelmingly smoky note is just … well, it’s overwhelming.

When I first opened the pouch, I noticed the smoky notes right away.  But I was happy to find that the smoke is not an overbearing presence in either the dry leaf or in the brewed tea.  It’s there – it’s definitely there! – but it doesn’t overpower the blend.

This Baker Street Afternoon Blend from Upton Tea Imports is actually quite nice.  The smoky notes are not overwhelming.  It is mildly smoky and I’m enjoying the mild level of smoke here.  It’s allowing me to enjoy the complexity of the tea.

And that’s important because there are three teas in this blend:  Lapsang Souchong, Darjeeling and Keemun.  I like that I can taste the fruity notes of the Darjeeling and Keemun.  I like the way these two teas create a lovely wine-like flavor and the smokiness of the Lapsang adds a really interesting dimension to that wine-like quality.

To brew this blend, I used my Kati Tumbler.  I heated the water to 205°F.  I added 1 bamboo scoop of the tea blend to my tumbler infuser basket and I poured the hot water over the leaves.  I let this tea steep for 15 seconds and then I strained off the leaves and discarded the liquid.  (Yes, I did a rinse.  There is Lapsang Souchong in this blend and I find that Lapsang Souchong – even when in blends – is much better tasting to my palate when I do a rinse.)  Then I replaced the basket and refilled the tumbler with 205°F water and steeped it for 3 minutes.

Overall, a very enjoyable cup of tea.  It’s called an “Afternoon” tea and it has a medium to full body to it, making it a nice choice for afternoon sipping, especially on a cooler afternoon like this.  (I’m so happy that autumn appears to have finally arrived!  I actually wore a sweater today!)  It’s warm and cozy and it has a certain comforting element to it too.  It’s a little more robust than a typical afternoon cup but that edge can be softened by the addition of milk and honey (if you like it in your tea), or you can save this for the afternoons when you need a little more than a gentle pick me up!

Lapsang Souchong Black Dragon Tea from Upton Tea Imports

BlackDragonTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

Blended especially for Upton Tea Imports, this tea is a pleasing and subtly complex variation on a rich, smoky classic. The perfect gift for the Lapsang Souchong drinker who seeks a less smoky cup. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This Lapsang Souchong Black Dragon is a very interesting Lapsang Souchong.  It is, as the description above suggests, less smoky.  This is evident even in my very first impressions of the tea when I first opened the package and smelled it.  Smoky, yes, but, it wasn’t an overwhelming smoky aroma.

I didn’t follow the brewing parameters from Upton, instead, I first gave the leaves a “rinse” – a fifteen second infusion and then I tossed the liquid and re-steeped the leaves for 3 minutes.

And this is one of the nicer Lapsang Souchong teas I’ve yet to taste and the reason is because it’s less smoky than the typical Lapsang Souchong.  I like the lighter smoky taste, which allows me to explore some of the fruity notes of the tea – which seem to be highlighted because of the smoke, but they’re something that I don’t really enjoy quite as much as I am here because the smoke tends to be so overpowering for my palate.

But not with this Black Dragon!  This is smoky but not too smoky.  I’m tasting delightful notes of fruit.  Notes of pine and a pleasant caramel-y sweetness.  It’s very smooth until the tail when I note a slightly dry astringency.

It’s a lighter bodied Lapsang Souchong, which are usually much stronger and bolder in flavor (and in smoke).  But I like that.  I like the lighter approach of the Black Dragon.  If you’re one who tends to shy away from Lapsang Souchong because of that heavy smoky essence, I think you’ll find that this is much more appealing.

Saint Isaac’s Blend Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports

St.IsaacsTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy:  Upton Tea Imports

Tea Description:

A premium blend of Ceylon and China teas, with the flavor of grapefruit, bergamot, and other citrus fruit. Popular in Europe, this Russian-style blend is recommended for an interesting departure from traditional Earl Grey. 

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

I am revisiting a tea that I’ve previously reviewed this evening, mostly because it’s been ages since that previous review published, and when I sat down with this Saint Isaac’s Blend Black Tea from Upton Tea Imports, I felt like writing about it.  It’s one of my favorites from Upton.

And really, there’s nothing wrong with revisiting a tea, is there?  One of the first lessons I learned when I began my tea journey many years ago (more years than you need to know!) I learned that every tea tastes different to every palate, and I think that it should follow that every tea would offer potential to be at least a little different each time you taste it.

This tea has a very pleasant black tea base that is strong and solid, like a robust drapery of flavor.  It is rich with hints of smoke – and I like that the smoke here is delicate.  I’ve tasted at least a couple of “smoky” Earl Grey blends, and of those that I’ve tried and come to memory, I will say that this one offers the softest smoky taste.  There is a slight “malty” note to this as well as a chocolate-y type of flavor from the black tea.   I notice less astringency with this cup than I seemed to indicate on my previous tasting note.

As the tea cools slightly, the citrus notes of the tea begin to POP.  The grapefruit, in particular, is noteworthy.  The bergamot seems a little less apparent than the grapefruit.  Imagine, if you would, two friends at the party:  one friend is sort of out there and really capturing everyone’s attention.  The other friend is right by the party animal’s side, not making as much noise but is still within the focus of everyone at the party.  With this tea, the grapefruit is the party animal, while the bergamot is the party animal’s best friend.

A really enjoyable tea – as I said before, it’s one of my favorites from Upton Tea Imports – because it’s an unusual tea with a captivating complexity.  Definitely one you should try!