Posted by: wtfwjd? | May 29, 2008

Oolongs from Upton

I recently ordered some teas from Upton, including a bunch of samples of various Oolongs. Except for a very nice Da Hong Pao (not sure how nice an example as this is my first Wuyi oolong, but I liked it a lot), I was disappointed with the oolongs I got from them. Upton seems to be a bit more oriented towards Indian black teas and English-style brewing, but they do have a wide selection of Chinese teas.

I was hoping to add reviews of these sample oolongs to the Upton site, but they don’t allow you to add a review when you bought a sample — apparently you have to buy a bigger size in order to write a review. So, I thought I would add a few brief thoughts here. All were brewed semi-gongfu style with a lot of leaf, a quick rinse, and multiple short infusions.

Formosa Heavy-Baked Ti-Guan-Yin

I really disliked this tea. It is baked very dark, and tasted quite burnt to me. I had hoped the flavor would grow on me, but it hasn’t. If anyone likes burnt-flavored teas, you might enjoy this one.

Formosa Oolong Spring Dragon

Fairly inexpensive, but unremarkable. A bit bitter, and not a nice, astringent bitterness, but a harsher bitterness. Leaves were broken and rather “chewed up” in appearance.

Formosa Jade Oolong Imperial

A decent Dong Ding oolong, but very expensive at $48 per 100 grams. I much prefer the 2008 Dong Ding from Hou De, which is also much, much cheaper at $15 per 4 oz (around 113 grams).

Wuyi Da Hong Pao Oolong

I thought this was excellent. Like I said, this was my first Wuyi oolong, but I am waiting for a few more examples so I hope to do a better comparison. A very nice pale reddish brew with a touch of sweetness and a rich, complex flavor that stays with you for hours. At $19.80 for 30g, this is another pricey tea.

Tie-Guan-Yin Tribute Special

Unexceptional. Better than typical Chinese grocery store TGY, but at $15.80 for 50g (around $9/oz), it should be.

Formosa Jade Oolong Supreme

Haven’t tried this one yet, but the dry leaves smell quite nice. I tried it and it was quite nice, but it seemed very similar to the far more expensive “Formosa Jade Oolong Imperial” above. I didn’t compare the two side by side, but based on my memory, they were quite alike; in fact, I think I liked the “Supreme” better. Would still prefer a better, fresher, and less expensive Dong Ding from Hou De.


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