Saturday, September 14, 2013

Upton Tea Imports: Tie Guan Yin Oolong, First Grade, A Tea Review

If anyone is curious, Tie Guan Yin Oolong is by far my favorite tea. I first discovered it my freshman year of high school when I worked at a coffee and tea shop, but at that time it was sold as Iron Goddess of Mercy Oolong and it took me a year or two to realize they were the same tea. Tie Guan Yin has the amazing properties to soothe my spirits and body whenever they are off, which is perfect because today I am certainly not on top of my game.


When I find a new tea store the first thing I do is look at its Oolongs 'does it have Tie Guan Yin...does it have Tie Guan Yin I can afford?' are the questions I ask. Alas I am but a poor tea lover and Tie Guan Yin is the most expensive tea in the world. Today we are exploring the ins and outs of Upton Tea Import's Tie Guan Yin First Grade (not to be mistaken for their second grade, special grade, seasonal, and black) from China (and I am assuming Fujian). One of my biggest complaints with a lot of tea companies (Upton is sadly included in this one) is lack of information, what time of year was this picked? What region? Traditional or Green? It is the little things that my information obsessed mind craves and without these facts I have to try to solve the puzzle on my own.

The aroma is wonderful, a mix of orchids and chestnuts mixed with a gentle warmth and spice. The spice is not strong and is more of a memory of an aroma after the others have faded. The chestnut aroma gives the tea a sweet and roasted quality that is intoxicating when mixed with the floral notes. Overall the aroma is heady and lulls me into a relaxed state.

Once brewed the aroma just fills up the area...and I was sitting outside when I brewed this tea! In all seriousness I popped inside for a moment and when I came back the whole porch smelled of roasting chestnuts, orchids, honeysuckles, sweetness, and a hint of almonds. The roasted notes gave it an almost Hojicha quality. The liquid smelled much the same with more floral and less chestnut, and the liquid is beautiful.
The liquid looks like late afternoon sunlight

The taste is ever so slightly honey sweet with a gentle floral touch. There is also a very vegetal taste to the teas as well, especially as it cools, similar to the way green bean water tastes. Only very mildly roasted tasting which was a tiny bit disappointing since I prefer my Tie Guan Yins to be roasted more than green, but the teas is still very good! It is also noticeably mild and relaxing, which is perfect for me at the moment. I think my biggest over all opinion is it reminds me of late spring time with blooming flowers and the air is warm, giving everything that sun kissed taste. I certainly recommend and look forward to trying all the other Tie Guan Yin Oolongs from Upton Teas.

6 comments:

  1. Iie Guan Yin Oolongs are also up there among my favorites. Beautiful description and review!

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    1. I remember when I introduced you to it all those years ago :P

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  2. I also recall this tea. I also like its amount of roast--it was enough to mellow the tea but not to overwhelm it.

    I think Upton is pretty good for low-price Tie Guan Yins, and low-priced oolongs across the board. On the other hand, I've been disappointed with their higher-priced oolongs. My favorite of their inexpensive oolongs though isn't a Tie Guan Yin, it's their Se Chung, which basically is a greener oolong from Anxi that is of unnamed varietal (and possibly a mix of varietals), but not Tie Guan Yin.

    Se Chungs are a family of oolongs and some of them are some of my favorites...and I think they tend to offer much better value than Tie Guan Yin at similar price points, because they're not well-known.

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    1. I actually have their Se Chung on my list of things to try next time I order from them, it sounds wonderful. Thanks so much for the recommendation, I will certainly have to look into it.

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  3. How many tea tastings and years of drinking teas does it take to be this knowledgable? I love tea, but I only can differeniate a green tea, basic oolong and black tea. I'm missing some great tastings. Once I am settled in my new home, I am going to revisit your blogs and start trying some of these wonderfully described teas.

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    1. TONS of tea tastings and not really sure how many years, tea has always been a part of my life but I didn't really start dabbling in it until I worked at the coffee shop and then didn't get obsessed until about 5 years ago. I should send you an official list of my favorite teas :)

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