Monday, January 30, 2006


China Special Oolong, "Buddha's Palm", Upton Tea Imports
Out of 5.
Overall - 3.5
Primary Flavors - 4
Secondary Flavors - 3
Aroma - 4.5
Finish - 3
Temperament - 4

That this is the most expensive of my Upton Teas at $72/lb underscores how reasonable their teas are. I've been consistently surprised at the way they price their teas too, several of the $15/lb chaff teas have had more going for them than their more expensive counterparts. Going way out on a limb, perhaps Upton is targetting their teas for the more straightforward neutrality occidentals traditionally prefer?

This is a relatively delicate tea with a wonderful aroma and an agreeable, if shy, flavor. The liquor is light for a tea from Fujian, but the flavor is nicely rounded without a hint of green. The aroma is what really stood out about my first cup of the tea. There is no name for it... it's an organic, almost peaty flavor - not in the way Darjeelings often are, more distinctively oolong. Very good, if difficult to pinpoint. The primary flavor is less interesting however, a neutral, delicate woody tone without much backing it up. Vaguely sweet. I have a theory that I didn't let it go enough so I am going to try again, but this time I will seek to destroy the tight little rolls with a good minute under hot water.

My second round was definitely stronger... a burnt umber colored tea, with that aroma now infused into the flavors, a strengthening of the woody primary flavor and that funny numbing of the tongue I've tasted on several really good 2005 pickings. This is a much better tea when you smack it around. There is a lemony tartness to the undertone which is an odd counterpoint to the woody main flavor and the earthy aroma, but the package works well enough. The finish is longer this time around, and picks up the lemon and earth tones.