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Staff Favorites

We’re passionate about tea and love every opportunity to share that passion with our customers. Below is a list of our favorite teas, along with our cupping notes and a little bit about ourselves and our tea experiences. Enjoy!

Since the early 70s, I have always loved to drink breakfast style teas with milk, no sugar. When I first came to Upton Tea in 1995 and started to discover the depth and variety of fine loose leaf tea, I found myself drawn to the teas I could drink plain - the refined Darjeelings, the spicy Oolongs, the clean greens and the delicate whites. I still enjoy a rich black tea for breakfast most of the time and then move on to lighter bodied teas for the rest of the day. I do love the taste of tea but it is the aroma that I find uplifting and inspiring!

Tindharia Estate First Flush FTGFOP1 (EX-1) Organic Darjeeling
TD01: From the leaf style to the aroma to the flavor, this is one of the best first flush Darjeelings I’ve tasted and, as many who know me, first flush Darjeelings are my favorite group of teas. The fragrance is so fresh with that classic first flush floral quality. The cup is very smooth and sweet. Yum!

Colombian Wiry Green Tea Organic
TSA3: My current favorite green tea, this tea is lovely with a silky smooth mouth feel. Hints of cocoa and honey complement a light fruitiness. There’s no vegetal flavor at all so it’s a great choice for tea lovers looking for a green tea with less of that quality.

New Zealand Oolong
TZ01: All I can say is wow, wow and wow! With its aromatic floral character, this tea amazed me at first sip! This was my first time enjoying a cup of tea that was grown in New Zealand and I look forward to drinking many more cups. Outstanding.

I confess to starting out with strong coffee from the time I was old enough to drink it. The occasional cuppa served well as a comfort beverage. It was not until 2002 and at the insistence of converted family members that I began to make the transition to loose tea. Made easier, I suspect, by the aid of some good Pu-Ehr and Assam teas. Today I still favor the strong cups but have vastly expanded my range thanks to the education I've received over the years from fellow staff members and Upton customers.

Somerset Estate BOP Ceylon
TC57: The richness and velvet smoothness of this cup make it my favorite morning cup. The complex range of the aroma and flavor notes evoke fond memories of my amazing visit to Sri Lanka.

Gen-Mai Cha
TJ21: I enjoy the warm toastiness that the brown rice adds to the smooth Sencha base. It is the perfect tea to follow a meal.

Milk Oolong
ZO11: I love everything about the balance of floral, sweet and buttery notes in this amazingly fragrant cup. It is an especially important addition to my tea cupboard during the colder months when I need a touch of Spring.

My budding adoration for tea started when I ran a café in my late teens and early 20s. Joining Upton Tea I realized the world of tea was endless. From the Himalayas to the tea fields of Japan to the gardens of Sri Lanka and beyond, there is so much to try and learn. You can taste the terroir in the steeped leaves and I find the aromas to be enthralling. The hard work and dedication it takes to create each and every kind of tea is amazes me. To me a cup of tea is a cup of joy.
Sharing tea is probably my favorite part of my job. We see thousands of samples a year, each one of our teas is handpicked to share with the world. My go-to is usually China tea, you can’t go wrong with dark, earthy Yunnan or sweet, smooth Yin Zhen white tea. I also enjoy a nice floral Taiwanese oolong to brighten my day. My main focus at Upton is to bring you the best teas the world has to offer and continue the tea journey.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh

Yunnan Black Dragon Pearls
ZY75: Large, dark brown leaves have been carefully rolled into uniform pearl shapes to create this unique offering from Yunnan province. Both the dry pearls and the infused liquor are fragrant with the scent of chocolate, hinting of its delicious flavor. The golden-amber cup is rich and earthy with notes of sweet cocoa and hints of stone fruit. The finish is smooth and lingering.

China Oolong Choicest Organic
ZO92: From the Huangshan mountains in southern Anhui province, this organic offering is crafted in the style of an Oriental Beauty (Bai Hao) Oolong. The amber cup is velvety smooth with a pronounced honey note in both the aroma and flavor. The honey sweetness accentuates flavor notes of stone fruit and a lingering hint of flowers.

Organic White Silver Needle
ZW90: This special production is composed entirely of unopened leaf buds. The cup has a delicate, sweet aroma. The light liquor is refreshing with a sweet hint and and a lightly nutty/fruity finish. An outstanding organic white tea.

My introduction into the world of tea started in my thirties as an interest in drinking green tea for its health benefits. This meant drinking plain tasting grocery store tea. After receiving a mug infuser as a present from my mother and doing research online, I started to learn about loose leaf tea and discovered Upton Tea Imports (I was a customer of Upton Tea long before I became an employee). My early tea favorites were the vegetal Japanese Sencha and the Chinese gunpowder teas, which I still enjoy. After a few years of sampling many different teas, I discovered how much I enjoy very robust, dark, earthy, or toasty teas, which for me means Pu-Erh, Oolongs and Lapsang Souchong. My favorite tea experience is sitting down on a cold autumn or winter Saturday afternoon and enjoying multiple cups of Pu-Erh or Oolong teas while reading.

China Pu-Erh Tuo Cha Size 1
ZH30: This hearty tea is not for those who enjoy a light, subtle brew. One small bird’s nest (tuo cha) yields a robust, dark, earthy brew with a hint of smokiness in the aftertaste. Pu-Erh, with its strong flavor, dark appearance and full-bodied mouth feel, really warms me up on a cold day and stimulates my mental energy.

Da Hong Pao Oolong
ZO25: Da Hong Pao tea leaves are twisted not rolled, and more oxidized than many Oolongs. I really enjoy the hint of caramel and honey with a nice toasty-flavored aftertaste. This tea, with its many flavor notes and wonderful floral aroma, is a great way to start the day.

Japanese Sencha
TJ10: Sencha is my first choice when I want a tea that is very different than the Oolongs and Pu-Erhs that I drink most of the time. I enjoy the smooth, vegetal flavor that also has a slight hints of nuts.

Lapsang Souchong
ZS20: This tea shocks my taste buds on every sip. There is no other tea that is comparable to Lapsang Souchong. The tea leaves are smoked over pine wood fires, which gives Lapasang Souchong its unique burnt wood flavor and scent. In fact, this is one tea that tastes exactly as you would expect from the aroma. The strong smokiness of this tea seems to linger pleasantly for a long time after every sip. Surprisingly, this tea has a dark golden appearance instead of the black color that I would have expected from the black leaves. I find Lapsang Souchong to be simultaneously comforting and slightly stimulating while creating a pleasant feeling of warmth.

I developed an affection for tea at an early age, while sitting around the dinner table with my grandparents sipping Russian Caravan through sugar cubes. Fascinated with flavor and its impact on consumer appeal, I find the global footprint of tea manufacture fascinating. So why not explore the word of loose leaf tea and guide customers at Upton Tea Imports on their own unique tea journey? Teas with a hint of cocoa really appeal to me. These include:

Yunnan Golden Monkey Supreme
ZY86: A treasure with its downy golden buds. A delight to the palate with a suggestion of cocoa in the aroma and taste with a very smooth, sweet finish. A wonderful cup on a cold, snowy day..

Yunnan Black Snail
ZY07: I love this tea for its unique spiral snail shape. A terrific addition to dessert, this lovely dark, rich color cup with its delicious carob and bittersweet, cocoa notes has an outstanding depth of flavor..

Cacao Kisses Naturally Flavored Colombian Black Tea
TSA5: Great for the chocolate lover. A rich black tea made with cacao husks and nibs which provide a sweet cocoa aroma and a chocolate taste.