Favorite Black Teas


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Favorite Black Teas

Postby Victoria » May 10th, '09, 03:20

As many of you know, I am not a fan of Upton Tea. Why? Well several reasons.
One, up until this week, I had never had a tea from there that I liked. And I have had quite a few that were bad. I would never recommend buying Oolongs there to be sure. But this post is about blacks and I know many people say their blacks are good. I might venture to say their blacks are ok. Since blacks seem to keep well over the long haul, I am guessing that sitting in a huge warehouse for who knows how long may not adversely effect a tea that is already average. Their packed on date, packed especially for me, isn't fooling anyone. Plus shouldn't a WHOLE LEAF tea be WHOLE leaf? What is with all the chopped small pieces? It's like a tea bag without the bag. If you are going to sell tea bag tea, at least throw in the bag! They do have fast and reasonable shipping, good customer service and some great tea accessories. Just don't buy the tea.
/rant

And sorry SpecialTeas, but you are an Upton clone with nicer teaware.

You want to see what a beautiful thing WHOLE LEAF black tea is? Venture over to TeaSource and try the Nilgiri, Glendale Estate, Handmade. One of my favorite black teas, this Nilgiri tea is a stepsister of Darjeeling. I really haven't found anyone yet who didn't like it, a beautiful full bodied cup with light astringency. I also recommend the Glenburn Estate Vintage Wiry, although out of stock at the moment.

Speaking of Nilgiri, Tao of Tea has two very nice ones; Neela and Nilgiri Blue. Of the Two Neela is my favorite and really shines. Similar to the Glendale Handmade from TeaSource, it is full bodied, smooth with light astringency.

While at Tao of Tea, you may want to check out their Limited Edition Bohea. A beautiful tea with a light smokiness. You can read my review here: viewtopic.php?t=7143&highlight=bohea

When I started drinking tea, I was a big fan of Ceylon. Years and years actually until I found Adagio and discovered two new loves: Yunnan Gold and Darjeeling. The Yunnan Gold with its light peppery character and the smoothness of a great First Flush Darjeeling with a hint of green and mild astringency. Favorites from Adagio include: Spring Darjeeling, Yunnan Gold, Yunnan Noir, Nepal FF.

So my go to sources for black teas are TeaSource, Tao of Tea and Adagio.

Now all this is just my opinion of course. And if you like/don't like the above that's fine and you certainly are entitled to your opinion too, so please feel free to share! What are your favorite Black Teas?
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Re: Favorite Black Teas

Postby woozl » May 10th, '09, 04:05

Victoria wrote: Plus shouldn't a WHOLE LEAF tea be WHOLE leaf? What is with all the chopped small pieces? It's like a tea bag without the bag. If you are going to sell tea bag tea, at least throw in the bag! They do have fast and reasonable shipping, good customer service and some great tea accessories. Just don't buy the tea.


You are slaying me!! :lol:
Ya' know those mylar bags brew up nice if the temp. is right :P
Nice buttery plastacene flavor.
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Postby omegapd » May 10th, '09, 05:52

I get tired of all the Upton rants here. What's the saying about Fool me once? Don't keep trying them if you didn't like what you got before in the hopes of finding a diamond in the rough...

Personally, I like Upton. One of their inexpensive shu teas are my favorite Pu-erh. I like many of their China black teas also enjoy some of their flavored teas, like a peppermint flavored green they sell. I actually prefer their teas over Adagio's but I normally keep my mouth shut about that here. The shipping is faster, the prices better on the things I buy and I'll continue to order and offer other people the same advice I'm giving here. Give it a try.

I can say the same thing about Specialteas too. Never a problem with their teas, although some I've tried have not been to my liking. That's not really their fault.

I don't gripe about tea companies in forums like this unless they steal my money and don't ship what I order. Everything else, like freshness, taste, etc. are personal decisions made by the person buying the tea.

EW
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Postby spot52 » May 10th, '09, 08:41

Omega,
For the most part I agree with you. I complained about SpecialTeas Creamy Early Grey though, it had waaaaay too much flavor added. It was not about the tea leaves themselves, but "a third party" addition.
I was not a huge fan of their keemun, but it is an organic product that varies from region to region. It was fresh and identifiable as keemun. So I did not slam them on that one.
I guess I only slam them based on the company and how they "act". Of course if the tea was stale, I might blame them too.
Oh well, CHEERS!!!
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Postby Victoria » May 10th, '09, 12:54

As I said I know a lot of people like Upton, like my good friend omegapd. And that's great. Nothing like a tea you love at a great price.

The point of my post was not really to "bag" :wink: on Upton or SpecialTeas, but because I was asked my opinion by a couple of people lately and I do get asked often. I thought I'd for once just sit down and write my opinion of the Black teas I love and of the vendors I have tried and why I like or do not like them. Then when I am asked I can point them to this post.

And the reason I tried UPTON again, is that I had never had what I knew was a fresh tea from them and since I was looking to try a 2009 FF Darjeeling, I knew this would be giving them a fair shot. I really wanted to give them another chance. So I did.

Also as I admitted, in the parcel this week was the first tea I liked from them, so I did find something that was better than others I had tried - the FF Arya Darjeeling. Although I still have to say the leaves were chopped finer than I am used to and although it may/may not effect the flavor, I certainly cannot enjoy the visual aspect as much as I can with a nice whole full leaf, which is typical of a tea from TeaSource.

Again, I stated this was my opinion and I think the sharing of opinions good and bad should be encouraged here. The "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" rule should not be applied to tea vendors.
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Postby spot52 » May 10th, '09, 13:15

Victoria wrote:Again, I stated this was my opinion and I think the sharing of opinions good and bad should be encouraged here. The "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all" rule should not be applied to tea vendors.


I would agree that tea vendors should be criticized for many of their attributes.
-customer service
-price
-quality
-taste: kind of, they do sell an organic product and I think they do deserve some leniency on this one. Not to say a critic should avoid this, but they should not slam them for it. I think this area is the diciest and deserves a little tact.
-additives
And maybe more...
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My favorite teas...

Postby shah82 » May 10th, '09, 14:01

From Uptons:
Sikkim ftgfop1. It's the only darjeeling type tea that I've ever truly liked. I tend to prefer to mix quality darjeelings into some sencha. This tea, though, is distinctively sour and flowery. I also love the sichuan zao bei jian tea. That one is very earthy-fruity and relaxing. Khagorijian assam tea isn't exactly a slouch either.

And yes, it's generally a bad idea to get anything other than blacks from there.

From Hou de:
I'm generally a fanatic about the Hao Xian black tea. Very, very, naturally sweet, malty, and winey. It's a very love/hate tea. I also like their golden tips yunnan, but I generally like golden tips yunnans so that's not saying very much.

From Kusmi:
Life isn't life without some traditional Russian Zoubrovka.
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Postby Opal » May 10th, '09, 14:43

The black tea that I reach for when I want something quick and simple is Twinnings's Prince of Wales. Yep, it's in a bag, it's not whole leaf, and it clearly represents blaspheme. ;) I wouldn't say it's my favorite (there's this delicate rose-flavored black I get at a local shop that really makes my heart sing), but it's my daily standby.

I'm a teacher, so finding time at work for loose tea is difficult. :) I'm also a fairly casual connoisseur with limited experience and frilly taste... I'm working at broadening my horizons, so I appreciate honest and forthright discussion on the pros and cons of various makers and methods.

I know a Corvette is clearly a nicer car, but I still enjoy my Subaru, and it functions better in the snow. ;) Context is half of the issue for me. When I have time, I prefer fresh, full leaf tea brewed in my favorite pot with a fussy chintz cup. When time and convenience are the issue, I'm fine with Twinnings in a "World's Best Teacher" mug. ;)
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Postby spot52 » May 10th, '09, 21:02

My favorite blacks are Keemun, Yunnan, and Earl Grey.
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Postby brad4419 » May 11th, '09, 12:27

Opal wrote:The black tea that I reach for when I want something quick and simple is Twinnings's Prince of Wales. Yep, it's in a bag, it's not whole leaf, and it clearly represents blaspheme. ;) I wouldn't say it's my favorite (there's this delicate rose-flavored black I get at a local shop that really makes my heart sing), but it's my daily standby.

I'm a teacher, so finding time at work for loose tea is difficult. :) I'm also a fairly casual connoisseur with limited experience and frilly taste... I'm working at broadening my horizons, so I appreciate honest and forthright discussion on the pros and cons of various makers and methods.

I know a Corvette is clearly a nicer car, but I still enjoy my Subaru, and it functions better in the snow. ;) Context is half of the issue for me. When I have time, I prefer fresh, full leaf tea brewed in my favorite pot with a fussy chintz cup. When time and convenience are the issue, I'm fine with Twinnings in a "World's Best Teacher" mug. ;)


Opal I completely agree with you on that one except my go to tea bags are twinnings earl grey or stash's Indian Spice chai. I like your analogy with cars its
perfect.

I have never been a fan of liptons tea bags but I havn't ever had their loose leaf so I can't say how that is.

My favorite tea to rant on is by far celestial seasonings. I wrote a long rant first :twisted: but have deleted it because I don't think we need more bashing on a tea that tastes like fruity grass aged for 5yrs so I simply "don't like their tea."

My favorite blacks for now are Lapsang Souchong, ceylon(Kenilworth), yunnan gold and earl grey.
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Postby entropyembrace » May 11th, '09, 16:57

My favorite black teas are Wuyi Shan Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong and Ying De Gold from Jingteashop.com

The Wuyi Shan Zheng Shan Xiao Zhong is simply the best Lapsang Souchong I've tried...smooth and very pleasant smoky aroma when young and complex, sweet and fruity when aged a few years...will totally be making a bulk order sometime so I can keep an aged supply available.

The Ying De Gold which unfortunately hasn't been available since around this time last year is impossible to oversteep, has a lovely fruity/floral aroma, smooth refreshing mouthfeel and lovely sweet taste.
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Postby Chip » May 11th, '09, 18:14

Fave black(s)? I like blacks, but cannot currently call any favorites. I just got a whole bunch of Darjeeling samples,
maybe that will turn the tide. I have always favored Keemun and Darjeeling type blacks.

Hmmm, Upton (who I prefer to refer to as UTI! :evil: )is a less than honorable vendor IMHO and in my dealings with them.
I went back and forth with one of their officers around 3-4 years ago (I still have the emails btw because it was that kind of discussion,
a kind of profound turning point in my tea journey), he said they would post harvest info for their bajillion teas
since they were redoing their site. Years later, it is still the same, some harvest info for their Indian teas and little else.
And no site upgrade.

I walked away from them as a very good customer up to that point ... and never looked back.
So, I have their ineptness to thank for finding much much much better vendors.

I was not satisfied with them for several reasons at that point in time, which is why I was discussing the problems I was having,
and I guess my persistance got me noticed, but no results, just a lot of empty promises.
I think Upton is the one and only tea vendor I will talk negatively about.

Sorry to those who like their teas, but the whole experience left me with bitter tea taste.
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Postby silvermage2000 » May 12th, '09, 13:47

I really like irish breakfast.
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Postby Janine » May 12th, '09, 15:27

Thank you to everybody for posting your opinions. I agree with Victoria that honest opinions are good things as long as the goal of sharing (not dictating) is sincere. So thank you everybody because your opinions each help me think about these teas.

I've posted before that my faves right now are keemuns and Yunnan black teas, and I've been trying several varieties of each. I am also enormously enjoying a couple of organics of each variety which I think have a better standout flavor than more expensively priced varieties of the same teas I've tried - less acidity, more body and fullness. I am not very familiar with Indian teas, so it's also very helpful - surprisingly so - to read reviews of teas I've never tried in order to help me to grasp what's out there. If this site has taught me something, it's how great it is to vicariously learn about teas and tea-tasting from others.

Over the past couple of weekends, I've tried a small handful of darjeelings at a nearby tea shop, and I have to say I don't think I'm a traditional darjeeling fan at this point. (The one I liked best was an oolong!) But I hope to keep on learning and understanding more anyway. I've also sampled a couple of assams which weren't "my cup of tea" either, but I've been told that it's a good idea to try assams with milk (if you're a milk drinker) and so I have to give that a shot too. I'm still going to keep looking and comparing, and I hope all of you will keep posting and teach me more.
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Postby bsteele » May 12th, '09, 17:18

Nice... dig all the helpful information. I'm not to hip on the cool places to buy blacks so it's good to know your experiences.

And Yunnan Gold *drool*
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