Is Upton tea a normal shop?

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby JRS22 » Jan 3rd, '11, 13:04

I think we're discussing 2 separate issues in one thread. Yes, Upton Tea is a normal shop and it's safe to do business with them. No, they're not one of the tea vendors that provides full disclosure about harvest year, etc. But they're far from alone on that, and other vendors, like Rishi, also don't post that information. When I wrote to Rishi to enquire about harvest year I was given an answer for the specific teas I was asking about, but informed that they intentionally don't post harvest year unless there's something exceptional about the tea, such as that it's a special purchase. Of course before I found Teachat I didn't care about harvest year, but now I know better.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby bryan_drinks_tea » Jan 3rd, '11, 14:19

I ordered from Upton for a while before realizing there was much better stuff out there. if you compare the green tea from upton to that of teaspring, teaspring will win, no contest.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby Chip » Jan 3rd, '11, 15:38

And TeaSpring shows the harvest info in writing on their site. Often in detail.

Upton needs to adapt ... they are in slow motion. :roll:

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby ABx » Jan 4th, '11, 00:14

They're a typical American tea shop; they specialize in black teas and probably flavored/herbals.

Every store has their specialty, and once you figure out what it is you'll find that that's how they choose their teas and frame their info. This one caters to the average American tea drinker that decides that they want something much better than Lipton, Twinnings, and the like (whether their black tea truly qualifies as "much better" I don't know).

Every store also usually has one or two gems :) I do really like their Thai oolongs.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby edkrueger » Jan 5th, '11, 17:11

Leafbox Pete wrote:The catalog isn't really for novices...

I disagree. Upton tea is for novices. They carry a lot of stuff, lots of variety, but their teas are often lacking in quality and freshness and their teas lack information. A good place to explore, maybe, but not for the experienced tea drinker.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby Theo Sinensis » Jan 5th, '11, 17:53

I've ordered a lot from Upton, and I have been pleased with most of what I've ordered. But I have to admit that I have not ordered as extensively from others, so I need a wider base of knowledge in order to judge properly.

It's a great place to learn about tea, mainly because they offer affordable samples that allow the new (and serious) tea drinker to explore a wide variety of teas without emptying your wallet. There have been some disappointments here and there, however.

I have noticed that I can get better greens elsewhere, including from Adagio, but I also have friends now who are bringing me Japanese teas from Japan. :D

I'll have to read round the forum a bit for some more recommendations for vendors.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby Leafbox Pete » Jan 6th, '11, 20:31

Chip wrote:Upton needs to adapt ... they are in slow motion. :roll:


Agreed, the out-dated nature of their print catalog (and the technology used on their website) is well behind the times.

They seem to run a solid business though. While they don't get much love here, they have a lot of supporters on other tea communities online. While I think there is merit to the harvest information, I'm not sure it is entirely necessary in their advertising materials. Though, the company not having it available on request is a problem.

The availability of harvest information, however, is a transitional thing about tea becoming more popular. It goes in line with wine vintage, however, there is an argument that with tea it bears less relevance (though, admitedly, it is more important with green teas than with more well-preserved black teas.)

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby AdamMY » Jan 6th, '11, 20:42

Leafbox Pete wrote:It goes in line with wine vintage, however, there is an argument that with tea it bears less relevance (though, admitedly, it is more important with green teas than with more well-preserved black teas.)


I would say tea is on par with wine in terms of vintage, it just so happens that fewer people realize, and few people have come out stating the significance. While admittedly I have not been drinking High Quality loose leaf teas for even half a decade, but in the past few years of drinking teas I have noticed discernible taste differences in teas from different years.

While harvest info is quite important for green teas in determining freshness, there is a quality factor associated with harvest seasons and years for oolongs and black teas quite similar to wine vintages.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby Chip » Jan 6th, '11, 20:56

Some vendors listen to very sincere and earnest suggestions (from me for one) and adapt (and continue to get my teabucks), while others stagnate in the "why we cannot change" or "we will when we have to" syndromes (and lose my business). Upton suffers both from my personal experience in dealings with them all the way up to the top of the organization.

Yes, there are plenty of others who do not consistantly ... I guess some will lead the way while others will maybe reluctantly follow some where down the road.

TBH, I could not be happier that they dismissed and therefore rejected my suggestions as this forced me to make decisions (and discard my vendor loyalties ... and it was not just Upton) to move on to much greener pastures.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby woozl » Jan 6th, '11, 21:10

MMMM Greener pastures....(Homer Simpson voice) :mrgreen:

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby Chip » Jan 6th, '11, 21:12

woozl wrote:MMMM Greener pastures....(Homer Simpson voice) :mrgreen:

+1 ...

d'oh greener pastures = reallllllly freakin' good greens, especially Japanese! And matcha donuts ... mmmmmatcha donuts ...

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby Iainthekiltman » Mar 7th, '11, 06:13

I have bought many teas from Upton Tea Co. for many years and have always had both good service and good quality tea from them. I have found the tea well cared for and fresh. Their customer service personnel are always quite knowledgeable about the various tea. I have drunk and researched teas since the early seventies when there were almost no good importers of teas in this country. They have done a wonderful job. They may not have the most up-to-date website, but I don't drink their website. I drink their teas which have always been above par.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby rabbit » Mar 7th, '11, 16:20

IMO, they aren't the best quality.

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby gingkoseto » Mar 11th, '11, 02:03

I am not very much attracted by Upton's tea collection, but I think their website is one of my favorite tea store websites. But I know I don't have the best graphic taste :oops: Usually the questions I ask about graphs are always "what, when, where, how..." My artist friend says I always ask the wrong questions :oops: But it seems Upton website fits my mindset perfectly. I like it that they take leaf photos seriously on a grid paper to show the precise size.

The tea list of the Upton catalog, I guess, is just for people who never get on internet. Who needs it when there is internet? But I think their little stories and letter at the beginning and at the end of a catalog are pretty good. All my other catalogs, from sellers of apparel, electronics or camping gear, none of them does story telling in their catalog. I haven't followed their entire Robert Fortune series in the catalog. But from the few issues I've read, I think their version is more interesting than a published book on the same topic.

Besides, I think their old-fashioned style of the website and catalog is very lovely. Maybe it's because I am getting older and more nostalgia :mrgreen:

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Re: Is Upton tea a normal shop?

Postby Muadeeb » Mar 12th, '13, 14:33

I've ordered lots of tea from Upton over the past 5 years. It may not be a great place for information on a particular tea, but their selection is huge and they offer samples of everything so you do have a chance to try before you commit to a larger quantity. They're geared towards the western style drinker, so black, flavored, and darjeelings are their mainstay, with less for the gong fu drinkers. Their extra bergemot earl grey is one of my favorites, and my wife likes the kenilworth ceylon. I recall being impressed by a 50g packet of a high grade floral TKY and it took me years to find another tea like it.

They do have a pre-chingming section now for Chinese greens, so they are adapting a little bit. But yes, the website takes me back to 1997.

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