Well, I took the plunge and gambled on an order from Upton. All in all, I would have been better off going out for two decent brunches. Or picking up a hooker off the street.
The first thing I noticed is that their tea leaves are extremely weak. With all teas I purchased I have to use 2-3 times the amount of leaf I do with just about any other tea purchase to get the same strength, and on top of that none of these teas produced an acceptable second infusion, even with that massive amount of leaf put in. My teas were cheap per dry ounce and much less so per drinking liter.
I found with all of the fannings I had to use a TON of them. I use a 2.5cm tea ball and need to fill it almost to the top of one half. Considering there is no air between the fannings in the tea ball, that's about triple the leaf I normally use. To make things worse, the fannings are all such bottom of the barrel scrap that some of them are small enough to go through the tea ball and get into the teapot. If it's too small to go in a tea ball, it goes in a teabag. Assholes.
I'll start with the "positives" such as they are.
Mangalam FTGFOP1 - This was not so great for their hype. It's an okayish black tea. The leaves don't seem nice enough to earn that FTGFOP1 classification, and the taste certainly doesn't hold up. The guys who gave this 5 star reviews on their website have no standards whatsoever. Sure, it's 5 stars compared to Lipton, but so is tap water. It's a decent Assam, and I love Assam, so I'm probably being nicer than the average Assam drinker here. This suffered from me having to use double the amount of leaf I normally use, and was good only for one infusion. Smells better than it tastes. I found the taste inferior to Teavana's Assam Gold Rain (which I happen to like a lot). Teavana's is a second flush and gives me two good infusions. Considering the differences in the amount of leaf used and two infusions this tea actually costs MORE than Teavana per litre. Wrap your brain around THAT.
Season's Pick Nilgiri - This is my first Nilgiri and I was not impressed. For the most part it was flat and lacking in flavor. Smelling it gave a flat and dull impression, which is exactly what I got when drinking it hot. I let it cool to room temperature which brought a little more flavor, but still nothing to get excited about. It's not bad for what I paid, but I expected more from the description. Would not reorder.
Season's Pick Organic White Fannings - Neck and neck with the Mangalam for best tea I got, which isn't saying much. It's a little better than Sea Dyke's white tea teabags. So nothing to write home about and go crazy buying a kilo. It's not bad for cheap crappy white tea, but I wouldn't buy it again either. Then again with 250g of it I wouldn't be reordering soon anyway.
Those were the teas I "liked."
Season's Pick Oolong Fannings - Okay, these things smell like dirt. I am not lying or exaggerating. You open the bag and you smell dirt. There is no truth in advertising here whatsoever. They claim hints of red apple, which are not there. It does, however, have hints of dirt. Foojoy's standard oolong tea bags destroy this tea, both on quality and price.
Season's Pick Jasmine Fannings - These suck only slightly less than the oolong fannings, coming from someone who loves jasmine tea. No matter how I make this it comes out flat, bland or bitter. There is either no jasmine taste at all, or it overpowers the tea completely. Fail.
China Lychee - How hard is this to screw up? You take some cheap black tea no one would otherwise drink, throw in some dried lychee and you normally get a drinkable lychee tea. Foojoy makes a drinkable lychee teabag for *^#@'s sake. For you fruit's rights nuts, fear not, no real lychees were harmed during the production of this tea. You'll have a hard time convincing me it's something other than a pathetic artificial flavoring. The sad thing is that I'm extremely easy to please when it comes to lychee tea. I've never even met a lychee tea bag I didn't like. And I didn't like this.
I am seriously considering putting in a call to MA's attorney general. Upton claims to be a "purveyor of the world's finest tea's." If that isn't false advertising ('m actually thinking outright fraud) nothing is.