Incursion: Upton Tea Imports

I can’t recall how, precisely, I first learned about the existence of Upton Tea Imports, but my best guess is that I was back-tracking through either Steepster or Google Search to locate alternatives to unavailable teas. At any rate, I’m very glad I did as Upton easily represents the largest fine tea wholesaler (discounting auctions like eBay or Alibaba) I’ve yet encountered. Their catalog is over 50 pages and best of all: you can buy sample sizes from them. *swoon*

The following paragraph is potentially unnecessary doggerel (I’m so glad I don’t have an editor): But if you’ll allow me to backup for a moment, I’d like to elaborate on the title. The tagline “Excursion” was the word I’d chosen a while back to indicate that a so-named blog post was going to describe a trip I’d taken to a tea shop or event. These blogs tend to be longer, more fangirly and filled with images (assuming I’m allowed to take any). However. I’m just not up to traveling every single weekend, and even when I do, I may not be able to immediately draft a writeup on the experience. I still very much want to include an Excursion-like blog post once a week~ish, but at the moment it doesn’t feel all that practical. Instead, when I can’t post an Excursion, I’ll post some other sort of longer blog. In this case an “Incursion” will describe a large tea purchase or review of stuff I’ve bought but can’t necessarily blog about. I admit, I completely borrowed this idea from my ex-boyfriend’s blog and he is hereby given props, but it definitely won’t be an outright appropriation. With any luck, I’ll come up with some more words that end in “-cursion”… >.>

Upton Tea Imports is quite simply Shangri-La for a tea-lover. They have nearly 2-3 examples of uber-fine and/or uber-rare tea from every major tea-producing region and about 20-40 variations from all major styles. Please note, Upton is a wholesaler and their products will cost a great deal more than the vendors I have described previously. That being said, they do offer mucher cheaper sample sizes if you’re interested in brewing a tea once or twice to see what it’s like (sample bags are not resealable by themselves). As it happens, sample sizes are totally perfect for my needs, and they ended up getting about $150 out of me this time around. In the end, unless you’re running your own teashop, it doesn’t make logical sense to buy more than ~50 samples–by the time you’ve gone through most of them, the following season will be upon you and the ones you liked may not be available or taste as good. I’ll probably end up reviewing a few each month until next season.

Since Upton sells uber-rare teas, the cost per bushel they spend at international auction is astronomical and subsequently the quantity they can offer per tea is fairly small. On the cheap end I bought a 60g bag of Heirloom Yunnan Yellow Buds, their cheapest Yellow tea because I have very little experience with Yellow tea (it’s nearly unheard of in North America) and I want to make a bunch of mistakes brewing it before i try to actually review one. 60g is the mid-range size and it cost $7.40USD, so it won’t deplete their stock. On the expensive end, I bought one 6g sample of 2015 Pre-Chingming Lung Jing for $8.80. Having done so, I cut into the small quantity they had available and so the price for 50g bag is $56. o.0;; 50g (less than 2oz) is generally the minimum amount of loose leaf most teashops will allow you to buy per tea. In other words, if you include shipping and handling I bought a $9 cup of tea. ^^

Creative Commons License
Upton Tea Imports Package by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

So now that I’ve got you rolling your eyes at my extravagant opulence, let’s see if i can get you salivating… Here’s what I bought for this season:

  1. ZG84S – 7g sample: Green Tian Mu Qing Ding Imperial (Anhuian Green)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  2. TJ44S – 3g sample: Kyo Bancha Organic (Ujian Green)
    x1 @ $1.80 ea.
  3. ZO21S – 15g sample: Floral Huang Jin Gui Oolong (Fujianian Oolong)
    x1 @ $2.50 ea.
  4. ZG61S – 15g sample: Pan Long Yin Hao (Zhejianger Hybrid Green)
    x1 @ $2.00 ea.

    Creative Commons License
    Pan Long Yin Hao Loose Leaf by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  5. ZK52S – 12g sample: Keemun Xiang Luo (Anhuian Black)
    x1 @ $3.50 ea.
  6. ZG99S – 4g sample: Pre-Chingming Meng Ding Gan Lu (Sichuanian Green)
    x1 @ $2.80 ea.
  7. TD07S – 10g sample: Risheehat Estate SFTGFOP1 Ch. Org. (DJ-2) (Darjeelinger Black)
    x1 @ $7.00 ea.
  8. ZGP8S – 6g sample: Pre-Chingming Lung Jing (Zhejianger Green)
    x1 @ $8.80 ea.
  9. TD10S – 10g sample: Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP Tippy Cl. First Flush (DJ-8) (Darjeelinger Black)
    x1 @ $7.00 ea.

    Creative Commons License
    Margaret’s Hope FTGFOP Tippy Loose Leaf by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  10. TM84S – 10g sample: Khima Full Moon Delight (Nepalese Black)
    x1 @ $4.00 ea.

    Creative Commons License
    Khima Full Moon Delight Loose Leaf by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  11. TA65S – 12g sample: Nahorhabi Estate FTGFOP1 Cl. (Assamica Black)
    x1 @ $3.00 ea.
  12. TM90S – 15g sample: Sakhira Estate SFTGFOP1 CL First Flush (Nepalese Black)
    x1 @ $4.00 ea.
  13. ZGP5S – 4g sample: Pre-Chingming Yin Hao (Yunnanian Green; Beautiful!)
    x1 @ $1.60 ea.

    Pre-Chingming Yin Hao (Upton) ~ loose leaf macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
    Creative Commons License
    Pre-Chingming Yin Hao (Upton) ~ loose leaf macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  14. ZK19S – 10g sample: Organic Hunan Black Mao Feng (it’s redundant but… Hunanian Black)
    x1 @ $4.00 ea.
  15. ZM70 – one brick: China Ornamental Tea Brick (Hubeian Black)
    x1 @ $14.00 ea.
    (I’ll explain later)
  16. ZH60S – 15g sample: China Aged Pu-Erh Celestial Tribute (Yunnanian Pu-erh)
    x1 @ $3.00 ea.
  17. ZH34S – 15g sample: Sticky Rice Pu-Erh Tuo Cha (Yunnanian Pu-erh)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  18. ZG81S – 15g sample: China Green Gyokuro Organic (Hunanian Green)
    x1 @ $4.50 ea.
  19. ZG34S – 12g sample: Organic China Ku-ki Cha (Sichuanian Green)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  20. ZG48S – 10g sample: Special Ding Gu Da Fang Organic (Anhuian Green)
    x1 @ $3.50 ea.
  21. ZG52S – 10g sample: Gu Zhang Mao Jian (Hunanian Green)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  22. ZG32S – 6g sample: Jiu Hua Mao Feng “Nine Glorious Mountains” (Anhuian Green)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  23. ZG51S – 5g sample: Huo Shan Huang Ya Yellow Buds (Anhuian Yellow)
    x1 @ $2.50 ea.

    Creative Commons License
    Huo Shan Huang Ya (Upton): loose leaf by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  24. ZM40S – 15g sample: Osmanthus Tea (Guangxi Gui-Hua) (Cantonese Green Scented)
    x1 @ $1.00 ea.
  25. ZJ96S – 10g sample: Jasmine Silver Needles (Fujianian White Scented)
    x1 @ $3.50 ea.
  26. ZO79S – 15g sample: Zhang Ping Shui Hsian Oolong (Fujianian Caked Oolong)
    x1 @ $3.80 ea.

    Creative Commons License
    Zhang Ping Shui Hsian Cake by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  27. ZS80S – 12g sample: Lapsang Souchong Imperial (Fujianian Smoked Black)
    x1 @ $1.00 ea.
  28. ZW80S – 5g sample: China Yin Zhen Bai Hao Downy White Pekoe (Fujianian White)
    x1 @ $3.00 ea.
  29. ZW60S – 4g sample: Special Grade Shou Mei White Tea (Fujianian White)
    x1 @ $1.00 ea.
  30. ZG02S – 12g sample: Season’s Pick Young Hyson (Anhuian Green)
    x1 @ $1.00 ea.
  31. ZG07S – 10g sample: Season’s Pick Organic Green OP (Organic Hong Konger Green)
    x1 @ $1.00 ea.
  32. TT59S – 7g sample: Formosa Pouchong Select (Taiwanese Green)
    x1 @ $4.50 ea.
  33. TC60S – 12g sample: Organic Haputale (Uva) OP (Organic Sri Lankan Black)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.

    Organic Haputale OP (Upton) ~ loose leaf Macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.Organic Haputale OP (Upton) ~ loose leaf Macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
    Creative Commons License
    Organic Haputale OP (Upton) ~ loose leaf Macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  34. TC38S – 12g sample: Ceylon Loolecondera Estate Pekoe (Sri Lankan Black)
    x1 @ $1.00 ea.

    Loolecondera Estate Ceylon Pekoe (Upton) ~ loose leaf Macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
    Creative Commons License
    Loolecondera Estate Ceylon Pekoe (Upton) ~ loose leaf Macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  35. TI88S – 12g sample: Malabar Estate Java OP Clonal (Javan Black)
    x1 @ $2.00 ea.
  36. TJ05S – 15g sample: Organic Fukamushi Cha (Kagoshiman Green)
    x1 @ $3.50 ea.

    Organic Sencha Fukamushi (Upton) - loose leaf Macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
    Creative Commons License
    Organic Sencha Fukamushi (Upton) – loose leaf Macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  37. TJ27S – 15g sample: Sencha Saemidori Superior (Kagoshiman Green)
    x1 @ $5.80 ea.

    Creative Commons License
    Sencha Saemidori Superior Liquor by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  38. TK10S – 12g sample: Livingstonia Estate Tanzania GFOP (Tanzanian Black)
    x1 @ $1.00 ea.
  39. ZK08S – 15g sample: Keemun Ji-Hong Top Grade Organic (Anhuian Black)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  40. ZG38S – 6g sample: Huang Ya Imperial Yellow Tea (Anhuian Yellow)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  41. ZG57 – 60g packet: Heirloom Yunnan Yellow Buds (Yunnanian Yellow)
    x1 @ $7.40 ea.

    Creative Commons License
    Heirloom Yunnan Yellow Buds Liquor by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
  42. ZWP2S – 7g sample: Pre-Chingming Ya Bao Special (Yunnanian Green)
    x1 @ $1.50 ea.
  43. TT86S – 12g sample: Formosa Jade Oolong (Taiwanese Oolong)
    x1 @ $3.50 ea.

    Formosa Jade Oolong (Upton) - loose leaf macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
    Creative Commons License
    Formosa Jade Oolong (Upton) – loose leaf macro by Jocilyn Mors is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

If you stare at the item codes long enough (and i don’t recommend it), a pattern emerges. The first letter indicates growing region, the second letter indicates the general style of tea, my best guess as to the meaning behind the numerals is that they are chronologically assigned based on when during the season the tea was purchased (ie. how old the tea is–numbers over 63 indicate it must be from last year’s season or older). The last letter “S” is added to the end of the code to refer to package size if you’re buying the single brew/sample size.

I’m extremely happy to have discovered Upton and greatly look forward to drinking and reviewing these fabulous teas.

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