Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Review #21 - Upton Tea Ceylon FBOP Select Earl Grey (loose)

Well ladies and gents, we have reached the last Earl Grey from Upton tea. That's right, a ways back, I ordered every pure Earl Grey (no other flavorings beside Bergamot) from Upton tea. Then I started to review them when ever possible, but not so often as to appear biased in any way. Well this review marks the end of that order. So unless Upton adds any new Earl Grey's to their selection, we will be done with them until further notice. I will share that I did the same thing with another vendor but you'll just have to wait and see who that well known tea "house" is. So while you ponder the options, lets review what might possibly be the longest name for an Earl Grey yet.


 As typical with Upton their sealed foil bags do not allow any aroma to escape, which is a good thing for freshness retention. That also means no cheating on the aroma test. Instead I peeled open their sample pack bag and was met with a very mellow but clean aroma. I continued to enjoy it and only picked up something slightly, and I mean very slightly "off" with the aroma. When you take in a good Earl Grey with real bergamot the fruity aromas linger and remain fresh and clean. With this tea you get that initially but then at the end you also pick up something else.  So as not to influence my review I didn't go to the website but just continued on with the review.

Steeping Method

Because I was purposely avoiding their site, I went with the instructions printed on the sample label. To be honest, nothing earth shattering, just good ol' fashion true blue typical methods.

1tsp / 3-5 min / 212 deg F 
This means I tasted this tea at the 3, 4 , and 5 minute marks. Since this is not bagged tea there is no need to stress test.

The Results

This tea was a pleasant surprise due to it's rather mellow aroma. If I had to sum up my tasting experience it
would be something like, "Not bad, Not bad at all with a secondary taste." To some this isn't a great review result and to be honest I won't be ranking this tea among the best ever. But I did like it minus the after taste. The flavor is very well balanced and only misses the cooling effect by a little  There is some flavor change, which I'll talk about as it relates to the steeping time, but overall a good flavor. So why the reservations? Let me explain.

To begin, let me explain how the flavor changed with steeping time. At the three minute mark this tea was very thin but still balanced. At the 4 minute mark the sweetness and aroma greatly improved to the point where I was quite happy with it. But if you are looking for that sweet cooling effect, 5 minutes is the way to go. By going to the 5 minute mark, you got a well balanced tea, and some nice cooling effect flavors. At this point I think it would be wise to point out what the letters in the name of this tea stand for. FBOP.

F BOP—Flowery Broken Orange Pekoe: Coarser and broken with some tips. From Assam, Ceylon, Indonesia, China, and Bangladesh. In South America coarser, black broken.
 source: Wikipedia

I know what you are thinking? You trust the Wiki? In this case after searching through countless sites, Wiki had the same exact thing everyone else had in a nice neat, and easily copied format.

So now for the bad part of this tea. After finishing the tasting part of this review I headed over to the Upton site and had a look at the ingredients hoping to find a reason for the secondary taste. Sadly I found something I was hoping not to see.

Ingredients:   black tea, natural & artificial flavor Origin:   Germany 

 Yup, those dreaded words, "Artificial flavor"; at least for me they are. But I will be fair and say this, I obviously don't know exact amounts of the artificial flavorings but if I were a betting man I would say less then 50% because there isn't a perfume based smell or taste. Just something not perfectly citrus about it. Granted they could be using something that doesn't give off any form of the typical perfume give away's making me totally wrong. But like I said, it's my guess and I'm sticking with it until further notice.

To end, the color of this tea was on the light side and the leaf expansion was on par with most other loose varieties.


This may come as a surprise but you can re-steep this tea, but at a cost. A cost which we've run into before with other teas. If you want to re-steep this tea keep your steeping times under 4 minutes. It won't be the best 2nd cup of Earl Grey you've ever had but it will be ok. If it were me I'd go for the best taste and forget the re-steep. But that's just me.

Final Thoughts

I could go on and on about taking something so pure as tea and adding artificial ingredients but you didn't come here to read a rant. You want a review so here are my final thoughts. If you are into the natural/organic side of things, I would skip this tea not because of the flavor but due to what "might" be in this tea. If you are on the other side of things, this Earl Grey isn't all that bad. It lacks some of the cooling effects other teas have but this is still a good tea and I would try it for yourself.