Monday, October 15, 2018

Upton Tea Imports Uva Special BOP

Since revving up the engine on the old blog, I've been thinking about black tea, and why I haven't been drinking nearly as much as I used to. I think part of the problem is that of sugar. I truly like black tea "British style," with milk and sugar. I don't really enjoy black tea "black" like I do with coffee, since astringency comes out from tea a bit more. Unfortunately I also try very hard not to intake much sugar. So, rock and a hard place, and black tea becomes a more occasional drink for me.

So, for the purposes of writing up a decent review of a tea, I think I should try it several different ways - black, iced, and "British" at a minimum. If I wanted to get really fancy, I would even try different brew strengths and times, but I haven't found enough difference in the past to make that worthwhile.

So, on to the business of the day - Uva Special BOP. Uva is a pretty prominent Ceylon tea estate, and the Ceylon teas are probably the most productive area that I know the least about. Ceylon teas come from the island of Sri Lanka of the coast of India (Ceylon is an older British colonial place name that survives in the tea type). The central highlands of the country have the right mix of elevation, rainfall, and temperature bands to produce high quality tea, and there are a ton of estates scattered throughout. I enjoy that the names reflect modern day Sri Lankan and fanciful old-school British names.

BOP is of course broken orange pekoe, typically crushed tea leaves that may include some fannings. In my experience, the larger tea leaf surface area exposed to water means you get a stronger, maltier cup than with full leaf tea. I've found it interesting that the same tea at different grades can taste pretty different as different notes stand out -- BOP makes a good strong, pick-me-up tea with a bit more astringency.

Brewing recommendations are a teaspoon of tea to 6 ounces of water, brew at rolling boil for 3 - 5 minutes. As noted above, in the interests of a full review, I tried this tea black without sugar, and then with milk and sugar (iced will be it's own review, I think). As unsweetened black tea, the flavor notes are big, lots of cedar with a mild lingering wintergreen finish, but I find the astringency a little drying on the tongue.

So, another couple cups, this time with a teaspoon of sugar and about a tablespoon of whole milk. The adds really lift this tea up. Sugar balances out some of the astringency, and milk smooths out the body of the tea. The prominent notes are malt and cedar, and the milk and sugar do not diminish the mild mint or wintergreen in the finish. I've always thought of Ceylon as afternoon tea, and while I would happily have this as an afternoon cup, I think it's "big" enough for a morning cup too.

Available from Upton Teas here (shameless plug, I know, but well deserved!) Upcoming reviews will be iced and cold brew of this tea, and then a green, and maybe a couple more if I haven't fully lost steam. I'm trying very hard to stick to a once a week posting schedule (with limited success).

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