This tea was sent to me by Tavalon as a sample. And look how cute their sample boxes are!
Tavalon say that their “teas are grown in boutique farms and all the ingredients have extremely limited and authentic origins. and of course, we take extreme care as to not involve any machines in the process whatsoever.” They sent me their Earl Grey Reserve, and two of their breakfast teas, too – Aussie Breakfast and New York Breakfast. I haven’t had a chance to try the two breakfast teas yet but will certainly report back when I do. Each sample box has a single (large) tea bag in it – it’s a single cup’s worth, but most of it is whole-leaf so there needs to be room to expand.
The recommended steeping time was 5 minutes, which I thought was quite a long time but I followed their instructions. I added 1/2 tsp of sugar, because I’ve learnt that there’s basically no Earl Grey that I like straight (except, actually, if it’s Twinings Earl Grey and it’s about 0C outside. But anyway…).
I was surprised at the lack of scent – it didn’t smell very citrus-y – and this was matched by the flavour. This is a very subtle Earl Grey; it’s clearly not an unflavoured black tea but it’s also not a highly flavoured one. Perhaps a good intro for the Earl Grey hater? It’s not going to be one of my favourites.
As part of my Year of the Earl, I’m also looking to bake with Earl Grey in various different ways. So when I found a blueberry and orange cake with Earl Grey syrup in Annabel Crabbe’s Special Delivery, I was pretty excited.
The cake itself is blueberries and ricotta and orange zest, and it’s pretty straightforward. You make the batter, layer half of it in a springform pan, put most of the blueberries in the middle, and then cover with the rest of the batter and scatter a few berries on top.
While it’s cooking, you make a syrup. The original recipe called for Lady Grey, but I decided to make a change – WHAT A NOT-SURPRISE – because I don’t actually have a lot of Lady Grey (waaaat?!). I do, however, have a great deal of French Earl Grey and I figured that the flavours in that would complement the berries and orange well enough.
So the syrup is three teabags’ worth of tea, steeped for about 5 minutes, then boiled with orange juice and sugar for a little bit. And the syrup itself was very nice, but… not really very Earl Grey-y. I’m honestly not convinced it made much of a difference; and I can’t see that making it with Lady Grey would have been any different. Maybe the tea needs to steep for longer, to get more tannins or something? I don’t know. Maybe a bit less orange, since that was the dominant flavour for me.
Anyway. It was a very nice cake and I’m happy to have made it (although I think I over-mixed it as it wasn’t quite as light and fluffy as I expected).
Did you know that T2’s Sydney Breakfast is an Earl Grey-ish? me neither! Story time:
I needed to get more Perth Breakfast, because even I am not going to drink Earl Grey alone all of this year. I happened to be near a T2 store, so I went in and asked for it – and the sales assistant was very pleased with me, because she loves it and is trying to convince others to try it. (I love it because Alisa gave me some and joked about how because it’s Perth, you have to drink it before 9am.) Anyway, she mentioned that as it’s got vanilla and bergamot, it’s like a perfect combination of Melbourne (vanilla) and Sydney (bergamot). At which I pricked up my ears, mentioned this project, and voila! I had a sample of Sydney to take home to add to my collection.
3 min steeping: she gave me enough for a pot of tea, so a pot of tea I made for my day at home while I sat at the computer noodling away.
To the detriment of the tea, I had been sneezing a bit so my sense of smell wasn’t great; but it didn’t smell very bergamot.
Taste: it’s quite a nice tea, but the bergamot is, to my tastebuds, so delicate as to be not there. It’s different too from your standard Earl Grey because it’s a Chinese tea, rather than Sri Lankan (… which I’m not sure I could pick, but maybe by the end of this year I’ll be more aware of such things).
Nice enough, but I’m not rushing to buy a box of it.
Scent is not especially citrus-y; a bit on the savoury side.
Taste: quite savoury; not very orange. Slightly improved for my tastes with a bit of sugar.
The ingredients list Assam, Rwandan, Ceylond and Darjeeling tea. Guess that’s what makes it strong. It’s more like T2’s Earl Grey Royale than anything else I’ve tried. I’m very happy to have experienced it!
Quite a floral scent, although certainly not overpowering.
Taste: interestingly, it fell more on the savoury side than I was expecting. The flowers are there but they’re not huge and they don’t make it especially sweet. When I added 1/2tsp sugar I felt that it brought out the flowers a bit more. It’s not an especially citrus-y tea. This isn’t too surprising when the ingredients list apricot, mango, rose and cornflower among the ingredients. Bergamot is going to get a bit overwhelmed.
Very nice, but probably not as nice as the Art of Tea version, for me.