Cream Earl Grey

NPG D34953; Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Samuel Cousins, published by and after Sir Thomas Lawrence

This tea, from The London Tea Merchant, was sent to me by the wonderful Ann when she heard I was doing this experiment.

4 minutes steeping (recommended)

No sugar

Quite pale when steeped. A faint orange smell when in leaf form, but less so when steeped. It does smell a bit creamy – perhaps vanilla?

Tastes a bit weak. Used 1 tsp of leaves, as recommended.

IMG_1416.JPGAdded sugar, but it didn’t bring out the bergamot as sometimes happens.

Next time:

Used a bit more tea, and got a resulting darker colour. Tasted a bit stronger but still not much of a bergamot flavour.

The website says that there’s a slight bergamot taste, along with vanilla and rice pudding, which I think I get.

Overall this is an ok tea, but it’s not a great Earl Grey tea.

Twinings Earl Grey

NPG D34953; Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Samuel Cousins, published by and after  Sir Thomas LawrenceAs I mentioned in my first post on this topic, this is where I started. Twinings Earl Grey teabags. Even though they’re not my favourite they are still my touchstone in terms of what Earl Grey tea is. So…

3 minutes steeping (recommended)

About 1 tsp sugar (I always have, probably always will)

It’s exactly the colour I associate with tea. ZERO SURPRISES.

UnknownThere’s definitely a hint of orange in the smell of the tea after steeping.

Taste: yup, definitely still that Earl Grey taste I remember. There’s definitely more taste in this teabag than in most other teabags I’ve tried. It’s not exceptionally orange-y, except in contrast with non-Earl Grey. Nonetheless… if there’s only teabags, this is the one for me.

I have had Earl Grey teabags sit around for years and they’re still drinkable, perhaps with a little more sugar than when they’re not, you know, a bit stale. I will never understand people who drink milk with their Earl Grey…

 

 

Year of the Earl

Unknown.jpegI grew up in Darwin – the tropics. I think this is a large part of the reason for my not being interested in hot drinks as a kid: I didn’t see the point. My parents, having lived in Adelaide their whole lives, still drank them; Mum was into coffee (it was the ’80s, so it was Nescafe), while Dad was into tea. In my memory, my house had two sorts of tea: Lipton’s black tea and Twinings Earl Grey. Now on the rare occasions that I had tea, I treated it almost like a cheat’s dessert. I would add milk, and two sugars (…heaped). Dad, however, drank the Earl Grey. I assumed that he was simply being snobbish, because I assumed Earl Grey was just a brand. And then one day – I don’t remember why, but I must have been in my mid-teens – I tried Earl Grey without milk.

And the world changed. There was something different… what was that taste? Was it orange?? I was never going back to plain black tea, for preference.

Despite the discovery that Earl Grey was about flavour, not just brand, I didn’t become a tea drinker overnight. I still didn’t really see the point, even when I moved to Melbourne and it was cold. Over time, though, I came to enjoy tea more. I discovered T2 and the idea of loose leaf tea; I discovered variations on the theme of Earl Grey, as well as other flavoured black teas. These days, I happily drink cup after cup of tea in holidays, and I even have some lovely tea pots and I knit tea cosies.

Which brings me to this year. 2018 is going to be my Year of the Earl. My plan is to taste many different Earl Grey teas: different brands and different variations on the theme. I’ll Charlesgrey2.jpgbe sourcing lots of Australian teas, because they’re the easiest for me to source, but there will be a few international guests as well.

Things to note: I generally have sugar in my Earl Grey (1/2-1 tsp); I never, ever add milk; I am on board with the flowers being added.

I’m really excited to see what comes up over the year. If you have a favourite boutique tea, let me know in the comments, or send me an email! And if you have a favourite tea – English Breakfast, perhaps, or a green tea? – why not consider playing along? Tell me about it and I’ll feature your story here!

Acts of Kitchen: Sam from Art of Tea

AoK_logo_v2In which I talk to the wonderful Sam, who runs and manages and does all sorts of interesting things with the Tasmanian business Art of Tea, and she talks about buying the business, the new(ish) Bouteaque… and nudi-tea

Also, a little sneak peak, if you listen closely, about a project I’ve got lined up for next year…

 

Tea Festival

I went to the Melbourne Tea Festival! I was pretty excited to go, although at the same time I was apprehensive; I don’t love crowds and I am easily overwhelmed these days. So I was worried that it would be just TOO BIG and I would find the choice overpowering.

Happily this was not the case.

I mean, I’m still amazed and impressed by the number of small scale tea blenders in Australia, and there were even some people there selling Australian-grown tea. But it wasn’t like a craft festival where there’s a dozen people selling identical stuff.

Well. Except they were all selling the same sort of product, I guess.

Also I just ignored all the naturopathic places, and if you’re selling Slimming Tea I am walking past.

ANYWAY. There were people selling black tea, green tea, and chai; I felt like green and chai dominated. Possibly because I don’t love those things, although my co-attendee, my sister, does like both of those so she was interested. This was my haul:IMG_1461.JPG

So yeh, I have a thing for Earl Grey (the two test tubes of black tea are both French Earl Grey). Partly this was in order to give myself a way of focusing; it would have been verrrry easy to just go completely nuts. At least this way I had some direction… and then there was the chocolate one. That’s made from the husks of cacao pods! How cool is that? Take the leftover stuff and roast it and serve it up as tea. Yes, it is still quite chocolate-y. The ceramic cup at the front was included as part of the entrance fee; pretty much everyone had tea brewing for you to sample, and that’s what you got to use.

IMG_1459.JPGThere were also some food stalls. In the spirit of my obsession, we had to try these Earl Grey macarons. They were very nice… but they were not very Earl Grey-y. WOE. (They were a not-very-overpowering jaffa, basically.)

I will probably be back next year.

Acts of Kitchen: Cheryl and Bec

AoK_logo_v2In which I discuss waffles and donuts, and announce that Patreon patrons at the $2 level and above will now have access to a Slack where you can chat to me and other folks…

Cheryl is Flag and Spear

Check out some of imbue’s previous events! (I went to the Brunch one.)

Bec is In the Art of Entertaining (website coming soon but the picture is from the brunch I attended)

Poshing it up

IMG_1425.JPGA while back I interviewed my dear friend Alison. This year marks the 20th anniversary of us knowing each other, so we went on a date to the State Library of Victoria for high tea.

High tea was part of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. The idea behind it was to have food inspired by some of the collection that the SLV has: there’s heaps of ephemera from various people important to Victoria’s history including place cards-cum-menus for dinner parties, an awesome fold-out fan menu from a Melbourne Cricket Club event, old Jimmy Watson menus, and what is apparently the oldest cookbook printed in Australia: one for different flavours of ice cream. We got to see a bunch of this stuff – it’s not usually on display, so that was fun.

IMG_1429.JPGThe food was also good. The prosecco was lovely and the English breakfast tea not stewed, which is always a concern… The sandwiches were delicious, with the chicken and pear and basil being quite a surprise but definitely a winner. I think my favourite of the sweet things was the chocolate waffle tartlet with salted caramel; I ate the popcorn but eh, I always think it’s a waste of space. The scones were not as light as I had expected; they were still tasty, as was the jam. The bachelor’s buttons were the big surprise – really quite tasty. And oh look, a recipe from the National Museum!

It was one of those sit-with-other-people events. We were the only people not with our mothers, on our table (one group was three generations). It was a very popular Christmas gift apparently.

It was a lovely event, in a lovely space.