Another in the Tea Pigs line! Also, of course, from Alisa, as was their Earl Grey Strong. The Strong has a picture of a bull dog on the tag; the darjeeling has a picture of a dachshund, which is… more refined? or something? Not sure. They also add cornflowers – just for the appearance, I think.
Steeped for 3 minutes, as recommended. It’s always fun to see whole leaves unfolding in a bag as the tea steeps; this is one of the more interesting things I’ve learned about tea over the last few years. I’m still not sure if I can tell the difference in taste, though, I admit.
The dry leaves didn’t have a whole lot of scent, and it wasn’t particularly smelly when it was brewed either. The taste is not hugely citrus-y, although it’s quite a nice tea – as apparently I should expect, it being real darjeeling. One of these days I guess I should learn about the tastes of different black teas. But probably not this year.
I added lemon, which is their recommended way of serving it; I don’t think I’ve ever had Earl Grey with lemon before, now that I think about it. And it was quite nice. I then added just a dash of sugar, which I think enhanced the citrus a bit. Again, quite a nice tea, although not going to be a favourite.
As with The Tea Makers of London, The Wiltshire Tea Company sent me some samples when I was in London last year. So cool!
The first I tried with their Earl Grey Blue Lady. This will be an Earl Grey sin to some, because it includes (gasp) cornflower, and mallow blossom too. This is not a problem for me as I quite like cornflower.
The recommended steeping time was 2-3 minutes, so I went with 2, to see what it was like.
I tried this a few hours after The Tea Makers’ Mary Grey, because I thought they would make an interesting contrast, and I was right. Blue Lady isn’t as strong as Mary Grey, and it’s certainly less citrus-y and a bit more flowery. Again, I initially tried with sugar, and preferred it with just a little bit of sugar to take a bit of bitterness off.
It’s a very pleasant Earl Grey, although it doesn’t especially stand out; it’s a great one for people who prefer their citrus a bit more on the subtle side. I’m going to be very happy to drink this a few more times but it’s not one I regret not being able to access easily.
When I was in London last year, I took the opportunity to ask some English tea companies to send me samples. And, delightfully, some of them did! The first one I want to talk about is The Tea Makers of London’s Mary Grey Special.
They describe it as the ‘delicate’ version of Earl Grey. I thought I could see bits of orange peel in it, but I may have been wrong about that according to the ingredients list which says it has marigold flowers (so maybe that’s what I saw) and essential citrus oils.
The recommended amounts were 2tsp of tea and 4 minutes of steeping, so I followed their instructions.
It has a very citrus-y scent, which is unsurprising given the oils listed in the ingredients. The taste is also quite citrus-y – but not too much. It was slightly improved, to my taste, by the addition of sugar; I did decide to try this unsugared at first because of the citrus. I think the sugar took the edge off the slight bitterness which I don’t love.
This is quite a strong Earl Grey in flavour; it’s definitely not one for the Earl Grey doubters. It’s not overwhelming like the T2 Earl Grey – there’s no oiliness. Instead it’s exactly that lovely orange-y, not quite flowery, taste that I really enjoy about Earl Grey. I’m looking forward to drinking the rest of this sample, and wish that shipping from the UK wasn’t so painful…
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.
Tea Pigs!! … what an awesome name!
Like the last tea was from Alison, this one is from the lovely Alisa (interviewed here about her Kit Kat tasting project, and here we try Kit Kats LIIIIIVE). She sent me Earl Grey STRONG, which is just so adorable. Also adorable is the packaging that the ‘tea temples’ come in:
3 min steeping.
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!