Ovvio Organics kindly sent me some samples of their tea – not just earl grey but some of their herbal tisanes, too. I don’t tend to go in for teas that are marketed with a medicinal bent, because that’s certainly not why I drink it and I’m suspicious when it comes to claims for anything food-related having massive impact on health and well-being. But anyway, someone had recommended their black teas, so I was keen to try them out.
The French Earl Grey is a very pretty tea to look at, and quite fragrant as a dry tea. What I initially thought was fennel, from appearance, is actually lavender which makes a lot more sense. I feel like there’s a higher proportion of flowers and so on to tea leaves in this concoction than one usually finds. This is not in itself a deal breaker for me.
3 min steeping, 1/2 tsp sugar. Quite fragrant when steeped, too. The lavender definitely comes through, which is something you need to be aware of – especially if you don’t like lavender! I didn’t feel like 1tsp of tea really got me enough flavour, when I made my first cup, so my next cup I used the old leaves with another tsp or so of fresh. It was certainly more flavourful that way. This is quite a nice tea, but won’t be on my shopping list.
Another tea from the Loose Lea Tea House. How could I resist a French Earl Grey that looked like this?
3 min steeping, 1/2 tsp sugar.
There wasn’t nearly as much scent to the dry tea as I had expected, and – even sadder – not a whole lot when steeped either. It’s a nice enough tea but that’s not really a winning description, is it? Fair to say I was a bit disappointed.
This sample came from Tea Life. Their French Earl Grey includes rose, sunflower, blue mallow flowers and the usual bergamot.
Their website recommends steeping for 3-4 min but the sachet said 2 min, so that’s what I did. The website also says you should get 2, maybe 3, cups from the same heaped teaspoon, which I wish I had noticed! Ah well, there’s enough left to have some more. Interestingly, they recommend having the tea with milk, which I think sounds a bit gross, to be honest… but each to their own. And they suggest honey rather than sugar, which I will also have to try. Experiments are fun!
There’s a lot going on in the scent of this tea. It’s super flowery, which is of zero surprise; they definitely dominate the citrus. Which isn’t necessarily a problem, but it’s not always what I want in an Earl Grey.
The taste is also quite flowery. Honestly it tastes like a lot of French Earl Greys I’ve tried. It’s nice; I wouldn’t drink it all day (I wouldn’t drink any French Earl Grey I’ve found all day); and it doesn’t especially stand out.
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).
My friends, bless their cotton socks, started to get into the act. This one, The Tea Centre’s French Earl Grey, came from Alison, she of the Anglo-Indian interview. I have had their tea before, but not this one…
3 min steeping.
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.
The Art of Tea is a Tasmanian business; I had the joy of interviewing Sam for the podcast a good few months ago. They have a great range of Earl Greys and one of my favourites is their French Earl Grey. Definitely not for the anti-flowers in their tea brigade!
3 min steeping.
Normal colour. Very floral scent, when dry; very noticeable perfume when steeping.
Taste: also very floral. I like it a lot, although it’s not especially orange-y or even citrus-y. The box says it’s got hibiscus, sunflower and rose in it. Curious, I added 1/2 tsp sugar. It did not turn it into an overpoweringly sweet beverage, as I feared; in fact, it reduced a slight bitterness (which may have resulted from over-steeping?).
I reaaallly like this one!