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!
I mentioned the London Strand Earl Grey the other day. But that’s not all I bought at the Twinings store, oh no! I also bought their Orangery of Lady Grey! Because I love Lady Grey nearly as much as I love Earl Grey! Fight me!
3 min steeping (teabag)
Normal colour, and quite a citrus-y scent. There’s definitely lemon going on there, as there should be.
Taste is also distinctly lemon. Better with a bit of sugar (3/4 tsp) – brings out the lemon a bit more.
The website says it’s a “wonderful China tea scented with orange, lemon and bergamot with added cornflower petals.” So yes, definitely more citrus.
I finished the London Strand overseas, because once it was open… well, I wasn’t going to leave it for the Customs peeps (sorry folks). So I only have this one left and let me tell you, I am EKING THEM OUT. Slowly.
I mentioned my early love of Twinings Earl Grey a month or so ago. So when we were in London and someone mentioned that the original Twinings store a) still exists and b) has a bit of a museum going on, I knew I had to drag my darling there. It turned out not to be a hardship because it was pretty central. It’s a teeny little place, with a narrow entry and some old tea-related paraphernalia at the back. At the front, they have a big pick-n-mix area… and some exclusive teas. I had to be careful because a) suitcase and b) customs. Which was sad because the beautiful fancy tins were not heat-sealed. So I ended up getting teabags of some tea which I thought was exclusive to the shop but turns out to be just a fancy collection. So, London Strand Earl Grey in pyramid bags…
2.5 min steeping
1 tsp sugar
Strong scent in the box, and when steeped, although not overwhelmingly orange-y.
Has an odd aftertaste. This is the first time I have agreed with people that it kind of tastes like dishwashing liquid!
CUE PANIC. Could I have found a terrible Earl Grey, and from the Twinings Discovery Collection no less??
Thankfully, no. It turned out that the weird aftertaste wasn’t the tea… it was the Parisian water that made up the cup of tea. Because when we made it in a wee village in southern Germany, called Beubenreuth, it was far nicer. Still not my favourite cup of, but very drinkable.
Twinings says that it has a “sunny twist of citrus flavours and lemon peel [added] to the deep, black China tea and bergamot flavour blend.”
After I discovered that tea was something that didn’t only come in bags, which was a relatively recent thing all things considered, my first source of loose-leaf tea was T2. I’m sure that true tea connoisseurs roll their eyes but this place was a revelation for me, and introduced me to the plethora of teas that are possible. I love their packaging and their variety and I think their stores are lovely enough that I go out of my way to avoid them lest I be sucked in. So of course I have their loose leaf Early Grey…
3 min steeping
A bit less than 1 tsp sugar
Nice colour – what I expect!
Very rich scent: noticeably more orange than the Twinings or Dilmah teabags.
Taste: the orange/bergamot comes through right from the start, which I really like.
In my notes, I wrote that in the past I have found this tea too overpowering to be really enjoyable, but that perhaps I have over-steeped (something I am prone to, especially with a history of maybe slightly stale teabags), since I was enjoying this particular cuppa.
… and then I went back and added that a large mug of the stuff (how I usually drink it) is indeed too much. I actually find it too rich, almost oily. My husband enjoys it though, so it’s not going to waste.
This teabag was sent to me by the lovely Alisa Krasnostein.
For no good reason I have always looked on Dilmah as the poor second cousin to Twinings. I think this may result from it never being the brand of choice in the house and I just assumed my parents (OK, my mum) were buying the right stuff? Or something. Who knows. Anyway, as a result – as one does – I have never bought Dilmah and rarely drunk it. So yay for trying something so ubiquitous and challenging my idiotic preconceived ideas.
4 min steeping (3-5 min recommended)
1 tsp sugar
Maybe a little darker than the Twinings when steeped.
Smell is a bit more citrus-y than Twinings, too (take THAT preconceptions).
Taste: quite similar to Twinings, which really shouldn’t be a surprise since I think they’re using similar tea (at least, that’s my assumption), and let’s be honest these are supermarket brands so they’re not going to be using top-quality whole tea leaves or whatever. Nonetheless, I think I would actually rate this a bit higher than Twinings; it’s got a smoother feel, and I think it may be a bit more citrus-y which is something I definitely value.
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)
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.
Added sugar, but it didn’t bring out the bergamot as sometimes happens.
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.
As 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.
There’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…