Year of the Earl: on slacking off

Perceptive followers of the blog will notice that I haven’t posted in um, a little while. I have still been drinking Earl Grey – a lot – but… yeh. The blogging has fallen off as other things have distracted me, and as I’ve mostly-subconsciously rebelled against my self-imposed weekly expectation of tea reviews. Now many of those were written in advance, but nonetheless… it’s got to be an imposition lately, and so I’ve just… not done it.

Oops.

I have been drinking Elmstock Earl Grey at work. It’s pretty close to becoming one of my gold standards for Earl Grey. It’s clearly bergamot-y, but it’s not overwhelming; there’s no oiliness or other unpleasant taste. The leaves are quite small, which does somehow seem to affect the delicateness of the taste… but maybe I’m imagining that and it’s more about the way the bergamot has been used. At any rate, this is an excellent one and I’m very pleased to be drinking it.

I’ve also been drinking Byron Bay Earl Grey, which was sent to me to sample. It’s another in the classic line of Earl Grey: no flowers, nothing but bergamot and leaves. The taste is pretty standard – that is, full-enough flavoured for the Earl Grey lover, not a punch in the face for those unsure.

I have… a few Earl Greys that I still haven’t even tasted, let alone reviewed. So I’ll be trying to get back on that over the next while.

Elmstock Smoky Earl Grey

Another sample from Elmstock. I told you they were generous.

I went into this basically expecting not to like it, which should surprise no one given how I felt about the last smokey Earl Grey. This tea is black tea blended with Lapsang Souchang, and bergamot. When dry, I could smell bergamot along with the bergamot.

4 min steeping as suggested, and no sugar as also suggested in the information about the tea. Once steeped, the smoke was much more obvious than bergamot. In fact, it was so smokey that I could not drink it… and tipped it down the sink. I’m sure that someone who likes Russian Caravan or similar would really like this, but that person is not me.

 

Kappy’s Ceylon Earl Grey

Kappy sent me a few samples, which was super generous. One of those was their Ceylon Earl Grey.

This has a very rich bergamot scent when dry – it’s very pleasant! 3 min steeping and 1/2tsp sugar, it’s not quite as strong when steeped.

It’s a nice tea, although it’s not going to be one of my favourites. It’s a bit more on the savoury side than I had expected from the scent.

Dammann Frères: Earl Grey Kerala

Another gift from Gill! Although this one is not from Fortnum and Mason, but from Dammann Freres, in Paris. SO very fancy. She had many options and went with the Kerala. The website calls it “Bergamot and neroli mingled with a Kerala tea : a highly original combination.” Dry, it smells nice enough, although not very strong.

At first I went with 3 min steeping, but didn’t think it was especially flavourful. So I tried it again at 4 min steeping, which was better. (1/2 tsp sugar both times.)

I don’t know what neroli is meant to taste like; I couldn’t taste anything especially different or interesting along with the bergamot. It’s ok as a tea, but not especially exciting as an earl grey. It’s not overly savoury, nor spicy, and certainly not floral.

Endeavour Earl Grey

I don’t remember where I got hold of this; it might have been at the tea festival some time ago. I like the packaging a lot – Impala and Peacock use similar cardboard tubes and I really like them. So, go Endeavour for that.

4 min steeping as recommended, 1/2tsp sugar. This is one of those earl greys with cornflowers so if that offends, definitely avoid it. Which would be a shame, because this is quite a nice tea. I found the 4 min steeping was a little bitter for me, so I made another cup and brewed it for 3 min, which was much 03-earl-grey-2_1024x1024.jpgmore to my tastes. When brewed that bit shorter, this became a tea that’s high up my list. Very nice indeed.

Fortnum and Mason Countess Grey

I had a feeling that where the Smokey and the Green were not my thing, this would be more up my alley, and I was exactly right. This is a variation on Lady Grey, which I have always loved.

It’s a lovely-looking tea, with flecks of colour. It smells wonderfully orange, with maybe a touch of lemon in there too (except not, according to the F&M notes).

3 min steeping, 1/2 tsp sugar. Smells as good when steeped as it does when dry. The citrus notes are strong but not overwhelming. In all this is truly a splendid tea and if I had easy access to it I would be buying more! I could easily drink this most days.

Fortnum and Mason: Green Tea Earl Grey Classic

Another Fortnum and Mason from Gill, which again we tried together, as a small pot of tea.

When dry, it smelled very bergamot. When steeped, it smelled much more green and the bergamot was quite reduced, although still just present.

In the end, this is a green tea, and I just don’t love green tea. I drank my cup but I didn’t love it. I imagine that for someone who likes both bergamot and green, this might be quite welcome as a brew.