Year of the Earl: Fortnum and Mason

This Fortnum and Mason tea, Earl Grey Classic, was foraged for me by the lovely Gill, along with a few other F&M teas; apparently she and a friend had a delightful time in London, discovering that you can get minimum quantities of tea in nice resealable bags so you can taste test a whole range of teas. I approve of this idea. A lot.

Basically this tea is what it says on the tin: a classic Earl Grey. It’s not a massively citrus-y tea and it doesn’t appear to have cornflowers, either. It’s a nice, light Earl Grey – probably still not going to appeal to the EG haters in your life but for me, it’s a nice comforting cuppa that doesn’t require a lot of thinking about. It doesn’t stand out as exceptional, but if I lived in London I would consider indulging in more of this.

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Whittard of Chelsea: Elderflower Early Grey

When we were in the UK some time ago, I visited Whittard of Chelsea and got completely overwhelmed by their amazing range of tea. I came home with just two, because I decided to be sensible even though it hurt, precious. One of those I bought was Elderflower Earl Grey, because how could I not??

The site says it’s got ‘hedgerow elderberries’ and speckles of elderflower blossoms. The dry tea smells quite strongly of elderflower – not in an overwhelming sense, but it is the dominant note. This is true of the tea itself; in fact, I get no bergamot at all. It’s possible that if you took the bergamot out I would notice the difference, but I’m not entirely convinced. For me, this is very much Elderflower Earl Grey. Which isn’t to say I don’t like it – when you’re in the mood for a fairly fruity, on the sweeter side, tea, this is quite delicious. But it’s not hugely Earl Grey.

Very nice, but I won’t be putting in international orders to get more.

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.