Cream Earl Grey

NPG D34953; Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Samuel Cousins, published by and after Sir Thomas Lawrence

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)

No sugar

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.

IMG_1416.JPGAdded sugar, but it didn’t bring out the bergamot as sometimes happens.

Next time:

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.

Twinings Earl Grey

NPG D34953; Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey by Samuel Cousins, published by and after  Sir Thomas LawrenceAs 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.

UnknownThere’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…

 

 

Year of the Earl

Unknown.jpegI grew up in Darwin – the tropics. I think this is a large part of the reason for my not being interested in hot drinks as a kid: I didn’t see the point. My parents, having lived in Adelaide their whole lives, still drank them; Mum was into coffee (it was the ’80s, so it was Nescafe), while Dad was into tea. In my memory, my house had two sorts of tea: Lipton’s black tea and Twinings Earl Grey. Now on the rare occasions that I had tea, I treated it almost like a cheat’s dessert. I would add milk, and two sugars (…heaped). Dad, however, drank the Earl Grey. I assumed that he was simply being snobbish, because I assumed Earl Grey was just a brand. And then one day – I don’t remember why, but I must have been in my mid-teens – I tried Earl Grey without milk.

And the world changed. There was something different… what was that taste? Was it orange?? I was never going back to plain black tea, for preference.

Despite the discovery that Earl Grey was about flavour, not just brand, I didn’t become a tea drinker overnight. I still didn’t really see the point, even when I moved to Melbourne and it was cold. Over time, though, I came to enjoy tea more. I discovered T2 and the idea of loose leaf tea; I discovered variations on the theme of Earl Grey, as well as other flavoured black teas. These days, I happily drink cup after cup of tea in holidays, and I even have some lovely tea pots and I knit tea cosies.

Which brings me to this year. 2018 is going to be my Year of the Earl. My plan is to taste many different Earl Grey teas: different brands and different variations on the theme. I’ll Charlesgrey2.jpgbe sourcing lots of Australian teas, because they’re the easiest for me to source, but there will be a few international guests as well.

Things to note: I generally have sugar in my Earl Grey (1/2-1 tsp); I never, ever add milk; I am on board with the flowers being added.

I’m really excited to see what comes up over the year. If you have a favourite boutique tea, let me know in the comments, or send me an email! And if you have a favourite tea – English Breakfast, perhaps, or a green tea? – why not consider playing along? Tell me about it and I’ll feature your story here!