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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 more to my tastes. When brewed that bit shorter, this became a tea that’s high up my list. Very nice indeed.
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.
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.
It’s fun when friends get into the act. When Gill sent to the UK, she went earl grey shopping. She discovered that Fortnum and Mason have a very wide range of loose leaf teas, and that you can get really quite small samples for very reasonable prices. So she got me a few, and we tried some of them together.
Firstly, we tried the Smokey. Gill and her husband don’t mind a smokey tea. Me, though: I would definitely rather not drink a bush fire. But I thought that trying it with bergamot would be worthwhile. So we made a small pot of tea – 2tsp; it was very smokey when dry, and very smokey when steeped. There was a bit of an orange scent but the smoke was overwhelming.
This was most certainly not my thing. I added 1/2tsp sugar which cut through the smoke somewhat but it didn’t bring out any more of the bergamot. Interestingly, Gill also didn’t enjoy it.
The packets look a bit like this:
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.