Saturday, June 23, 2018

Review #72 - Grey's Teas - Earl Grey Tea Blend (loose)

We are back with another review and for this one I tried something different for the photos. Since the beginning I was using plain ol' point and shot cameras. I know, I know but aren't you an engineering and know all that F-stop stuff. Honestly, I've just never got into the whole photography thing. You are going to cringe but when I wanted a certain shot I would just go into manual mode and start changing settings until I get what I want. For those of you who are legitimate picture takers, please forgive me. The most recent camera was my Canon PowerShot ELPH 130 IS. It served its purpose for a long time but now I think it's time to let my phone take over the job. Yeah that's right I took this reviews shots with my trusty Lenovo/Motorola Moto something something something. I used Open Camera and one of those cheapo phone stands that allow you to take pictures with. Feedback on the pictures is always welcome but I think they look a bit better. Onto the review.


Aroma

This review originated via social media when the fine folks at Grey's Teas contacted me and asked that I review not just one but two of their Earl Grey teas. Needless to say I said yes and here we are with the first. The package arrived from across the pond in jolly ol' England in a nice re-seal-able zip lock bag. 
It clearly states "Sample only" so I will not review the bag only to say, I like that I could reseal it. When you open the bag you get alot of black tea. I could not make out any citrus at all. We've seen this before when the blender follows a certain process and all the aroma is released once brewing begins. So what is in this tea? The bag and their site pretty much say the same thing so here it is:
"A traditional large leaf blend of China Keemun and Indian Darjeeling with oil of bergamot: an Italian citrus fruit. " 
I did a bit of looking around their site to make sure I wasn't missing anything since I was sent a sample packet. Sure enough, there was more.

"Many of our teas are sourced through members of the Ethical Tea Partnership..."


If you continue reading you'll find our this partnership works to insure all people who produce tea are treated fairly with regards to employment. On one hand this is very cool to see, on the other hand it's sad we need something like this to prevent large companies from taking advantage of those doing the actual work.

To end this section another thing I noticed was this.

"Our Earl Grey light bodied due to the teas used, together with the right proportion of bergamot oil giving a refreshing, but not overpowing taste"

And

"Tags: Afternoon, Light-bodied, no milk."

So there will be no guessing on this tea which is very nice. This is a lighter tea and that's the way they intended.

Steeping Instructions

So I'm going to fess us to not following the directions clearly stated on their site. And I quote:

"Use one teaspoon per person and infuse for three minutes. Drink without milk"

Seriously they couldn't be any more clear yet I did what I always did and started with 4 minutes and then 5. I then contacted Grey's and they gave me the steep time I should have just seen on their site.

The Results

I'm going to start with the wrong steep times and state clearly, this is not what Grey's suggested and
any result I got is not their fault.  So we'll start with 5, then goto 4, and end with the 3 minute time.

Starting with the 5 minute time I got a nice dark color with pretty much no citrus aroma. The flavor was pretty much all black tea. For my regular readers they know I enjoy Darjeeling and have reviewed Darjeeling based Earl Grey's before. But since this tea is a blend of two teas the flavor is different but I liked it. Even though I burned off all of the Earl Grey flavor I really liked their choice in black tea. Letting it cool did nothing to change the flavor.

Moving on to 4 minutes and there was a touch more aroma but still, this tea is clearly not meant to be steeped for this long. The color was pretty much the same as the 5 minute time but the flavor was more distinct Darjeeling. So with my standard 4 and 5 minute steep times being wrong, I moved onto the steep time Grey's suggested. I even contacted them via Twitter to make sure I wasn't messing up even more. They graciously put up with my questions and confirmed the 3 minute time.

At the 3 minute time the aroma gained a bit more but the flavor was definitely different.  No longer was this a black tea only cup. This tea had a third flavor coming through. The color was obviously much lighter and cooling only brought out the tea more and not the added bergamot. For the record, this is probably the lightest Earl Grey I have probably ever tested. But that's exactly what Grey's said they were creating.  "light bodied (snip) but not overpowing taste".

Re-Steeping

Grey's blended this to be a light bodied tea to start with so a second steep is not suggested. Going for a second cup only provided a light Black tea with no citrus flavor at all. 

Final Thoughts

When people/companies send me tea I strive to be as honest as I can because I think everyone wins. My readers win, I win, and to some extent the people sending the tea win because they get an honest review. So when I say this tea was not blended for my preferences I mean it. As you know I prefer a more balanced tea where the bergamot and the tea share in the flavor. But at the same time, Grey's set out to create a certain type of Earl Grey and given how light a blend this is I think they have succeeded. Going back to my wine analogy you can't complain about a Pinot Noir being on the light side because that's what a Pinot Noir is. Is this a good tea? Absolutely yes, I really enjoyed the tea because I already enjoy Darjeeling. Is this to my taste? Nope but I can appreciate what they were going for so if you like a very light bodied Earl Grey then give this tea a try and leave your comments below.







Sunday, May 13, 2018

Review #71 - Newman's Own Organics Earl Grey Black Tea (bagged)

One of the nice things about reviewing this tea is not having to worry about the brand name. I think I can safely say that everyone reading this review, no matter what country they are reading from, has heard of Paul Newman. Either by his work as an actor, director, Indy Car owner and of course his "All profits to Charity" food brand. My kids love his cheese pizza, I enjoy his salsa,  so without making any Failure to Communicate references, on with the review.

Aroma

The Newman box is not your typical TBDB since it has no retail opening tab. You pull off a strip from the side, open the box and find 20 individually wrapped bags inside. The statement about Newman's Own Foundation and royalties found right next to where the strip is pulled off is the same on the tea bag. I personally like when the steeping instructions are on the bag and on the box but it's hard to complain when the foundation has donated (from the box) over $450 millions dollars to charity. Once you rip one of the bags open you are greeted with a very mild hint of citrus but very little tea aroma. When you take the bags out you will not find any staples which is a good thing. This tea is listed as organic so there will be no metal in this drink. So what is creating such a mild aroma, from the box:
Organic Black Tea, Organic Oil of Bergamot. 
Needless to say this is like my ultimate ingredients list. Two items, both organic. And not just organic but USDA organic and again from the box:
"Certified by QAI" 
To end, and to complete this section, the only thing holding the bag and tabs together are knots of string. In my opinion, this should be SOP for all tea houses by now.

Steeping Instructions

From the hot tea section, on the side of the box:

1. Bring Fresh water to a rolling boil.
2. Pour water over a tea bag and brew for 3 - 5 minutes.
3. Remove tea bag.

Good range of times but I will of course stress test this tea.

The Results

Starting with the 3 minute steep time, I got a very light aroma along with a very light colored tea. The
flavor was pretty much what you expect when everything else is so light. Very thin, very bland and no finishing complexity at all. I let the cup cool a bit but nothing changed.

The 4 minute steep time really didn't improve much. I took pictures of both 3 and 4 and quite honestly couldn't see a difference. The aroma and flavor again matched the color. Very thin, very bland with no finishing changes. Letting the cup cool again did not change anything.

The final time from the box, 5 minutes, did provide some darkening of the tea but it didn't really improve the flavor. This tea is very thin and very light. It might be one of the lightest teas I've reviewed in a while. Whether that is by design or not I don't know. The only mention of how this tea is supposed to taste is this statement from the box, "This blend offers a crisp refreshing taste sensation [sic]".

With the above results in mind, I was very curious to see how this tea reacted to my stress testing. The results proved both interesting and surprising. At the 10 minute mark, yes I said 10 minutes, I finally got a tea where there was some balance, an acceptable amount of flavor and a decent color. Mind you this is still a lighter tea but at least at this time it had some Earl Grey flavors. Letting it cool did not improve it.


Re-Steeping 

Given how thin this tea is on the first steep I can't suggest it, even those who like a very lite re-steep.


Final Thoughts

Given the brand name I will admit I was expecting a good quality tea. Unfortunately that's not what I got. What I got was an extremely light tea that did not have the flavors I look for in a good Earl Grey. To be honest, I cannot suggest this tea to anyone except those who want an organic tea from a respected company and enjoy very light teas. As always if you have tried this tea please share your thoughts in the comment section below. 


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Review #70 - Trader Joe's Specialty Teas Earl Grey (bagged)

I'll let you in on a little secret, for a while now I've been wondering (incorrectly) if people were giving me #faketeas to "find" and then laughing about it. Well I am here to tell you that -Margarita- was not lying. I actually found the tea in the store and bought it.  With my phobia of #faketea now washed away lets get on with the review. A real review, not a fake one. Ok I'll stop with the fake jokes now.

Aroma 

 The tea comes in a TBDB box with a pull off opening strip that reveals a closing tab. Inside are individually wrapped bags in a brown color that matches the boarder around the text boxes. Once you open one up you are met by a mostly tea aroma. If you really hang in there you will eventually pick up some very slight citrus smells but as you can tell from my description, it's not much at all. So what is making this aroma? To the box we go:
"Ingredients: Black tea with Oil of Bergamot"
That's not alot to go on but if you take the next few sentences:

"The oil of Bergamot is derived from the rind of the Bergamot orange. There are no flavors used."

And add that to Trader Joe's reputation for carrying alot of organic products we can hope this tea is a natural one.

As for the bag, it's your typical tea bag with no staples found on the bag or tag. It should also be noted that I will not be linking directly to this tea on the TJ's site because even after using their search engine I couldn't find it's location. Moving on.


Steeping Method

Directly from their box:

"Place one tea bag in an 8oz cup. Add Boiling water and steep 3-5 minutes"

So that means I will follow their directions and add the typical stress test times.


The Results

At the 3 minute mark the tea kinda surprised me. Normally this steep time doesn't really give me
much to talk about but this one had a bit of flavor. It was alot darker then I would normally see at this time, the aroma started to get cranked up and the flavor wasn't bad. I personally like a more balanced tea but for 3 minutes, not bad at all.

The 4 minute mark showed additional improvements but not much. The color change for me was hard to tell so I had my kids (ah to have young eyes again) compare the 3 and 4 times and they agreed there was a slight darkening. The aroma kinda stayed the same and the taste only improved a bit. I let it cool and it gained a touch of citrus but nothing great.

At 5 minutes things improved even more. It was noticeably darker, the flavor had more to it but the aroma remained the same.  I'm normally a 4 minute guy but so far this tea was at it's best for me at this time. After I let it cool it smoothed out a bit and again added a bit more citrus.

That brings us to the stress test...... and it passed with flying colors. I made it all the way to 8 minutes without a hint of burning. I also gained some extra flavors and the aroma improved. The tea still could have used a bit more citrus to balance the tea out but at this steep time I think it's safe to say I was getting everything out of this tea.

Re-Steeping 

It depends who you are and how you like your tea. If you are me, then forget getting a second steep. Just let the bag sit for the stress test time and if you want another cup, get another bag. If you prefer a lighter tea then I would go with 5 for the first steep and 5 for the second.

Final Thoughts

If this tea is created following the Trader Joe way of selling healthy organic food to people at a reasonable price then I would have no problems telling everyone to try this tea. For the price it has a decent range of flavors that should suit many drinkers. As I have said many times, not the balance I personally look for but everyone likes what they like. Also, if we later find out it's being created by some "third" party who doesn't share Trader Joe's healthy views then I would have to reconsider my suggestion. Either way leave a comment if you have tried it.



Thursday, March 1, 2018

Review #69 - Suttons of London Earl Grey (bagged)

As I started uploading everything for this review I had a look at my stats. I do this because I really enjoy seeing all the different places where my visitors are coming from. But then I noticed this number and I did a double take. I convinced myself the number was wrong because I never thought when I started this whole Earl Grey Review thing it would ever get past being my personal log. But oh how wrong I was, I mean are, is....oh never mind. Either way, I have officially past the 200K hits point and I have have all my readers to thank. So everyone in unison raise your cup of Earl Grey and to you I say....Well Done and Thank You!!!!

Aroma

The tea comes in a rectangular box minus the dispenser opening wrapped in plastic. When I ripped open the plastic I was met with a huge wave of tea. It appears the plastic was doing it's job of keeping the box all nice and sealed up.  From there I took another good breath from one of the bags. The aroma had both citrus and tea but for me it was the citrus that really came through. One of the first interesting things I'll point out, there are no steeping instructions anywhere on the box. I've seen this before so I checked the bags and found nothing. I'll get back to that weird omission and bring you to the bad news. While looking around for the steeping instructions I found a staple on the top of the bag just under the flap. Not good I thought, but at least they don't use staples for the part that goes in the water. Sadly I was wrong.  There was a staple keeping the bag closed up and attaching the string to the tag. I've been reviewing teas since 2012 and still find it a bit disappointing when I see staples. Ok, very disappointing. 

So what's inside? From the bottom of their box: 
"Finest quality blend of teas with Bergamot flavour" 
That doesn't tell us much so next stop, the side with the nutritional facts.

"Pure Ceylon tea 
Packed in Sri Lanka (Ceylon)"
Needless to say, not an encouraging start to this review. Lets move on.

Steeping Method

To be fair I headed off to their website in search of steeping instruction and found...confusion.

The website they give on the box doesn't take you to the Suttons home page. You have to search for their site to find it. Once there I couldn't find any steeping instructions so like I said earlier, not something you see very often with tea companies. I'd also also like to point this out:

Suttons of London can produce any own label packaging that you may require and would welcome the opportunity to discuss your requirements. We can supply all the necessary ingredients needed for you to produce your own successful brand, starting at the initial design stage, right through to the finished product.

So Sutton's is one of those companies that makes tea for others so that means I'm making up my own steeping times.

3 - 4 - 5 and stress testing.

The Results

At three minutes this is a very light tea with a light color and a light flavor. The aroma keeps coming
and it does smell really nice but since we don't know anything about the ingredients, it's hard to get excited. I let the tea cool a bit and instead of gaining some extras this tea lost some fast.

At four minutes the flavor started to improve while the color got darker. The aroma continued on but it was less citrus and more tea. As stated the color did get darker so we were definitely getting more out of the bag.  Again I let the tea cool and again it lost more then it gained.

At the five minute time, this tea really stepped up in all categories. The color got darker, the flavor improved and the aroma went back to more citrus and less tea. I said it had more flavor but I will point out it didn't gain any complexity, it was just more of the same. Once again I tried cooling and once again the flavor just fell apart.

Which brings us to stress testing times. The tea made it to about 7 minutes before starting to become bitter. To be perfectly honest, at around the 5.5 to 6 minute mark I found what I considered to be the best this tea could offer. To end, cooling did nothing for this tea except loose all it's flavor.

Re-Steeping

If you like light tea, then maybe you can get two cups out of this but for me once you go past the 5 minute mark you leave little to no flavor left for a second steep. My best attempt, and result, was 4 minutes then 6 minutes but that was really pushing it past where this tea can go.

Final Thoughts

Yes loyal readers you know what I am going to say. If you are like me and are concerned about where you food is sourced I cannot suggest this tea. You have very little info on both the tea and flavors and you have metal for your steeping pleasure. If you are less concerned with such things, then for the price and the flavor, I would say give it a try and see if you like it. If you do be sure to leave a comment so others can learn from your experience.



Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Review #68 - Zest Tea Earl Grey (bagged)

For today's tea review it looks like I need to add a few things to my typical protocol. Normally caffeine level is not something I discuss for a whole host of reasons. I don't have any way to test it, no one really talks about it, etc, etc. But this tea uses their caffeine level as part of it's marketing approach. On the front of their bag they have "As much caffeine as coffee*" statement so for me that means I need to cover it.

The other addition is price. Again most tea boxes come in around the same price give or take a dollar. This tea is almost twice as much as other teas I have reviewed and will review. For this tea I paid 7.99 plus tax for 15 pyramid bags. Because of this I will add my opinion into the Final Thoughts section on value. Onto the review.

Aroma 

The tea comes in a zip lock bag where you rip off the top section in order to use the zip lock feature. Once through, you will be greeted by 15 pyramids. Because this type of bag is really flexible I was able to size up about how much tea is inside. I then verified what I found by ripping one open and actually measuring it. I found about 2 grams of tea.  This turns out to be a pretty standard weight because nearly every green tea I have has 2 grams as it's typical serving size. The aroma when you first open the packaging is big on citrus and very small on tea. As you take more in the tea starts to come through. 

So what is in this tea that gives it the aroma it has? From the bag:

Flowery orange pekoe black tea, tea extract, natural begamot flavor
If I were a betting man I would guess that the tea extract part is where the extra caffeine comes from. Which brings us to the next quote from the bag:

L-Theanine, a rare amino acid found in Zest Tea helps prolong the energy and alertness while reducing the jitters and crash associated with most caffeinated products. 
 Again if I were a betting man I would double down on their tea extract as the source of the caffeine and the amino. Now to be fair, it's been a long time since I took my last chemistry class so I did some research:

Tea is known to be a rich source of flavonoid antioxidants. However tea also contains a unique amino acid, L-theanine that may modulate aspects of brain function in humans.
       source: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov

Needless to say I read the entire article and a few others but this falls way outside my engineering background so I will just say, this is one of the more unique teas I've tried ingredient wise.

Steeping Method

Directly from their bag:

Use boiling water and steep for 4-5 minutes

Given the level of caffeine I only added a 6 minute stress test to their times.

The Results

For this section please be aware that I did not perform this review in one sitting
like most other teas. Given the level of caffeine in this tea I didn't think that was a wise move. Also I don't drink coffee but I love a good espresso so I will use that as my caffeine comparison.

At the 4 minute steep time I found a lightly colored tea with a nice citrus aroma. The flavor was more citrus and less tea leaving me wanting a more balanced Earl Grey. I was looking to see if the flavor changed at all but there were no changes during the cooling. What you started with flavor wise was what you kept which means no complexity. As for the caffeine, it felt like an average shot of espresso.

At the 5 minute steep time the color didn't really change all that much, the aroma continued to be enjoyable but the flavor was about the same. What wasn't the same was the caffeine level. This time had me feeling a bit jittery but no worse then a double shot of espresso during a ride or before a workout.

At the 6 minute steep time the color did get a bit darker, there was about the same citrus aroma and the caffeine again went to the next level. The flavor was very citrus driven, still not balanced, but better. Cooling didn't change anything and there was no complexity. I was unwilling to finish the cup in one sitting and really had to take my time with this one. Obviously this is not what Zest suggested but as you know, we always stress test so there it is. 

Re-Steeping

Given how the level of caffeine is a selling point for this tea I can understand if Zest doesn't suggest it. It's not listed on their bag but that is my guess. I tried the 4 minute bag and got a very thin tea when I went 5 minutes for the second steep. I personally wouldn't do it but it is possible. 

Final Thoughts

This tea clearly has it sights set on getting people who drink tea for one reason (calm, zen, etc) and coffee (energy, zing, etc) for another to reconsider that choice. With catch phrases like "The rush without the grind" and "Not your grandma's tea" they are really going after the coffee drinkers.  It's funny because back in the day, before espresso, I use to drink a Celestial Seasonings tea that was highly caffeinated before my workouts. This tea reminds me of that except in Earl Grey flavoring. So what are my final thoughts?  As for the caffeine it's nice having an Earl Grey flavored pre-workout option if you don't mind a thin tea. My big concern is the price. At over 8 dollars for 15 servings it's not the cheapest tea out there but it's a heck of alot better for you then one of those canned energy drinks with all their sugar and chemicals. (Whether it's cheaper then homemade espresso is unknown) So I will leave this one up to you and end by saying, if you don't want/like coffee but want the caffeine boost, I'd check it out. If nothing else I know one thing, following this review I know my workout will go longer. 

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Review #67 - Adagio Teas Earl Grey Bravo (loose)

So let's say one of my loyal readers, lets call her Jean...well because that's her real name...contacted/emailed a well known tea house that specializes in organic and fair trade tea. And lets say that Jean asked a rather pointed question about how teas are labelled. But instead of the tea house shying away they handed it over to their person in charge of "labeling and certifications" and the answer returned turned out to be pure gold. Well that's what really happened.

To be honest I delayed posting this review until I heard back from Jean. I originally was just going to put their response in this pre-amble area but when I saw how well written the response was I knew I needed to add another page so we can easily reference it. So if you look up to my menu,  you will see a new page called -> Label Info. On this page you will find the response from Aubrey of Arbor Teas where she explains all the intricacies of labeling. It's crazy good. Heck maybe someone from across the Pond (UK, India, etc) can contact me with info on how their country regulates their labeling so I can add that to the page as well.

Finally, and before I start this review I would like to send a huge EGA thank you over to Jean at DelightfulRepast.com for taking the time and effort in sending out that first email and getting me the permission so everyone can benefit from Aubrey's knowledge.

Aroma 

So I get this email about reviewing tea from Adagio BUT they kinda knew of my traditionalist slant with regards to Earl Grey. But to Adagio's credit they told me right up front "we want you to try something a bit different." After a bit of back and forth I settled on this tea because it's only extra ingredient is Orange Peels. So when an .8oz sized bag came in I knew I would be able to play around and really have fun testing this blend. The bag is a resealable zip lock type bag where you rip off the top and it leaves the zip part behind. I purposely took the picture a bit low to hide my horrible ripping job. Seriously, I couldn't have screwed this up any worse then I did. When opened I was met with a nice fresh smell and at first got nothing but bergamot then a wave of orange and then the black tea. So what are the ingredients? From their bag:

Black Tea, Orange Peels, Natural Earl Grey Flavor

 So as I alluded to before we have three ingredients instead of my typical two. Would this mess with my review process? Would I like it? Would I hate it? Well lets find out.

Steeping Method

The bag says the following:

Steeping: 1 teaspoon per cup | 2-3 mins @ 212F / 100C
Obviously I'd be following their suggestions but given how much tea they sent I was going to also use 4, 5 and 6 minutes and maybe just maybe I'd even stress test it.


The Results

Starting with the 2minute time I found a thin Earl Grey with a little orange flavor.  As the tea cooled the Earl Grey/bergamot was replaced with the orange. The color was very good given how short a steep time this was but it went from an Earl Grey to something else.

At the 3 minute time I found more orange and much less bergamot/Earl Grey. The color was a bit darker and the aroma was of both orange and black tea. As this time frame cooled the orange came out even more leaving no Earl Grey.

Moving on to 4 minutes brought out chaos. No seriously, this time couldn't decide what it wanted to be and that was due to the balance being off. It was like the bergamot and orange where fighting for control and it wasn't working. It should be repeated, Adagio did not suggest this time on their bag so we can't blame them for this result. To be honest we can't blame them for the next two as well.

That brings me to 5 minutes.  At this time the tea had a much stronger Earl Grey aroma but it had
more orange flavors right after steeping. The color was one of the darkest but when it cooled that's when I found what I wanted. That's right, at 5 minutes, and after letting it cool, I was treated to an Earl Grey that was on the thin side but one that I found familiar. The balance was pretty good and I probably liked it the best because the orange had "burned" off. This steep time practically forced me to go for 6.

We are so far beyond what Adagio suggests its not even funny but guess what, at this time it pretty much starts out as an Earl Grey. The balance was good even though the flavor was still on the thin side. As it cooled I picked up a hint of orange but that helped to mellow the bergamot and create this rather smooth flavor. Some where at Adagio there is a tea blender who is screaming at the screen as they read this, "you are ruining my tea. " To be honest they have a point.   

Re-Steeping

I have no idea what to tell you. At every steep time there was a change in flavors as the tea cooled. The two times I liked the best didn't allow it because I pushed this tea way past where it should go. But at the same time the shorter steeps kinda produced thinner versions of the initial flavors.

Final Thoughts

This tea should be called Schrodinger's cat given it's ability to be two different teas almost at once. Want to start fruity with more orange and less bergomot but still want a bit more Earl Grey when it cools, no problem. Or do you want Earl Grey right from the beginning but then let some orange back in at the end. This tea can do that too. But do I like it? Well it's not technically a traditional Earl Grey but Adagio was completely honest and told me that right away. Curse you duality where is Bohr when you need him. So did I like it? Yes. When it's more orange it was nicely balanced because the orange didn't over power the black tea. When I changed the steeping times to get more of a traditional Earl Grey it was on the lighter side but still everything came through and it was enjoyable. So there you have it, my first quantum response. I think. Maybe.









Monday, September 25, 2017

Review #66 - Red Rose Earl Grey (bagged)

If you have been reading my twitter posts you'll know I had started this review some time ago. Then an immediate family member entered the hospital and stayed for 8days. The person is fine. They are getting stronger each day and are looking to make a full recovery. Needless to say everyone's life was put on hold. If you emailed me, I'm still working my way through the emails. To the two companies that sent me tea for review, you are still in the Que in the order I originally told you things are, just pushed back. Thank you everyone for your understanding. I will assume ( bad idea) everyone reading this may consider sending me a supporting email. Thank you very much but please take that time and use it to volunteer at your local hospital instead.  There are many people, kids included, who could use a friendly visit.


Aroma

For this review the marketing people went with the typical US mega sizing. That's right, this box goes to 11. Actually it holds 40 bags instead of your typical 20. The box is not your typical TBDB because there is no dispenser hole at the bottom. Not to mention this box is not opened while the box is in portrait mode. More like it's laying down with the cover opening up. Have a look at the picture and it will all make sense.

The box was wrapped in clear plastic but I could not detect any aroma prior to opening. Once opened I found all 40 bags individually wrapped in their own paper wraps. On the back side of the wrap I found the "Lift Here" sign so I opened to find something I thought we had gotten rid of. Yup you guessed it, a staple. Now to be fair, the staple connects the string to the tag and not to the bag it self. So technically if you keep the tag/label out of your water you won't be drinking metal.  But why do this when you can just use the string to tie off the tag/label? Not to mention I can't just throw this bag into my compost until I remove the metal. So I'll admit I was disappointed to see this.

As for the aroma itself, there wasn't alot going on. We've seen teas in the past with very light aroma's but this is definitely on the very low end. No citrus, just a bit of tea. So what's inside creating this aroma? From the box:

Black Tea, Natural Bergamot Flavor with other natural flavors, orange peel and lemon peel.
To my regular readers you know what is coming next. (deep breath) "Other natural flavors"?? What is that?  Next, this is not Earl Grey at least not in the traditional sense. I didn't buy this box, someone who knows what I do got it for me. To be honest it was more like "Hey I saw a box you haven't reviewed yet should I pick it up for you?" "Thanks I'll pay you back." Few days later, person hands me the box and after I read the ingredients I go "oh well." So I guess the only thing left to do is continue this review.


Steeping Method

From both the back of the box and the back of the bag here are their suggestions:
Pour boiling water over tea bag. Brew 3 to 5 minutes.

With 40 bags at my testing disposal I tested 3, 4, 5, 6 and my typical stress test.


The Results

I will start at the 3 minute mark. The color was very light to go along with the
aroma. Once the brewing process started I immediately picked up on the orange and lemon in the tea. Normally I would talk about how it tasted with regards to Earl Grey but it didn't taste like an Earl Grey. This only increased when I let it cool. The bergamot was just overwhelmed by the other citrus.

At the 4 minute mark the color got a bit darker but the flavor of this tea didn't change. It was just a stronger, and not by much, version of what the 3 minute gave me.

At 5 minutes I started to get some bergamot coming through to go along with the increased color and aroma. But as it cooled the flavor changed back to the orange and lemon ending all Earl Grey flavor.

At 6 minutes the color darkened and a bit more bergamot could be tasted but it was still in the background. Just like before as the tea cooled you lost the Earl Grey flavor and it changed to a black tea with a lemon on top. If I recall correctly, it's how Number Six liked his tea.

That leaves us with the stress test, just leaving the bag in. To my surprise, this tea past with flying colors...with one major exception. The tea never tasted burnt even though I let it go all the way to around 8-9 minutes. The problem is, it technically never tasted like a traditional Earl Grey. At this point the only flavors coming through were the orange and lemon. Letting it cool only cemented this fact.

Re-Steeping

If you like this teas flavor then I guess you can but it will be light. But if you are looking for a second cup of Earl Grey, you won't get it so there really is no point.

Final Thoughts

Everyone who reads my reviews knows I would like the tea industry to standardize their names, especially blends like Earl Grey. To me this tea is not Earl Grey but they call it that. I'm also not a fan of what is or is not in my tea and I'm also not a fan of their metal tag connections. To end, if you are looking for an Earl Grey as I enjoy them, I cannot suggest this tea. If you want to try something that has extra flavors in it, with the unknown stuff, and the staples..... well I guess that's up to you.