Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Review #65 - Typhoo Earl Grey Tea (bagged)

So we are back reviewing another tea that I bought, and then as luck would have it someone else bought it for me. I took that as a sign that maybe, just maybe I should review this tea next. Even more interesting, the tea comes from across the pond, jolly ol' England, but is apparently quite easy to find in the US of A. As proof I bought it from one place and the other person bought it in another store in a different state. That was enough for me. On with the review.

Aroma


The box is technically not a TBDB because there is no front panel punch out but it looks just like one. When you open the top you are greeted by a silver/fin foil bag which contains all 20 tea bags. After opening up the bag I decided to take in the aroma from the whole thing. To keep things fair I also planned to remove a bag and just smell that one alone but there was no need. The foil bag smelled of black tea and not much else, and even that wasn't strong. Since I had two boxes I opened it up and performed the same procedure and got the same results. For my regular readers, aroma doesn't make or break a tea. I just have very few with no Bergamot aroma. So lets look at the ingredients to see what we have.

From the box:
Black Tea(98.7%), Flavouring(1.3%)
My initial reaction to this was, pure delight. We have precise percentages. We are finally getting to see what is in the teas I review. This will be great. No more hidden industry secrets, we'll know it all.

Then my engineering brain kicked in and quickly squashed my initial reaction. No tea information of any kind and no information on the bergamot included. So I checked the rest of the box and found this:
Bursting with flavour
No artificial colours or preservatives
 I don't want to sound harsh but looks like something some American companies do; Try our TEA -  "It Doesn't Contain Wheat or Soy". Ummmm, it never did so what's the point? Best we move on to the steeping section.


Steeping Method

From the side of the box
Use one bag per cup
Add freshly boiled water
Infuse for 2-3 minutes
Enjoy with or without milk
So given how much of this tea I have, I'm going 2, 3, 4, 5 minutes and then my typical stress test.


The Results

I decided to work my way up so I began with 2 minutes. The tea color was extremely light, there was still no aroma, and the flavor was just black tea. After letting it cool the flavor did not change.  I then moved onto the 3 minute time and found pretty much the same thing. Lite color, no bergamot flavor and only black tea. And a lite black tea at that. So I moved onto the 3 minute time frame and hoped for more flavor. Sadly the only thing that really changed was a bit of color in the water and a bit more black tea flavor. Cooling did not provide any improvements.

At the 4 minute time I finally started to pick up some citrus flavor but I would not define this tea as "bursting with flavour" at all. The balance was still mostly black tea, the color was still very lite and cooling again did not provide any improvements. That left only the 5 minute time and as you might have guessed by now, little to no real improvement. At this point in the review I guess we can safely say that 1.3% of bergamot flavoring does not make a well balanced Earl Grey. The side of the box describes this tea as:
Deliciously balanced and fragrant blend
Regrettably I was unable to obtain that type of tea in any of the above steep times.  Which means the only thing left to do was the stress testing and at 8 1/4 minutes this tea started to give off a burnt taste so I stopped. I tried the tea at 6 minutes and at 7 minutes and at best I could describe this Earl Grey as Very Light.


Re-Steeping

Given how lite this tea is, unless you are looking only for a cup of black tea, I would not suggest it.


Final Thoughts

I didn't tell you where I got my box nor did I tell you where the other box came from because I wanted to give this tea a fair review. But it should be stated that the place I purchased it from is known for 2 runs. Meaning if you want cheap import knock offs of things like tools, outdoor furniture, etc, this is the place. The other box came from a different store but again, not first run stuff. Sadly the review did not uncover a diamond in the rough, instead it matched the incredibly cheap price tag. Because of this, I cannot suggest this tea to anyone.

Note: While adding the url link for this tea to my list a few things caught my attention. The steep times were different, there was more info on the site about what kinds of black teas were used and the price; .99 British pounds for a box of 20.










Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Review #64 - Care Tea Early Grey (bagged)

So lets start this whole write up with the answer to the question that's on everyone's mind.....where have I been? I guess the cliff note version is this; Don't ever get involved in your son's Robotics Club never mind run it. Huh? I know, what does tea have to do with Robotics? Only that one totally takes over your life and doesn't allow for anything else. If that's all you need then skip the next part and head straight to the review. For the rest of you curious types hang on it's going to be a fun ride.

Last year after much prompting from many different people, I started a robotics club at my sons school. The principle found some funds and away we went. Our first year was a learning year and to be honest the team only wanted to play RoboWars. I.e. smash things together. Year 2 rolls around and the maturity of the team jumps up. After more instruction the idea of entering a competition is considered. We are given a green light and a local competition is found. From there we read the rules, built a bot and practiced alot all in about two and half months. Our plan, was try not to finish last. Not only did we not finish last but we ended up in second place after the preliminary rounds. We then ended up in 1st place after the finals round with another team. This qualified us for Regionals. In our 2nd act of pure panic, we upgraded our bot, practiced even more and at Regionals, finished 1st after the preliminary round, won the overall, ended up winning 3 trophys, and received an invite to the Vex Worlds Robotics competition in Louisville, KY.  Then things really got crazy. We were featured in a local newspapers, built yet another robot in order to compete at the next level, worked on getting funding (think GoFundMe), got our own logo, got shirts,  booked flights and hotels, and oh did I mention we had to build another bot and practiced alot? So there you have it, the reason for my absence.  The only thing bad about this whole affair, I still don't know whether Androids dream of electric sheep. Sigh. Onto the review.


Aroma

The box is your basic TBDB variety and the bags found within come wrapped in a paper pouch. Once you rip one open you will not find any staples or snaps of any kind. As for aroma, there is some but I did notice how some bags had more while others had less. It's mostly a tea smell but if you linger a bit you can pick up some citrus. It was very light so I almost wonder if I was willing myself to get it. What is making this tea smell the way it does? From the box:
Fair Trade Certified Organic Black tea, Organic Bergamot. 

It should be noted that also on the side of the box is this: Care Tea is distributed by Numi Inc. Another nice bit of info is on the other side. There you will find the NON GMO label, the fair trade label and the USDA Organic label.  Needless to say I love seeing those. But we are not through. If you look at the bottom you will find information about Care Tea's Eco Care Audit which is not something you see everyday. If only all tea makers provided such relevant information.

Steeping Method

From their box and in a mere three words:
Steep 4 Mins
With only one time given I added 5 minutes and my typical stress testing.


The Results

To be fair I started at the 4 minute time. The color was light to medium, the aroma was alot more then when I first tested it and the first tastes were pretty good. As the box says this is a light tea and not one with an overwhelming bergamot flavor. As the tea cooled it gained a bit extra citrus which was a nice surprise.

Next up, the 5 minute steep time. As expected the color darkened up a bit more, the aroma grew a bit
and the flavor was a bit more balanced. The bergamot was more pronounced then at 4 minutes but I could have still used an increase for more balance. As the tea cooled and unlike the 4 minutes time, it didn't gain any citrus. It was still on the light side but still a good cup of Earl Grey.

That leaves only the stress test and guess what? It passed. Seriously, I left the bag in the cup for well over 7 minutes while I was testing and it was only after 8 or 9 minutes that I really started to taste a change in the flavor. To be honest this was my favorite. The bergamot was the strongest it was going to be, the aroma was stronger and the color was even darker. This was obviously not how Care Tea had intended anyone to drink this tea but I liked it.


Re-Steeping

Given the "hint" of bergamot to start I don't suggest a second step especially if you go with my stress test method. But if you really want to I would do 4 for the first and let it sit for the second. It will be even lighter but that shouldn't surprise anyone.

Final Thoughts

As the expression goes, this tea ticks all the boxes. Organic, Fair Trade, No GMOs, and the right packaging. They said right on the box, "A hint of bergamot orange" so it's hard for me to ask for something the tea is not. Yes I would have preferred a more balanced tea but that's not how they blended it. So if you prefer a lighter Earl Grey and like knowing exactly what is in your cup of tea, I would definitely give it a try.



Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Review #63 - Wissotzky Tea Imperial Earl Grey (bagged)

"Houston we have a problem." Or should I say we've had a few problems? Either way I should apologize for taking so long to get this next review out. I did something different this time and gave my twitter followers the choice of picking my next review. I then planned to do the review during the Christmas break (Happy New Year everyone) which was not a good idea. Surprise, surprise, I was way busy and never got to it. Then we hit the next bump in the road and the review almost didn't happened. So after some thought, I decided to move forward. But before I begin I'm going to take a deep breath, and try not to rant.

The tea I am reviewing today was given to me by a friend. This friend is not an Earl Grey fan nor are they tea drinkers. But given the friend title they were nice enough to find and then pick this tea up for me after checking my site. I didn't think anything of it until the actual review began. With my apologizes to Wissotzky, I really feel the tea industry needs some standardization because this tea contains cornflower but it doesn't state that point anywhere except the back. To be fair I will raise my hand and say, "ok, I should have checked before I started this review" and admit fault. But the industry as a whole needs to settle on some distinct names. I saw the word IMPERIAL and didn't even consider looking at the ingredients because other Imperials from other tea houses don't have cornflower. My friend doesn't really drink tea yet if they had grabbed this and tasted it, they would have thought this is what Earl Grey is. With all of that said, you can probably guess how this review is going to go.

Aroma

The box is a bit different then your typical TBDB because this one has this nice overlapping cover and no area at the bottom to push out for individual sales. Once you open the box you will find a foil pouch which holds all of their "silky pyramid tea bags". The aroma is not like typical Earl Greys because the cornflower changes things. I also wondered if the foil bag could be used to keep the bags fresh. After looking at the side of the box, it's apparent they did not design the pouch for that because they suggest you store it in an airtight container. As an aside, I think the amount of glue used to keep the tag stuck to the bag is too much. I ripped open 2 different bags until I finally learned to slowly peel it off.

So what is in this tea? From the box:

Selected Ceylon tea, cornflower blossom and bergamot flavor.   
You know what I am going to say about the word "flavor" so I'll just get it over with. Not knowing what is actually in my tea is not a good thing.

Steeping Method

From their box:
Pour freshly boiled water over the teabag, leave the tea tag out and allow to brew for 3-5 minutes or until the beverage reaches desired strength.  

The Results

At the 3minute mark I was met with a lighter color and aroma of a tea that has cornflower. I let it cool for a bit but the cornflower flavor didn't diminish.  The tea was definitely weighted towards the cornflower and tea and the bergamot got lost in the mix.

At the 4minute mark the color darkened a bit and the cornflower really took over. If you held the tea in your mouth for a bit you could just about pick up on the citrus. The tea was still unbalanced with the cornflower and black tea drowning out the bergamot.

At the 5minute mark this tea started to act like other teas I have tried that had cornflower. Meaning the cornflower flavor was starting to burn off. So I went to 6 minutes and even though I started to pick up some stronger flavors, burning maybe, I could taste the bergamot/ citrus a slight bit.


Re-Steeping

Given my preferences, I went straight to the 5 minute time for my first steep in an attempt to burn off
the cornflower and another 4 minutes for the second steep. What ever cornflower they used could not be burned off so my experiment didn't work.

Final Thoughts

Just to repeat, I almost didn't do this review because I went in knowing the results before the first bubbles ever formed in my electric pot. I'm not a fan of cornflower and I honestly believe that anything listed as Earl Grey should only contain two ingredients; Black tea and bergamot. If companies wish to try new things, go for it just please label them properly. If you like cornflower in your tea and don't mind not really knowing what ingredients are being used, try it. If you are more of a traditional Earl Grey drinker and believe you should know everything in your tea, then I would skip this one.


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Review #62 - The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company Earl Grey Darjeeling (loose)

Today's review is a result of a nice email chat I had with a guy...er ... or I should say bloke (right??) named David from The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.  That would be across the pond in the UK. In a virtual sense he gave me the keys to his shop and said, "go check out ALL our Earl Grey teas and pick something out for your self and I'll mail it to you."  After much thought and debate I picked out the tea we are reviewing today. Needless to say that was very cool. By the way, if anyone from Canyon, Colnago or Focus is listening, and would like to do the same thing, please don't hesitate to contact me.

Also I was contacted by a fellow Earl Grey drinker who said I should get a nicer plate to display my teas and that I should contact someone to get something especially for this site. Thanks for the idea but I can't justify asking for something of that magnitude. If someone decided on their own to do something like that, well that's completely different, but I just couldn't bring myself to send an email asking for a free plate. Now off to the review.

Aroma

As you can see from the picture the sample arrived in a resealable package. Before I cut it open I tried to pick up any hints of tea but I could not. Good start for some good packaging. Once opened I was met with a bunch of different things. To start there was definitely tea but also in there was some citrus. Not alot but still enough to warrant me to note it. At the bottom of the aroma chart was some deeper things which I believe to be some extra aroma Darjeeling brings. I pulled out my current selection of that same kind and sure enough it was in there. So what made this tea give off such an aroma? Directly from their site:
This is a unique Earl Grey Darjeeling Tea. We use a good quality medium sized leaf Darjeeling which we scent with Oil of Bergamot. 

 On the tea side it's very nice to know the kind of tea I am drinking (and that's its from India) but the bergamot oil is a bit unknown. As always I like knowing where my food comes from so maybe a location for the bergamot or maybe whether its organic or not. For some this is nit picking, but my loyal readers know it's sort of my thing.

Steeping Method

I will admit, their times caught me by surprise. From their site:
Brewing instructions: Best brewed for 2 - 3 minutes use boiling water.
What?! No 4 minute option? How can this be? So I decided, oh why not, I'll do a 4 and 5 as well.

The Results 

Starting at the 2 minute time I found a light tea with a fair amount aroma. The flavor leaned more
towards the Darjeeling side while the bergamot flavor was much less. The color was very light and the aroma sweetened up a bit as it cooled. The cooling actually let the tea balance out a bit, but this was still a Darjeeling first Earl Grey.

Next up, 3 minutes. As expected everything increased a bit more. The tea got slightly darker, the aroma improved and the flavor gained a bit more citrus. This meant it balanced out a bit but still not enough for my liking. As it cooled a bit more sweetness was added and the tea gained some complexity. It was nice to enjoy some extra flavoring.

We will now step outside the suggested steep time and let you know how things went. The first time I tried was my ol faithful 4 minutes and I have to admit, things edged towards my preference. The color was darker, the aroma gained a bit more but most importantly, the tea was even more balanced especially when allowed to cool. The flavor was still on the light side due to the distinct Darjeeling flavor coming through but now it had more complexity when it cooled. In my opinion this was the best time.

Keeping in mind we are well past the suggested steep time, I give you the 5 minute results. Unfortunately the bergamot didn't increase but rather the opposite. At this time I lost most of the bergamot flavor but like I said, it's not Kent and Sussex's fault. I went way past where they said I should go. But then again, everyone kind of knows by now when I review tea there will be stress testing. I would like to add even thought the flavor was changed, it was still a good cup of tea. I think this reflects the quality of tea used in this blend.

Re-Steeping

As you have read, this is a lighter Earl Grey which makes re-steeping a tough call for me. If you really want to get an Earl Grey both times I would go 3 then 4 minutes. If you go with my suggestion of 4 right off the bat there is very little bergamot left but you will still get a good cup of Darjeeling.


Final Thoughts

I am happy to report I think Kent and Sussex have something here. From my testing its apparent they started with a good Darjeeling as their base. We don't know where the bergamot comes from but at least they are not giving us the same old tired, "Natural flavors" ingredient listing. Is the blend to my preference? No because I like a more balanced and bolder flavor but there definitely was some nice flavors in this tea. So here are my final thoughts. If you prefer a lighter Earl Grey I would definitely suggest you try this tea. If you are like me and want something a bit bolder then go for the 4 minute steep time while keeping in mind this is not the strongest Earl Grey. Because just like wine, just because I prefer Cab Sav it doesn't mean I can't appreciate and enjoy a Pinot Gris.







Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Review #61 - Teekanne Earl Grey (bagged)

With the summer now officially behind us it's time I get back to reviewing Earl Grey tea. This time I thought I was traveling to a far off land where Strudel and Bratwurst are everyone's favorite dish. But instead I found a curve ball thrown my way regarding who actually makes this tea. Then when I got over that one, I was hit with another one. This time with the actual ingredients. So as I set aside my Hogan's Heroes references let's quickly dive into another review. Schnell!

Aroma

The tea comes in a TBDB box with each bag individually wrapped. I should point out the box has a slight variation in that you can also open the box by unwrapping it from the center. There is a tab that once pulled back actually reveals the steeping process in some small descriptive boxes. Peel back a bit more and there are the bags.  After all this work I still could not pick up any tea aroma, so their sealing system is dead on. Once I did get the bag open I must say I thought I had a plain black tea bag and not an Earl Grey version. I could not make out any of the bergamot or any fruity fragrances. So what was in that little bag.....welcome to our first curve ball.

If you look at the front of the box it states the following:
"Premium black tea blended with Natural Bergamot flavor"

But if you look a bit closer to the actual ingredients you'll find a few extra things in there:

"Black tea, Natural Bergamot with other natural flavors, orange peel and lemon peel."  

To start, the dreaded "Natural flavors". As you know I am no fan of unknowns in my food and those words always get me wondering. Next up, both lemon and orange peels have been added which again, if you know me, kinda make me think this really isn't a traditional Earl Grey.  Which brings us to our next curve ball, who makes it.

If you pull out your Sherlock Holmes glass and give the box a good inspection you will find the following bits of info:

"Produced for Teekanne (emphasis mine) .......snip.....by Redco Foods Inc ...... Little Falls NY"
After reading that, any thoughts of strudel went right out the window. So in fact this German tea is not actually created....made......blended....???? in Germany but rather in the US. Technically there is nothing wrong with that but the idea of trying a German tea is not going to happen with this version.
That's too bad but that's how the tea industry works for some.

Steeping Method

One of the things I did find different for this tea was the suggested steep times. Are you ready for this?

They suggested 5 - 8 mins. Which meant there was no need for me to stress test this tea because we kinda already are when compared to other Earl Greys.


The Results

Just to set the stage, this tea is all over the place when it comes to steeping, cooling, and aroma. For
example, I compared the 5 and 6 minute steep times side by side not once but twice. Hopefully I can explain this properly.

When steeping, the 6 gave off far more citrus then the 5. But once the bags were removed and it started to cool there was a 1-2 minute window where they reversed and 5 was producing more aroma then 6. But then it reverted back again. Now you know why I did it twice.

As for the flavor, I got to see some of the same behavior. When done steeping 5 had more citrus flavor while the 6 had a bit more Must. It was clearly a thicker flavor with less citrus. But after letting my oldest son try both of them I tried them again and they reversed. The 5 now had the thicker flavor while the 6 had blended quite nicely to a point of a good balance between tea and fruit. So I let the teas cool a bit more and they went back to their original state. I noticed the same thing at the 7 minute steep time. Just after you take the bag out the tea tastes one way. Let it cool and it starts to blend and mix and you get another flavor pattern. And if you don't like that, let it cool a bit more and you get another.

Thankfully the 8 minute time did not exhibit this pattern of changing. It was just a strong tea flavored Earl Grey. The balance was clearly on the tea side which is strange given there were three fruit sources. As for the color of the tea, as you can probably guess it was very dark compared to other versions.

Re-Steeping

Given how long these teas are steeped for, you can imagine there is not much left in the bag when you are done. So I would not suggest it at all. But if you must, I would shoot for 5 minutes the first time and 8 minutes the second.

Final Thoughts

So after all of this testing and cooling and all the rest, here is my take. To begin this tea starts with two strikes against it. It has unknown ingredients and it has some musty (dare I say artificial?) flavors. Where are those flavors coming from?  I don't know. As for the steeping times, you definitely can make the best cup for you given how flexible this tea is. But given how the tea reacts to cooling that may be an issue if you are a slow drinker. There are three different sources of citrus in this tea yet it still remains a mostly black tea. To end, if you are like me and like knowing all the ingredients in your food, I would skip this version. But if that is not a concern, I'd say give it a try and see if you can find a steep time that makes you happy.

Note: I could not find this tea on their site so I posted their main URL. I apologize if the language barrier prevented me from finding it.  

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Review #60 - Bromley's Earl Grey (bagged)

You can thank my youngest because he is the one who found this tea when I wasn't even looking for one. I believe we were at one of those "We sell everything for your kitchen" stores. You know the type of place I'm referring too, it's the one that would make Alton "I hate uni-task-ers" Brown scream in pain. So there we were getting something, and that's when my youngest called me over. "Dad, I found an Earl Grey, have you reviewed this one yet?" Which I replied by giving him a High-five and answering, "No, No I have not, great find. "

Next up, as an engineer and someone who has written his fair share of code, I need to employ a technique in my reviews often used in Software Development. It's called Code Re-Use. The process is quite simple,  you re-use code you have already written because why should you re-invent the wheel when you have already done so.  To make things easier I will no longer review the box the tea came in if it fits into what must be a industry standardized box. After some internet research I found most places call it the (drum roll)  Tea Bag Dispenser Box. So from now on I will only refer to it as the - TBDB -. Hey if Rachel can call Extra Virgin Olive Oil, EVOO, I can do the same with boxes.

Aroma 

The tea comes in a TBDB and was sealed properly because none of aroma could be detected. Once opened you will find each tea bag sealed in its own foil that looks like the side of the TBDB. After ripping open the foil I was met with a fair amount of bergamot. Meaning I could smell it before I even put my nose close to it. When I did take a deep breath I'd call the aroma deep with a bit of linger. Meaning the aroma doesn't dissipate quickly.  What I could not pick up on was the tea. In this case the bergamot was all that was coming through.

A quick look on the bag will give you the ingredients:
"A fine blend of Black teas flavored with pure Italian bergamot oil"
To see if I could get more information on the ingredients themselves I headed off to their site. Regarding the tea I found nothing extra. what I did find if you look around their site enough is a recipe for Earl Grey Truffles. I'd post it here but I don't want to break anyone's copyright. So in this case we have to hope both the tea and oil are sourced properly and are natural in origin.

Steeping Method

A quick look to their box provides brewing suggestions:
"Bring fresh water to boil. Pour the steaming water over the tea bag. For optimum flavour, let it brew 3 to 5 minutes." 
That means I will follow their suggestion and then do my typical stress test.

The Result

 Starting with the 3min steep time, you obtain a very light colored cup with a more balanced aroma.
The flavor is very much on the light side. It's balanced but there really isn't much to it. I let it cool to see if things would improve but they didn't.

Moving on to the 4min steep time saw the color darken up a bit and a bit more flavor to enjoy. The aroma remained about the same but at least the flavor improved. That was the good part, the bad was the flavor. Yes it was still on the lighter side but what really struck me was how plain, or bland it was. The flavor was definitely Earl Grey but it really didn't make me sit up and take notice. Again I let the tea cool and this time I did get a hint more citrus but nothing that swayed my initial opinion.

That left me with the 5 minute steeping time. Just like before the color got darker, the aroma became more pronounced and the flavor increased. But, the flavor itself didn't improve, it was just more of the same. For the last time I let the cup cool in hopes of coaxing something extra out of this tea but in the end, nothing really changed. Meaning there was no complexity.

Which brings me to my stress test and guess what? I have found another tea you can just leave the bag in the water. I tried it twice to make sure and in both cases the flavor increased a bit beyond the 5 minute steep time but never really went beyond.

Re-Steeping

Given the nature of this tea, I personally would not re-steep. With such a light flavor to begin with there really isn't alot left for a second cup. But, if you must, I would go 4 minutes, finish the 1st cup then just put the bag back in and leave it for the second.

Final Thoughts

After looking around the box and the company site, I couldn't find any description of what kind of Earl Grey this was suppose to be. So I will assume (scary thing to do)  it's a light Earl Grey and treated it that way. If I'm right this tea will work for those who like a light Earl Grey. For people like me, this is a Rose' in a Merlot world and not something I would buy for myself. But if you like this type of Earl Grey, I would try it for yourself. And remember, if you do try please leave a comment so fellow Earl Grey drinkers can learn from your experience.


Monday, May 9, 2016

Review #59 - Pique Tea Earl Grey Organic Black Tea

That sound you just heard was my review system going up in a mushroom cloud. That's right, the tea sent to me doesn't really fit into my system. For example, I normally stress test most bagged teas. Can't do that with this one. Re-Steeping is another thing I look into. Buzzed! Again, can't do that either. So why is everything so messed up? Lets get on with the review so you can understand why things are soooooo different.


Aroma

As you can see from the photo there is no bag per say. Meaning there is no tea bag in the typical sense of the word because this tea has already been brewed and then crystallized. I guess you could call it powdered tea (Dare I compare it to Matcha?) but we'll stick with crystallized since that's the name Pique uses. To give you a sense of how small this package is I measured it. 3 1/4" x 3/4" at about 1/8" thick. On the front is their company name and the words Earl Grey. On the back Organic information and brewing directions.

As for the actual aroma, not much of anything which I guess is normal for this type of tea.  Given how small the package size is, there is little room for many details. So I headed on over to their website and grabbed the following:

Our delicious Earl Grey is made from the finest Organic and Fair Trade certified leaves from the world-renowned Idulgashinna Estate in the Uva region in eastern Sri Lanka. A really special area, at 3,300-6,500 feet in elevation, the Uva region receives tons of rain in winter very strong, dry winds in late summer. 

As I already touched on it, this tea is organic and sourced from Fair Trade certified tea farms so good on both points. So how do you make...brew...create.... this new tea? Lets find out.


Steeping Method

I will now present the shortest write up for this section of any review. Ready... because if you are not ready you will miss it.

                   Pour package contents into glass, add boiling water, stir and drink.

That's it.


The Result


So lets start with the tea itself and then discuss other matters. The tea has a good color and the aroma appears the minute the water hits the crystals. I would describe it as mellow, meaning it doesn't have alot of citrus to it but it definitely doesn't give off any form of perfume. The tea itself is just like it's aroma, mellow. The flavor is closely balanced weighted more towards the tea then the bergamot. Again I prefer a bit more citrus but this tea is exactly as they describe it on their site.

I let the tea sit for a bit and it pretty much remained the same as when I first poured it. As for complexity this tea doesn't really change all that much in the mouth. The first sip is very much like the last leaving a touch of sweetness. With the tasting out of the way lets talk how this tea may or may not influence the tea market.

Normally I wouldn't talk about such matters but given how quickly I was able to review this tea, I felt like I had the time and space. To begin, one of its strengths is the repeat-ability of this tea, the other is speed. As for steeping, it has to be one of the easiest I have ever tried. You don't need a pot to brew it in, you don't need to worry about getting the brewing time just right, it all just works and fast. Another positive is the package size and type. With most bagged teas the bag comes in a wrapper of some sort but some of them are paper and don't really hold up. The Pique "bags" could easily be thrown, yes I said thrown, into a backpack on your way out the door for a day of hiking.

Ironically one of it's biggest positives is also one of it's biggest negatives. Because the work of brewing this tea has been taken out of the equation you cannot tailor this tea to your liking. I did mess around with the amount of water in an attempt to change the flavor but my efforts only made it weaker. Also, because you need a certain amount of water to give the crystals room to dissolve going the other way is just not possible. Maybe a bit but, beyond that must start messing with their recipe.

Before I finalized my opinion I talked to a number of fellow tea drinkers and got their opinion on this new idea. Like me they were fascinated by the idea, thought it great for people just getting into tea but then paused because we all shared the next opinion. Part of the whole tea experience is slowing down and going through the whole process especially when having others join you. That is clearly missing from this experience. As one person pointed out, it very much reminded them of the instant coffee days.

So where does that leave us? As it always does, up to the individual to decided.



Re-Steeping 

Again may just be the shortest entry I've put in this section. Ready?

Impossible. Nothing left to re-steep.


Final Thoughts

Wrapping this review up will be harder then most because Pique has created something rather unique. My engineering side likes to see people push the boundaries and try new things so this tea, as I said before, fascinates me. The results speak for themselves because it's a good tea that is beyond easy to make, and is very super convenient to handle.  But at the same time that convenience does take away from the experience and the ability to tailor the tea to your personal likes or dislikes. Either way, try it and see if it fits your requirements.