Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review #02 - Mighty Leaf Tea Organic Earl Grey

When I started this blog I pondered whether I should differentiate my reviews with regard to bagged, pouches and loose tea. But the more that I thought about it, the more I said no. My reasons are simple. First, I wanted to catalog all the teas I had tried, and will try, in the most honest method possible. So in my opinion all teas should be treated the same. Which brings me to my second reason. What if there is a bagged or pouched tea out there that rivals the loose variety? By treating them equally I can identify a specific tea as "a good tea", and not just a good bagged tea. This in turn helps everyone reading this blog and hopefully will give everyone a reason to continue reading. With that said, on too the review.

The Aroma

I first tried this tea over a friend's house. They knew I liked tea, specifically Earl Grey, and wanted to make sure I had something to drink while visiting. That's why I was looking forward to this review since it had been a long time since I first tasted it. As far as bagged teas go, this one has a price on the high side when compared to typical name brands found in supermarkets and such. The tea comes in individually wrapped "pouches" and has the brewing info right on that tag. A very nice touch if you ask me.

When I opened the plastic wrap I purposely left the bag inside so I could enjoy the aroma. Sadly, there wasn't much to enjoy. So I took the bag out of the plastic bag and tried again. Unfortunately, the aroma didn't improve volume wise. You could smell the tea and it's flavor but only barely.

As you can see from the picture their pouch is about 2 1/2in square and appears to provide plenty of room for the tea to expand. Another nice touch with the bag is their lack of staples. Given the level of technology out there you would think every tea house that makes bagged tea would have moved on from staples but a few remain. Thankfully Mighty Leaf is not one of them. Brewing the tea couldn't be easier. Place the bag in a glass and add water. The label says 4mins and that's exactly what I did the first time. Much to my surprise the aroma factor shot up once the water hit the bag. I would place it in the Smooth aroma category because it lacked that hint of sourness which I look for. But what did it taste like?

The Results

With the aroma improving I started to hope that maybe, just maybe my first bagged tea review would be a great one. The second picture shows it has a nice color which again leads one to believe this will be an excellent tea. But the tasting facts don't lie, this tea is avg at best. Meaning it's completely thin in the flavor region. In order to give it a fair review I brewed another cup with a fresh bag later in the day. The results were the same. I then tried extending the brewing time and immediately got a mouth full of over-brewed tea taste for my efforts. Overall it tasted like Earl Grey but it just lacked any depth of flavor. Once the tea hit your tongue the flavor quickly went away. Instead of interesting flavors being enjoyed as the tea cooled a bit, the flavor faded even more. As a result of my multiple tests I noticed how the tea bag was in fact bulging when I removed it from the cup and that gave me an idea. I decided to cut open the bag and brew it up loose tea style. The results gave me pretty much the exact same thin tasting tea.


The nicest way to put this is, don't bother. If you thought the flavor was thin on the first steep it will only get worse for the 2nd. Think Earl Grey flavored water. 

Final Thoughts  

Do I hate this tea? No. Would I buy it again? That's a tough call. I know for a fact that other brand names are both cheaper and, by leaving the bag in the water indefinitely you can coax some additional flavor out of them without "burning" your tea. But some of those are not organic and they are not based upon actual leaf tea. Like I said, tough call. I'll leave it like this, if I'm on vacation, can find it on sale and have no other organic options, then maybe I'd buy it. Yup, you just got my first definite maybe rating.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Review #01 - Arbor Teas Organic Earl Grey Black Tea

Our first review for this new site will be something I already have in house. I purchased this product along with some other varieties I enjoy. I do like to support this company due to it's dedication to organic and sustainable methods. For example, the bags the tea are shipped in can be thrown right into the compost pile creating zero waste.

Compost ready bag and re-usable labels.
 Another nice touch is their labels seen on the plate in the picture. Since the label is connected to an elastics of sort, you can use your own containers and just stretch the label around your container.  Now to the tea.

When you first open the bag you are greeted with a nice Bergamot aroma which is always a good start. Teas with no aroma tend to disapoint.

Brewing Method

Since this is my first review let me explain how I brewed it. I have a brown Chatsford Tea Pot with a plastic framed, food grade mesh strainer. I place 1 teaspoon of the tea and add enough water to fill the pot. This means the water comes up to the lip of the mesh strainer but not over the slot where the cover for the pot fits in. This works out perfectly since none of the leaves overflow into the pot.  As for water temps, I use just boiled water from an electric kettle. Once the pot is filled I cover the pot with a cosy. Trust me it's nothing fancy. To be honest it's just a piece of thick fabric my wife had left over. I folded it over twice and it happen to fit my pot perfectly. I use a cosy because Earl Grey is a Black Tea (unless of course you have an Earl Grey Green) so heat dissipation is not something you want during the brewing process. I then set my Polder timer to 4minutes and patiently wait.

The Results

From the minute you start pouring you pick up on the sourness of the Begamot. It's there and I like that about this tea. This is not a softened aroma but what  real fruit smells like.

Since this is my first review I included my pot to allow everyone reading to know exactly what I use to brew. From now on I will focus on both cups to provide a better view of the color. This tea for instance is about middle range when it comes to darkness. Say middle to high on the Dark Range.

Now for the taste. Since I've been drinking Earl Grey for many, many years, you can probably guess that I like this version and that would be a correct statement. For me there are two types of Earl Greys, Natural and Smooth. This falls into the natural category. The taste you get along with the aroma has me thinking real fruit, real black tea, and nothing else. As the temperature drops the flavor mellows a bit and smooths out. For me personally, that is when this tea is at it's best and the reason I continue to buy it.

Having played with the steeping time a bit I will say once you get close to a 5min steeping time you will pick up some additional bitterness. 


The answer is yes, if you don't expect the second steep to equal the first. I have tried times anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes for the 2nd steep and no matter what I try I can't seem to extract more bergamot out of the tea. Actually it's just the opposite, the more I extend the time the more black tea flavor I get. So when I do re-steep I just do a bit more then 3mins and expect accordingly.

Final Thoughts  

Judging from my review yes I really like this tea and will continue to buy it. If you have never tried it before, do yourself a favor and go for it. If your tea tastes match mine, you won't be disappointed. 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

"Let's see what this thing can do......"

Hello fellow tea drinkers

Yes I am a tea drinker just like you. I enjoy Black, White, Green, Darjeeling and Oolong (and maybe Matcha soon, but don't tell my wife). What I am not is an expert. But like everyone else on this planet I have an opinion, especially about tea. I'd like to share it with you but why stop there. Let's have some fun. So here is my plan. I'm am going to attempt to sample every Earl Grey known to man (and martians if they bring tea). With each version I will present my review, which if all goes well, should include pictures, comments, and of course brewing instructions. Whether this blogger scores big or falls flat will not matter. This entire process will work because I will get to try/sample more Earl Grey varieties they I could ever imagine.

So where will I begin? Well if I was a bit smarter I would have started this a while back. Instead I'll need to go back to some of the varieties I have already enjoyed and redo them. I will judge all forms of Earl Grey on an equal playing field. Meaning bags, satchels or loose will all be given equal footing. I'm hoping that enough people will find this journey interesting and let me know about new companies or online sites that I wasn't aware of. Hopefully we can all learn from this while at the same time enjoy a nice cup of tea.

As the site progresses I'll change the background, add links and more content and try to provide as much Earl Grey info as possible. So boil some water and set your timers because this is going to be good  tasty.

The Earl Grey Addict