Sunday, November 11, 2012

Review #4 - Numi Organic Tea Aged Earl Grey Bagged

When I first started this "review" blog I made a point to say how all teas, loose, bagged, etc will be treated equally. I went on to say that treating bagged any different from loose serves no one. It also would confuse things. If I gave a bagged tea a good review would you really know how it stacked up against loose. The answer would be no. Thankfully today's review proves my opinion was/is correct in the best way possible.


Numi tea comes in a "Naturally Biodegradable filter-paper tea bag, no GMO corn or plastic "silky" bags". The box is "made of 85% post-consumer waste, printed with soy-based inks and without, unneeded shrink- wrap" so their commitment to sustainability is very much a part of their business. No lip service here, just proven actions. When I first opened the wrapper, I did as I always do with bagged teas, leave the bag in and attempt an aroma test. Like other bagged varieties, the aroma was nothing overwhelming but it was there. I guess you could call it faint. After taking it out I got up close and gave it a good test. Again faint but very good. You could pick up some of the sweetness but no tartness. Overall slightly below average in the aroma department.

Brewing Method

The brewing instructions are right on the wrapper making things pretty straight forward. Steep for 4-5 minutes. For this review I tried, 4, 4.5 and 5 minutes. The following statement is on the wrapper: "this tea is strong enough to handle milk, yet mild enough to be served alone." Since we are talking about the wrapper it should be noted it too is made from 72% recycled content. I guess it's time to start showing my hand regarding this review. At 4 minutes I was pleasantly surprised at how much flavor this tea had. At 4.5 I started to notice a bit more sweetness to go along with an ever so slight tartness. At 5minutes I was hooked. 

The Results

Independent of how this tea is packaged, this is a good Earl Grey. Dare I say it may be better then a few loose versions I've had which is/was such a pleasant surprise. Why? Because the bags are not some fancy satchel or triangle or cube, but just an ordinary tea bag. I will fess up and admit I was very let down when I first opened the wrapper. When I first saw them I wondered how a tea with little room to expand was ever going to be any good. Boy was I wrong. This tea produced a good cup of Earl Grey at all three steep times with improvements at the longer times. Seriously if you're the impatient type, 4 minutes will give you a good cup of tea but please do yourself a favor and give it the extra minute. You'll get a deeper taste and enjoy the flavor more. As you can see from the picture the color is good even at 4mins so that's a bonus as well.

So what is Numi's secret sauce in getting bagged tea to rival loose? Aging. Yes aging. Again I'll fess up and admit I thought it was just marketing jargon. Sadly every day of our lives we are bombarded with a bazillion types of advertising slogans, and jingles and catch phrases that when someone actually uses one of these methods I personal just blow it off as marketing speak.But don't take it from me, here is the quote right from their site. 

We age organic Assam black tea with real Italian Bergamot for several weeks so the tea absorbs the orange scent.

Given the amount of flavor in all of my test cups I will accept their explanation and wonder why other bagged Tea makers are not doing the same. Making it even harder to understand, I got this tea on sale and it wasn't the most expensive by a long shot. With respect to Mighty Leaf, I got Numi tea for almost 2 dollars less a box. Granted there may be some outside influence on price setting, making one tea higher then the other but still, at this price, it's a great deal.


Given what's inside most bagged teas going for a re-steep is always going to be a stretch. So to be fair I put all three bags (4min, 4.5min, 5min) back into the cup and poured just boiled water on them.The results were kind of expected. The 5min bagged barely gave anything. Very thin, very little sweetness. But the 4min actually gave me some flavor after leaving it in for another 4mins. The 4.5min was in the middle. Since your reading this blog you must want my opinion so here goes. Go for the best taste you can get and forget about re-steeping. Steep the first time at 5mins and enjoy a very good cup of Earl Grey and if you want another after it, grab a fresh bag and start over.

Final Thoughts

Unless I find something better before my next away-from-home vacation, this will be my go-to travel tea. The idea of getting a good cup of Earl Grey without bringing my pot, strainer, spoon, etc etc, is a no brain-er. Is it better then my current favorite(s) loose Earl Grey? No, but for the price, ease of travel, ease of brewing, and overall flavor, you can't go wrong with this Tea. To end, while researching this tea I noticed it can also be bought as loose tea. Obviously I will be picking some up and reviewing it sometime in the future.