Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review 08 - Twinings of London Classic Earl Grey Tea - Bagged

If ever there was a tea that I don't need to intro, this is it. Twinings of London was going full throttle and people from all around the world loved their Earl Grey recipe. So what did they do? Pulled a Coke-Cola (for the records, never drank coke, haven't had soda in maybe 5-10 years) and changed their recipe. This of course caused an uproar you can only imagine and for a while, people got their Earl Grey else where. I know I did because I was a fan of their bagged tea way back when. Then they changed it and I bailed like many others. But it's back so lets go back in time to review today's classic recipe of yesterday..or is that today... I think. Maybe.  


With a tip of my hat to the classic yellow pouch I can assure you when opening the packaging you will be met with a very nice bergmot aroma. For me it's more of a sweet smell then an earthy one but none the less it's there. I would like to point out that the days of finding staples on the bags and labels of Twinings Earl Grey are gone. You now have a tag, a piece of string and a bag. Everything is held together with knots which now makes everything completely viable for the compost pile. Which is where every bag I brew should go to retire. 

On the down side, while the tag does mimic the box in it's presentation, it does not contain any brewing info. Which I find very strange. Even stranger is the brewing instructions themselves. Which leads in perfectly to out next section. 

Brewing Method

On the side of the box you will find two sets of instructions. One for hot tea and one for cold. The hot instructions call for boiling water poured over the tea bag with a steeping time of 2-4 minutes. At this point I will admit to brewing my first glass without looking at their instructions. I just went with the typical 4 minutes and was rather shocked to see that 2 minute mark even being suggested. So being the thorough reviewer that I am trying to be, I tried a cup of tea after only 2 minutes. I also tried 3 minutes just to make sure I had covered all the bases. Then I followed my typical process for bagged tea and got the result I was expecting. 

The Results

To begin, there is no way I would ever drink this tea after just 2 minutes. It was thin, had very little color and tasted.....well like Earl Grey water. At the 3 minute mark I started to get some of the typical Earl Grey flavor but in the end I went with my life long Earl Grey process. Just leave the bag in and start drinking somewhere between 4 to 5 minutes. I know, I know that's not what Twining's suggested but that's what I like. I then tried taking the bag out at 5 minutes and found it nearly identical to just leaving the bag in. I'm guessing a bunch of you reading this are appalled that I'm not following Twining's directions and even more appalled that I just leave it in there. For me it works and I don't get a burnt tea taste. As you can see from the picture the color is quite good but it was strange not to see any form of expansion from the bag. Other then being wet you could hardly tell it was steeped. 


Now that you know what I do to extract the best flavor from bagged Earl Grey teas you can probably guess what I'm going to say with regards to re-steeping. The only thing left when I'm done drinking this tea is an item for my compost bin. Re-steeping is worthless because I pretty much steep all the flavor out of it. To put it bluntly, don't waste your time. 

Final thoughts

I've been avoiding the elephant in the room so I could focus on my elongated steeping. So lets point the finger and point out a big issue. I have no idea what is in this tea. Twining's info on the box and on their site are pretty much the same:
Fine black tea expertly blended with the citrus fruit flavour of bergamot, to deliver an uplifting tea with a unique floral aroma and refreshing taste.
Their ingredients are as follows: Black Tea, Bergamot Flavoring

...And there, once again, lies the problem with this tea as well as others. Yes, it tastes very good. One of the better bagged teas out there and even better them some of the loose (following my steeping process) I've tried. But given the world we live in, I like to know what's in my tea. When they say flavoring, do they mean real or artificial? When they say Black Tea what exactly am I getting? Trust me when I say this, I really like the flavor of this tea and would probably drink it on a regular basis, but not if I don't know what is in it. Truth be told I'm not only an Earl Grey addict but I'm also an Organic Gardener. I honestly believe nature produces the best food products and that's why my current favorite Earl Grey is totally organic. So to end this review I will leave the final decision up to you the reader.

Are you like me and like to know what you are eating and drinking? If so until Twinings provides more details I need to pass on this tea. If those food issues are not a concern of yours, then by all means, buy this tea and enjoy it with family and friends because it is an excellent Earl Grey.