Monday, February 4, 2013

Review #13 - Ridgways of London - Earl Grey Tea Bagged

Have you ever been in a store that sells one thing and you end up finding something you never thought the store sold? Well that's exactly what happen to me. While walking through a discount store I found a bunch of brand name bagged teas. Many by a certain company that I haven't reviewed yet that happens to rhyme with ton, and that's where I found today's Ridgways tea. So, did I find some unique and wonderful buried tea treasure? Or was there a reason this tea was being sold by a store not normally associated with tea? Lets find out.


Before we begin, Ridgway must have used the same box maker as Ahmad because just like them, the box is filled with many, many languages. It's so crowded on the box, the brewing instructions never appear in English words, only pictures. Which is kind of strange when you consider the source of the tea is London, a properly spoken English nation. Go figure.

So I grabbed a bag, and did an aroma test to see if anything was getting through the wrapper. Nothing was apparent so I opened the bag and took a deep breath. And then I took another. That's when I checked the box again and found this:
A full bodied Fairtrade black tea with a light bergamot citrus note
Ok, we've been here before. Not all teas present themselves strongly in the aroma department so I took the bag out and immediately noticed the biggest thorn in my tea bagged side; staples. Yes I was happy to see the tea was sourced in a way that all parties are paid fairly. No, I am never happy to see metal on my tea bags and as a result give negatives marks to the packaging. I then got back to testing the aroma. This time with nothing blocking the scent I gave a good inhale and waited. And waited. And waited some more. I understand that the makers of this tea have used the word light but there is light, and then there is really light. This tea falls into the really, really light aroma area. To be honest this might just be the lightest scented tea I've reviewed so far.

Brewing Method

As mentioned before, the box and the bag have a three circle pictorial on how to properly brew this tea. Simply put: boiling water, brew for 3 minutes, enjoy. And I quote:

Best enjoyed without milk and with a slice of lemon 

I will add that I performed my typical stress test on this tea by also steeping for 4, 5 and beyond minutes to see and taste the result. 

The Results

When I started this blog I was so looking forward to tasting all these wonderfully mixed and blended teas. I thought it would be a unique experience and everything would be great. Boy was I wrong. Remember the whole part about me "finding" this tea and a bunch of others? Well part of that find was the price, only $2.00 a box. That should have been my first sign that something was wrong. Because to be perfectly blunt, I did not enjoy this tea at all. Let me explain.

I started by following all their directions and steeped my first cup at 3 minutes. It was thin, shallow and lacked any form of Earl Grey taste. Making it worse, it wasn't even good black tea. So I began the stress test. 4 minutes provided no relief. 5 minutes and things started, very slowly, to improve. It wasn't until 10minutes that I finally, and quite forcefully, extracted any semblance of Earl Grey out of this tea. But at that time I had burnt it and it now presented a really bad after taste. 

So I grabbed the box to see if I had indeed purchased an out of date box. I thought I had checked it at the store and but I wanted to be sure; 2015 was the date listed. So I tried again, this time trying the tea at each of the above intervals only to get the same poor flavor. Then I let the 3 minute tea cool a bit in hopes of finding something redeemable about this tea. Unfortunately it wasn't meant to be, I still disliked this tea, maybe even more so then the first time. I'm sorry if I sound really negative about this tea but this is by far the worse Earl Grey I've reviewed to date. Trust me, I'm hoping and praying this will be the bottom of the barrel because to be honest if there is another tea out there worse then this one, I hope I never taste it. 


I didn't like this tea with its first steep so it came as no surprise to me when the re-steep provided nothing. I guess what I'm saying is this: don't do it. 

Final Thought

Given all the versions of Earl Grey that I have reviewed so far both in bags and in loose form, there should be no reason to ever drink this tea. Period.