Sunday, February 17, 2013

Review #14 - Choice Organic Teas Earl Grey

In past reviews I mentioned how some tea bags and boxes present a rather impressive aura given all the time an effort that appears to go into them. Sadly many of these "flashy" brands don't come through where it matters. They continue to use staples to hold their bags and tags together and then provide little to no return in the flavor department. Today's review will thankfully change all that. Enter Choice Organic Teas.What am I talking about? Let me answer those questions by getting to the review.


Before I ever broke the wrapping seal on the box, I knew this company was putting their time and effort in the areas that matter. On the front of the box two symbols are clearly shown: USDA Organic and Fair Trade Certified. Right off the bat, I'm happy to know what is not in my tea but they take it many steps further. When you turn the box to another side you will also find the NON-GMO Project Verified, Wind Power and Kosher symbols. The NON GMO symbol is a very nice thing to see. If you've been following the news as of late, California recently tried to get their food labeled with regards to GMOs. It didn't pass but that didn't stop Choice from taking the extra step to get their consumers that information. Adding to that, and I'll quote from their box:

We buy wind power to offset all of our electricity use.  

That's right, Choice tries not to pollute. There are many facets to this debate which are clearly outside the boundaries of this blog but isn't it nice to see a company take these steps? That leaves the Kosher sign. With respect to the Jewish people in my audience, I am not Jewish but any time any company wants to provide info on the ingredients, process, or results of their food product, I'm happy to have it. In this case Kosher is not my biggest concern but to those who do use it, there you have it.  Did I ever get the wrap off? Yes.

Yes after reading the box on all four sides I ripped off the wrapper and was met with an abundance of wonderfully fresh aroma. No perfume here, just a nice natural aroma that dissipated as I opened the box and fetched my first bag. 

Speaking about the box and the bag, have no fear Choice has once again made the right decision. I was going to quote their box but I think their site put it better: 

  • 100% Biodegradable
  • Unbleached, natural fiber, staple-free tea bag
  • Individually labeled paper envelope
  • 100% recycled, 65% post-consumer content box

So no staples, all biodegradable, and a nice perfume free aroma which means we are off to a good start.

Brewing Method

The box calls for a 4-5 minute steep time so that is what I did. I also tried it at 3mins and of course I did my typical tea torture test by just leaving the bag in the water past it's suggested time. To be fair here is what the box says:

Boil Fresh Water, steep tea bag in 8oz of water for 4-5 minutes and enjoy.

The paper envelope that the bag comes in had the same, just a shorter version of the steeping instructions on it. Always nice to see. 

The Results

The results were very good with one small caveat, let the tea cool a bit. Seriously, to really enjoy this tea don't drink it right after removing the tea bag. Let it sit. I've mentioned this before how teas tend to change as the temperature drops and this tea is the perfect example of that. When I had my first cup right at the 4minute mark I was kinda middle of the road about it. It had a nice color to it and was good but nothing to write home about. So I let it sit a while. That's when the real flavor of the tea came through. The tea balanced out allowing the Bergamot to enter the equation and really add to the flavor. According to both their site and box, the tea is a "blend of Ceylon and Indian blacks....... with essential oil of Italian Bergamot from Calabria". Not knowing anything about Italian city locations I did a search and found out it's located South of Naples on the "toe" of Italy's boot.

I then performed another test at the 5minute mark. Again the tea was just ok immediately after steeping but came alive once it cooled a bit. At the 3minute mark there wasn't as much to discuss so I wouldn't go with my stress testing and stick with their suggestions. As for stress testing, the tea held up pretty well. By pushing it way beyond the 5minute mark I got a touch more flavor but at the expense of "overdone" tea. So like I said, stick with their 4-5 minute steeping time to get the most from this tea.


Kinda, sorta, maybe, would be my best answer. If you stop steeping right at the 4 minute mark, you will get a weak second steep but still better then some of my not so good reviews. If you like your tea a bit more flavorful, I'd say forget it. Enjoy that 5 minute steep and if you want another cup, don't settle, you're gonna add fresh water anyway so you might as well drop a new bag in there. 

Final Thoughts

This tea is not perfect but at the price I picked it up for, ($4.99us a box) you can't go wrong. Just keep in mind not to start drinking right after steeping and you will be pleasantly surprised how much this tea improves as it cools. So I guess my last words are, Choice teas makes a good Earl Grey for those with patience. Enjoy.

Note: After spending more time at their site I found they have 2 other versions of Earl Grey. A Pyramid bag and loose. Will have to keep those in mind for future reviews.