Monday, March 18, 2013

Review #18 - Tea Forte' - Earl Grey (Bagged)

It was two reviews back when I finalized my first rule, ok ok, theory. Allow me to quote myself for those of you who missed it:

EGA's First Theory of Tea Bags : The flavor of bagged tea is inversely proportional to the quality of artwork on the tea bags.

With this weeks review returning to bagged teas I would have my first real test of my Theory.  For those of you who follow such things, you can't just jump to creating laws. No, you need to create a theory and allow it to stand the test of intense scrutiny over long periods of time. We here at EGA are all the about the scientific method so lets get right to the review.


The box came sealed in plastic wrap so any attempts on my part to pick up a stray whiff were not going to happen. There would be no cheating with this tea. The box was plastic wrapped and each tea bag had it's own foil bag. It should be noted, the tea bags used by Tea Forte' are biodegradable which makes clean up a breeze; just drop into your nearest compost bin or pile. Also of note, no staples. But then again most organic teas, which this one is, tend to avoid the dreaded staple but I like to point it out just to make sure. Back to the aroma. Like I said, there was no cheating until I actually opened one of the foil bags. That's when I got my first real whiff of ...oranges?? Yes it caught me off guard as well. So I grabbed the box and did some reading. Sure enough, listed below the Organic Black tea and bergamot was orange flavor.  So I went back an attempted a second test. This time expecting the orange to first overwhelm but hoping to pick up other things. To be honest, the aroma wasn't the strongest in the tea world but we've been here before. Not all teas present themselves properly in the aroma test. As for the bag, things were not looking good at all. The bags looked great because they mimicked the photo from the box. 

Before we move on, the box does give away a bit more info about this tea. First they come right out and say the tea is hand picked and from the Northeastern part of India's Assam region. Then if you read their little story it hints about an area of Italy for the bergamot. I think by now we can all guess where that is.

Brewing Method

To put it bluntly, this tea was going to make me work for my review.
Infuse tea in boiling water for 3-5 minutes.
 That meant I was going to taste this tea at the 3, 4, and 5 minute mark in addition to my torture test. That being when I just leave the bag in the cup.

The Results

I started with 3 minutes and found very little tea flavor. It was there but very lite. I also noticed the orange aroma had been replaced by the bergamot. Neat trick. I moved on to the 4 minute mark and found the tea tasting a bit better but still not where I have come to expect Earl Grey. To be fair I let the tea cool and sure enough the bergamot really started to come to the forefront but it had no depth. Yes it tasted like Earl Grey but that was all. There was no complexity at all. With high hopes I forged onto the 5 minute mark. Sadly the tea really didn't present any additional flavor even with the extra minute of steeping. Determined to uncover something I missed I started my torture test. At 6 minutes the tea was burnt and any hopes of extracting more flavor out of this bag ended there.

The box states this tea is fulled bodied and when you see the color you would probably agree but when you actually taste it, the flavor falls short. It was starting to look like my First Theory of Tea Bags was going to pass its first test. No one can deny this was Earl Grey tea but as we have seen before, just because you have Earl Grey flavor on the surface doesn't mean it can't be better. All teas should be at least somewhat complex and provide different flavors at different cooling temps. This tea tasted the best about 1min after removing the bag but that was it. No complexity, no cooling sweetness, just ordinary tea.


Don't do it. The first steep is very thin to begin with so any chance of a full bodied second is asking alot. In this case, too much. Like I said, don't do it.

Final Thoughts

I kinda feel bad because Tea Forte' appears to have the right idea about tea and packaging. There are no staples, the tea is organic, the bags are biodegradable and the outside box is made from 100% recycled paper. Unfortunately this is just an average tea at best. Yes it tastes like Earl Grey but the overall flavor is very thin and has no complexity at all. I wouldn't say avoid it, but I'd probably suggest something else.