Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Review #20 - David Rio Organic Earl Grey (Bagged)

I made the following announcement via my twitter account (@EarlGreyAddict1) but I'd like to repeat it here as well since I'm guessing not everyone saw it. As of this review I am moving to a Summer Release Schedule. What does that mean? Easy. With the weather finally breaking in my part of the world, (US, state of MA) Sunday is now a huge work in the garden, play with family, workout, just plain be outside as long as possible day, that leaves very little time to do a proper review. So from now on, my reviews will be released on either Monday or Tuesday. That's all the none review news I have so on to the review.


I told you it was pink
I know I shouldn't do this but hey, it's my site so I'll just come right out and say it; the packaging colors are not exactly manly Jean-Luc Picard type choices. There is alot of pink and not a dark, maybe it's a cranberry  type shade. Nope, this is a, as my wife calls it, "hot pink." The same kind of pink you'd see a 6 year old little girl wearing to Sunday morning Easter Mass while walking hand in hand with Mom in her own matching pink dress. Yes, it's that kinda pink. Ok, enough of that, lets get back to the actual review.

There is very little aroma present until you break open their "sachet". That's when you are greeted with a wonderfully full aroma of bergamot with something else. At the time I couldn't put my finger on it so I grabbed the box and did some reading. I'm sure I noticed safflower as an ingredient when I first bought the box but I obviously forgot all about it. I'll let their site provide the details:

A refined blend of organic black tea infused with safflower & bergamot essence     
According to the box both the tea and the safflower are organic while the bergamot is listed as "natural". So after enjoying the very natural smelling tea sachet I pulled out the bag and prepared to steep. That when I noticed the staples. First I thought, maybe they're only on the string and tag portion of the bag. But no they use staples to seal the bag. I'm sorry but this makes no sense to me. The tea is organic. The safflower is organic. According to the box the location where the tea is packaged, uses 100% wind power. The box is made from recycled consumer content and the bags are made from unbleached material. But you still use staples to hold the bag together? Sorry but any tea company that still uses staples automatically loses points in my book. Yes, the aroma is quite good, but my initial enthusiasm for this tea had been tempered.

Brewing Method

The box provides both forms of steeping instructions, one for hot and one for iced tea.

Bring fresh cold filtered water to a boil and immediately pour over the tea bag. Steep for 3-5 minutes  
For those of you who have read enough of my reviews should know by now that this range of steeping time means I have some work to do. That means 3, 4 and 5 minutes will be sampled in addition to my stress testing. FYI - their website is a bit more to the point but still the same:

Brew Temperature 212 degrees Brew Time 3-5 mins.

The Results

When people ask me if I'm getting bored with all this tasting, I can now reply with, "and miss a tea like this?" Yes, this is very good bagged tea. At the 3 minute mark it was very light but still enough to be complex. You get a very slight change in flavor when it cools but only a touch. At 4 minutes this tea shines in both color and flavor. It has a full body Earl Grey taste with nothing after to ruin it. The Earl Grey is up front but still allows the black tea to come through. When it cools there is much more flavor change and you start to pick up some of that
complexity that good loose Earl Grey's some time exhibit. At 5 minutes the Earl Grey is even stronger and for me it's a bit too much. For me this is where personal preference comes into play. I like a balanced Earl Grey so 5 is not my personal choice. But if you like a more intense Earl Grey tea let it go until the timer says 5 minutes. Making this even better, we are talking about bagged tea so travel and drinking a good Earl Grey away from home just got easier and better.

From there we moved on to the stress test and that's where the bitterness came through but not until 7 minutes in. I can't believe this tea held on that long. But then again most bagged teas, and some loose for that matter, don't taste this good at 4 minutes. So as you can see I really enjoyed this tea and now have some choices when it comes to vacation/away from home tea.


So here is the rub. Do you want the best cup of Earl Grey you can get or do you want two cups of tea out of this bag? If you are looking to double your enjoyment then I would keep your steeping times between 3-4 minutes and then go for 4-5 on the second steep. Personally, I want the best cup any tea can provide so I'm going a touch over 4 minutes and forget the re-steep. If I want a second cup I'm grabbing another bag. But at least you have the choice if you so desire.

Final Thoughts

I would enjoy nothing more then to say this is my new travel tea but I can't. Not when there are other bagged teas that match this one in flavor, also use all organic ingredients and are ethical about their business while not using staples. If by some strange twist of fate Mr. David Rio himself actually reads this review this is what I want him to read, "I'll get around the color issue with Duct Tape if you replace the staples." Deal? For the rest of you, if staples are not a "thing" for you, try this tea. It's that good.