Sunday, July 7, 2013

Review #27 - Clipper Organic Earl Grey Tea (bagged)

I guess the best way to start this entry would be to say, this tea was found and not looked for. No disrespect to Clipper but I hadn't heard of their company until I was walking through an Organic section at a local supermarket that was being phased out. As I walked around scanning for sale items I found the box and immediately grabbed it. If nothing else, this whole taste every Earl Grey on this planet thing has uncovered many unknown companies which is great.  So onto the review we go.


Before I broke open the wrapped box I read some of their printed statements. To begin this tea is USDA organic, Certified to International Fairtrade standards, holds a GB Organic Certification 5 and the box is biodegradable.That last certification is a new one for me so here is but one linked for an explanation: Organic certifications - United_Kingdom  As for the actual ingredients there is one discrepancy that hopefully is a none issue. On the box this is how the ingredients are listed:
*organically gown tea, natural bergamot flavor with other natural flavors 
Their website has this:
Organically grown fairtrade tea, natural bergamot flavour. 
The expiration date on the box is Dec 23, 2013 so I'm hoping the box is out of date and the website is the real thing. Why? Because that one extra "natural flavors" essentially adds an unknown mystery ingredient. Judging from the effort this company has put into labeling everything, I probably wouldn't worry. With that out of the way, I broke open the box and grabbed my first, of many, sealed bag and tested for aroma. To my surprise, I got nothing. Seriously, when I went to take in the aroma, there was nothing there. I immediately blamed myself and let the bag sit for a moment before trying again. The result was the same, no aroma what so ever.

So I grabbed the tea bag out of the sealed bag and found staples which was a huge shock to me. With all the  organic and natural steps this tea has taken to, I'll admit to being very confused why they choose to go with staples. If someone from Clipper reads this I'd be curious of their reasons why. Also if Clipper has moved away from the staples I would be happy to update this review because we all know how I feel about boiling metal in my tea. Not good.

Steeping Method

Both their site and their box have identical instructions so I just grabbed it from the site:
Always use fresh water, pour it over the tea bag while it's still boiling and allow it to brew for 2-4 minutes. The rest is up to you.

This means I'll be testing 2, 3, 4 and of course stress testing beyond what they suggest.

The Results

Starting at the 2 minute mark I can say this is a very thin tea. The color is very light and the flavors is very subtle. If you like a very lightly flavored tea I'd stay here because even though it's very light, it still presents a balanced flavor. The cooling effect doesn't really improve it at all and there is no complexity.

At the 3 minute mark things get better but you start to sense there is alot more to this tea then what 3 minutes
will give you. It's good, just not good enough to get excited about. At the suggested high end, the 4 minute mark, things improved again and the color got darker. The cooling effect didn't bring out any extra flavors but the tea was nicely balanced. Not too strong on the bergamot thus allowing the tea to come through flavor wise.

That's when I stressed this tea to the 5 minute mark and found what I was looking for. This must sound pretty strange coming from me, the 4 minute default steeper. But the steeping facts don't lie. At 5 minutes I enjoyed this tea. It was well balanced and had a slight cooling effect. Nothing award winning but it was there and added to the enjoyment.


As with most bagged teas, once you extract the most you can from the bag, there isn't much left for the re-steep. But as always I played around a bit and found a method that you might approve of. I've said this before but I'll repeat it. I wound't re-steep this tea but just grab a fresh bag. But if you really want too, here is what I consider acceptable. 1st steep should stop at 4 minutes then for your second steep just leave the bag in the cup/glass until you detect bitterness, then take it out.

Final Thoughts

I guess the obvious issue I have with this tea is their use of staples. Why did a company take all that time and effort to create a perfectly natural (in the real sense of the word) tea only to add metal to it is confusing. But as I have said before, if this is not a concern you share then I would definitely try it yourself. For me I would be happy to give this tea to guests who don't share my concern because it really is a good Earl Grey. But there are other bagged teas that either match or beat the flavor of this one and don't use staples. To end it's up to you, enjoy.