Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Review #32 - Monkey Char Earl Grey Royal Blue (loose)

Ah the internet and all it's cool tea people. So I'm talking about teas and Earl Grey's and such on Twitter, when the good folks at Monkey Char jump into the open discussion with an offer of tea. Needless to say I jumped at the chance to try/sample/review another Earl Grey. A few more messages were exchanged and before I knew it there was tea, coming from the UK, addressed to me. Like I said, the internet and it's tea people are pretty darn cool.


Here is what arrived at my house. A padded jiffy bag with all the mailing information showing how the Royal Mail was used. Contained within was a card with Daniel Craig drinking tea on it and a nice note inside with all their contact info. There was two plastic bags each holding 10g of tea. Except for the official Monkey Char sticker, everything was hand written. The ingredients listed on the sticker:
Keemun, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Assam, Bergamot Oil, Blue Cornflower Petals. 
The plastic bags were used to allow me a sample, so no testing was done. Needless to say any company that is willing to put together a special order just for me automatically gets a pass.

I did perform an aroma test on the actual tea after opening one of the plastic baggies and got a very lite response but one that really had a nice black tea smell. Very little bergamot but nice with black tea.

Steeping Method

Referring back to the plastic baggies, this is what was written on them:

Boiling water (100deg c) Brew for 3-5 mins or according to taste.

...And that is exactly what I tried, 3, 4, and 5 minute brewing times.

The Results

At three minutes the Earl Grey was very lite and the cornflower seem to overwhelm it. The tea came through nicely but this was still a lite brew. The color was on the lighter side but that's to be expected at this steeping time. At the four minute mark the cornflower came to the fore front but now it had the bergamot to mix with it. I'm normally a 4 minute Earl Grey guy and this tea seemed to favor that, at least for my tastes. I then let the cup cool a bit and it did allow more of the bergamot to present itself but the cornflower was still there, adding it's unique flavor.

I then moved onto the 5 minute mark and found the cornflower started to fade but I also think I may have burnt the tea a bit. It was a touch bitter so I tried again and this time stopped short of the 5 minute mark and that seemed to eliminate the bitterness. The color was obviously the darkest out of the three and when allowed to cool in the cup the tea really came through.


Once again Earl Grey with cornflower petals was for me, more enjoyable once the flower influence was removed. After a bit of testing and trying, I found that 4 minutes on the first steep followed by the exact same 4 minutes on the second steep gave me what I was looking for. Try some different combos to see where your tastes land you.

Final thoughts

To be perfectly honest I feel really bad because I feel like I have let Monkey Char down. But at the same time, I need to clear the air and be completely honest and upfront. This is the third Earl Grey with cornflower I have reviewed and I think it's safe to say, I'm not a fan of cornflower in my Earl Grey. Meaning Lady Grey is not for me. In all three cases I like the re-steep better then the first because the cornflower taste has "burned off" leaving only the black tea and bergamot. Since I'm not a fan of Lady Grey it will be better for all parties involved that I no longer review this version. I understand people are trying to create new and better formula's but I think I'm just going to stick with the original when it comes to my reviews.

To end a big Thank You to Monkey Char and the huge effort they put into getting me the tea to try. If you are a fan of Lady Grey, by all means please give them a try.