Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Review #37 - Canton Tea Co Black Tea Earl Grey (loose)

In this review I return to the Earl Grey Sampler Pack from Whittington's Tea Emporium (WTE). But this time I run into some issues with the names and such. Let me explain. The sample packet that came in the container is labeled Black Tea Earl Grey but when you head over to the Canton Tea Co site, I couldn't find it. What I did find was two other types. The first being called "Classic Earl Grey" and the second "Canton Organic Earl Grey". As stated before I'm not a fan of cornflower so that tea is off my list. But the second tea looks kinda like the one I have. But when you compare the writings on my sample pack to their description you find it's not the same tea. So here is where I stand. I will obviously review the tea but will not provide a link directly to the tea because it appears to be missing/replaced/etc from their site.


The sample pack is labeled as a "taster pack" and requires you to tear off the top before being able to access the zip lock type opening. Once opened you will find a very mild and mellow smell. Since I only have the label to go by here is what it says:

Teas from China and India and Oil of Bergamot from Italy.

Here is where my next issue with labels and such came in. Along with the samples the container holds an info sheet for each tea written by someone at WTE. Problem is they list the tea as containing cornflower with it's "indigo-blue cornflowers petals" which it does not. Unfortunately I don't know how or where this happened. Did Canton change something after WTE got their samples or did WTE get this sample misplaced? At this point I don't know so that's the reason this tea will be reviewed with only the info I have listed on the sample pack.

Steeping Method

From the packet from their pictures:

Temp 95c, 1-2 tsp, 250ml of water steep for 2minutes 
I then added the typical 4 and 5 minutes steeping times.

The Results 

I started with the suggested 2 minute time and got a very thin and very light tea. To be honest, I don't think a 2 minute steeping time did this tea any justice. As stated it was very thin, had no depth of flavor, the color was very light and even when cooled showed nothing. To give you a sense of just how light this time was, I've reviewed bagged teas that gave more flavor then this loose tea.

So I headed off to the opposite end of the steeping spectrum and tried 5 minutes. This time provided a lot
more flavor, color and aroma once brewed but lacked in the depth area. This time showed alot more color and plenty of flavor but at a cost. As the cup cooled I picked up some extra flavor normally associated with just starting to burn tea. I think 5 minutes pushed this tea a bit past it's best. The balance was still of tea but at least the bergamot came through a bit more. Which brings us to our last steeping time.

With the first two times out of the way I was hoping to find more balance and more flavor. Sadly this tea remained on the light side while the bergamot never really gave me a nice citrus smell or flavor. It just tasted flat with no depth of flavor. The color was pretty much the same as the 5 minute mark but in this case that slightly burnt flavor was not there. But this tea definitely left me wanting a more balanced tea with more flavor.  That brings us to my last attempt where I doubled the serving from 1 tsp to 2. I was expecting alot more bergamot (i.e. fresh citrus) but the tea technically didn't change. It was just more of the same flavor just more intense. It remained flat and provided no additional cooling flavors.


Given the lack of depth of flavor I thought this tea would not re-steep well at all. Strangely, if you like a very light Earl Grey then you can re-steep. Go for 4 minutes on the 1st and 2nd steep.

Final Thoughts

After reading the above it's pretty obvious I wasn't blown away by this tea. This is a very light tea with a flavor that leads me to believe not all ingredients are natural/organic. It just doesn't have that fresh citrus aroma and flavor many other teas possess. The flavor is weighted more towards the tea then getting close to a balance between the tea and bergamot. To end, if you like a very light tea then by all means try it but if you like your tea a bit bolder AND like knowing the ingredients of your tea, I'd try another of my reviewed teas.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Review #36 - Den's Tea Earl Grey (bagged)

The source of today's tea should dispel any rumors that I only drink Earl Grey. Hey I'm an addict but I'm also no fool and enjoy many different types of tea. While ordering some wonderfully tasty Japanese Green Tea I noticed that Den's Tea also sells a bagged Earl Grey. So I added it to my shopping cart, along with the green tea I bought, and here we are. With all of that explained, onto the review.


Den's tea comes in a typical (at least what I call) sales box. Meaning the box can  be opened via the top, or by pushing in the perforated half circle at the bottom front. Once pushed in, people can then take out individual bags for purchase. For a retailer these things must be nice. Pop the front bottom, place it on your shelves upright, and you are in business. The box also has a fair amount of needed info in a plain and easy to read format. On one side their Earl Grey story, the Best Before date, brewing for both hot and cold, the ingredients and their location. On the back some talk about the benefits of organic foods, and some words on their support of fair trade. The remaining side has their quality guarantee and some company history.

The bags themselves are just sealed clear plastic bags/wraps and given how I couldn't detect any aroma they work well at keeping things fresh. Upon ripping one open you will pick up a bit of citrus but overall the aroma is very lite. The ingredients providing this aroma are (from their site):

Our Earl Grey tea is a blend of organic Indian black tea from select gardens and the natural essence of Italian bergamot, a fragrant citrus fruit.
Once you get the bag out you'll notice the lack of any staples on either bag or the label. Needless to say this goes hand in hand nicely with the use of organic ingredients and should be the standard for all companies. With that said, lets move on to the steeping.

Steeping Method

Directly from the box:

"Use one tea bag & 8oz of boiliny water. Steep for 4-5 minutes & enjoy." 
That meant I tried the suggested 4, 5 and of course went for 6 minutes to stress test the tea.

The Results

Normally 4 minutes is my sweet spot but in this case 4 minutes was a bit too lite for my personal preference. The color was on par with teas typically steeped 4 minutes, but the flavor was definitely on the thin side. The flavor itself was mostly black tea leaving me wanting for a more balanced tea. Letting it sit for a bit brought out a bit more citrus but not enough to win the day.

In this tea's case, 5 minutes provided the best flavor that I could obtain. The color was a bit darker, the aroma increased but most of all, the flavor was alot more balanced. The black tea was there along with the bergamot instead of covering it up. When allowed to cool the citrus really came to the front and provided a nice cup of tea. But I have to admit there was little to no complexity or depth. It tasted like Earl Grey but I wasn't blown away by it. Yes it was an improvement over the 4 minute mark but it didn't reach the heights of some other teas.

At the 6 minute mark I didn't burn the tea per say but I definitely pushed it beyond where it should have been steeped. Instead of getting more bergamot flavor, I actually got less. This leads me to believe there would be no hidden gems with this tea which is fine. Pushing the teas like I do are done for that one rare occasion and the marker of the teas are not held responsible when things go horribly wrong.


There are times when during my review I find combos of 1st and 2nd steeps that work and extract the most from the teas. In this case I found nothing which leads me to the following statement, "Don't re-steep this tea; ever". Instead dump your 1st bag into your compost bin, and grab another.

Final Thoughts

Given how I like knowing what it is in my food, while at the same time knowing the people who actually grow the food are making a fair living, I like this tea. The flavor isn't the best of the Earl Grey's I've reviewed but it definitely isn't the worse. I know that is not exactly a glowing review but that's how the tea tasted. Would I suggest it to others? If you had never had Earl Grey before, or your preference is a lighter blend, then yes. If you do end up trying it, please feel free to leave a comment regarding your opinion on this tea.