Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review #39 - Camellia Sinensis Earl Grey Organic & Fair Trade

With my illness now out of the way, meaning everything is back to tasting normal, it's time to review a tea I've had before, but never properly reviewed. That's right, I've had it before but never properly put it through the review paces. Meaning, all the different steep times, how it handles being re-steeped, etc, etc. So now that you have a good idea what to expect, lets jump into the review.


As you can see from the picture, I didn't order a sample size but instead got a full 100gram bag. To get to the tea you simply cut the top off making sure not to cut the zip lock section. Once cut all you have to do is pull the bag apart and you'll have access to the leaves. Because of the size of the bag there is plenty of aroma to enjoy. The smell is very earthy and also has a slight "musk" to it. Normally you get a citrus aroma but this tea is different. It's a deeper smell with the tea and bergamot sharing in the aroma.

How are we getting this unique aroma? From their site:
From Dooars, in northern India, this quality black tea is scented with a natural flavouring extracted from organic Italian bergamot, a highly aromatic citrus fruit.
But what I described as "musky" they call something else:
The base tea is a full-bodied, slightly malty black tea from Dooars (Organic Fair Trade) at the base of the Indian Himalayas. 
If you read a bit more you find their source for the bergamot is well known to this site:
The bergamot we have been using is a high grade, organic Italian bergamot from the Calabria region in the Province of Reggio. 
It should also be mentioned this tea has the ECO CERT along with it's organic and fair trade assurances.
With the aroma and ingredients explained time for the steeping instructions.

Steeping Method

The bag is hand written with instructions that match what is posted on their site:

    250ML -> Temp 95C -> 3-4Min 
As always I did a bit of stress testing with this tea and added 5 minutes to the times I steeped.

The Results

At the 3min time the tea was lighter then I prefer. The color of the tea matched the flavor but did not do so at
the expense of the complexity. Even though the flavor was on the lite side there is still much to enjoy. The malty flavor comes through with a nice balanced tea to bergamot flavor.

At the 4 min mark things edged closer to where I like my Earl Grey. The flavor was stronger and bolder while not letting either the tea nor the bergamot change the balance. The color of the tea was also darker while the aroma really kicked in. The tea had a bit more cooling flavors which added to this tea and made it more flavorful then the 3min time.

Then I went for it, the full 5 mins and I was glad that I did because at 5 mins this tea really produced a deep flavor that could be enjoyed from just poured to a bit more cooled. The color darkened up a bit but the aroma stayed where it was at 4 minutes. But most importantly the balance in flavor remained. I know that doesn't make any sense. If the flavors are getting stronger then you would think something would over power something else. Instead the bergamot and the tea remained equal partners and increased with each steep time.


But there is a price to pay for not listening to Camellia's steeping instructions. If you do as I did and steep for 5 minutes, there will be nothing left and your second steep will not be very good. But if you stop at 4 minutes and then go 4 minutes again, you will get two cups. The first being slightly less then I prefer and the second about equal to the 3 minute time. So it's really up to you.

Final Thoughts

Camellia Sinensis is located in Canada and while some people equate their location more with hockey, snow and a certain progressive rock band, they have produced a wonderfully unique Earl Grey that will probably make most Earl Drinkers happy. The tea ranges from lite to full body without ruining the balance. If you prefer a lighter tea, 3minutes is for you. If you are like me, then 5 minutes is the way to go. Either way I really enjoyed this tea and think you will too.