Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Review #42 - Robert Rothschild Farm - Earl Grey (bagged)

Normally I keep this intro section very short but for this review I need to cover a number of things.

1. This review will be the last post before I take a summer hiatus. This site is not shutting down so don't worry. I just have alot on my plate at the moment. To begin, it's summer and that brings vacations, and working in my organic garden, landscaping, family, training, etc, etc. (BTW, if you are into any of that stuff you can always follow my other twitter account @markthetrigeek) So basically I'm going to post this review and then step back for a while to enjoy my summer. See you in September and thanks for understanding.

2. Another reason for my less then frequent reviews is our countries boundaries. Or should I say the rules of the different countries as they apply to food. It is not like I don't have teas lined up to sample and review. The problem lies in the shipment of said teas as this direct twitter message points out.
Sadly, because of food regs, we can't ship from the UK to US.  
I kept the sender's name out of this because they are not the only one's from the UK telling me this same thing. "We'd love to have you review our teas but getting them to you (The -you- being -me- in the US) is against out laws." This doesn't make any sense to me because I have already bought and reviewed teas from the UK. So clearly I am missing something.

3. Finally, and I guess this is part of the "game" sort to speak but I've had a few less then stellar twitter followers who didn't like me unfollowing them. To make a short story even shorter, a number of accts had nothing to do with tea. By itself that doesn't bother me. What bothered me was their constant attempt to sell me stuff, not taking part in any conversations about tea, and posting large volumes of quotes, pictures, etc, that did nothing but fill my stream. I understand it's part of the ugly marketing internet but I don't need to follow them. Problem was, when I dropped some of them, they started to fill my email with the same info. So yeah I was wasting alot of my time dealing with that. Which brings us to number 4.

4. Sadly, I will now have to investigate all new followers. This will delay the process of following but unfortunately it has to be done or my stream will turn into a worthless pile of crud.

Ok, with all of that out of the way, it is now time to return to the zen of tea and review another Earl Grey.


This may sound like I'm repeating a previous review but in this review our container is once again cylindrical and contains round, tag-free bags. When I first opened the container I once again found all the bags in the container without individual wrappers. So when you do pop the top off you get a good nose full of this tea. At it's very initial, you can smell the bergamot but almost instantly after that the black tea is present. The aroma is clean and does not contain any hints of perfume.

That brings us to the ingredients and something about the tea itself. Normally I quote directly from the tea makers site but I can't in this review. I'll explain why in a bit so sit tight. The ingredients listed on the container are:
Black Tea with Bergamot Flavor
If you spin the container around you'll also find this:
Pure Ceylon Tea 
So being the thorough reviewer that I try to be I headed off to the Rothschild site and got a surprise. You can't find the tea listed on their site. In fact you can't find any tea listed on their site, only coffee. So I checked the container and found the tea was packaged by an Amazon Trading LTD in Sri Lanka. As you can guess they don't sell tea (directly) they just make it for other companies. Given the money that is now being made in the tea industry I knew I would eventually run into this situation. (think OEM, ODM, etc, but with tea) To be honest it's kinda stinks because it feels like I don't have a connection to this tea. For me it was made by some Corporation because someone said there is money to be made in Tea so they contacted a "Tea House" and now they can add Earl Grey to their list along with Chips, Dips, and Sauces.

Lets move onto the next section before I break into a Direct vs. Corp food rant.

Steeping Method

From the container in very, very small print and pictorial form:
Boiling water  - 4-5 minutes 
As with everything else about this tea, that is all the info you will find.

The Results

I started with the 4 minute steep time and obtained an average cup of Earl Grey. The color was
medium, the flavors were pretty well balanced and after it cooled a bit, it gained some sweetness. What the tea lacked was complexity. Yes it tasted like Earl Grey and it was ok, but it just lacked that extra flavor that a good tea has.

I then tried the 5 minute steep time. As expected the color got a bit darker but not as much as I have seen with other teas. When you first removed the bag and taste it, this steep time really doesn't allow for the tea to come through. The tea is not burnt but it really is too hot. As the tea cools the flavor improves but not at the same level as the 4 minute time.

Which brings us to my typical stress test of 6 minutes or more. Sadly this tea could not handle the extra steeping time and I burnt the tea. As always, this should not be held against the maker because I am going beyond their suggestions.

To end this section the 4 minute time was the one that appealed to me the most. This is a light tea but one that does have a decent balance.


Given how this tea is on the light side it should come as no surprise to anyone reading this when I say this, forget re-steeping. Unless you like Earl Grey flavored water, toss the bag after one use and grab another if you want a second cup.

Final Thoughts

If you are on vacation, maybe at some restaurant, and are in the mood for some Earl Grey that has an Organic label on it (though it doesn't tell you whether it's the tea or the bergamot that's organic) I would drink this tea. It's balanced and has a decent color. But if I were shopping for some tea then I would probably pick something else with a bit more flavor such as some of the ones I have reviewed before. As I always say try it for yourself to see if it meets your Earl Grey needs.