Monday, October 26, 2015

Review #55 - Tea Chest Classic Earl Grey (bagged)

I mentioned in my last review that I had tea coming from different people / companies. Well one of those shipments arrived which meant they were going to be the next. I'm also happy to mentioned that Tea Chest was cool enough to give my readers a little something special. It should be noted they offered up this deal before I even had their tea so I like their confidence.

"we'd also like to give you and your followers an exclusive offer to get two free Earl Grey teas with the first 20 orders of 10 teas from us."

So if after reading this review you feel like you would like to support this company, head on over and make sure to tell them you heard about their tea from the Earl Grey Addict. Onto the review.


The rectangular and somewhat flat box arrived with all of it's Royal Mail stickers in proper order on one side, along with a neat hologram sticker seal on the front. Contained within was a boat load of samples. Since I was able to pick the ones I wanted from their site I selected 2 Earl Greys to make sure my review was not based upon just one attempt.

The samples, as you can see in the picture, were silver coated on one side and clear on the other. The bags within were more of a triangle pouch then just your traditional flat bag. The bag ripped open very easily letting me get my first chance of an aroma test. After a few deep breaths it was clear this tea was very subdued. You could barely pick up on the tea but I didn't detect any perfume at all.  A quick trip to their website provided this:
"Our blend has no artificial flavours and has been created using only the finest Bergamot essential oil. "
I like seeing this information but at the same time I like to know what I am drinking. I would have liked to see which black tea they choose for their blend with maybe a location but as I have said before, I understand that trade secrets are just that. Yes, yes I know I sound like a broken record sometimes and to be fair they do have a "India" tag but I just like knowing.

Next stop, steeping info.

Steeping Method

I will let their site do the talking:

Temp: 100C
Steep: 3-5 mins
So with two sample bags in my possession I decided upon 4 and 5 minute times.

The Result

Starting where I always do, at 4 minutes, I found a very lite tea with a lite color to match. The aroma improved a bit but this is a very lite tea. So to make sure I wasn't missing anything I went back their site and did some additional research and sure enough this is what I found:
Taste: Crisp, Floral, Fresh, Fruity, Lite, Mellow, Mild.
So that made me feel better. I knew I only had two bags so I wanted to get it right. As I did all this the
tea cooled and the flavors blended a bit more and just like TeaChest had said, this mellow and mild tea arrived. With that knowledge in mind, it was off to the 5 minute steep time to see if letting it cool would bring more flavor as well.

At the 5 minute time the color got darker, the aroma improved a slight bit but most importantly the flavor improved. We are still talking about a lite tea but at the 5 minute mark the flavors seem to blend more giving a more balanced tea. To complete this part of my testing I let this time cool a bit and again I got the same result. A bit more balance, still mellow and mild but now it had some fruity parts to it.


Given the already mild and lite flavor I really didn't expect much from this tea. At the 5 minute time there was very little flavor left so for me, re-steeping was not an option. At the 4 minute time, and if you let it cool a bit, AND if you like your Earl Grey on the very lite side, I guess you could re-steep.
So 4 on the 1st, 4 on the second.

Final Thoughts 

Going back to my tried and true wine analogy this tea is in the Chablis arena. I on the other hand prefer a Chianti or Cab Sav. I can appreciate that not everyone enjoys tea the way I do so I will say this. If you are like me, then I would probably suggest a bolder tea, but if you like your tea lighter, then I would have no problem suggesting this tea because it's exactly what they said it would be.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Review #54 - O Organics Earl Grey Organic Tea (bagged)

As you know I run this little part of the tea reviewing world in a fun relaxed "kinda" way. That means if someone/some company says they are going to send me tea I tend to modify the tea que if the next tea in line is something I bought. I just look at it this way, if someone is willing to provide a product for review free of charge, the least I could do is not make them wait...too long. Well this review kinda breaks that process because I may have 3 different people sending me tea. So as I wait, lets sneak one in.


The entire "O" box is wrapped in plastic and once opened you will be greeted by 20 individually wrapped bags looking exactly like the box. If only I was better at photography I would have created one of those picture inside of a picture inside of the picture, etc, etc, photos using the 20 bags. But I'm not so I ripped one open and took a nice deep breath and got.... nothing. And when I say nothing I mean absolutely nothing. I honestly believe the bag itself provided more aroma then the tea or bergamot. I was very surprised so I tried another bag and got the same result. To be fair we've seen how sometimes the aroma test I do really doesn't provide any insight into the final flavor but absolutely no aroma is just a bit weird.

If at this point you are scratching your head because you've never heard of the O Organics brand don't worry. The brand is an exclusive thing only found at a supermarket called Shaw's located in many of the New England states in the US. I've done some research but couldn't find the actual "creator" of this brand. What I can find is what they have on their site:

this line of goods earned the official USDA Organic Certified stamp of approval – a rigorous, and rewarding process to say the least. It all starts with carefully selecting producers who meet our extremely high standards for organic farming, and only partnering with those who share our commitment to sustainable practices, while promising to never use synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and antibiotics.
Update: @teaprincess50 was nice enough to alert me that O Organics can also be found in California at Safeway. After some quick searching I found the merger announcement.  Score one for the internet/social media.

With respect to their tea here are the ingredients straight from the box:
Organic black tea leaves, natural bergamot flavor. 
I think we all understand corporate secretes and such but knowing what kind of black tea would have been a nice touch. But that should not overshadow how much EGA likes seeing the organic stamp. Next stop, steeping times.

Steeping Method

Directly from the box:

...rolling boil...let steep for 3-5 minutes...remove teabag and enjoy

This means 3, 4, 5 and of course, stress testing.

The Result

At the 3 minute mark the tea was very light in color and very light on taste. The aroma appeared but
again, not like most other teas. I let the tea cool but no additional flavors came through. Simply put, at 3 minutes, there is very little tea flavor.

At the 4 minute mark things improved a bit. The color improved and started to take on that darkened color us Earl Grey drinkers look forward too. The aroma also improved but only slightly. The flavor on the other hand took a good step forward but only produced a thin and shallow taste. At this time the bergamot came through a bit and given how light the tea was sorta blended and balanced out. I again let the tea cool but things stayed pretty much the same.

That brings us to the 5 minute steep time. The colored darkened a bit more and the aroma definitely improved. You could actually enjoy the aroma and know for sure you were holding a cup of Earl Grey. Sadly the flavor was still very thin and provided no depth. It should be said it was balanced but that was it. After letting the tea cool a bit the tea did sweeten up a bit which added a bit more flavor but just to repeat myself, still very thin.

Which brings us to the stress testing phase of this review which this tea passed. Yup, I just left the tea bag in an kept drinking. To be honest, this is what produces the most, and I use that term loosely, flavor. It didn't taste burnt at all so I performed this test twice just to make sure and I hadn't messed up. No burnt flavor.


Given how you gain the most flavor by leaving the bag in, I cannot suggest re-steeping this tea.

 Final Thoughts

Initially I was pretty excited to have a local supermarket carrying an organic Earl Grey at a price matching the main stream companies. But as you can tell from the review, you really need to be a fan of very light tea for me to suggest this Earl Grey. I'm hoping this is their first step into the tea market and maybe they can improve the flavor as the brand grows.


Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Review #53 - Celestial Seasonings Earl Grey Black Tea (bagged)

With school back in, or very close to being back in, I thought it a perfect time to review this particular tea. To be honest most people don't associate Celestial Seasonings with anything but herbal tea. I personally drank Lemon and Raspberry Zinger teas during my college years. I would use one bag a day and keep refilling until all I had left was hot water. As a financially restricted (cough) college student it was a cheap way to drink something warm during the cold winter months as you went from building to building attending classes. So when I learned of, and then found their Earl Grey I knew the back to school time frame would be perfect for this review.


As with every CS box I have ever seen, the entire box is plastic wrapped. Once past that, you will meet a familiar tea bag holder. Meaning the bag that holds all 20 of their bags in a resealable "wax" bag. So when I got this far I was ready for a nose filled with tea and bergamot and all the rest. Sadly, I got very little. I couldn't pick up on any bergamot, and the tea was rather subdued as well. That got me wondering what was (or was not) in this tea.

From their site:
Our Earl Grey Black Tea features rich and malty Assam tea from India’s Sewpur Estate and lively Rukeri tea from Cyohoha Estate in central Africa, plus a light citrusy note from bergamot.  
 According to their site this tea is part of their Organic, Fair Trade Certified, Estate Teas. Adding to that point was this bit of info:

product contains only natural ingredients with no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives. Certified Organic and Fair Trade Certified.
Needless to say everyone here at EGA enjoys seeing those words. To end this section, we have a organic tea, that has everyone being paid a fair wage but has very little aroma. Lets see how it fairs for the rest of the review.

Steeping Method 

Straight from their site:

Hot Tea by the CupPour freshly boiled water over one tea bag. Steep 4 minutes and remove tea bag. If desired, add milk and sweetener to taste.
That means we will be hitting 3 - 5 minutes and then stress testing.

The Results

For this review, and given all the times I would need to test, I went in numerical order with 3 minutes
being my starting point. Boring but it works. At this time frame the newly steeped tea almost tasted burnt. I was getting no bergamot and the tea, like I said, wasn't giving me a nice black tea taste. So I waited a bit and things improved. A bit more bergamot came through and the black tea flavor improved but not my type of Earl Grey at all.

Which bring us to 4 minutes. The color improved by getting darker along with a bit more aroma being released. When I first tried it after removing the bag, I wasn't impressed at all. The flavor was not blending or allowing each ingredient to shine. So I let it cool a bit and what a difference. As the tea cooled the flavors blended and the entire tea came alive. What an improvement over the 3 min time and what a difference when let to cool. I repeated this step to make sure I wasn't doing anything wrong and sure enough, same result. The only thing this tea missed is complexity. Yes it was good, yes it was balanced but it just missed that finish to make it a great tea.

At the 5 minute time frame you could actually drink the tea right away but again, the bergamot wasn't ready to join the party. Even though the color was darker I decided just to let it sit and cool and see if 5 would beat 4. In this case two things happened. 1. The flavor did improve with the cooling but 2. I picked up some burnt flavoring. So there would be no stress testing. CS said this tea was best at 4 minutes and in this case, they were right. Sadly there will be no stress testing today.


Gonna admit going into this phase of the review I had my doubts as to whether this tea coulc produce a second cup from the original bag. I'm happy to admit, I was wrong and you'll never doubt the times that ended up being the best. 4 minutes for the 1st and 4 minutes for the second. You know I like the first steep time and the second isn't bad at all.

Final Thoughts

As you can probably guess I have a like / no like attitude toward this tea. At 4 minutes I could drink this tea everyday especially given it's organic source. But if you change the steeping times on me, I no longer like this tea. But given how Celestial Seasonings said 4 minutes, I would suggest you try it as well because CS is more then just Zinger.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Review #52 - Wize Monkey - Coffee Leaf Earl Grey Tea (bagged)

(theme to Mission Impossible in the background)
Earl Grey Addict, your mission if you so choose, is to review a tea that is not tea in the regular sense of the word AND doesn't yet exist on the market. This review will test all your tasting abilities, steeping tests and your ability to properly form a coherant, cohearant, corhearant, an easy to read review. If you accept this challenge you will be one of the first 50 people in the world to ever sample this tea. Good Luck EGA, the tea world is counting on you. This post will never self destruct.
(end theme)


I'm sorry but when Wize Monkey first contacted me for a review, I really didn't think anything of it. Then I found out they were trying to create a whole new genre of tea by using coffee leaves.  The whole story is on their site and worth the time it takes to come up to speed on this new concept. Then they dropped the real bomb on me by saying the Earl Grey they wanted to send me had not even hit the market yet. Seriously, it's not even listed on their website.  So I jumped at the chance and before I knew it, I had two bags of Earl Grey coffee leaf tea in my hands. I'm not going to lie to you, this is cool.

The rather large sized tea bags arrived in heat sealed plastic bags. As I have stated before, if a company is willing to send me tea for review I don't review the vessel it comes in. In this case the company is still in its infancy so that's all I'm going to say on the packaging. By the way, when I say "a rather large sized bag" I mean almost the length of my hand (wrist to nearly covering the pinky) and about the same width. When I opened the plastic bag I was met with an aroma I have never met before. Which makes perfect sense since I've never had coffee leaf tea before.

So I spent a bit more time then usual taking in the aroma because I didn't want to miss anything. To be honest I could barely pick up on the bergamot. I had to really hang in there and concentrate before I picked it up because the tea was just so strong. The reason for this as I have alluded too, is the leaves are made from coffee beans. If you have checked out their website you'll know all about the huge benefit this type of tea would bring to people who's financial stake hang on just one crop. Being able to pick the coffee beans and then the leaves from the same plant would provide some much needed financial support to those who may be supplying your morning coffee fix.

Steeping Method

Because of the communication I've had with the "founders" of this company I received a hand written note stating the following:

"We would recommend a steeping of 5min on this one to fully get the aromas." 

It was signed by non other then the CEO and COO, Max and Arnaud. (Ha I get to name drop)

So with two bags in hand I carefully considered what steeping time I would use for the second. I decided upon 6 minutes.

The Results

At the 5 minute time the coffee leaf overwhelmed the bergamot while still very hot. The flavor of the
tea itself is like a mix of black and green tea with some very fresh honey. I'm talking the kind of honey you get from a local farm and not some brand name jar that has been filtered and all the rest. The flavor is very unique and I liked it. As the tea cooled the bergamot gained a bit of ground but for me the balance was off. The coffee leaves were just so strong. As regular readers of this blog know I like a nice balanced tea and so far the leaves were winning this one.

So I tried the 6 minute time and this steep brought out more of the bergamot while also at the just brewed state. The balance was still missing so I let the tea cool a bit and that's when this tea came to life. The tea and the bergamot instead of being two distinct flavors joined as a good Earl Grey does. Knowing this would be my only attempt at this tea, I tried to make it last as long as possible. For me, this showed the potential of both this type of tea and it's ability to help create a good Earl Grey.


Could this tea be re-steeped? Being the diligent reviewer I did not shrug my testing requirements. I re-steeped both bags and sampled tea at the 5 and 6 minute mark. The answer to the question on my mind was, sorta yes. If you go 6 minutes on the first time and then 5 minutes on the second you will get a very light Earl Grey but again don't drink it right away. Allow it too cool.

Final Thoughts

Given how this tea tasted, I really think Wize Monkey has got something special. Would l like a bit more bergamot? Yes but that's just me. But as for the flavor, the ideas behind this tea, and the potential, I really hope Max and Arnaud continue what they have set out to do. Because if their website one day finally has an Earl Grey listed, I'd buy some.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Review #51 - Taylors of Harrogate - Earl Grey Leaf Tea (loose)

Before we begin, I mentioned in the previous review that I was adding a suggestion page that would also show what is in my review que. I'm happy to report that it is up and running which means you can now be part of the process. So if you have a tea you would like to see reviewed, let me know. Since I am but one man with limited resources, and you are the internet, don't be afraid to get out there and find new teas.

By the way I shouldn't have to say this because it should just be automatic, but if you find it/suggest it, you will be given attribution in the review. Now off to the review.


It's probably some form of M.C. Esher illusion thing going on but the Taylors container looks huge. So being the typical engineer I compared it to some of my other boxes. Funny thing though, it's actually shorter then some of the tea boxes I have in house and it's width isn't that much bigger either. Like I said, it's an illusion. As for the box well it's not, it's actually a tin that is sealed with a plastic wrapper around the cover. Once removed, and you take the cover off,  you will find a sealed bag matching the color of the cover; lets call it gold. Upon opening this bag I was met with tons of aroma. Then again with a 125grams of tea in the bag aroma is something there should be plenty of, and there was. As to its smell, it was not the typical citrus filled aroma I look for. This was a restrained smell like someone took the high notes off the smell and left only the low notes. Almost like it had already been brewed and cooled a bit all while retaining it's freshness.

So what is in this tea? From the bottom of the container:
Ingredients: Black China tea, natural oil of bergamot.
 Two remaining points.

The first, the bag which holds the tea can be re-used. It comes with a plastic tab covered with adhesive. If careful, after taking some tea, you could roll the bag down and use the tab to hold it together. I've see this before and it works pretty well. I like to see this added feature because it allows people who have yet made the full jump to loose tea the chance to keep their tea fresh. Too many of the teas I've reviewed have a bag that once opened, will need to be transfered to an appropriate container or have your tea go stale.

Second, I could be drinking the same tea the Queen of England drinks.

we are loyal suppliers to the royal household and are proud to bear the Royal Warrant, the ultimate stamp of quality.

Steeping Method

Directly from the box:

Use a warmed teapot and add one teaspoon of tea per person and an extra "one for the pot". Add freshly boiled water and infuse for 4-5 minutes. 

That means we'll be testing 4 and 5 minute steep times.

The Results

Starting with my normal 4 minute time I found alot of flavor right after it was
brewed. The color wasn't the darkest I've seen and to be perfectly honest I thought I had messed up on the brew time. I repeated the whole process and got the same result. The flavors were balanced and really worked together. But the thing I wasn't expecting was how it changed as it cooled. With some teas I let them sit to allow things to mix and create complexities, but this tea was reversed. This tea was made to drink right after brewing. When it cooled it actually mellowed a bit.

I then tried the 5 minute steep time. The color darkened a bit but remained on the lighter side. Again as it cooled it mellowed losing some of it's complexity.  The balance in flavor remained even though there was more of it to be enjoyed. Now before you accuse me of forcing you to drink piping hot tea, let me state, I'm not. What I am saying is, you can start enjoying this tea right from the beginning. While some teas take time to balance out, this tea is ready to go the minute it is poured from the pot. Not to mention the mellow flavor is not bad just a touch less in overall flavor.


I'm happy to report you have two options. If you like the 4 minute time for your first steep, then go with the 5 minutes on the second. Now this may sound strange but if you like a first steep of 5minutes then go 4 minutes on the second to avoid any bitterness. Either way the quality of  this tea really shines through with it's ability to re-steep.

Final Thougths

If what their site says is true, this is Royal level Earl Grey tea. The flavor is balanced independent of which steep time you choose. The aroma is deeper then most but still very fresh. Overall, I'd say you really should try it yourself because I'm guessing you will probably like it.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Review #50 - Steven Smith Teamaker - Lord Bergamot (sachets)

What an incredible journey this has turned into. I still can't believe this will make 50 reviews. Adding to the craziness, there are still plenty of Earl Grey blends to enjoy and I intend to review them all. So lets hit some current events and then get to the review.

1. One of the reasons this review kept getting delayed is due to our record breaking winter. Each day I would tell myself I need to write the next review, and each day Mother Nature would laugh and go "Here is another foot of snow." So instead of putting fingers to keys I was grabbing the shovel to clear all the snow. Thankfully we broke all records so in a way it was kinda cool to experience history in the making.

2.  I'm working on adding another page to this site for two reasons. For you to see what is coming and for the readers to throw me suggestions.

3. And finally, In celebration of our 50th review I am ready to unleash our very first coupon. How cool is this, EGA is now saving you money. So without delay here it is...

Head over to Canton Tea Co ( and enter "EGADDICT" and you will receive 10% off your entire order. If you do use the code, make sure to thank +Louise at Canton Tea , because that's who set it up for us.

Onto the review.


When you first see the S. Smith box it really doesn't look all that fancy. But truth be told they have this perfectly simple, locking tab that works quite well and really speaks to my engineering side. The cover is hinged and under the cover is a simple slot. On the front lip of the box there is an extra bit of the box that creates a tab. So when you close the box it makes a nice snapping sound and keeps the box closed. Sorry but it's the simple KISS types of design features that grab my attention.

Once you get past the box design and actually open it you will find sealed wrappers looking like large Halloween candy with much of the same info found on the box. Name of the tea, an explanation of the blend, the brewing instructions, etc, etc. When you open one of the wrappers you'll get a sachet that gives off a nice aroma. The first one I opened came apart so easily that I have to go careful with the second to keep the aroma in. Once I pulled that off, I was able to take in a nice blend of bergamot and tea. It wasn't the strongest tea I'm reviewed but more importantly I didn't pick up anything artificial.

So what was creating this aroma? A quick look to their site provided the same information found on the box.

"A flavor somewhat superior to traditional Earl Grey. Fragrant Ceylon Dimbulla and Uva are artfully combined with select teas from India’s Assam valley, then scented with the flavor of bergamot from the realm of Reggio Calabria, Italy." 
As regular readers of the site know, Calabria is a favorite of EGA.

A few points about the bag should be mentioned. To begin, no staples, and it's fully biodegradable. They also have a bit of wit on how to handle your used tea sachets.
"After steeping, you can sashay straight to the compost heap" 
Needless to say bravo, this is how every tea bag or sachet should be.

Steeping Method

If you like how they handled the bag, you are going to love the confidence shown in their steeping instructions:
For best flavor, bring freshly drawn filtered water to a boil. Steep five minutes, If possible, play a little opera softly in the background. 

That's right, 5 minutes. Nothing more, nothing less. "You shall steep directly to 5 and no more, You shall not steep to 4 unless directly proceeding to 5. 3 is right out" Like I said, confidence. So I added 3, 4 and my typical stress testing.

The Results

Since Mr. Smith gave me precise directions, I thought it only fair that I start at their 5 minute steep
time. So with Bugs Bunny singing about a certain barber shop, I began my testing. What I received at 5 minutes made this an instant favorite. The aroma from this time was the kind that made you wait a bit more to give you plenty of time to enjoy it. The color was dark to the point where it beats out some of the lighter loose teas I have tried. Then there is the flavor. Right from the beginning this tea can be fully enjoyed. Remove the sachet and start sipping. As the tea cooled this blend only got better. It was balanced as only a good Earl Grey can be and it even had a bit of complexity that left you wanting a second cup. I know this isn't the final section but it must be said, this is an excellent tea.

The story at the 3 minute mark was good, but as expected, on the light side. The aroma wasn't cranked up, the color wasn't as dark and the flavor matched it. After tasting the 5 minute steep it felt like something was missing.

The 4 minute time was better but just like the 3 minute time, 5 set such a high mark that even 4 left you wanting more flavor. Don't get me wrong, it was still good, but 5 was just that much better.

So would this tea break under the stress of going beyond what was expected? In a word, sorta. It made it to about 6 1/2 minutes before the bitterness started to kick in. No hidden secrets but for this tea it really wasn't needed.


Don't do it; period. After your first steep take the bag and carefully (not to burn yourself) place it in the compost just like they told you. If you want another cup, grab another sachet and follow their directions.

Ok, Ok, you want to know if you can. Sigh. If you need/have too, go 4 then 5 on the second and it will be ok. But as a wise man once said, just because you can doesn't mean you should.

Final Thoughts

The bergamot comes from our favorite place in the world grown on family farms, the tea is blended perfectly, and while it may not be Organic, you can enter your batch number (found on the bottom of the box) and read pretty much everything you wanted to know about your tea. To be perfectly honest with you, this is one of the best Ear Grey's I've reviewed so far. By all means, find it, and try it yourself.  

Monday, February 9, 2015

Review #49 - TozyTea - Earl Grey Black Tea (sachets)

HA! Take that yellow backgrounds, I now have LED lights, two of them in fact, and I'm not afraid to use them. Silly intro I agree but I'm amazed at what ~7 bucks worth of cardboard and tissue can do to improve your photos. For this review another tea company was nice enough to send me some Earl Grey to review but this one came in sachets. Lets see how it fairs.


Tozy's offering comes in a round cardboard container and upon further inspection I was very happy with what I read: 
Good for the Earth & Society
Tea container is made of 100% recycled paper
Our Pyramids tea bags are made of cornstarch and are 100% bio-degradable
Tozy Tea donates 10% of our profits towards the education of needy children  

 This is the type of company that everyone can get behind. Continuing on, the cover was held closed by two pieces of tape and once you cut those the cover comes off rather easily. That's when I found something inside I was not expecting especially after reading the above. I found a plastic bag containing all the tea sachets. Initially this really changed my entire opinion about the packaging as a whole. But then I got thinking, how else are they going to maintain freshness in an "air tight" manner? Sadly, this is probably the most cost effective way to pull this off and since the bag is of the zip-lock nature you can re-use it when you finish the tea bags. But it will be a very nice day when the tea industry is no longer forced to use plastics. With that out of the way, I opened the bag.

To be honest, even with all the sachets in the same bag this tea is very, very light on aroma. So I went back to the front of the container to see what was inside:
Our version of the world's most famous flavored black tea features handpicked Sri Lankan Orange Pekoe grade tea flavored with oil of bergamot.   

Fair enough. As we have seen before with other teas, sometimes the aroma doesn't really give you any information about the tea until you taste it.  So lets find out how to brew it properly.

Steeping Method

From their container:
Bring Fresh cold water to a boil
Place one tea sachet in a cup and add water
Wait 3-4 minutes and remove sachet
Add sugar and whole milk as desired

That means we will take their advice, add 5 minutes and then stress test it.

The Result

I started at 3 minutes since I knew I was going to push this tea at the other end of the temperature scale. At this time the color was very light, the aroma increased a bit but the flavor was very light. I let the tea cool a bit to see if the flavor changed any but it did not. The black tea flavor "itself" was also very light and did not balance with the bergamot which was even lighter. I also thought I tasted something else but couldn't put my finger on it.

I then tried the 4 minute steep. At this time the color got darker and the aroma increased as well
but now I started to pick up something in the aroma that wasn't there before in addition to the flavor. I blamed myself for doing something wrong and did a complete reboot. Washed the cup, didn't put the sachet on my display plate and refilled my electric kettle but that extra thing was still there. So back to the container I went and that's when I found it. In the first section I mistakenly just typed up what the front of the container said was in this tea but when you actually look at the ingredients you'll see that this tea does in fact contain ... cornflower pedals.  To be honest I was split. the front says it has tea and bergamot but it also says, "Our version" which means I should have paid more attention.
Whether others will have this happen to them is not something I can comment on so I will not hold it against Tozy and instead blame myself.

So I moved onto the 5 minute mark and things changed a bit. The cornflower I was picking up on started to fade. The color and aroma also increased making it a better Earl Grey. I let the tea cool for a bit and what little cornflower flavoring was left pretty much disappeared. If you have read my Review Policy, you'll know I was happy to see it go given I'm not a fan of cornflower.

With results getting better with each steep, I brewed up another cup and just left the sachet in. The results were more in-line with what I look for in an Earl Grey. It was still on the light side but without the cornflower flavor.


For me I wouldn't re-steep because by leaving the bag in, there is nothing left. But if you don't mind a bit of cornflower in your Earl Grey, then 3-4 minutes, then 5.

Final Thoughts

I don't know whether to feel bad or to be happy. On the good side I finally found an Earl Grey with cornflower that I can drink. But only after over-steeping it which was probably not in the blenders mind when they created it. To end, if you are looking for a light Earl Grey with Cornflower from a company with a good conscience, by all means try this one.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Review #48 - Dominion Tea - Earl Grey Organic (loose)

When I started this little endeavor it was for personal data collection. Then I decided to put it online so I could access it anywhere I had a connection. One thing led to another and the next thing I know, I've got a que of teas to review which is a great problem to have. Being the typical engineer I was always looking to improve my reviews not just with the way that I reviewed the tea but in how I presented it. Meaning the technical aspect of the website and the pictures they would contain. To be honest I was never happy with about half of the photo's I uploaded but I only had a point and click camera so I just said that's good enough since this was a hobby. Well that camera started to die which meant, time for a new camera. Then I saw this video by DIY TRYIN  and I decided to build my own Light Box. Since this was my first time messing with this stuff I kept it inexpensive and spent only about $7. When it was finally done, I was pretty blown away by the results. I'm sure you'll agree that my pictures are alot clearer and don't have that annoying glare issue. I'm still messing with different bulbs to get the best (warm white?) background so I can get the best shots. Because if all these companies are going to be nice enough to send me tea, the least I could do for them is make it look the best I can. Onto the review. 


As you can see from my clear (not bad huh? ;-)) picture, the tea arrived in a nice resealable pouch. The size of the pouch was 2oz which meant I had plenty of tea for plenty of testing.  The bag has two stock labels on the front and back with extra lables on top of them for the specific tea contained within. The stock stickers/labels contain the company name, logo and URL on the front and some company info along with steeping instructions on the back. With the bag inspection out of the way I cut it open and was met with one of the best smelling teas I've ever had. Citrus, tea, nature and all things natural is the best way to describe it. There was absolutely no hint of anything artificial which is exactly the way I like it.

Since this tea is normally bought from their site, I did some searching and obtained the following info.

Essential oil of bergamot and a good quality Chinese black tea is all that is in a traditional cup of Earl of Grey. So why do so many Earl Grey’s taste so different and how do you get a really good cup of Earl Grey? In short, focus on the bergamot. - See more at:  
Then I clicked on the full story link and found an entire page dedicated to just Earl Grey and how bergamot plays such an important role. Do yourself a favor and read What is it really?

As for the contents, the tea is organic and after reading their bergamot page, it's quite apparent these "guys" are serious about putting the best ingredients in their tea.

Steeping Method

Directly from their site:

Steeping Instructions

Step 1:
Preheat mug with boiling water, discard and refill.

Step 2:
Steep 1 tsp or 3-4 grams of tea per 8 oz of water.

Step 3:
Steep for 3-5 minutes as desired. Experiment with slightly cooler water or shorter steeping times. Try one additional steeping if desired.

I didn't think I was going to need anything else then those direction but I did which I will explain in the next section. 

The Results

I started with the 3 minutes mark and received a very light tea. The color was very transparent but the
aroma was still very nice. The flavor of the tea was more on the tea side but once I let it site for a while the bergamot came through a bit more. There was no bitterness only a very light flavored Earl Grey. 

The 4 minute steep time saw the color darkened and the flavor increase. The aroma actually subsided a bit allowing the tea to be taken in a bit more then at 3 minutes. Again I let the tea sit for a bit and the flavors blended quite nicely. Normally this is my favorite steep time but at this point started to realize this may be a lighter Earl Grey by design. 

At the 5 minute mark the aroma continued to impress, the color darkened and the flavor increased as well. The flavor was very balanced with both tea and bergamot not overwhelming the other. But to be honest, I wanted a bit more. As I have stated in previous reviews, I like (using wine as a reference again) a Cabernet or Bordeaux type of Earl Grey where the tea has a full taste to it. But at the same time can appreciated when tea blenders go for more of a Chardonnay approach. At this point, this was a Chardonnay which got me thinking. This wasn't the first tea to brew up light and in that case I upped the serving and it changed everything. 

So I threw out the instructions and went with a huge heaping teaspoon at the 4 minute mark and two teaspoons also at the 4 minute mark. The result was exactly the type of Earl Grey I enjoy. The color was darker, the flavor more intense and it even gained some additional sweetness when allowed to cool. Some teas cannot do this but this tea was able to transform itself just by adjusting the serving. Granted this changes the dollar value of this tea but if you re-steeep, it might just even things out. 


What I found during all my testing was not surprising and not a bad thing at all. If you prefer a lighter tea I would not re-steep this tea because it starts so light to begin with leaving very little to enjoy. But if you start with my extra servings you can get a second steep. Go heaping teaspoon at 4 minutes to begin and 5 for the re-steep. The second will obviously be lighter but it will still be a good cup of tea.

Final Thoughts

This tea is organic, and uses quality bergamot which leaves the rest to personal preference. If you like a lighter Earl Grey, this is a must try tea. If you are more inline with my tastes, this tea can pull it off but at a price unless you re-steep. Either way it's so nice to review tea from a company that takes Earl Grey so seriously. 

Friday, January 2, 2015

Review #47 - Whittard of Chelsea - Earl Grey (loose)

To start I'd like to wish everyone a Happy New Year. Next I would like to say, you are not seeing double even though you may be thinking, "didn't you already review this tea before?" Yes I did review a tea from Whittard before but that was their bagged Earl Grey. This review will cover their loose. Now that we have that cleared up on to the review. 


If you read my review of the bagged Earl Grey Whittard sent me you'll notice the box is practically the same minus some small details. The biggest, the box says black tea leaf instead of bagged and the top is tapered unlike the bagged box which was not. The tea is sealed in a clear plastic bag and is not hard to open at all. More on what happened after I opened it a bit later.

The aroma can best be described as smooth and clean. There is no hint of any perfume so we were off to the same good start we had with the bagged. I liked how the aroma was balanced once you got past the initial bergamot part/smell. The back of the box gives us another difference from the bagged version. Like before there is a table of info regarding the tea.

Strength : Medium
Character: Bright and Refreshing
Origin: China 
For those of you who either remember the previous review or went back and checked you'll know that the origin of this tea is different. Also found on the package is the best buy date which shows my box as:


To end this section I'd like to finish the thought that I had about the plastic bag. While the bag was sealed properly (no hint of any aroma) it should be stated you need another container to put your tea in after opening this bag. Even though I took some care in opening the bag it still didn't open perfectly leaving it very hard for me to roll it down in order to seal it back up. I tried once but noticed the rip got worse. So I transferred all the tea to another sealed tin I had. Maybe they could put something on their packaging alerting the buyer to be ready for an alternate storage option. Not a huge deal but the notice would be a nice touch.

Steeping Method

Normally this section is pretty straight forward but in this case I found it "odd" that the packaging did not provide any per cup steeping instructions only the following:

For a Perfect Pot of Tea
Use fresh water. Water left in the kettle loses vitality and makes teas taste dull
Rinse the pot with boiling water to bring out the tea's flavour
Add 3-4 teaspoons of tea to a 6-cup pot
Piur boiling water and leave to brew for 3-4 minutes
Pout through a strainer; add milk or lemon.  

I then checked their site and found this:
Brew: 3-5 minutes according to taste

So I did my normal 1 teaspoon serving and went with 3 - 4 and 5 minutes of brewing time for this review.

The Results

Starting with the 3 minute time, the color was on the lighter side but the aroma had increased greatly
since I first opened the bag. The balance was very good but like I said the flavor was on the lite side. I allowed the tea to cool a bit and was rewarded with a bit more citrus/sweetness.

Next up 4 minutes. At this duration, the color was darker and the aroma had increased as well. Both the tea and the bergamot increased their flavor but were still very nicely balanced. I let this time cool and even though it did gain a bit more citrus it still remained balanced. What this time did offer over the 3 minute time frame was complexity. There was a much nicer ending to the tea. Instead of it just being a good Earl Grey it had a bit more flavor leaving a nice fresh tea flavor in your mouth.

Which brings us to the 5 minute mark and that means we all need to keep in mind Whittard did not suggest this time (On the Box) so any issues are mine alone (or are they?) The result was an increase in the color and some additional flavors. I tried this time twice, like the others and on the second attempt started to pick up some different flavors. To be honest I think I was on the verge of burning the tea. The aroma didn't provide any burnt clues but the taste was definitely ever so slightly different.

In this case my tried and true 4 minutes was my personal favorite while the 5 minute stress test time turned out to be just a bit too much.


To begin, given the result I got from my stress testing I didn't even try to re-steep instead I just played around with the 3 and 4 minute brewing times. In the end it came down to personal preference. I like a bolder taste so I suggest a 4 minute first steep time and the same for the second. The flavor will be less then the first but I didn't mind it at all. If you like a lighter tea, then 3 minutes for the first steep then 4 minutes for the second will almost get you two of the same cups of tea. Nice when teas can do that.

Final Thoughts

I avoided the topic, which always comes up, so I will touch on it here. In the US we are facing a number of "challenges" about knowing where our food comes from.  Whittard's site shows teas labeled as Organic and they also state that all of their syrups are 100% natural. I'm hoping that natural word continues to carry more weight in the UK then it does in the US. With that aside, I really enjoyed this tea and I really enjoyed being able to compare loose versus bagged. Either one provides a good cup of Earl Grey and I have no issues with suggesting this tea. As you might guess, I prefer the loose especially given it's ability to re-steep. So don't be shy and try them yourself and let us know what you think in the comment section.