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 (cantonteaco.com) 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.