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.