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.