Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Review #56 - Twinings Earl Grey International Blend (loose)

So where do I begin? Lets start with, where have I been. In order to avoid all the details and just get right to it, here is the cliff note version. I spent some time in the hospital around Thanksgiving and then spent some time after that recovering. I'm nearly back to where I was but expect to be so in a few short weeks. Before you post well wishes do me a favor and say a prayer (send good thoughts, etc) to some of the people who I met while in the hospital who have much larger issues to deal with then me. Those are the people we should be praying for. After all of that the holidays occurred which meant no time for reviews. Now that you know everything, well nearly everything, lets begin the review.


As you can see in the picture, the tea comes in a larger sized tin. or as they put it, a caddy.  It is
vacuumed seal so when you pull the plastic cover off the tin you are met with all the aroma at once. You would think the amount of aroma for this much tea would be overwhelming but it wasn't. A quick glance at their leaf symbols on the front of the tin explained why. Only 2 of the 5 leaves were colored in., indicating a mild flavor strength. The aroma itself is more tea then bergamot with a deeper smell rather then one based upon citrus. I wondered what was in the tea and headed off to the Twining's site.  Here is what I found:

Black Tea, Bergamot Flavouring  

For those of you long time readers, you know this sort of listing disappoints me. As I have said countless times I understand how business works. If you have some sort of secret sauce that makes you tons of money you want to protect it but the second part is where I shake my head. What is flavouring? Wondering if this was some English (US) to English (UK) wording I looked around the site and found it was used in three other offerings of Earl Grey.

I'm sorry but in this day an age of GMOs and all the rest, the word flavoring just doesn't cut it.

Steeping Method

This may sound nit picky but I can't read their brewing instructions because the font size on that tin has be around a 3 or 4pt. Seriously, there is a boat load of information on that tin but there is no way I can read it. Yes I'm getting to age where reading glasses are being considered but even my oldest son couldn't read most of the print. It's just that small.

So I decided to go with the typical 3, 4 and 5 minute steep times.

The Result

I started at the 3 minute time and got a light tea. The aroma improved from the tin but it still had that deep smell and not one of fruit. The color was very light but I guess that was expected especially given the number of leaves Twining's used to describe it. I let the tea cool a bit, but not much changed.

I moved on to what I typically call my favorite steep time, 4 minutes. At this time the color grew darker and the aroma increased with it's deep smell. The flavor was a bit more balanced but again that unique aftertaste was there. To be perfectly honest, I didn't like it at all. I decided to let the tea cool a bit and hoped some of the sweetness would tone down the aftertaste. It helped alittle with both the balance and the aftertaste but it was still there.

That left me only one path to take, try the 5 minute steep time. Thankfully this time provided some help. To begin, the flavor was much more balanced the minute I poured a cup. The aroma was still deep but the flavor had more sweetness to it which helped offset the deep aroma. But most importantly, at this steep time there was no aftertaste. What ever was causing that extra flavor was no longer there once you added that additional minute.

To end this section, none of the steep times provided any real additional flavors when cooled.


It really comes down to the after taste. If you try it and like that flavor, then you can resteep no problem especially if you like a light tea. Go 3 minutes then 4. You'll get the aftertaste in the first steep but not in the second. If you are like me, go 5 then 5 again. The first steep will be what I described above and the second will be on the light side. But at least you won't have any after taste.

Final Thoughts

I'm sorry but I can't help but wonder what type of flavoring is causing that after taste. I don't want to sound harsh but most aftertastes are caused by artificial ingredients either alone or mixed with natural. Adding to that, there are plenty of profitable tea houses that provide better information on their tea so I don't see why everyone can't do it. With that said I will end with a familiar statement. If you are like me and like to know what is in your food then I would not suggest this tea. But if you don't share my views, then I would go with the 5 minute steep time for a decent Earl Grey.