Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Review #58 - Allegro Tea Earl Grey (bagged)

And you thought you had to wait long for the last review? 

There is no other way to put this, life just kept getting in the way of this review. As you can probably guess I rewrote this intro several times as I got closer and closer to finishing. But then something would come up and Wham...need to start over because I would lose my train of thought and need to have more of the tea and ... and ..... Well all of that is behind me. I got this tea from Whole Foods, I paid for it myself. It's organic and if I don't get this review done today I fear it will never happen. Lets begin.


The box looks like every other tea box out there. Tiny display hole in the bottom all wrapped in sealed plastic wrap preventing aroma from breaking it's contained area. Once you get all the packaging off, you are met with individually wrapped bags. As should be the case with all bagged tea these days, no staples so that means the string is wrapped and fitted to the tag. As you open up the pouch you are greeted with a muted aroma. You definitely can tell this is Earl Grey but it's not going to knock your socks off. It's on the sweeter side but not artificial at all. It definitely has a more lemon-y smell which if you read their site is exactly what they describe:

Balanced and hearty, with natural bergamot and a hint of ripe lemon, it has a distinctive flavor and aroma that is enticing, yet not overpowering.
The tea is organic and if you spend some time at their site you will see this company is about making connections with the people who grew what they need. They also make coffee and they are part of many organizations where fair trade and everything that comes with being a responsible company is paramount.

On a personal note I was very happy to see the words balanced and hearty when I first picked up the box. I've made it very well know through my wine analogies that I like a stronger but balanced tea. Needless to say I went into this review with my interested peaked.

Steeping Method

As with many Earl Grey's the steep time of 3-5 minutes using boiling water is not a big surprise. I'll be trying all three times with my typical stress test at the end.

The Result

This tea is so linear its not even funny. With some teas you start at a lower steep time and then all of
a sudden, as you work your way into longer times, the flavor just sort of turns on. I know that's a very weird way to word it but that's how it feels and tastes to me. But not this tea, as I will now explain.

I started at 3 minutes and got decent color and good aroma. The flavor was good when first steeped but became nicely balanced as it cooled. You could pick up on the citrus but at the same time could still define this tea as being on the lighter side. Not as thin as some other teas but a little less then where I personally like them. Remembering Allegro's statement about this tea I moved on.

At 4 minutes everything increased. The tea grew alittle darker, the aroma increased and the flavor became bolder. But at the same time the flavor stayed the same. I doubted myself so I made another 3min cup and directly compared the two times. It was amazing how one tasted like a watered down (think positive not negative) version of the other. Even when I let both of the cups cooled the flavor remained just as balanced for both.

It was time to try 5 minutes and I hate to say this but again, more of everything. Darker tea, more aroma, more flavor. With some teas the balance is different from steep time to steep time. It's almost as if the tea or bergamot doesn't fully release it's flavor until a certain temp. But with this tea, that wasn't the case. Which meant it was time for some stress testing.

At 6 minutes this tea finally stopped acting like a dial where you adjust the amount of flavor you want via the steep time. No at 6 things really didn't change all that much except fot the lack of citrus. You could tell the balance was no longer there. But it was definitely an ok cup of tea at this point. That brings us to the 7 minute point where this tea raised the white flag. Yeah I pushed it too far and pretty much found nothing. Given how good the suggested times are, it was expected.

For those of you going, "come on, this tea can't be perfect" and you would be correct. This tea has very little complexity. Like a fine wine left in the mouth, you started to pick up different flavors. Not with this tea. Once you got to the point where the balance was just right, that was the flavor you would get.


For all of it's linear flavor, this tea did not fair well with re-steeping. Personally I wouldn't but if you must, 4 minutes 1st steep, and between 3-4 for the second. The second will obviously be alot lighter but if you don't mind that, go for it.

Final Thoughts

To put this quite simply, for the price, you can't go wrong with this tea. The tea is organic so you know what's in your cup. The flavor is pretty darn linear so you can control what kind of tea you are making and for a bagged tea that's pretty rare. On the down side the tea lacks complexity and I've only ever seen this tea sold at Whole Foods so availability may be an issue for you unless you are willing to order online. But overall I would definitely give this tea a try for yourself and let us know what you think.