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I’m glad it took them 69 tries to get this tea right

October 16, 2009

Today’s tea: TeaGschwendner Earl Grey No. 69

Counted by: caclob

Updated: I found that the previous link was not the best one for buying the tea.  It’s been fixed.

Earl Grey has been a tea staple of mine since I first tasted Stash’s earl grey tea bag when I first went to college years ago.  However, since I now generally avoid tea bags as much as possible, I needed to find a good Earl Grey.  The path hasn’t always been good (remember Teavana’s Decaf Earl Grey?), so I’ve approached this tea with a fair amount of skepticism, despite it’s pedigree.

The pedigree on this tea is quite astounding though.  During the last World Tea Championships (yes, they do have such things), this tea won the best Earl Grey in the world.  What makes this Earl Grey so special?  It’s a combination of first rate bergamot oil, which I’ll describe later, and black teas from China, India, and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).  The bergamot is silky and the tea goes down so smoothly, without that hint of astringency that could definitely be a problem in a poorly balanced Earl Grey.  I’m glad that it’s number 69.  It seems they learned from the previous 68 attempts.

I must admit, I had a misstep with this tea when I first brewed.  After buying my teas for a long time only from Teavana, and being misinformed, I always thought that all black teas needed to be brewed for 5 minutes.  I proceeded to do so, with my little tea timer dosing out the steeping time.  I then sipped and was completely overwhelmed by a bergamot oil on three of my senses.  The tea had a layer of oil on its surface that ended coating my tongue in a truly disgusting way, the taste was cloying, and the smell…the smell proceeded to be like an old lady that took a shower in perfume and was sitting next to you on the bus.  It was revolting.  I was really disappointed, I’ll admit.

For those not aware what Bergamot oil is, here’s a quick explanation.  It’s essential oil comes from the peel of the bergamot orange. It’s a wonderful fragrance on it’s own, and it’s the thing that makes Earl Grey Earl Grey.  Without it, it’s just a black tea blend.

So, this morning, I decided to give the tea another chance, because I was getting a little bored of my China Rose Tea and East Frisian Blend (review coming sometime).  Then I actually read the recommended steeping time.  TWO minutes, not 5.  Whoops… I’m failing at brewing this tea properly.  So, I set my little tea timer to two minutes and what a difference that makes.

Conclusion: not all black teas are equal, so be careful in brewing them.  It makes a fantastic Earl Grey that will definitely be included in my tea rotations from now on.  (Side note: it’s often sold out by fall, but I think they bring it back for winter.)

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. November 8, 2009 9:51 am

    Usually tea merchants have some pretty good instructions about how to brew their tea for the best results. However, when it comes to Puerh, many of them simply don’t know the right things to say. Aged or ripe Puerh needs boiling water but raw, green Puerh might do better with much cooler water like a green tea wants.

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