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The Tea Lady’s Teasing Earl Grey

August 9, 2010

Today’s Tea: Earl Grey Classic by The Tea Lady
Entertained by: goodtea

Judy Larkin is The Tea Lady. Apparently, Ms. Larkin is a well-traveled connoisseur of tea and a scholar of tea and etiquette. Originally from England, she seems to travel around the United States and to other countries to explore the world of tea and to host fun tea parties and other events.

I first learned of the Tea Lady when I saw a few baskets of loose tea for sale at a West Virginia farmer’s market. The baskets held a simple selection of important staples, like Earl Grey, sencha, and darjeeling. But they seemed like solid choices, and the labeling was oddly irresistible. I later found out that my family had already acquired a bag of the Tea Lady’s Earl Grey, so (of course) I immediately procured a sample for myself.

I love Earl Greys. They have personality. The Tea Lady’s Earl Grey Classic is quite a character, though.

The Earl Grey Classic comes in a simple paper bag and has the classic citrus aroma you expect from the Earl. I steeped the tea for about 3 minutes. Raising the cup, I was hit with a very intense wave of bergamot–it smelled like perfume. My first sip of the tea seemed to evaporate on the tongue and leave behind an oily residue of bergamot. “Ah,” I thought, “this poor tea is all scent and no substance.” I was ready to give up on this version of the Earl Grey.

But as the tea cooled, the initial burst of bergamot calmed down. The scent did not vanish, but the tea now smelled more like fresh fruit than overpowering perfume. Now that the bergamot had finished its initial assault on my nose, the aroma and flavor of the base tea was finally detectable. “Ah,” I thought, “this tea is a tease that saves the best for last!” In the end, I found it to be a very delicious cup of Earl Grey.

I mentioned that this Earl Grey has personality. It starts off as a bit of a pretty wallflower–perfectly respectable if unassuming, but attractive enough to catch your attention. Then, if you invite the tea to dance with you, it’ll nearly burst with joy and whirl about the room in a flurry of silk and lacy frills and perfume. Like me, you might be a bit put off by its initial exuberance, but once it calms down and you fall into a pleasant conversation with it, you realize that it’s more than just a pretty face or a vapid aristocrat–it has warmth and intelligence and youthful energy. And before you know it, you’ll find yourself coming back for more.

The Tea Lady’s teas don’t seem to be available online yet (as far as I can tell), but if you’re in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States, keep an eye out for her teas in your local shops. You might just find a lovely Earl Grey Classic waiting for you.

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