I’ve been meaning to try this sample for a while. I’m actually not sure what possessed me to buy it, as I don’t usually have any urge at all to drink Earl Grey except in the morning. I’m pretty sure it was one of those TRY ALL THE TEA moments that compelled me to stick this in the shopping basket.
The dry leaves smell strongly of a floral bergamot. After steeping, the bergamot note is much more of a citrus-y one but I can’t really discern the underlying tea. There’s a “decaf” aroma though. Something that smells like decaf. It reminds me vaguely of the smell you get from laundry detergent when you open the washer while it’s running. Not soapy but vaguely chlorine-y. Fortunately, that’s secondary to the bergamot aroma. The liquor is an amazing red. Garnet. Really gorgeous.
The flavor is about what I expected. It tastes like a rather watered down version of the
Earl Grey Sterling. It doesn’t have the maltiness of the Shanghai, which is why I picked on the Sterling. Being a decaf, though, this one doesn’t have nearly the fullness of flavor of the Sterling. It’s like an Earl Grey that’s been scrubbed against a washboard over and over until it grew thin and faded. Fortunately, the chlorine-y note in the aroma doesn’t show up in the flavor.
I’m pretty sure I haven’t had another Earl Grey decaf, so as far as I know, this is a strong example of the type. It’s not something I feel the need to keep in my cabinet, though. More because I don’t really feel like drinking Earl Grey when I’d want something decaf than because of this tea, though it does have that “less than” quality that so many decaf blacks have.
I won’t have trouble sipping this one down, but for reasons already explained, it’s a miss for me.