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Tea no. 3 in the Upton Earl Grey sampler. It’s called Earl Grey Chocolate on the sampler label but has the same catalog number as Chocolate Earl Grey.

I’ve been looking forward to this, as I am at least a 200 on a scale of 1-10 in terms of chocolate fanaticism.

I must admit to being somewhat baffled by the all the variations on the Earl Grey theme. Seems to me at some point it ceases to be Earl Grey and starts being something else, but perhaps I’m just old school. Of all the variations, this is the most puzzling to me so far. But that’s probably only because I haven’t come across marzipan-halvah-cookies-’n-cream-melba-toast-pineapple-lime-spaghetti-mutton flavored Earl Grey yet.

This is a very colorful, pretty blend: yellow, green, blue, tan and brown/black. I love anything with cornflowers in it as that shade of blue is so calming and beautiful. It smells strongly of cocoa, and the cocoa has a mint-like lilt to it which defies explanation by the ingredients. The undercurrent of the tea, by contrast, smells almost coffee-like. I am getting nothing in the bergamot or lemon department.

But after steeping, there is both lemon and bergamot in the aroma, along with unsweetened cocoa (that still has that interesting minty-upswing). The taste is very strongly of the cocoa. As with the creme vanilla variety, the bergamot’s role seems mostly to be to corral the cocoa to some extent. The lemon actually seems to be the stronger citrus note here, and seems to be helping the bergamot with the task of keeping the cocoa from turning this into a single note tea. Interestingly, the bergamot hopped onto my tongue a few minutes after my last sip and sat there for about a minute before scurrying away.

Fortunately I have more of this so I can play with it some. Right now I’m in that place where I like the idea of this tea more than I probably like the tea itself. But the idea is so interesting, I really want it to knock my socks off. Right now it’s not doing that; it’s not striking me as that much different from a pretty standard chocolate flavored tea. I’m wondering if steeping 4 minutes would make a difference. Perhaps milk and sweetener would as well.

That said, I haven’t tried any other Chocolate Earl Greys, so there isn’t one I’d choose instead of this. Nor can I say this is signficantly better than any others. It’s either this one or nothing for me right now, and for that reason I’m giving it a default very good rating.

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec

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Bio

I’ve updated this bio as it’s been a couple of years since I “started getting into” tea. It’s now more accurate to say that I was obsessed with tea for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it, and I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I’ve recently started writing fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I much prefer to drink tea without additives such as milk and sugar. If a tea needs additives to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’m going to rate it high. The exception is chai, which I make on the stove top using a recipe I found here on Steepster. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs into the harder stuff, but once I learned how to make a decent cup of tea they became far less appealing to me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist, and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. I’m revising them slightly to make them less granular as I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas against other similar versions. So I rate Earl Greys, for example, against other Earl Greys, rather than against all teas. If something rates very high with me, though, it probably means it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is; will keep this stocked until the cows come home

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; likely to become a favorite, will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again if in the mood for this particular one or a better, similar version not available

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but probably wouldn’t buy again unless craving this particular flavor

50-59 Okay or run of the mill

Below 50 So-so, iffy, would definitely pass
or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

Location

Bay Area, California

Website

http://www.jjroth.net

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