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.

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. 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 write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became far less appealing to me. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with 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. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

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

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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