Even though Earl Greys are some of my favorite teas, I didn’t buy many while I was in Europe because I wanted to reserve the precious space in my luggage for (for the most part) more unusual blends. But when it came down to picking extra samples at Tea Palace, being unprepared, I fell back on some versions of Earl Grey that sounded interesting. This is one of those EGs that is combined with other citrus besides bergamot, which I’ve usually enjoyed. The tea definitely matches its photo: this thing is jam packed with fairly sizeable hunks of orange and lemon rind. The dry leaf smells like a bergamotty EG, but perhaps a tad sweeter—if bergamot is a high, bright note, the orange fills in the bottom and is warmer.
As is often the case, the strong flavored notes are much more subdued in the brewed tea. Here the black tea base is at the forefront and it smells a bit like an English Breakfast blend, actually. Which is a bit disconcerting, as I’m not the biggest fan of most English Breakfasts.
When very hot, it definitely reminds me of an English Breakfast. Cooled a bit the bergamot starts to come out, adding a high bright note, but it still tastes primarily like the black tea. Disappointing for me; I was expecting more flavor from the added orange and lemon. I wish Tea Palace would said what black teas went into their blends (on other Earl Greys they say “China Blacks”… not that helpful). I can imagine some people really enjoying this, as it’s not highly bergamot flavored and is really all about the black tea base, but I’m not really one of those people, unfortunately.
Its funny, because it seems like a lot of people get into tea on flavored tea blends, then move toward unflavored and purer teas. True, I got into tea with flavored teas, but I went through a period where I enjoyed plain black tea (and I’m talking about a straight up English Breakfast or something like that, not the high quality single-source blacks which I haven’t tried many of), but now I really do not like it. It may be one particular tea in the blend that I’m reacting to (Assam perhaps?), but I don’t know because I can’t really parse them out. I guess even though I’m not a plain black drinker, maybe I need to do a tasting of a bunch of different single-source plain blacks just to figure them all out.