Sample package label:
“Earl Grey de la Cream
Time: 3 minutes / Temp: 212*”

Thanks to David Palmerola founder of Steep City for the additional recommended brewing instructions: “Usually 1 tsp per 8 oz, but I like my teas stronger so maybe a bit more on the bold teas… Especially EG!”

Introduction: Steep City’s recently released Earl Grey de la Cream is the first EG Cream I’m aware of that uses vanilla beans (as opposed to just flavoring). It also uses an Assam/Ceylon blend. Most EG teas have a 100% Shi Lankan (Ceylon) base. Having the addition of an Assam black tea, was another significant reason for wanting to sample this EG tea. Our current EG has a Ceylon base and I can’t get past the astringency. My wife also loves EG.

This tea has a strong vanilla fragrance. Neither my wife nor I could smell the classic oil of bergamot fragrance.

April 18: 1 rounded to heaping tsp. / 8-oz. / 212*F / 3 min / No sweeteners, milk, or cream added

I brewed a cup of Earl Grey de la Crème for my wife – a life-long EG Lover. She noted a strong vanilla flavor, no discernible lemony oil of Bergamot flavor, and another flavor that she could not identify that detracted from the taste of this EG. She then looked at the Steep City website and specifically wanted to know about the vanilla and bergamot flavors.

My first impression of this tea (based only on a few stolen sips) was that it was full-bodied & very, very smooth w/o any bitterness or astringency – well done! The addition of vanilla beans was a great idea! However, as an EG tea, my wife was correct that the vanilla completely overshadowed the EG flavor.

Afterwards, I sent an e-mail to David asking about the vanilla and bergamot flavors. David told us that they use natural oil of Bergamot. “On the cream side, we are using natural flavors with some artificial flavors combined with the natural vanilla beans.”

April 21: 2.5 tsps. (All that remained in the sample) / 16-oz. / 212*F / 3 min. / No sweeteners, milk, or cream added (A cup for each of us)

3-min Infusion: A strong vanilla flavor, no discernible oil of Bergamot flavor, light- to medium-bodied, with zero hint of tartness, bitterness or astringency.
4-min: Improving
5-min: A strong vanilla flavor, no discernible oil of Bergamot flavor, strong hints of cinnamon, medium-bodied, with zero hint of tartness, bitterness or astringency.

In my experience, the tartness of citrus bergamia is a common characteristic of most Earl Grey tea. The addition of vanilla & vanilla beans definitely smoothed out the tartness.

In retrospect, as far as the full-bodied flavor on 4/18 and medium-bodied flavor on 4/21: I probably should have only brewed one cup with the remaining tea sample.

Impression: This tea is for creamy vanilla lovers.

For those who prefer a classic lemony Oil of Bergamot fragrance & flavor:
“It’s complicated.” The additional natural ingredients that give this Earl Grey its rich creamy vanilla taste are much stronger than the classic Oil of Bergamot EG flavor. Achieving just the right balance must be quite a challenge as the number of ingredients increases.

Suggestion: For those like my wife who love the classic EG fragrance & flavor, Steep City may wish to consider refining the balance between the vanilla beans / vanilla flavoring and the Oil of Bergamot so that these two key ingredients can be qually appreciated & enjoyed. Another consideration might be to eliminate the artificial vanilla flavor.

Thanks to David Palmerola founder of Steep City for providing this free sample.

Preparation
Boiling

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Bio

I am passionate about teas that are full-bodied, rich, & smooth. I joined Steepster to explore Multiple Infusion Teas (MITs) such as Pu-erh.

Currently, my focus is on un-flavored orthodox black & pu-erh teas. Cost-effective organic teas or teas that meet the EU Food Safety Commission Pesticide Maximum Residue Limit EUROFINS are also of interest.

I especially enjoy teas with a natural rich chocolate flavor profile as opposed to natural bittersweet cocoa.

Complete steeping instructions on the bag are greatly appreciated:
tsp. (g) / oz. / temp. / rinse? / min. for both Western & Gongfu brewing.

Incomplete, non-specific, or cutesy instructions such as: “Just add water and enjoy.” significantly reduces the possibility that I will purchase that particular tea.

Having to discover the optimum brewing parameters through “trial & error” is too time-inefficient, wastes valuable tea and impairs the progress and joy of tea exploration.

The best tea suppliers evaluate each crop / batch of tea each year to determine the optimum brewing parameters. This insures the best possible first impression of their tea, greatly increases customer satisfaction, and thus increases word-of-mouth advertising – the best form of advertising that money can’t buy. You never have a 2nd chance to make an Outstanding First Impression.

My wife is an Earl Grey Fan. We enjoyed Twinings for many years – mostly Earl Grey, also English/Irish Breakfast, & Prince of Wales. Several years ago, TEG no longer tasted as good.

Rishi EG & China Breakfast then became our regular teas. However, after winning Tea Expo awards, the prices kept rising.

Our most recent orders were from TeaVivre, Verdant, Zen Tea Life, & Mandala Tea. Kudos to Angel Chen, David Duckler, Kenneth Son, Garret Sorensen who have been extremely helpful.

High quality water is essential for excellent tasting tea.
Our 450’ well provides hard water. For details see: http://steepster.com/looseTman/posts/176233#comments.

Solutions:
#1. Rainsoft water softener with
Q2 computerized control valve

#2. Abundant Flow Water
Reverse Osmosis Drinking Water System with re-mineralization filter
Model: Zeta RO: https://www.afwfilters.com/drinking-ro-systems/6-stage-alkaline-zoi-zeta-reverse-osmosis-system-16.html
Includes:
- Dow Filmtec TFC R.O. membrane
- Omnipure Inline Post filter
- Puregen Aptera Alkaline Filter: http://www.puregen.com/products_detail.php?id=301&lang=en

Options:
- Aquatec ERP-500 & ASV 2000
- 3/8" Output
- HM Digital DM-1: http://www.tdsmeter.com/products/dm1.html

My profile picture is a Red-Breasted Nuthatch, an annual winter visitor to our woodpecker feeder.

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Mid-Atlantic, USA

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