Question: When is an Earl Grey, not an Earl Grey?
A Tale of Two Different Cups of Tea

Per: http://www.smithtea.com/shop/black/bergamot:
“About this Tea
A flavor somewhat superior to traditional Earl Grey. Fragrant Ceylon Dimbulla and Uva are artfully combined with select teas from India’s Assam valley, then scented with the flavor of bergamot from the realm of Reggio Calabria, Italy.

Ingredients
Ceylon Dimbulla, Uva and Indian Assam full leaf teas and natural bergamot flavor.

Preparation
For best flavor, bring freshly drawn filtered water to a boil. Steep five minutes. If possible, play a little opera softly in the background.”

(Note: Neither the package or the SST website stated how many ounces of water to use with a sachet.)

Introduction: My wife and I have been drinking loose Earl Grey for over 30 years.

The typical Earl Grey tea has a 100% Ceylon base. Some Ceylon teas used in E.G. can be quite astringent. This Lord Bergamot is different in that it’s a blend of two Ceylon teas as well as an Assam tea.

Most E.G. teas are also light- to medium-bodied. While my wife loves the aroma and flavor of a well-balanced EG, she typically does not find them to be strong enough. To compensate, she will increase the amount of tea leaves and/or the brewing time. However, you can only increase those two parameters so much.

Cup #1:
Technique: Previously, my wife prepared a sachet: 8 oz. filtered water with TDS of 26 ppm / 212*F / 5 min. as she prefers a truly full-bodied Earl Grey. She’s also used to brewing an 8-oz. cup of tea. No sweeteners, milk or cream were added.

First impressions: This tea provided a very smooth full-bodied Earl Grey without any hint of bitterness. She also noted a vegetal flavor that’s typically not found in a classic Earl Grey.

Per: Alex Pieroni of SST: “I would say 1 sachet for every 12 oz. of water.”

Cup #2 (several days later):
Technique: I prepared a sachet: (2.5 g – My Weigh Durascale D2 660), 12-oz filtered water with TDS of 26 ppm / 212*F / 5 min. Brewed in a covered mug. No sweeteners, milk or cream were added.

Fragrance: “Fruity” – different than a classic bergamot EG.
Dry leaf: Medium-long dark brown full leaf – http://www.smithtea.com/shop/media/catalog/product/cache/1/image/286x/9df78eab33525d08d6e5fb8d27136e95/l/o/lord_b_teabag.jpg
Liquor: Clear & coppery

5-min.: This medium-bodied black tea is expertly balanced. The fruity aroma does not overshadow the base black teas. There was no hint of tartness. The addition of Assam provided a very smooth sip. There was no bitterness or hint of a vegetal flavor. This black tea has an understated bergamot flavor.

I then presented this cup to my wife without telling her what type of tea it was or of my impression:
“I don’t know what it is. It’s not a regular black tea is it? It has a fruity aroma. An earthy flavor – Assam? Not bad – smooth! It’s not EG. It’s a little astringent toward the bottom of the (12-oz.) cup.” (I suspect this may be due to the high-altitude grown Ceylon Uva.)

Second Impressions:
This is a very smooth, expertly well-balanced, medium-bodied black tea with a pleasing fruity fragrance that does not overshadow the Ceylon/Assam base teas.

My wife enjoyed this very special medium-bodied black tea enough to want to purchase some as a change of pace from her regular Earl Grey. This is the first Earl Grey (not including EG cream) out of 14 EG teas, that she’s been interested in buying. Quite an accomplishment!!

Question: When is an Earl Grey, not an Earl Grey?
Answer: When it’s a Lord Bergamot!

Thanks to Alex Pieroni of Steven Smith Teamaker for providing this free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 5 min, 0 sec 2 g 12 OZ / 354 ML
Cavocorax

I love this review – so much detail! :)

looseTman

Thank you!

Auggy

Great review – so thorough yet to the point! (And I still owe you a PM to compare EG notes! In my defense, moving is totally kicking my butt! Maybe once we get our other house on the market, I can think about something other than breaking down boxes or painting!)

looseTman

Thank you! No rush on your EG notes. Moving is very big deal on top of one’s normal work, family, and home responsibilities.

looseTman

I just proof-read this tasting note again and made some minor corrections & revisions. (I find it difficult to notice everything the 1st or 2nd time through.)

LiberTEAS

I am glad that you enjoyed Lord Bergamot. I am such a fan of Steven Smith’s teas and I’m overjoyed that his tea shop is not far from where I live so that I can visit it whenever I can talk my husband into taking me there. (He isn’t quite the tea enthusiast that I am.) This is one of my favorite “Earl Grey” teas and I think one of the reasons I do enjoy it is that it is different from the usual cup of Earl Grey.

I am happy that your wife enjoyed it as well!

looseTman

Thank you for your expert Earl Grey recommendation!

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Comments

Cavocorax

I love this review – so much detail! :)

looseTman

Thank you!

Auggy

Great review – so thorough yet to the point! (And I still owe you a PM to compare EG notes! In my defense, moving is totally kicking my butt! Maybe once we get our other house on the market, I can think about something other than breaking down boxes or painting!)

looseTman

Thank you! No rush on your EG notes. Moving is very big deal on top of one’s normal work, family, and home responsibilities.

looseTman

I just proof-read this tasting note again and made some minor corrections & revisions. (I find it difficult to notice everything the 1st or 2nd time through.)

LiberTEAS

I am glad that you enjoyed Lord Bergamot. I am such a fan of Steven Smith’s teas and I’m overjoyed that his tea shop is not far from where I live so that I can visit it whenever I can talk my husband into taking me there. (He isn’t quite the tea enthusiast that I am.) This is one of my favorite “Earl Grey” teas and I think one of the reasons I do enjoy it is that it is different from the usual cup of Earl Grey.

I am happy that your wife enjoyed it as well!

looseTman

Thank you for your expert Earl Grey recommendation!

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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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