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96 Tasting Notes

Per: http://www.steepcityteas.com/collections/black-tea/products/pom-pom-tea:
“A very nicely balanced blend of fresh, juicy pomegranate splashed with cranberry. Not too tart, not too sweet, just right. It’s simply a splendid black tea with an after-taste that makes you feel rejuvenated. Makes a terrific iced tea and it’s a perfect alternative for the kids.”

Perparation: Amount: 1 teaspoon per 8 oz for hot tea. Steep at: 212 degrees for 3-4 minutes.

“Ingredients: Black tea, rose hips, sea buckthorn berries, corn flowers, natural flavors, goji berries, and guarana seeds.

Intro: I was curious to try this tea because I like black tea and have read that pomegranates are high in anti-oxidants.

Technique: Tea mug with Finum brew basket. 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F. 1 tsp. (2.5 grams – My Weigh Durascale D2 660). No sweeteners, milk or cream were added.

Fragrance: Strong fruity
Dry leaf: dark brown twisted leaves + other ingredients – see above.
Liquor: Light amber
Aroma: Very fruity

3-min.: A very pleasing flavor with surprising body for a fruit-flavored tea. “Not too tart, not too sweet, just right.” Accurately describes this tea. There is a mild drying effect on the finish that becomes astringency towards the bottom of the cup.

4-min Re-steep @ 195F*: Same flavor & character as the first cup and still somewhat astringent.

Impression: A refreshing enjoyable afternoon tea. For those who may not like astringency, a lower temperature may help.

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

Preparation
3 min, 0 sec

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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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98

We received this tea timer as a gift several years ago and it has stood the test of time. Very simple to use. Easy to read large digital display. It has preset buttons for 1, 2, 3, and 5 minutes. At times another preset for 4 min would also be convenient. However, any time can be selected with the “set” buttons. Requires two # 357 “button” batteries which are not as inexpensive as AAA batteries. However, they last a long time and can be purchased less expensively at Wal-Mart versus Radio Shack.

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100
reviewed Brewing Basket by Finum
96 tasting notes

Simple, cost-effective, easy to use and clean. The large internal volume provides much more room for the leaves to unfurl while brewing compared to a typical tea infuser. The medium size model fits a variety of mug sizes. The lid helps retain the heat and aroma when brewing.

Anyanka, Your reviews of both the Finum and the ForLife brewing baskets were very helpful! Thanks!

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99
reviewed Perfect Tea Spoon by Teavana
96 tasting notes

“This spoon is exactly one teaspoon and scoops up even larger tea leaves with ease. And since it’s made of brushed stainless steel, it won’t rust, break, or melt like other teaspoons.”

We received this teaspoon as a gift several years ago and it has stood the test of time. Tevana’s description is accurate with one exception: “scoops up even larger tea leaves with ease”. For that purpose, one is better off with a tea scoop:
- http://i.imgur.com/EmBgOzF.jpg
- http://www.amazon.com/Wooden-Scoop-Long-Handle-2668/dp/B0042IU7A4/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1375762839&sr=8-3&keywords=%22tea+scoop%22+-spoon
- http://www.amazon.com/Amico-Ceremony-Nonslip-Lifting-Teaware/dp/B00CW8SWEE/ref=sr_1_28?ie=UTF8&qid=1369372441&sr=8-28&keywords=bamboo+scoop+tea

Tea Sipper

Yep, I just used this. I think it was the best thing I got in my Teavana order years ago… and it was free. And the tea was on sale. whoops.

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Sample package label:
“Fusion Teas, Premium Earl Grey
1 tsp. per 8 oz. water @ 203*
Steep 2-3 min. Sweeten to taste
Ingredients: premium black tea with bergamot
Black Tea Collection”

Per: http://www.fusionteas.com/Premium-Earl-Grey.html:
“This soft, highly aromatic bergamot black tea is of the highest quality. The excellent basis of Ceylon and Yunnan is perfectly in tune with the flavoring. A light and pleasant smokey nuance accompanies the typical bergamot citrus flavor. Experience a top-class Earl Grey Tea

Ingredients: Ceylon and Yunnan Black Tea with Bergamot.
1.5 tsp., 203*, 2-3 min.”

Technique: Tea mug with Finum brew basket. 1 Teavana tsp. (2.5 g – My Weigh Durascale D2 660), 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F and allowed to cool to 203*F – verified with DAVIDsTEA thermometer/timer. No sweeteners, milk or cream were added.

Introduction: The typical Earl Grey tea has a 100% Ceylon base. Some Ceylon teas used in E.G. can be quite astringent. This E.G. is different in that it also includes Yunnan 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.

Fragrance: This black tea has that wonderful classic EG bergamot fragrance.
Dry leaf: Uniform moderate length, dark brown leaves.
Liquor: Clear & coppery

2-min.: Medium bodied – I’ll give it another minute.
3-min.: The subtle aroma follows the character of the dry leaf’s classic bergamot fragrance. The flavor definitely follows both the fragrance and aroma. This full-bodied E.G. is expertly balanced. The bergamot does not overshadow the base black teas. There was no hint of tartness. The addition of Yunnan provided a very smooth sip as there was no bitterness. There was a mild drying effect on the finish of the sip, which slowly developed into a mild sense of astringency as I finished the cup.

I then tried 1.5 tsp. (3.8 g – My Weigh Durascale D2 660) / 8 oz. / 203 F / 2 min.
Using 1.5 tsp. provided a very full-bodied cup of E.G. with and an enhanced aroma at only two minutes. The sorter brewing time also reduced the astringency. How to have your cake and eat it too! (However, you’ll use up your Premium E.G. stash faster.) The mild drying effect on the finish of the sip was still present.

Lastly, we tried: 1.5 tsp. / 8 oz. / 195 F / 2 min. Now we’re talking! – Very smooth, rich, and strong without any bitterness or astringency.

Impression: This is a smooth, very well-balanced, full-bodied Earl Grey with a pleasing bergamot fragrance that does not overshadow the Ceylon/Yunnan base tea.

My wife enjoyed this E.G. enough to have four cups. She very much enjoyed the fragrance of the dry leaves. To her sense of smell, the aroma was not as strong as the fragrance. The flavor to her was not as bright as her regular classic EG. She also appreciated Fusion’s attractive high quality packaging.

Suggestions: We’d like to suggest a greater percentage of this very fine Yunnan in the base tea may further minimize any astringency and just a little more bergamot for a brighter flavor.

Thanks to Thomas Egbert of FusionTeas for kindly providing this free very generous sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Tea Sipper

I haven’t tried Fusion’s Earl Grey yet.. and this one has Yunnan!

looseTman

Yes, that’s correct it does. It’s a blend of Ceylon & Yunnan. It was LiberTEAS who suggested that we try Fusion’s Premium E.G. and she knows EG!

K S

This is very good. I never made the connection this had Yunnan in the base. That explains why this tastes kind of the same yet so different than any other E.G. A good one for sure!

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drank Strong Earl Grey by Shanti Tea
96 tasting notes

Per: https://www.shantitea.ca/sthome/product/strong-earl-grey:
Origin: India / Serving: 2.8 grams per cup / Temp. 100*C / Steeping Time 2-5 Min.
“2 min without milk, 5+ min with milk”

“Using a GBOP grade of black tea for this earl grey, and blending it with extra bergamot essence makes creates an infusion especially well suited for london fogs or for those seeking a strong bergamot flavor in their tea. Much stronger than the classic, malty notes, and a lively cup.”

“Ingredients: Tea (Camelia Sinensis), safflower, orange peel, bergamot”
Canada Organic – Biologique Canada: http://www.organicbiologique.ca/en/

Technique: Tea mug with Finum brew basket. 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F. 2.8 grams – verified by My Weigh Durascale D2 660. No sweeteners, milk or cream were added.

Introduction: The typical Earl Grey tea has a 100% Ceylon base. Some Ceylon teas used in E.G. can be quite astringent. This E.G. is exceptional in that it has an Indian tea base.

Also, most Earl Grey teas are 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. Thus, we were very interested to taste Shanti’s Strong Earl Grey.

Fragrance: This black tea has a strong floral-type bergamot and fresh orange fragrance.
Dry leaf – Dark brown leaves with obvious bits of orange peel.
Liquor – red / brown hue

2-min.: The Aroma follows the strong dry leaf fragrance. The flavor definitely follows both the fragrance and aroma. The strong floral-like bergamot and fresh orange ingredients somewhat overshadows the malty Indian base tea. There was zero hint of tartness, bitterness or astringency – quite an accomplishment!

Impression: This is a very unique, refreshing, full-bodied Earl Grey with a very strong floral-like bergamot and a fresh orange fragrance & aroma that somewhat overshadows the extremely smooth Indian base tea.

My wife, who has a very keen sense of smell, didn’t find this tea to be “The EG” she’s been seeking. While she enjoyed the full-bodied stimulating breakfast base tea, she’d prefer it to have an equally strong Classic EG aroma and flavor.

Suggestion: We’d like to suggest a second version – a “Classic Strong Earl Grey.” This extremely smooth malty Strong Earl Grey would be an excellent match with Southern Italian natural Bergamot citrus.

Thanks to Safiya Motala and Shanti Teas for kindly providing this generous free sample.

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 0 sec
looseTman

Recently, I’ve reviewed a batch of Assam teas followed by a number of Chinese teas.
Starting with this review, I will focus on my wife’s favorite tea – Earl Grey. Is there any other tea? :D

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drank Irish Breakfast by Shanti Tea
96 tasting notes

Per: https://www.shantitea.ca/sthome/product/Irish-Breakfast:
Origin: China / Serving: 2.8 grams per cup / Temp. 100*C / Steeping Time 2-5 Min.

“What a whiskey will not cure, there’s no cure for!” Same goes for this Irish-strength black tea blend.
A very strong and bold black tea blend, with pronounced earthiness and maltiness. Recommended at a long steep, with milk and sugar to bring out the flavors, this is a real winner in the mornings. The smaller leaf grades allow for greater caffeine infusion into the water. A good coffee replacement."

“Directions: 2 min without milk, 5+ min with milk”
“Ingredients: Tea (Camelia Sinensis)”
Canada Organic – Biologique Canada: http://www.organicbiologique.ca/en/

Technique: Tea mug with Finum brew basket. 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F. 2.8 grams (My Weigh Durascale D2 660) No sweeteners, milk or cream were added.

Fragrance: Fruity
Dry leaf: Small granular-shaped pieces moderately dark brown and reddish-brown leaves
Infused Leaf: Dark Amber

2-min.: A full-bodied tea with a fruity aroma and malty undertones. I can see why only 2 min. infusion w/o milk is recommended. At the end of the sip there is a bit of bitterness that briefly lingers on the tongue. This is a strong tea. You may not wish to drink it on an empty stomach.

2-min Re-steep: Same flavor & character as the first cup w/o the bitterness.

2nd Cup: same as above except: 2.8 g/ 8 oz. / *185*F* / 2 min
This is now a full-bodied tea with a fruity aroma and malty undertones without any obvious bitterness. “Now we’re talking!”

Impression: A full-bodied, invigorating, organic breakfast tea. “Not for the faint of heart.”

Thanks to Safiya Motala and Shanti Teas for kindly providing this generous free sample.

Preparation
185 °F / 85 °C 2 min, 0 sec
Terri HarpLady

Sounds like this tea is right up my alley!

looseTman

Correction: The original description at the top of this review was for the previous Shanti Tea I reviewed (Ancient Forest Black). The correct Shanti Tea website description has been now been added.

Terri HarpLady

Ancient Forest Black, awesome name!
Sil, add Shanti to our list, LOL :)

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Per: https://www.shantitea.ca/sthome/product/ancient-forest-black:
Origin: China / Serving: 2.5 grams per cup / Temp. 100*C / Steeping Time 2-5 Min.

“A full bodied, earthy infusion typical of high quality Yunnan black teas. Cultivated from the ancient protected tea tree forests of Yunnan Province, China, this rare and exquisite black tea makes a full-bodied and earthy infusion with a rich and penetrating aroma heavy with age and collective wisdom. The flavor of this deep amber infusion is unlike any other black tea available. Truly exceptional.”

“Directions: 2 min without milk, 5+ min with milk”
“Ingredients: Tea (Camelia Sinensis)”
Canada Organic – Biologique Canada: http://www.organicbiologique.ca/en/

Technique:
Tea mug with Finum brew basket. 8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F. 2.5 grams (My Weigh Durascale D2 660). No sweeteners, milk or cream were added.

Fragrance: Earthy / hints of sweet tobacco
Dry leaf: Moderately dark brown leaves with some gold tips
Infused Leaf – Deep Amber

2-min. Initial observation: Not yet strong enough will step another min.
3-min.: Rich and full-bodied with a pleasing earthy aroma and not a hint of bitterness or astringency. My cup was empty before I knew it – Excellent!!

4-min Re-steep: Not yet strong enough.
5-min Re-steep: Improving
6-min Re-steep: Just as enjoyable as the first cup.

Impression: A smooth, rich, mellow, relaxing, and very satisfying cup of organic tea! An excellent weekend morning experience not to be rushed, and not to be missed!

Thanks to Safiya Motala and Shanti Teas for kindly providing this generous free sample.

Flavors: Earth

Preparation
Boiling 3 min, 0 sec 2 g 8 OZ / 236 ML
Nicole

This goes on the shopping list!

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Sample package label:
“Blend No. 18
Steven Smith Teamaker
Brahmin
Full Leaf Black Tea”

Per: http://www.smithtea.com/shop/black/brahmin
“A sophisticated blend of full bodied, rich and malty Indian Assam teas, paired with succulent Ceylon dimbulla, intense and floral Ceylon Uva and a touch of smokey Keemun from Anhui. The taste is dense, robust and delicious, with or without milk, anytime you need a bit of extra inspiration. “

“Ingredients: Second flush Indian Assam, Ceylon Dimbulla, Ceylon Uva and China Keemun full leaf teas”

“Bring filtered water to a rolling boil. Steep 5 minutes.
Technically a breakfast tea, it is equally good for dessert.”

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

Technique:
12-oz filtered water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 27 ppm, heated to 212*F.

1 sachet – 3.4 g (My Weigh Durascale D2 660), without sweeteners, milk or cream.

Dry leaf: long, uniform sized, blackish brown

Fragrance: Subtle hint of pipe tobacco

Liquor: Clear amber brown

Aroma: Malty Assam aroma without an obvious smokiness that sometimes is associated with Keemun.

5-min Infusion: A robust full-bodied flavor black tea without bitterness. There was moderate sense of astringency that persists on the tongue. I suspect is due the high-altitude grown Ceylon Uva. There was also a very subtle caramel-like sweetness in the finish that’s probably due to the Keemun in this blended tea

Re-steep: 6-min Infusion Nearly as full-bodied and without any astringency.

Impression: A full-bodied blended black breakfast tea for those who don’t mind astringency. For those who do, one could try brewing this tea at a lower temperature such as 195*F.

Suggestion: To consider using less Ceylon Uva and perhaps more Keemun in this blend.

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

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Profile

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 and teas that meet the EU Food Safety Commission Pesticide Maximum Residue Limit are also of interest.

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.

Through our local co-op we tried Frontier Natural Products Co-op bulk loose tea – mostly Assam, also Irish Breakfast, & EG.

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

Kevin at The Whistling Kettle introduced me to Keemun, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and my wife enjoyed their Earl Grey Cream.

Our most recent orders were from TeaVivre & Zen Tea Life. Kudos to both Angel Chen and Kenneth Son 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.

Location

Mid-Atlantic, USA

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