The first 5 times I made this tea, I hated it. It wasn’t the taste, it was the disappointment. I imagine I felt the way a parent would if they saw their MIT-caliber child slough off college for a career in sanitation. The gap between the creamy, Fruity Pebble-ish quality of smell and the watery, astringent taste was woefully expansive. I began to feel betrayed by my nose, even more so by the tea. And then, yesterday happened.
Finally, after brewing this tea every which way from Sunday, I found my sweet spot. “Sweet” being the operative word. I piled two heaping teaspoons into my trusty French Press as usual, but this time I poured a boiling 8 ounces of spring water in with no delay. I gave my press a few pumps and then set the timer for 4 minutes, instead of my usual 5.
4 Minutes later, and the smell floating form the kitchen is amazing to say the least. The cloyingly sweet scent of the dry leaves had mellowed into a collage of fruity, creamy floral notes. I paused to savor the smell for as long as I could before my will power gave way to the dark-brown tonic. Let me just say, the smell of this tea is just as important, if not more, than the taste. By the way, if you are a brutish tea gulper, who forgoes subtle smells and nuances in expectation of a tea that hits like a glass of kool-aid, repent. I have.
The first flavor was of fruity cream. I noticed immediately that the taste was strengthened exponentially by the heavily-scented vapors simultaneously floating through my nasal passages. This is the smell thing I was talking about. The fruity cream quickly dissolved into floral notes that my vivid imagination compares to eating a bowl of potpourri, in the best way possible. At this point, I swooshed the tea around in my mouth for a second and picked up on a creamy-thick texture and mouthfeel, which only served to accentuate the “face full of flowers” effect. Seriously, I felt like I could burp up a rose bud. The back end of the sip was a reminder that I was drinking black tea. A sightly malty note settled in, and I was pleased to find a slightly sweet honey twist riding it’s coattails. I repeat, wait for the honey twist before you swallow this tea. I immediately realized that steeping for 4 minutes rather than 5 had removed virtually all of the bitterness that I has disliked so much before. The result? A smooth, sweet, multi-layered tea that makes no attempt to hide it’s identity as a black tea. Good for mornings, even better for cool afternoons.
All in all, I give this tea a 7/10. The lingering floral aftertaste was an added bonus. This is my first taste of any type of Earl Grey, so I have no comparitive data within the Earl Grey family, but I will be using this as my go-to when I want something a little softer than my beloved Irish Breakfast. Enjoy!