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.
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.