French Earl Grey

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Black Tea
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Edit tea info Last updated by The Tea Merchant
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205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 7 oz / 217 ml

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From The Tea Merchant

Organic high grown estate black tea hand blended with fragrant oil of bergamot and a hint of French vanilla. Fresh citrus notes followed by a rich and robust finish complete this remarkable blend.

Organic and Biodynamic Black Tea, Organic Cornflowers, Organic Oil of Bergamot, Natural Flavors

Organic & Fair Trade!
Caffeine Content: Medium

Temp: 206* F Steep: 3-5 min

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48 Tasting Notes

451 tasting notes

Ok, so this isn’t actually going to be a tasting note about this tea, because I’ve written about it enough for you to know that it’s a lovely EGC, and that’s about all you need to know.

But last night, I decided to take a timolino full of this to a friend’s place for dinner and hanging out. And instead of using my Keurig to dispense the hot water like I typically do, I used Watson (Watson is the name I’ve given to our Culligan water cooler, that has both a hot and cold water tap—we named him Watson after the computerized jeopardy contestant! /nerd). Anyway, from my understanding, the water dispensed from Watson is around 107 degrees F, while the Keurig website says that the Keurig dispenses water that’s 192 degrees f, so that’s definitely a noticeable difference. The thing is, however, that I never never successfully brewed a cup of satisfactory tea using Watson, and it seems odd to me that a temperature of about 207 (ETA—sorry, I originally wrote 107, which explains the general wtfness in the comments below, but it really was 207) would be too hot for absolutely every tea (especially since I drink mostly blacks, which are reputed to almost always take extremely hot water). As for the water I use, the Keurig takes filtered water through my brida filter, and Watson uses Culligan’s water—both are filtered, but are provided by different companies, so perhaps that has to do with it. But last night’s tea tasted bitter and horrible, just horrible. No vanilla cream notes to speak of—only an amped up bitter bergamot note that was bitter and gross.

But this has me terrified to ever get myself a variable temp kettle, because what if the Keurig is the only acceptable source for hot water for me in this universe? this is actually really upsetting to me! Because i so badly want the Bonavida goose-neck one liter variable temp kettle, but like, if I drop 100 dollars on it but it makes all my tea taste like bile, then…then…then what?!?!?!?!!?

Please comfort me.

0 OZ / 0 ML

(Have you actually checked Watson’s temperature?)


I haven’t checked it myself, but I have a friend who works as a distributor for Culligan, and she checked the temperature of her hot water dispenser and reported back to me.


Maybe that’s a good first step to rule any temp problems out. But isn’t 107 exceptionally low? Like 42 degrees C?

Uh, sorry, you want comforts, and I just want to crunch numbers. I’m so sorry you’re having Watson issues. I’m sure it will be okay. I see a goosenecked beauty in your future that will make everything better and easier.


If it doesn’t work for you, you can ALWAYS pack it up and return it.

But you should probably check Watson’s temperature, because every water heater will be different. That would be a LOT different, but 107F is not very hot at all. It’s tap water hot at 40C. My tap water is actually way hotter than that (think green tea steeping temps about 65C) depending on how long the boiler has been on for.


I hope you’re right. I was so so so so close to ordering one just now! I literally had to sit on my hands and rock back and forth to stop myself. And yeah, 107 is lowish it’s true, but I swear this water yields the nastiest tea ever. And the Keurig, by contrast, makes a perfect one. Maybe I just like all my tea at an incredibly low temperature? I have no idea. But you can barely tell you’re drinking the same tea—the differences are that noticeable.


Ok, you guys are right. I should just check Watson’s temperature. I just checked my conversation with my friend on FB and she admitted that her thermometer only went up to 200 f, so I imagine she couldn’t get an accurate read, either. But like, do you guys think it’s just that Watson is super hot in real life and that the keurig is cool and that makes all the difference?


But how do you adapt the steep times if you use 107 degree water? Or 192-degree water for blacks, for that matter.


And if 207 f is so low, but Keurig’s website says its water is 192, then isn’t that even more odd still? that I would prefer (even black) tea at such a ridiculously low temperature? but I’m seirous, guys. No one would enjoy the tea from Watson. It wasn’t keychange bitter—I had two other people taste it and they thought it was nasty, too. Maybe I should try boiling our random kettle with the same water I use to fill the Keurig and comparing that against Watson. Because maybe it really just is the water.


I don’t. I always steep for about four minutes (if I’m steeping blacks) when I use the Keurig.


Hm – 207? But you said 107 in the original post. 207 would make more sense, I guess.


And Omgsrsly, it never occurred to me that I could just return the bonavida if I don’t like it. I’m so stupid LOL


This is all just so very odd!


Sorry sorry sorry!! I meant 207! oh my gosh.


Wow. Wow. And you guys kept on being like “107? that’s so low! crazy! so so low!” and I was thinking: isn’t 207 just five degrees shy of 212? how bad is my math? aaaahhhhh."


Ok, so now that we know it’s more 207 than 107, and that the Keurig really is 192…then is it more likely that culligan’s hot water just sucks?


Haha! That was so confusing! The hot water is probably too much for you. :) I steep all my black teas at 195F, so about your Keurig temp. 207 is too much for me.


There, there. (Comfort comfort.) My guess is it is something about the water filter rather than the temp that is causing such a major difference. I steep my blacks at different temperatures (200,205,212) depending on the seller’s recommendations and my own tastes, but I rarely steep them at lower than 200. My parents had a Culligan system and it included water softening. Does yours? I wonder whether if it does, it’s some of the additives in the water that are making the taste sub par. In any case, I wouldn’t rule out the variable temp kettle. I love the convenience of being able to set the different temperatures without having to use a thermometer or just guess.


Morgana, omgsrsly, and anna—you are all heavenly. Just divine! thank you!
We have an answer!
Morgana, I think you were right: because I just did an experiment.
What I did was use our regular kettle that was lying around, and filled it with Brida water (so, Keurig water). Brewed up grandma’s pumpkin pie from dellaterra tea, mostly because I know what that’s supposed to taste like, and have brewed many a consistent cup. And it tasted pretty damn near perfect! soo, I think it’s just that Culligan’s hot water is a no-go for me. Morgana, I imagine that the water in the cooler is treated, so you’re right about it affecting the taste. Omg, now I want a variable temp kettle so badly!


Man, I love science. And all you amazing women, of course.


Isn’t it all just so wonderful? process of elimination FTW!


Yay! :)


Yay for finding an answer! I think you’ll love having a variable temp kettle so I have no problem encouraging you to spend your money. ;-)


Now to get my variable temp kettle!

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862 tasting notes

First, a story:

I had gone out with friends to breakfast last week and ordered hot tea (earl grey – I don’t know the brand) and was surprised, in a good way, when they brought it out to me loose in the equivalent of a Perfect Tea Maker from Teavana. Not as surprised as the other girls, though – they had never seen one before. They stared at the steeper and their eyes got even bigger and all conversation stopped when I put it on top of my cup to let it drain.

“I’ve never seen that before.” One of them said. “Where’s the tea bag?” was another question. There was much turning over of the plastic steeper to see how it worked. Then the waiter came by and refilled it to let it resteep. All of their minds, collectively, were blown. All for a cup of pretty mediocre Earl Grey.

Okay, digressing to actual review now:

When the girls at the breakfast asked how I liked the tea I shrugged my shoulders and thought of Smooth Earl from Compass Teas before telling them I prefer it with vanilla (tea snob that I am). That was before I met this guy though.

A sure sign of a good tea to me is one that I can’t stop thinking about or want to have again soon after I’ve had it. For the sake of having a lot of other teas to drink I avoided coming back to this one right away, but it has been in the back of my mind.

So yesterday to celebrate having almost a week off from work I made a huge mug of this and savored that thick vanilla scent and taste. So lovely. I wish when I’d been at the breakfast last week I’d been able to show everyone this Earl Grey Cream. This is what amazing tea is.

A lot of you already know that, judging by the other tasting notes here, but really. Its finding teas like this that you wouldn’t have known about otherwise that makes the whole tea habit so much fun. For me it is, anyway….

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I am so kicking myself that I forgot to put this on my last order!


Cool that a restaurant would use those!

And thanks to your note, I have another EGC on my shopping list. :D

El Monstro

Yeah, tea merchant’s french earl grey is probably my “if I was on a desert island and could only have one tea available” tea. Either that or a good dian hong.

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1565 tasting notes

Oh man. The smell coming out of the bag reminds me of orange slice candy. Brewed the aroma gives off this root beer – grape soda vibe. This is an Earl Grey Crème using French vanilla.

If you love French vanilla this is going to please you. The description on the sample says, this is ‘estate black tea hand blended with fragrant oil of bergamot and a hint of French vanilla.’ Now I think their idea of hint and mine are a bit different. When the cup is hot this tastes highly of French vanilla. It isn’t until the cup cools that the bergamot and black tea can be more easily separated out in the sip. After you figure out the differences you become aware that you were tasting them all along. The aftertaste has a bit of a licorice twang to it that I liked.

The second cup is a little different. The aroma off the cup is black tea. The taste is a much more balanced blend of all the flavors. The aftertaste leaves a lot more black tea on your breath. This is an excellent cup.

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613 tasting notes

Took along to do errands this morning. It’s relatively light on the bergamot; either that or the warmth of the vanilla is muting that brightness. Whatever it is, this is a nice intro to Earls if you’re afraid of that part. It’s still definitely there, with that wonderful heady Earl fragrance that gets me every time—I opened up my tumbler in the car and my husband went “Mmmm that smells good, fresh and orange-y!”—but the body and flavor are lighter than most I’ve tried. Yet it doesn’t feel wimpy or lacking. A nice “don’t think too much about it” Earl for busy days you need to be soothed, not knocked over the head with strong zesty elements.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

Sounds like a nice EG. I’m still missing my Jackson’s of Piccadilly . I don’t know, maybe it’s just a memory….

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1770 tasting notes

The Tea Merchant! You had me at the old timey wax seal on the paper around the tea envelopes! I discovered a couple weeks ago that I love love love creamy earl greys when I thought I wouldn’t like them at all. Now I want to try any and all creme earl grey and I was happy to try some samples from The Tea Merchant. This is GOOD stuff. The french vanilla, bergamot and black tea offers a triple threat of perfection. They work so so well together. The black tea has the perfect amount of flavor to showcase the bergamot and creme. It doesn’t get better than that except for the gorgeousness of the cornflowers. The second cup was just as delicious as the first. The best of the four creme earl greys I’ve had in the last few weeks. (I’m not sure how much alike the creme and the french vanilla are, but this tastes a lot like the Element Creme Earl Grey I have so I’m guessing it is pretty similar.)Creme Earl Grey is my new favorite type of tea and The Tea Merchant is my new favorite tea company! I can not wait to try anything else they make. (I LOVED the Silk Dragon they also sent in my sample package.) I will DEFINITELY be ordering this when I run out of all my creme earl greys!

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652 tasting notes

I will admit that I have never been able to tell the difference between French vanilla and regular old vanilla. It has always seemed to me that “French vanilla” taste can be achieved by using more regular old vanilla. I know it is supposed to be creamier when used in ice cream due to the egg base. Not sure how creamy is achieved when there is nothing but vanilla.

But, I will say that regardless of kind of vanilla, this smells and tastes very strongly of it. :) A nice creamy vanilla that mellows the bergamot. A good, strong black tea base that complements the other flavors well.

I have spent far too much time in the kitchen over the last couple of days preparing for my Christmas open house that was last night. So when I had to run out to finish up a bit of shopping today, I grabbed a package of Candy Cane Oreos. I wanted some cookies this afternoon but I didn’t want to take the time to bake again. They go very well with this tea! And, since they are peppermint, I will not have to share with my husband! So the package will last longer than 2 hours. :)

The tea may not last long enough. I’ll have to keep this one around for sure. I had originally thought that with the super cool packaging I might keep this one for a gift – I’m so glad I didn’t! :)

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec

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123 tasting notes

Sample package label:
“Organic high grown estate black tea hand blended with fragrant oil of bergamot and a hint of French Vanilla. Fresh citrus notes followed by a rich and robust finish complete this remarkable blend. Ingredients: Organic and Biodynamic Black Tea, organic cornflowers, organic oil of Bergamot, natural flavors. USDA Organic – Caffeine: Medium Steep 3 – 5 minutes – Fair Trade certified”

6-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 24 ppm, boiled, left to stand so only steaming hot

1 heaping Tevanna teaspoon: (After yesterday’s tasting of The Tea Merchant’s English Breakfast.)

This tea has a fragrance that’s different than classic Earl Grey.

Somewhat darker reddish hue than yesterday’s English Breakfast

First 5-min Infusion:
Stronger vanilla + citrus aroma followed by a smooth, rich & full- bodied taste. There’s also a note of cinnamon. There was zero hint of bitterness. There is almost no astringency, as compared to our current Earl Grey Cream from Whistling Kettle. Initially, I did not notice any. As the cup began to cool, there was a mild sense of it. The taste of lemon lingers long on the tongue.

2nd 5-min Infusion:
I was surprised that the French flavoring was still present.

Impression: “It’s complicated.” The unspecified additional natural ingredients that give this Earl Grey its rich full-bodied taste are 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. For those who prefer a classic Bergamot flavor, try The Tea Merchant’s organic Earl Grey. (See my next review.)

Thanks to The Tea Merchant for providing this generous size free sample. It’s a good thing that Joey Landford provided enough tea for more than one cup! My wife loves EG and could not wait for me to return home to try all his EG teas herself.

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21 tasting notes

What a way to wake up, breakfast in bed and new teas from The Tea Merchant!

First adventure into non-Teavana teas. Does not disappoint! I haven’t really liked earl grey teas, but now I think that is because of the quality I had.

Dry: Fresh vanilla and bergamot invites the senses. Leaves look terrific and I can see little blue pieces of flowers.

1 tsp to 8oz. Dark amber color. Strong and robust for me. Rich vanilla and bergamot. I mixed with some rock sugar and cream, and so divine! Will have to try pure next time. Great morning tea. Can’t wait to try the other teas I bought from The Tea Merchant during the 40% off sale. This might just encourage me to try more black teas as usually I’m more into oolong and herbals.

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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8 tasting notes

So i’m a big Organic and Fair Trade nut. So when my friends told me about this company that has those types of teas i knew i had to try.

Being a fan of earl grey and all things French i tried this blend first. I must say it was magnificent! The vanilla and bergamot compliment each other so well in this blend. perfectly balanced and the vanilla is so yummy! This will be my new go to tea!

205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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6 tasting notes

So this was extremely good. Don’t normally go for earl greys but apparently with French it is so much better! The vanilla highlights the bergamot and compliments it very well, this is a dangerous tea as i may start hoarding it! (if it last that long)
Anyways yah get this and be happy.

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