Greetings fellow Steepsterites! Yes, I have been woefully MIA for the past while, due to a couple of main reasons. One, I have a new obsession with knitting (anyone here on Ravelry?) and two, my tea pantry is rather full. These two factors have combined in such a way that it means that I am adding very little new tea to my pantry (currently I am in sip down mode – I’m down to 75 teas!) and spending most of my money on yarn (though I did finally cave and get A&D’s Double Knit, Tiger Assam and Mount Gray. More on those in future.) Just in case my love of tea and half a dozen cats didn’t cement my status as a nerd, I think adding knitting to the mix does.
Anyway, even when focused on drinking through some teas, I still can’t say no to trying new things. Which is how I ended up with this little tea (and a couple others). So yes, keep in mind during this review that this is a tea provided by Whittard, not purchased with my yarn money.
As some of you may remember, I am on the hunt for the perfect Earl Grey. WWJLPD. (What Would Jean Luc Picard Drink…. what was I saying about my nerd status?) So far, I have come close but haven’t hit THE tea. Will this be it? No clue!
It does start off strong. The smell of the dry leaf is really neat. It’s so easy for EGs to go perfumey but this one doesn’t. Instead it smells spicy and earthy and really nice. I sniffed the bag the entire time my tea was brewing. I suppose the earthy could be the tea, but given the strong scent of the bergamot, I kind of think the tea isn’t going to play much of a role here.
Post-steeping the liquor is really dark. Seriously, when I made the husband’s tea, it looked like coffee before I added the creamer. Not a good or bad thing, but an interesting one, I think. Smell-wise, it’s a bit sweeter and lighter than the dry leaf which edges it a bit into perfume territory, but not in a bad way. In a ‘yum, I’d wear that everyday’ way instead of that ‘OMG, what is that old lady wearing? You can smell her half a mile off’ kind of way (the latter of which tends to be the perfumey way most EGs smell).
I feel I must interject for a moment before I continue. While I am on the hunt for the proper EG (WWJLPD), I tend to be massively disappointed with EGs more often than not. I’ll admit, I was expecting this one to go the same way. Especially since my first sampling of this was with no sugar or milk (though a rather short steep time). So it is with rather a lot of surprise that I must report:
Crap people, this is good. The initial note is bergamot. Like, bergamot. As in the fruit. Maybe a bit of bergamot peel, even. It’s obvious and noticeable yet not overwhelming. The tea is definitely the backup singer to the bergamot. It’s a bit indistinct and bit muddy but it’s solid and full-bodied and feels silky. I definitely like how it feels. (I’ve been subjected to a lot of Twinings English Breakfast in the past week which must be drunk with milk to make it tolerable but even then, it has a bit of a starchy, cardboard-ish mouthfeel. This is positively decadent compared to that so I very much appreciate it.) There’s a touch of bitterness at the end of the sip, but it’s not from the tea. It’s kind of a peel/pith tingly note from the bergamot. Tea-wise, the end is very clean with no astringency or bitterness. As the tea cools a bit, I get a slight touch of tacky feeling in my mouth after a sip which tells me that, with some encouragement, this tea could go astringent, but I’m okay with that because I think that quality helps make a tea good with milk and sugar (a necessity in the perfect EG since the husband takes his morning tea doctored).
While I’m not ready to marry an EG based on one tasting, I’ll admit, this one has me rather excited. I could totally see this as answering the question of WWJLPD.
Sigh, it looks like my Steepster absence has not changed my inability to write a short review! I have two more Whittard teas (both EGs!) to review and a few A&D teas so I shall try to be a better tea reviewer in the future. If I can tear myself away from my knitting. (I’m currently making socks.)