There’s this certain Diner- restaurant I visit that happens to be connected to a grocery store (for any MN folks- the Minnesota Grill at Byerly’s). Sure, it’s a blue-haired crowd, and it’s always empty, but the food is cheap and really genuinely good.

I’ve gone about six or seven times in the past two seasons, but every time we’ve gone, I’ve arrived cold and in the mood for tea. They’ll bring out a big box full of bagged Republic of Tea teas, and this is always the one I choose.

Steep time is usually about a minute and a half. I am extremely sensitive to bitterness (ie: some salad fixings are too bitter for me to get down, so yes, it’s kind of extremely lame), so I’m always really conservative with this one.
But given my short steep times, it does very well! Earl Greys will always remind me of our trip to Maine, and this one is no different. This is especially true because the bergamot scenting leans more heavily on the blueberry side of things rather than the citrus side of things. I think I generally prefer it this way. Bergamots that have extreme citrus notes are a little bright for me, and combined with the lower quality bases used, just swing me hard into bitterness. The sweet blueberry nature of this makes is a go-to tea when I’m out and about at a restaurant (I never remember to bring my own tea, plus I don’t want to be rude, and I also want to support any place that’s even offering tea).

As for the black tea base of this one, it’s not too bad. Then again, I also never ever let it steep long at all, but given that it’s dust in a bag, I have to applaud Republic of Tea for putting together a blend that’s balanced and so darn cheap. Wherever their dustings/fannings come from, good for them. Of course, I’d prefer loose, but you can’t always have that. So pretty good job guys.

The weaknesses in the tea come out when the mug cools or when you’ve been sipping for a good long time (over a meal, perhaps). As you get to the bottom of the cup, there’s a bit of sticky dryness the prickles in the back of the throat. It’s not intense, but it can build, so this is one I’d probably prefer to drink quickly as a beverage to quench my thirst and warm me up rather than curl up with while reading, etc, over a long period. Also, as it sits, the bergamot scenting edges towards a lemony-pine-sol sort of thing. Not bad enough to stop drinking, but definitely enough to get me to just pay the check and leave our booth- not going to sit and savor.

So, in a pinch, this is a great one to have on hand. Perfectly drinkable blueberry-bergamot flavor, especially if steeped for a short time and consumed quickly. I’m always glad to see it available as an option, because hey! It’s an option! For tea! At a restaurant in America! Woah!!
No, I wouldn’t stock this at home or probably recommend it for my office because you can do better, but that’s not always what tea is for. It’s a good baseline I’m pleased to see being established. Anything lower quality than this has just no excuse. Yes- I’m looking at you, Bigelow Earl Grey tea. Last time I had you on a shoot, I steeped you for a minute, and you were still unkind to me. But it was either that or coffee, and you I just can’t do that.

205 °F / 96 °C 1 min, 30 sec

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I generally drink Chinese teas.

I love things that are interesting, that force me to stop and think about and enjoy what I’m experiencing. Even better are those teas you just have to drink with a friend so that the outpouring of tastes and memories find a sounding board in a trusted companion.

I’m into tea as an experience rather than just a thirst quenching beverage. I love to learn- there’s so much to learn about tea.

I also prefer my teas to be exceedingly delicious, if at all possible. Luckily, I have great tea friends and teachers that can hook me up with the good stuff.

Something I’ve noticed about my ratings:
I tend to use Steepster more like Yelp and less like Twitter. I’ll generally only review a tea once in its life (though that review and rating might be edited over time to reflect changes in my own understanding of it).
I do not generally log each tea I’m drinking as I drink, since that feels like a distraction- I’d rather just drink the tea!
I tend to only review teas I really love or that I really did not enjoy. If it falls somewhere in the middle of “meh” and “that was pretty good, I suppose,” then I won’t be compelled to sit down and spend time giving a nice, fleshed out review and rating.
As such, it might seem like I give out high scores willy-nilly. Instead, I’m doing my first round of rating mentally off-site, and presenting only the teas I really want to share with everyone.


Richfield, MN

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