I think this is the last of my Simpson & Vail Earl Greys. It has a lot in common with the other two.

Usually I smell bergamot in Earl Grey dry leaf, sometimes eye-wateringly so, but whatever I smell usually smooths out and becomes must more mellow after steeping. I don’t smell bergamot in this dry leaf, unless it is the vaguely floral scent I’m smelling. I don’t smell citrus. I don’t really smell vanilla either. But I do smell a nice, solid, earthy black tea.

That tea also takes center stage in the aroma after steeping. It’s malty and sweet which makes me think there may be some Chinese black tea in the blend and I suspect there is some Ceylon because of the color. It has a deep red, almost garnet liquor. The description doesn’t say what sort of black tea is in the blend, but I am guessing it is similar to what is in the Earl Grey Aromatic, which contains both Ceylon and Chinese Blacks, as well as Assam and Darjeeling. I don’t get the heft of Assam here, but perhaps that’s the influence of the cream (even though I don’t smell cream).

In flavor, this is a tasty, sweet, medium-full bodied black tea with a floral note. Because I don’t really get a distinctive bergamot flavor, It doesn’t really taste like an Earl Grey to me, but then, neither did the S&V plain Earl Grey. I’m also not really tasting cream, which makes me want to do a side by side between this and the S&V non-creamy Earl.

Essentially, I have the same impression of this as an Earl Grey crème that I had of its sibling as an Earl Grey, which is to say I think the tea is lovely but it doesn’t really seem to meet the criteria for an Earl Grey, with the additional point that I don’t really get the crème either. Maybe my taster is off. I’ll try it side by side another time and see what happens. For now, rating it the same as its sibling.

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 30 sec 3 tsp 25 OZ / 750 ML

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I got obsessed with tea in 2010 for a while, then other things intruded, then I cycled back to it. I seem to be continuing that in for a while, out for a while cycle. I have a short attention span, but no shortage of tea.

I’m a mom, writer, gamer, lawyer, reader, runner, traveler, and enjoyer of life, literature, art, music, thought and kindness, in no particular order. I write fantasy and science fiction under the name J. J. Roth.

Personal biases: I drink tea without additives. If a tea needs milk or sugar to improve its flavor, its unlikely I’ll rate it high. The exception is chai, which I drink with milk/sugar or substitute. Rooibos and honeybush were my gateway drugs, but as my tea skills and tastes developed they became less appealing to me — but I still enjoy nicely done blends where the base doesn’t taste like hamster cage chips. I do not mix well with tulsi or yerba mate, and savory teas are more often a miss than a hit with me. That said, I’m not entirely a purist and I enjoy a good flavored tea, particularly flavored blacks.

I like all kinds of tea depending on time of day, mood, and the amount of time I have to pay attention to preparation. These days, I’ve been drinking primarily green tea during weekdays after my first cup of coffee. On weekends, I’ve been drinking only tea.

Since I find others’ rating legends helpful, I added my own. But I don’t really find myself hating most things I try.

I try to rate teas in relation to others of the same type, for example, Earl Greys against other Earl Greys. But if a tea rates very high with me, it’s a stand out against all other teas I’ve tried.

95-100 A once in a lifetime experience; the best there is

90-94 First rate; top notch; really terrific; will definitely buy more

80-89 Excellent; will likely buy more

70-79 Very good; would enjoy again, might buy again

60-69 Good; wouldn’t pass up if offered, but likely won’t buy again

Below 60 Meh, so-so, iffy, or ick. The lower the number, the closer to ick.

People have sent me tea on occasion, and I was once persuaded to send some Tazo Om to AmazonV. I’ve also done at least one group buy here on Steepster, the famous Doulton-led Dammann Freres experiment years ago. But mostly, I don’t swap. It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I have way more tea than any one person needs and am not lacking for new things to try. Also, I have way too much going on already in daily life and the additional commitment to get packages to people adds to my already high stress level. (Maybe it shouldn’t, but it does.)

That said, I enjoy reading folks’ notes, talking about what I drink, and getting to “know” people virtually here on Steepster so I can get ideas of other things I might want to try if I can ever again justify buying more tea. I also like keeping track of what I drink and what I thought about it, though I don’t put samples in my cupboard and not everything I have at any given time is showing in my cupboard. I do try to remember to remove things from my cupboard once I no longer have them.

I was an early internet adopter and have been online in various environments since around 1990. Steepster is one of the nicest online environments I’ve ever been privileged to participate in and that is saying something. :-)


Bay Area, California



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