drank Earl Lavender by Samovar
1239 tasting notes

I have been starting my day with Tazo Earl Grey since I have a lot of bags of it left (not the full leaf sachets, which I plowed through already, but the other kind). The taste isn’t all bad, though it’s strong on the bergamot. But something about it can give me a tummy ache at times. I’m guessing it is the acidity of the citrus, mixed with the black tea. My other Earl Grey experiences are limited to bagged tea by Numi, Twinings and Bigelow, all of which were satisfactory enough to make me want to try loose Earl Grey. This is my first foray into that, though I have some other sample sets on order.

Let me just say that the difference between any of those I have tried and Samovar’s Earl Lavender is, to put it mildly, astonishing. In fact, I was tempted to start this entire note out with “so this is what a really really GOOD Earl Grey tastes like?” but I didn’t because I don’t have other loose leaf experience for comparison.

First, there’s the way it smells. I’m getting a brown sugary smell, which is delicious, mixed with a gentle lavender, and just a tiny bit of citrus. Then there’s the way it feels. Thick and silky, and it coats your mouth in a pleasing way. Then there’s the way it tastes. Here’s where the resemblance to other Earl Greys comes in most directly. It definitely has a flavor in the same ballpark as those; you’d recognize it if you drank it blindfolded. But there is so much more to it. A smooth black tea base that isn’t distracting and doesn’t overpower, nor is it overpowered by, the other flavors. A lavender floral scent/taste that takes the edge off the citrus, and a citrus that is present but not perfumy or oily.

This is my second Samovar sample, and I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that theirs are exceptionally well-blended teas. But that isn’t news to most of you here. :-)

205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec

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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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