Alvin’s of San Francisco

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Recent Tasting Notes

86

Thanks so much for the awesome swap, derk!  The swap was inspired by this tea — an Earl I’d never heard of before.  (Have to try ALL the bergamot.)  The leaves here are larger than is typically seen flavored with bergamot so I went with two loose teaspoons for a mug, so as not to spill any leaves all over the place… so it could really be 1 1/2 teaspoons if I was really packing the leaves into the teaspoon. The flavor is lovely this way but I will try it with less leaves next time anyway.   The black tea is brisk enough with two teaspoons, without being overpowering, but I didn’t really expect any astringency from these big leaves.  The bergamot is tasty — bright, strong citrus, sometimes hints of cream occasionally which is unexpected… or maybe I’m just imaginging this/wishing this.  I miss my unnatural as all getout cream EGs.  It’s amazing that some bergamot can be the best tasting flavor ever, but then others can be the most disgusting flavor.  Maybe this isn’t my favorite bergamot ever (it’s great!) but that will be tough to find these days (which is exactly the reason derk offered to send some of this over).  I will certainly enjoy the remainder of this sample! 
Steep #1  // 2 loose teaspoons for full mug // 20 minutes after boiling  // 2 minute steep
Steep #2  // 5 minutes after boiling //  3-4 min
2020 Sipdowns: 34 Teavivre – Moonlight Beauty

derk

You’re welcome :) It is a strong tea. The few times I’ve had it, I’ve used only a teaspoon for a mug. What would you say is your favorite Earl Grey?

Nattie

I was about to ask that too, @derk!

mrmopar

I like Stash Double Earl Grey.

tea-sipper

All my favorites are gone gone gone:
SpecialTeas- Earl Grey de la Creme (probably my favorite of ANY tea ever)
Element – Creme Earl Grey
Zen – original recipe Earl Grey Creme

Nattie

Okay I’m adding everything to my wishlist haha. I’m a sucker for an EG Crème.

tea-sipper

I hate to inform you Nattie, but those teas haven’t been available for years. :/

ashmanra

Earl Grey Supreme by Harney, Earl Grey Royale by The O Dor. (My fave is reblended and I don’t like the new base. I loved Nina’s Earl Grey when it had a Keemun base but I don’t like the Ceylon.)

Nattie

Oh nooo! I saw that the Element one was unavailable but didn’t notice the others. Why must the good EGCs be doomed? ):

Nattie

I totally didn’t see the bit where you said they were gone! Whoops…

Nattie

@ashmanra – I might try the Nina’s EG, I’m not usually a fan of Keemun so I might prefer the Ceylon base

derk

I’d love to try a keemun Earl Grey. If anybody finds one, lmk!

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95

I am not drinking this tea fast apparently.
I have used another 3 grams (7 are remaining) and brewed in 400 ml mug.

It turned out delicious, nice base and the citrusy notes! Wow! Smooth, enjoyable, Earl Grey, without any flaws, any astringency or some artifical notes.

If I ever travel over there, I will bring box to my father who loves Earl Greys!

Preparation
3 g 400 OZ / 11829 ML

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95

How weird Easter holidays. Chuch meeting via Internet. It’s nice to hear all the people I know, but unfortunately we can’t shake each other hands. I miss it.

Anyway, this should be about the tea.
I took smaller amount than last time, shorter time too.
It was less tea-like, more citrusy, not only bergamot. Zest of different citrus fruits. Very aromatic, but just light and right. And nicely malty.

Good cuppa! (93→95)

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus Zest, Malt

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 3 g 10 OZ / 300 ML

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95

I brewed this tea western. 2 tsp / 300 ml. Ball strainer. 4 minutes.

A tea from derk. Highly rated here, but I will go lower a bit. It is a decent EG for sure, but there is something I miss. More below.

I slept finally fairly well, but not much. Waking up in 8 am sounds much better than 5 though. I wasn!t really sure which tea I wanted, but I wanted something good, if possible black or green. I did not want to make an oolong, which is kind of strange, because I really started to like oolongs recently. Maybe that bad experience with last one changed my mind somehow? I don’t know.

Anyway, I took two teaspoons of this very aromatic tea into my ball strainer. It is very dirty as I was using it very often, so tea stains everywhere, even I washed it in hand and throughly. I should buy a new strainer, maybe some big one, instead of those ball ones. The tea looks pretty! It is indeed with long leaves, no BOP or just some dust. It is full leaves, just curled. That is always a good sign, and honestly, I am not sure if I saw something like that for Earl Grey before.

As I said, it is indeed very aromatic, even derk packed it twice in airtight packs. If she didn’t made it, I think all teas would get slightly EG aroma.

After four minutes of steeping I took the strainer out, and result was copper oclour brew. It was really nice to watch, although it is “only tea”. Aroma was certainly citrusy and mostly the bergamot I notice, but there were also base tea qualities as for example the maltiness.

When sipped, an explosion of citrus fruits came into my mouth, following with malt. As I brewed it probably too strong, it was drying. But the caffeine boost is so amazing now, I am almost shaking, adrenaline bit rushed in my blood as well. Only downside today is that everybody is at home today, but nieces and my brother (they went skiing), so I can’t really focus on school stuff I really need to finish today. Another brother took home office, so I can’t use his big screen, which is annoying because of huge Excel files I need to make. They have around 1300 rows, 10 collums and 4 sheets.

Anyway, this tea just missing one thing I like on my favourite EGs and it is bit smokiness in taste. It isn’t bad, just missing just this one.

TL;DR: Great Earl Grey, high quality leaf, with explosion of citruses and bergamot mostly. I miss bit of smokiness only.

Big thank you derk!

Flavors: Bergamot, Citrus Zest, Citrusy, Malt

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 4 min, 0 sec 2 tsp 10 OZ / 300 ML
Shae

This one sounds so good! If you don’t mind me asking, what is your favorite Earl Grey? I love the idea of some smokiness with the bergamot. I’ve never had that before.

gmathis

I love tea care packages from friends! I coo and paw over them like Gollum and his Precious. Sounds like yours was a real treasure box.

Martin Bednář

Shae: My favourite I found recently (but from tea bag) was Fortnum and Mason EG. Maybe their loose leaf is bit different. My tea bags were quite old as well, so I am not really sure. And first one I really liked was Impra Tea Company, but can’t recall it much, as it was maybe 10 years ago?

gmathis: yeah, just the shipping is nightmare and annoying postal workers even bigger. But derk sent me nice collection of teas and I hope I sent good ones too!

Shae

Martin: I will look for these – thank you! I’ve heard of Fortnum and Mason but not Impra.

Ashmanra: I picked up a tin of this to try but haven’t opened it yet. I don’t think I realized it was a smoky one!

Martin Bednář

I am not really sure if they still exist! I haven’t heard of them in ages and apparently their teas are not available here as well. But as I said, I m not sure if it is smoky at all. And mostly, I do not mean heavily smoked. just a tiny bit :)

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100

Very nice Darjeeling. Interesting flavor.

Flavors: Cream, Fruity, Muscatel

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 2 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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100

This is pretty great Ceylon tea. Nice and crisp with a dry finish.

Flavors: Cedar, Leather, Nutty

Preparation
200 °F / 93 °C 3 min, 0 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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100

This is the best Earl Grey I have ever tasted. PERIOD!!!

Flavors: Bergamot, Flowers, Lemon, Orange

Preparation
190 °F / 87 °C 3 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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100

My husband and I are in love with Persian choice earl grey. We have been drinking it for over 10 years!

Flavors: Bergamot, Fruity, Leather, Lemon

Preparation
Boiling 2 min, 45 sec 1 tsp 12 OZ / 354 ML

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100

After searching high &slow for the perfect Earl Grey, I found Persian Choice! Wow what a surprise. We did a full steep Persian style where the tea was heated in a kettle on medium heat for about an hour. We poured about a shot of super dark tea into a cup and added hot water. (25 off boil) what an ejouable cup! Deep bergamot with almost a spiced tone. This is by far the best earl grey I have ever had.

Flavors: Bergamot, Dark Wood, Spicy, Sweet

Preparation
Boiling 4 min, 30 sec 1 tsp 8 OZ / 236 ML

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Sample package label: “Persian Choice Royal Earl Grey”

Per: http://www.alvinsofsf.com/persian-choice-royal-earl-grey-tea.html
“12oz Box; First Place Winner in the North American Tea Championship. Pungent, Robust, Smooth finish, Very complex body”

Details (See above)

Thanks to Hovik Azadkhanian at Alvin’s of San Francisco for the recommended brewing instructions: 1 tsp. / 205*F / 8oz.
“Steep Time is around 2 minutes. Again, this part is totally up to you. Many people steep for less time and then re-steep a second time.”

Given my wife’s love of Earl Grey tea and the First Place Earl Grey award in the 2011 North American Tea Championship, we were very interested to taste this tea.

Technique:
8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F and allowed to cool to 205*F – verified with DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer.

1 Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

This tea has a fresh Bergamot fragrance perhaps with a hint of licorice.

Dry leaf – blackish brown long leaves

Infused Leaf – Bright coppery hue

First cup:
2-min: Smooth, pleasing, balanced, med.-bodied I then steeped it an additional min.
3-min: Smooth, medium- to full-bodied with a fresh mild lemon aroma and a lemon flavor at the finish. No hint of bitterness, astringency, or tartness.
4-min: Now nearly full-bodied

Second cup: 1.5 tsp.. / 205*F / 8oz.
2-min: Smooth, full-bodied with a fresh mild lemon aroma and mild lemon tartness. No hint of bitterness or astringency.

Third cup: 1.5 tsp.. / 205*F / 8oz.
3-min.: Smooth, full-bodied with a fresh mild lemon aroma and mild lemon tartness. No hint of bitterness or astringency.

Impression: This EG is a smooth medium- to full-bodied tea with a fresh mild lemon aroma and without any bitterness or astringency. My cup was empty before I knew it. My wife enjoyed this tea but didn’t find it to be “The EG” she’s been seeking. She prefers a strong black tea base with an equally strong Bergamot aroma and flavor.

Thanks to Hovik Azadkhanian for providing this generous size free sample.

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Sample package label: “Ceylon Black”

Per: http://www.alvinsofsf.com/tea/black-tea/ceylon-black.html:
“Black Orange Pekoe, Ultra high grade, Extra long leaf size, Fresh floral bouquet with sweet citrus and cucumber notes and a dry finish.

Details
Our Ceylon teas come from the very best sources in Sri Lanka. Grown in the Highlands of Ceylon, this amazing black tea is the finest on the planet. Picked from the Camellia Sinensis plant this high grade Orange Pekoe leaf yields a fresh floral bouquet with sweet citrus tones. Hints of fresh picked grapefruit and cucumber with a dry grainy finish. This is our absolute favorite un-blended black tea leaf. CERTIFIED ORGANIC, FAIR TRADE, KOSHER tea leaves."

Thanks to Hovik Azadkhanian at Alvin’s of San Francisco for the recommended brewing instructions: 1 tsp. / 205*F / 8oz.
“Steep Time is around 2 minutes. Again, this part is totally up to you. Many people steep for less time and then re-steep a second time.”

Technique:
8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F and allowed to cool to 205*F – verified with DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer. Brewed in a closed vessel – teacup w/lid:
1 Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

This tea has a strong pleasant fragrance that reminds me of licorice.
Dry leaf – blackish brown
Infused Leaf – Bright coppery hue

First cup:
2-min: Smooth, med.-bodied I then steeped it an additional min.
3-min: Smooth, bright & full-bodied with notes of cucumber, a light floral aroma, and a dry finish. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency.

4-min re-steep:
Smooth & a little lighter than the first infusion, but very enjoyable.

Impression: This Ceylon is a smooth full-bodied tea with hints of cucumber and without any bitterness or astringency. My cup was empty before I knew it. Very well done!

This tea changed my perceptions Ceylon tea. Previously, I’ve tasted a few Earl Grey teas that had a Ceylon base and were too astringent to be enjoyable. I guess the makers of these EG teas may have used a lower-grade Ceylon to reduce their cost and hoped the Oil of Bergamot would somehow hide it.

Thanks to Hovik Azadkhanian for providing this generous size free sample.

Preparation
205 °F / 96 °C 3 min, 0 sec
ashmanra

Ceylons grown at higher altitudes also seem to be more astringent. Kenilworth Ceylon is a very good one, in my opinion, or a blend of some of the lower elevation Ceylons. A Southern Season has a very nice Ceylon Extra Fancy with some of the biggest leaves you have ever seen, but it is smooth and rich, not too lemony or tart.

looseTman

Thanks for your suggestions. I’ll have to try them!

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Sample package label: “Autumn Darjeeling”
Per: http://www.alvinsofsf.com/tea/specialty-teas-and-blends/seeyok-autumnal-darjeeling.html
“Malty, muscatel, and spicy notes; smooth yet complex flavor, Autumnal 2nd flush. Organic, Fair Trade
Details
Deep in the Mirik Valley of Darjeeling in West Bengal India, comes this autumn harvest 2nd flush Darjeeling tea from the Seeyok plantation. Its has a strong body with a refreshing crisp finish with strong hints of Mustat, malt and spices. A perfect morning or early afternoon tea. Certified Organic and Fair Trade.”

Thanks to Hovik Azadkhanian at Alvin’s of San Francisco for the recommended brewing instructions: 1 tsp. / 195*F / 8oz. / 2 minutes. “To really enjoy the complexity of the tea leaves I personally leave them in for a bit longer though this is totally up to you. (Sometimes I don’t even take them out!)”

Technique:
8-oz water with total dissolved solids (TDS) of 26 ppm, heated to 212*F and allowed to cool to 195*F – verified with DAVIDsTEA digital thermometer.
1 Tevanna teaspoon, without sweeteners, milk or cream.

The fragrance of this tea is very enticing, but what is it? – A new very pleasing experience.
Dry leaf – blackish brown
Infused Leaf – Bright coppery hue

First cup:
2-min: Smooth, light- to med.-bodied I then steeped it an additional min.
3-min: med.-bodied
4-min: Smooth, lively & full-bodied with a malty character and a clean finish. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency

5-min re-steep:
Smooth & a little lighter than the first infusion, but very enjoyable.

2nd cup (same as above, but brewed in a closed vessel – teacup w/lid):
4-min: Smooth, lively & full-bodied with a malty character and a clean finish. There was zero hint of bitterness or astringency. However, I now can appreciate the hints of muscatel. It reminds me of white grapes.

Impression: A very enjoyable Darjeeling – a smooth, full-bodied, malty tea with hints of muscatel and without any bitterness or astringency. Well Done!

Thanks to Hovik Azadkhanian for providing this generous size free sample.

Preparation
195 °F / 90 °C 4 min, 0 sec

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