Fortnum & MasonEdit Company
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Recent Tasting Notes
This is one of the Fortnum blends I was most excited about and it did not let me down.
I am not a big Earl Grey fan. Bergamot on Ceylon is too, too sour for me. Bergamot on Keemun is very nice. Even bergamot with white tea is better than most standard Earl Grey to my tastes.
I have had Smoky Earl Grey before and liked it. It was the Earl or Harlem from the Ambessa line by Harney and Sons. I guessed this one would be good, too, and it is.
I like lapsang and I like it strong, so this was right up my alley. I felt it was only medium smoke though I see from reviews that some folks disagree and that’s okay. The bergamot is second player here and that suits me.
There are three tins of Earl Grey Classic in the advent and I wondered what on earth I was going to do with them. (Neither Ashman nor tea party guest like bergamot.) This has inspired me. I think I will try mixing it with my Russian Caravan. Of course, I will try it plain first!
EDIT TO CORRECT: If one puts one’s glasses on, there are NOT three tins of Earl Grey Classic in the advent. There is only one. Another has the word “green” in teeny tiny letters and the remaining tin that I mistook for a plain Earl was actually Victoria Earl.
My first reaction was nope but as I sip it isn’t so bad. It is lovely if you love standard Assam and probably really good if you drink English style tea with milk and sugar. I try to have my tea plain always.
Compared to Queen Anne, this is heavier on the Assam and more tannic. Compared to Breakfast Blend – gosh, it seems really similar but maybe is a little stronger? My tongue is orange. It’s one of those.
A hint of smoke or toast (that could be the incense that just wafted into my face), a touch of bitterness, a little metallic but not much. So a pretty typical breakfast blend with Assam and nothing to write home about. It is okay, but I wouldn’t re-purchase.
Queen Anne wins so far in the unflavored Fortnum blends catagory.
It was a week ago that we tried this one so I may not remember it as well as I would like, but I want to add a note on Queen Anne and wanted to have the comparison easy to view again later.
I was hoping this would be one of that select group of black teas that Ashman likes without milk and sugar. It was not, and I knew it would not be as soon as I smelled it. I was so sure, in fact, that I put milk, sugar, and whipped cream on the table at his right hand. I figured he could tolerate it like a Friesian blend if nothing else.
I drank it plain, and found it to be a not so special breakfast blend, but probably pleasing enough to anyone who likes standard milk and sugar breakfast teas. It was a little bitter and tannic, but it wasn’t awful.
Ashman sipped, winced, and added all the things. He said it was decent with additions, but not a favorite. Keep in mind that there are only about two black teas he likes plain and even my beloved Queen Catherine is one I drink alone.
I was not too worried about the fact that I have a whole bunch of Fortnum teas to go, because I love their Rose Pouchong so I knew it wasn’t going to be a store-wide dislike of their teas.
Ah, now THAT’S more like it. After Breakfast Blend being a bit disappointing for me (so tannic!) and Ashman only liking it with milk and sugar, I hoped this one would be more to my liking. And it is!
I didn’t look it up before making it but there was no mistaking the scent of Ceylon tea when I opened the tin. I gathered it had Assam as well and steeped accordingly. I am having the loose leaf version.
Bright, medium strong, very smooth, slightly drying but not sour, oaky, a little malty. I do not need any additions at all to enjoy this but I can guess that Ashman would prefer it with milk and sugar. Will update if he ever drinks this one.
I will enjoy this one! It is just the right strength for me at breakfast. Next up – Royal Blend.
Strawberry flavored teas are pretty much always a hit with Ashman, and I like them myself. Our first was Marco Polo by Mariage Freres and it was excellent but finicky. Most of the strawberry teas we have tried are strawberry AND…something else like cream, yogurt (boy, that was a good one), coconut, or chocolate.
This one is strawberry. Dry leaves smell like strawberry in a big way. Steeped cup – yep, strawberry. We liked it a lot. I felt like the aroma and taste matched those strawberry hard candies that are wrapped in red strawberry print plastic and have a soft center, so I would call this more strawberry candy flavor than real garden strawberry. Or maybe strawberry pie filling? But it doesn’t taste sweet and there is no added sweetener.
A good tea from the advent box from which I am utterly ignoring the numbers on the doors, or even the month I am supposed to drink this. With 600 grams of tea in this puppy, it is going to take more than a month to finish it.
Drink it this is good. Not as strong as they advertised (maybe depends on how you brew it), it’s sweet with a little bitterness, but at the same time still provides you enough flavour of black teas, I like this a lot. Easy to drink and makes you want more.
I got this in loose leaf, very beautiful and large particles of CTC Assam, uniform in size. You get a deep red tea. Nice malty aroma, certainly a little bitter but fits my likings. I sometimes brew a concentrated version for sweet malty milktea.
Flavors: Malt, Tannin
This is probably a discontinued tea by now, but my cousin in the UK sent it to me a couple years ago and it has been quite the staple for me. I’m by no means a fan of the British Monarchy (I’m South Asian-American with Scottish and Irish roots, after all), but this is a very good tea in a very charming (and very royal) tin. The tea leaves are decently intact despite what seemed to be an adventurous trip with the British Royal Post, judging from the way the shipping box showed up, and they brew up into a robust, malty, incredibly satisfying breakfast-style tea. Perfect for a busy leader of an Imperialist nation (or me, I guess).
There is a lovely creamy pistachio scent from the dry tea. This tea brews to a lovely amber and the scent of the cream and pistachio lingers in the cup as well. And it tastes of pistachios and faintly of the cream. I found this tea to be delightful and it’s a new favorite of mine. I have drunk several cups in the past couple of weeks and it never disappoints. Highly recommend.
Flavors: Creamy, Nutty
One of Lexa’s friends brought this back when she was last in the UK and I figured I would make it this afternoon in the interest of a sipdown (this is my last easy one). Though I maybe should’ve waited until the season 4 premier of The Crown.
This is a somewhat intense black breakfast-ish tea. It’s definitely got some astringency and would probably be better with milk and/or sugar. I maaay add some frothed almond milk, but also I’m a bit lazy to get off the couch haha!
There was a huuuuge tin of this in the tea box, and the smoky scent was much too strong. I put it back thinking that I definitely wouldn’t like it, but hey, what’s a tea box for if not expanding your horizons? I just put the tea in my cup and strained it instead of using a steeper because I didn’t want my steeper to be permanently scented. It’s that strong. I added lots of sugar and milk to try to tame the smokiness. It’s super smoky and meaty. I don’t dislike it as much as I expected, but I spent several days trying to finish my large mug and never could. There’s not much bergamot here, unfortunately. I really can’t picture someone enjoying this, but I guess there are plenty of people who do!
As I said in a tasting note a day or two ago for Fortnum’s Russian Caravan, last weekend I went to a teahouse with three friends. I didn’t order this tea, it was the selection of one of the friends I was with – however he kindly poured me the last teacup worth from his pot so that I could try it as well!
Smoky Earl Grey doesn’t appeal to me as a concept – I think that’s too busy/aggresive in terms of flavour profile. Lapsang is already a VERY intense/bold flavour, and Earl Grey also has the potential to be quite intense and aromatic. Combined? That’s a fine line you’re walking, good sir!
That said – my pot of selection tea, the Russian Caravan, had been VERY thin tasting and felt under leafed so switching from that somewhat disappointing infusion to this one was like drinking water after walking for miles in a hot dessert. What would normally have been borderline for me was rich flavour compared to a disappointing first pot of tea. I actually liked it a lot in this situation even if it wasn’t something that normally would have spoken to me.
From a few weekends ago – I went out for afternoon tea with three friends and the little cafe/tea house we went at served and sold Fortnum and Mason teas! This is the one that I ordered for myself, just a little pot of it with an apple and cheddar scone!
I feel like the pot was under leafed, but I didn’t want to complain/be “that person” at the cafe. However, this was very thin tasting and not all that smokey/robust at all. I’ve had this tea before, and it just wasn’t what I remember Fortnum’s Russian Caravan tasting like at all. This was soft smoke, and gentle oolong and a Russian Caraven should slap you in the face with its briskness.
The scone was really good though – I liked the smoky apple combo!
Here is a bit of an update on the “why is this Keemun called a Pouchong on the label?” topic.
No one knows.
And that is from the horse’s mouth.
All respect to Fortnum and Mason because I have had excellent customer service regarding this question. I emailed them asking why a Keemun that is labeled a Keemun in the ingredient list would be called pouchong by name. Explained that pouchong means “the wrapped kind” and queried if Keemun could be wrapped in such a manner.
I was first contacted by customer service and the gentleman said he was as perplexed as I, and would investigate. I truly did not expect to hear from anyone ever again. A couple of weeks later I had another email saying that he had not found the answer yet and was contacting someone further up in the supply chain. Another wait and another email comes saying they are all perplexed and have no answer except that perhaps it really is a Keemun that is wrapped at some point but no one he found to question knows. Apologies were offered for the lack of more information. I assure him my enjoyment of the tea was not lessened.
Did someone see the word Pouchong one day and decide it sounded fancy and possibly MEANT fancy and stuck it on a Keemun tea in a board meeting? Who knows?
Bottom line – really nice Keemun with rich, round, almost oily rose flavor. Resteeps well. Definitely all Keemun and no Pouchong in sight.
I guess everyone has seen the post, either here or on Facebook, that Adagio is going to be running Steepster henceforth. I hope it doesn’t change too much! This is my 90% of my social life! Ha ha!
I can’t believe this was not already in my cupboard, as Superanna gave it to me a while back and I have drunk it many times.
This is a Keemun tea with rose flavor, slightly less rose-y than Rose Scented by Harney and Sons, and with deeper, darker tea notes due to the base being Keemun instead of Ceylon. Both are great, and this one is better for my husband who doesn’t like his tea too terribly floral.
It does not need milk and sugar to smooth or sweeten, but it is strong enough that I feel it would be really great that way if that is how you prefer your tea.
Any idea why they call it pouchong? Pouchong is Bao Zhong. This is Keemun and to all taste and appearance is black tea. I hope someone knows and will enlighten me!
It was a great pot of tea to start my day!
An Ode to Tea challenge – R
Sipdown! I REALLY need to get to trying a few of these other neglected teas that Meowster sent me ages ago. I actually cringe while thinking of them, the teas patiently waiting. I finished this one though? A nice thick, strong breakfast blend – tasting slightly of tomato soup and pumpernickel bread. Nice to try it!
2021 sipdowns:49 (This + 52Teas – Gingerbread House genmaicha)
From Meowster a while back! Thank you! Very small leaf here — meaning very tough stuff. Dark, deep, robust. Not easy to pick out particular flavors. It is simply black tea, which begs the question why this one is named “Royal” — because it apparently was blended for a King. I don’t think he would find this at all spectacular. If anything, it definitely tastes like assam with occasional flavors of Ceylon peeking through, so it definitely is what it says it is! Next time sipdown.
Steep #1 // 1 1/3 teaspoons for full mug // 18 minutes after boiling // 2 minute steep
Steep #2 // just boiled // 3 min steep
2020 Sipdowns: 40 Whispering Pines – Golden Orchid
Delicious and refreshing. I love having this in the morning. I have been seeking out different earl grey and none have hit the spot like this one. The bergamot is strong and the goes well with the mellow green tea. The green tea is not one of those astringent green teas. I honestly think I enjoy the green based earl greys more than the black tea based ones.