O hai, steepsterites.
This was one of the free samples I got with the first of my Chi of Tea orders, and I’ve been eyeing it suspiciously ever since.
I’m sceptical about this. I’m not really a great fan of Earl Grey or bergamot in general, and I’m definitely not a fan of Darjeeling either. I find the bergamot flavour easily turns into something that can best be described as perfumed dust. Bit like drinking an attic. As for my Darjeeling reservations, it’s the extreme spicyness of it that puts me off. It’s too grass-y and prickly for me and my overall impression of a Darjeeling tea most often end up being of something sour.
So I’ve been avoiding this sample for a while. Today, I saw that I had to have it though, as the corner of the sample bag had started to tear a bit. Very well, let’s get it over with.
Let’s start with the beginning. Apparently this one is a Darjeeling oolong blend, with bergamot and vanilla cream. That’s three things, only one of which I actually find appealing. That said, when smelling the dry leaves, it wasn’t completely off-putting. The bergamot was rather strong and dusty and the tea aroma itself didn’t show up at all, but there was a touch of vanilla cream underneath all the bergamot dust, which sort of saved the day for me.
After steeping, the bergamot is still strong, but it’s a lot less aggressive. The vanilla cream is clearly detectable as well, and the Darjeeling still keeping its nose out of things. Overall, it’s a quite sweet smell with aspects of dairy, so it’s not unlike something that might have made for an interesting dessert. Like some sort of flavoured panna cotta, for example.
It’s at this point that I suddenly remember that at some point I got to try some sort of cream Earl Grey before, having received it in a swap with… with… uh, with… At any rate, I remember now that I quite liked it. Perhaps there’s hope for this one yet.
The flavour is definitely Earl Grey. The Darjeeling is still sticking to the background, being little more than just a base to carry the flavouring, but I am getting that sour sort of aftertaste from it. If your average Earl Grey is like drinking an attic, then this is like drinking an attic with milk in it.
To go into a little more detail, there’s a lot of creamyness when sipping and a touch of vanilla. On top of that we have the bergamot, most of the dusty flavour of it being weighed down by the cream, so that it’s primarily the citrus-y aspects that are coming through.
The oolong it’s based on isn’t really coming through at all. I’m getting the sour aftertaste that I recognise from Darjeeling teas, but mostly the differences between an Earl Grey based on a black and an Earl Grey based on an oolong are present in absences. The absence of detectable tea base. The absence of notes of astringency or bitterness. The result here is much smoother and much more flavouring focused.
As Earl Greys go, I like it. But I wouldn’t go out and invest in it, as it doesn’t change my mind on neither Earl Grey nor Darjeeling.