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Monday, December 20, 2010

Review: The Boston Tea Company’s Earl Grey Citrus Tea

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The Subject:  Earl Grey Citrus
Company:The Boston Tea Company [More info]

Flavored Tea Rating:

About the new rating designation.

Flavorings work with tea?  Yes
Tea can be tasted?Yes
Flavor blend balanced?Yes

Water temperature:212° F
Steeping time:4-6 mins. (we did 5 mins.)
Tea type:Assam
Additions:Oil of Bergamot, Citrus, Cornflowers
Aroma, dry leaves:  Oil of Bergamot dominates

1st Infusion:  Used 2 cups of water
Aroma, plain —  Malty, faint citrus/cornflower
Taste, plain —Mild, not bitter, citrus, herbal, tea flavor
Color, plain —Reddish
Taste, enhanced —  Smooth, flavors still come thru
2nd Infusion:Used 1 cup of water
Aroma, plain —  Faint citrus/cornflower
Taste, plain —Milder, citrus, herbal, more Oil of Bergamot
Color, plain —Lighter reddish

Once upon a time, I drank Earl Grey almost exclusively. Then, my tastebuds did a big shift away from it. No particular reason. These days, the rich malty-caramelly taste of a good Assam or the fruity notes of an estate Darjeeling or even the subtle nuances of an Oolong like Dan Cong is what I usually reach for. This tea, while not one we would probably enjoy on a daily basis, could certainly be one to have with some frequency.

One thing that was a bit irksome was that the cornflowers were not listed on the front label of the package. When we opened the pouch, we saw them and checked the company’s Website to confirm what they were. Then, we searched online for more information on cornflowers being used in teas. It seems that they are frequently one of the blossoms added, including in Lady Grey from another tea company. Ok, we were comforted that we weren’t about to consume something weird and went ahead with the tasting.

The other strange thing that came to mind about this tea and that had made us interested in trying it in the first place was that it was citrus added to a tea flavored with a citrus (Bergamot is a citrus fruit). Again, once we opened the pouch, the mystery was solved. Those of you familiar with Earl Grey teas know the smell of Oil of Bergamot, sort of smoky citrusy. Adding pieces of citrus peel (they don’t specify which fruit) pushes the flavor more toward the citrus. We theorized that the presence of this citrus would make adding milk unadvisable, that it might curdle. Ever willing to put our theories to the test, we poured a small cupful (no sense spoiling all of it if this didn’t work out) and added a bit of milk. Then, we waited…tick…tick…tick…DING! No curdling! That was lucky because the milk and a touch of sweetener really made this tea taste terrific.

Again, Boston Tea puts clear steeping directions on the package. Some tea vendors just put them on the Website, so you have to run to the PC to look them up before preparing the tea.

One drawback is the second infusion. While it was better than many others we’ve tried, it’s still a bit weak.

On a final note, with blends like this part of the trick is making sure you have a good mix of the various items in your teapot or other steeping vessel. Otherwise, you won’t get the full intended flavor.

NOTE: This pouch is what the Boston Tea Company uses for samples. Their normal pouches are opaque, not clear, and block out light, very important for preserving your fine teas.

Disclaimer: This tea was provided by the company named. However, the rating of the tea and any opinions concerning it are always strictly objective.

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