When I was little, I didn’t like tea very much. I was pretty much anti- any hot beverage that wasn’t chocolate or apple based. However, I grew, my taste buds developed, and by the time I reached my early double digits, I was an avid tea drinker.
However, it took a lot longer than that for me to develop a taste for Earl Grey.
Back then, it was my father’s favourite tea. It still is among his favourites, though it seems to have been beaten out by jasmine green tea, judging by the sheer number of varieties of the stuff sitting in our cupboard. I tried it with him a few times, and couldn’t quite stand the bergamot.
Again, time passed. Another decade, actually. And in my early 20s, I rediscovered Earl Grey. This time, however, I found I did enjoy it. However, I still find it finicky at times. It needs to be brewed just right, or else be a brew that can stand up to a lot. I prefer the latter, myself.
One of the interesting things about Earl Grey is how it sides toward the delicate on the flavour scale. After yesterday’s bold Big Cup tea, it was a nice change of pace to find an Earl Grey blend in my advent tin for today.
Day 5: Cream of Earl Grey by DAVIDsTEA
Ingredients: Black tea, cornflowers. With natural vanilla and bergamot flavouring.
Steeped: 1 tbsp in my 2-cup pot with freshly boiled water
First Cup: Steeped 4-4.5 minutes
Ok. Apparently this tea requires a very low steeping time. While the package says 3-5 minutes, this already feels a bit overdone. Rather than coming off creamy, it seems rather flowery and a little bitter for it. Going to try it with milk and see how that goes
Second cup: Same steep. Steeped 25-30 minutes, added milk
Yes, it tastes a whole lot better with milk. This isn’t surprising for various reasons. First, milk is generally wonderful at cutting through bitterness in oversteeped tea. Second, I find teas with vanilla pretty much always taste better with milk to add to their creaminess. I’m sure there are exceptions, but I don’t think I’ve met them yet.
Third cup: Same steep. Steeped 30-35 minutes, added milk and honey.
Oddly, I don’t think the honey makes much of a difference to the flavour. However, I’m sure that it is the perfect compliment if added sweetness is necessary, as its floweriness matches well with the cornflowers in the tea itself.
Fourth cup: Resteep. Steeped 5 minutes. Clear.
Flavours no longer bitter, but very muted. Drinkable but delicate. I can taste the vanilla and get its smoothness more now.
Fifth cup: Same resteep, 25 or so minutes.
Flavour a little stronger now. Finally a cup that tastes more or less like I like my earl greys. Could still do with being a little stronger, but not bad at all. We’ll see how the last of this steep is.
Sixth cup: Same resteep, 40-60 minutes (I lost track)
Not bad. Tried adding honey after a few sips to see if it would brighten the flavour, but somehow it ended up hindering it instead. Worked better with the milk.
Overall impression: There are some earl grey blends that I love, and some that I don’t. This, unfortunately, is closer to the latter end of the spectrum. It wasn’t bad by any means, and I may change my mind after steeping it for a lower time, but right now… it’s off my list of Best Earl Greys Ever.
My rating: 71%. B- It was going to be a C+ based on the original steep, but the further resteeps gave it a bit of a reprieve. Judging by other reviews, I do think I may change my rating after trying it with a lower initial steep time. However, I’ve had this and a few similar teas before, and haven’t quite found them to be my thing, so it could also be that. I generally prefer a more basic earl grey or a fruity play on the classic overall.