5 Tasting Notes
On first sip the smoke is almost too much, about half that of a Lapsang, but erasing other tones. Later sips bring all the other flavours to bear. While heady and strong when drunk black, it can stand up to a lot of milk and sugar, so doctor as you see fit.
One of the best preparations is Vietnamese style, with a tablespoon of condensed milk. There are few teas that can stand up to the fattiness and sweetness of condensed milk, but this tea makes it lovely. When prepared this way the smoke and bitterness recedes, bringing out more of the malty and stone fruit flavours. It also takes on caramel tones and an almost dark maple hint.
I have found that this tea is spectacular for blending. 1/5 of a tsp to 4/5 tsp Kenyan CTC Milima will add a complexity to the caramel and copper notes. Very soul soothing on a winter night.
Flavors: Dark Chocolate, Malt, Pine, Plum, Smoke, Wood
This has become my favourite “I need a pick up” tea. I have had fantastic Darjeelings with their citrus, muscatel, fruity and floral notes; amazing Assams with their layered maltiness and complex flavours; Estate Kenyans that really enforce their earthy notes and honey tones; as well as diverse other black teas of varying characters.
I have a fairly developed palate, and I can tell you that this tea has a citrus top note, malty, dark and full body, and some astringency which needs to be tempered with milk and sugar. Once doctored, there is an almost Caramel-Honey finish to this tea.
But the main reason this gets the high score from me, is an emotional reaction. Every time I drink this tea I get happy. It is my Happy Tea! Those caramel notes almost make me giddy, and all is better in the world.
So for those dark days, it’s this Happy Tea for me.
Therefore, please note that that my tasting note and rating has a heavy emotional quotient to it.
1 tsp per cup, steeped in boiling water for 3 mins for 1st steep. Served with 1 1/2 tsp or sugar per cup, and at least 1/5 of the cup is milk. This tea can go to 4 steeps. The second is a milder version of 1st. 3rd loses the malt but keeps the caramel. 4th is fairly weak, but soft and pleasant.
Another tea that was gifted to me.
To be perfectly honest I found the Rose to be cloying and far too strong.
However, after carefully removing the dried rose petals, I do like it. Has a malty Black Tea flavour, overlaid with the floral and perfumey Rose essence. Not bad, but not a favourite.
I will probably be saving this for guests who like floral flavours in their tea.
A past lover went to the Red Tea Box in Toronto and purchased a steel tin with 1 oz of this tea in it. I do remember enjoying it with her, and then it got forgotten at my parent’s place and relegated to the back of a cupboard for 3 – 4 years.
I found it and rescued it recently, but was hesitant to try a tea that old. A few days ago I thought what the hell and gave it a brew.
Boiling water in a pre-heated tea pot, 1 heaping tsp per cup and 1 for the pot (3 cup brew), and a 5 min steep. Served with milk and sugar.
Even after all these years it has a classic Assam flavour, but is full and robust without any bitterness. One can distinguish the earthy and spicy tones of this tea on the palate, with a hint of floral tones to the scent, but not in the taste.
I would say this is one of the better Assams I have had the pleasure to drink and will be looking for more soon.
Thank the gods the tin was airtight.
In lieu of a review, a letter to President’s Choice:
To President’s Choice
I have been drinking your Presidents Choice Earl Grey Tea for at least 7 years now. I have recommended this tea to friends and family as the best choice for earl grey in bagged form (with the exception of Stash, which has a much higher price point). I have a cup of tea every day, and have primarily used this tea as my daily cup for those 7 years.
About 4 – 5 years ago I standardised my tea process so that my partner could also make us tea in the morning. I have one specific pot used for tea. Over the years it has developed a line where one fills up with water before adding tea bags, sugar, cardamom and boiling it. I also use a 2 cup Pyrex measuring cup to make a tea for myself in the microwave. Usually 1 and 1/3 cup of water to one tea bag was the rule.
I noticed about 3 years ago that I had to use 3 tea bags instead of 2 in the pot, to get the same strength that I was accustomed. And my single bag tea in the Pyrex was much weaker.
At the same time I had taken a trip to England and acquired boxes of the Sainsbury’s Earl Grey tea and the British Twining’s Earl Grey Tea (the Twinings brand sold in Canada does not even deserve to be called tea, at best it makes a slightly coloured water). I noted that 2 bags from either of these British brands made a slightly more full flavoured tea than my PC brand, however when using 3 bags it was comparable. Comparing at a single bag in the Pyrex, there as a discernable difference, in that the PC was not as full bodied.
However, I still used the PC brand as my daily cup, treating myself to the British Sainsbury’s or British Twinings on weekends, or if I really needed a stronger cup of tea.
I noticed over the Fall of 2011, that I was now having to use 4 bags in the pot to make a decent strength of tea, and for the Pyrex I had switched to 1 a 2/3 cups of water with 2 tea bags (This gives me more than my single cup/travel mug, but it wasn’t a huge issue). However, my consumption of your 50 tea bag PC Ear Grey boxes is quite noticeable. I have to replenish the tea for more often and I am beginning to wonder it the Stash at a higher price point is a better choice, as I would be using less tea bags.
The stark difference in your PC earl grey tea, over the last 4 years, was really brought to light, when my Mother returned form a trip to England in January and brought me bad a box or Sainsbury’s Earl Grey Tea. The difference is remarkable. I still only need 2 tea bags of the Sainsbury’s tea compared to 4 tea bags of the PC tea in my pot. This morning I made a single serving of tea to take to work in my travel mug and I just could not being myself to use 2 PC tea bags. I used a single Sainsbury’s Earl Grey Tea bag in 1 and 1/3 cups of water. The result is a flavourful and full bodied tea that I would have to use 2 tea bags of PC to get even close to.
So: What has happened to the PC Earl Grey Tea? Why has there been such a marked decline over the years. I am sad to say that I am very disappointed. I cannot in good faith recommend the Earl Grey tea to my friends, and I fear that I am going to have to look for another brand of tea for my daily cup.
I am considered a connoisseur of Black and Orange Pekoe teas, and am often asked for advice on tea. Over the years a very many people have found out that my daily cup of tea is the PC Earl Grey with a pinch of cardamom. This has been a universal recommendation for PC brand teas over any other Bagged tea (with the exception of Stash, along with a warning on the higher price point).
I have had a very good relationship with your tea. It starts of my morning right, and can pick me up in the afternoon when I feel the need. My cup of early grey and cardamom is quite honestly the best part of my day. It has even become ritualised, in that my loved ones know that Love = A cup of Tea. There is nothing more precious to me than being handed a cup of earl grey and cardamom in the morning. I have had a lot of health issues over the last two years, and mornings are not pleasant for me. The only redeeming part of the morning is to have my tea.
Therefore, you can understand why I am so very disappointed with PC right now.
I would like to know what has happened over the last 4 years?
Are you planning to raise your quality to what it once was, or will you be continuing with your present course (you would lose me as a customer and a champion)?
Why isn’t the PC Earl Grey Tea listed as a PC product on your website (Also missing is your English Breakfast Tea, which by the way is still quite good)?
This letter will also be posted to my steepster.com account.