423 Tasting Notes
This is a blend of Darjeeling with Bergamot, fancily named after Prince George’s Christening – for the tourists. It epitomizes all that has gone wrong with F&M’s tea over the last few years. They could have called it “Darjeeling Earl Grey”. They could have called it “Light Earl Grey” or “Special Earl Grey”. They could even have called it “Earl Grey Superb”. That would at least give you an inkling to what’s in the tin. But F&M’s marketing department seems hell-bent on touting their connections with the Royal family, instead of focusing on really good and unique tea. As it is, it’s an Earl Grey Darj, which is a combination that I’ve already tasted from Ronnefeldt. The two go together well, but R does the combination more justice. F&M’s is slightly rougher, with the Earl Grey and the Darjeeling not really married together in harmony.
It’s an 80 from me, because I happen to love the combination, and the caddy is, as usual, pretty great. 5 points off for the price and pretentiousness, and no recommendation – you can get better for less from Ronnefeldt.
My first taste of Williamson Tea’s range. Bought this at Selfridges (they tend to have a unique variety of teas – it’s worth visiting their food hall for a peek at what they have to offer). I bought one of their gorgeous elephant tea caddies (alas, they only do them for tea bags), and two tins of loose leaf tea – a Tippy Assam and a Kenyan (their specialty). The tin is nice and informative, the tea is delicious and malty, and takes milk well. It brews on the stronger side of Assam, but it is not powerfully astringent, so you can drink it plain as well. A very good Assam, less sweet than F&M’s Assam Superb, and with less depth of flavour than Whittard’s excellent Assam Hazelbank, but nevertheless recommended.
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First to review this tea! Always nice :)
This is a wonderfully unique English Breakfast kind of tea from one of my favourite London tea shops – Postcard Teas. If you happen to be in London, drop in, say hello to the lovely, lovely people there, and buy some delicious tea in beautiful tins or “Postcard” refill bags. I love their tins so much that I can’t help myself, and always end up buying them. They are practical, and “easy on the eyes”.
This tea is part of their new lineup of black teas and blends. The good news is that I’ve tried both this and the new Breakfast blend, and so far I love their new teas. The bad news is that their wonderful old teas are no longer available. But lets focus on the good:
This is a breakfast blend, which means Assam, of course, coupled with Kerala, which I admit, I’ve never heard of before. It takes time to open up in the cup, so be patient with the brewing time, and when looking at the reddish brown liquor one would think that this tea was mislabelled “bold breakfast”. Assams tend to brew much darker than that, especially those that are in breakfast blends.
But then this tea will do a “crouching tiger, hidden dragon” move on your mouth. It is much bolder and more flavoursome than any breakfast blend that I’ve tasted – without resorting to bitterness. Yes, you heard that right. A right powerful tea, that doesn’t taste like wormwood when brewed over a minute or two.
It takes milk beautifully, but be careful. This tea is very astringent, even with milk added, so if that turns you off, try some of the much less astringent but still very very good Breakfast blend. You will feel Bold Breakfast tea pinch you on the tongue long after your session with him has ended, like a disapproving master admonishing his unruly apprentice.
We have been on a somewhat Assam-and-Breakfast-Tea binge lately at work. This tea now comes in one of F&M’s new caddies (check out the picture here: http://www.fortnumandmason.com/p-5173-assam-tea-assam-superb-tea-indian-tea.aspx). The caddy looks great, but I wish they had kept the old design. The new design is a nicer colour, and has an easier to open lid, but otherwise is useless. You can’t stack it in the cupboard like their old caddies, and it has zero useful tea info on it. Nothing about the tea’s provenance , about steep times or strength. The design, touted by F&M as a change for the better, is indicative of the alarming change that I’ve seen in the company over the last few years. Gone are delicious blends like Piccadilly Blend, Fountain Blend and others. The only blends now have “Royal” in their name, or are somehow tied to the royal family. Useful information has been scratched from the caddies, they’ve become ridiculously ornamented, and many of them are available only for a short period of time. F&M, in other words, have become a tourist trap filled with “British” souvenirs or grossly overpriced “speciality” tea, and no longer a place where I can send people shopping for tea and know that they can’t really go wrong.
That’s a shame, because they used to have wonderful teas, and they still sometimes do. This “Assam Superb” was a very very good, bass-y, malty, deep Assam, brewing almost black in colour, and taking milk with great aplomb. High in caffeine content, we’ve had it several times over the last week or so, as a morning pick me up. Recommended.
Bought this in Saintsbury’s in London on my last trip, as something to drink in the morning. I knew that it was a strong, builder’s brew kind of tea, especially suited for hard water (hence my initial interest in it. We have very hard water in Israel, which is why I filter all my tea and drinking water. It just tastes much better this way). The bags are of the no string variety more common in the UK than the string kind that is common in the US. It’s a great morning brew – works well with milk and sugar, and is powerful brew. All in a all it does what is says on the package – provides a powerful brew at a very low price.
Had a lovely time in London and bought lots and lots of tea.
I didn’t buy much in Whittard’s except for Assam Hazelbank (my favourite Assam, the one stolen from me, now back in stock in Whittard’s – woot!) and this little fruit infusion, bought on a whim. I love elderflower, I like apples, and this infusion smelled like delicate sparkling apple and elderflower cordial, not like an overly sweet, artificial concoction of gunk.
I also bought a nice iced tea infuser bottle from Whittard’s, so when I came back to a balm 30 degrees C, I unpacked the lot and brewed a batch.
Heaven in a cup.
It tastes just like it smells – delicate, sparking, refreshing, and tasty. The undertone is apple, while elderflower takes the high notes, and none overpower the other.
I’ve brewed three bottles of this already, and I just can’t stop sipping it. I really wish that I hadn’t just bought one bag of it.
In London now, while a friend has moved into my apartment to take care of my cat, my plants and tea collection during my absence :)
I use teabags when I travel, and I really needed this cup of TEA.EARL GREY. HOT. I had a morning flight, so my head is aching pretty badly due to sleep depravation. This tea has a calming effect on me, probably because it always conjures up the image of Captain Picard.
Find comfort in the little things.
Something is funky with Steepster’s cupboard. It doesn’t show the number of reviews properly.
Anyway, had this yesterday, as a breakfast brew. I’m running really low on this, and it’s no longer stocked by Whittards, so I’m taking my time with it. I’m trying to view beloved out of stock teas as I do out of stock fountain pen inks – another one will come along, perhaps even better or more interesting than the one that’s gone.
A strong, bold, bass-y tea, it thrums it way down very smoothly, especially with milk.