61 Tasting Notes
My confidence in Adagio was shaken when I sampled the Earl Grey from Andrew & Dunham. It had the same citric qualities of the Bravo but was less astringent and lacked what I can only describe as a dryness across the palette as I drank it. The impact of this revelation was twofold: I found that Earl Grey just might be my favorite blend of tea, and I must find a source of Earl Grey that either matches or exceeds what I found at A&D.
That said, I decided for my next round of tea to order from a different source than Adagio. Browsing a tea-related discussion, one of the posters recommended the Tea Table, noting that their Earl Grey was delicious. I had never visited their website before, but was enticed by their pricing into ordering a big ole bag of Earl along with some other teas that I’ll make notes of later.
Out of the bag, the EG has that musky and familiar bergamot scent that I’ve come to love. It wasn’t as powerful as the scent of Adagio’s EG Bravo (as the most powerfully scented EG I’ve come across, any comparison will thus be measured in Bravos [Bv]) at about .4 Bv. By comparison, the A&D is about .6 Bv, and also a bit brighter in scent, perhaps more orange-like, but only a little bit.
I steeped a batch of four cups for four minutes at boiling, which is standard procedure when I brew black tea with my TriniTEA; past attempts to brew black tea for five minutes left the tea undrinkably bitter. The final product had a subdued scent, almost malty, but a beautifully reddish brown liquor. I should also note at this time that resteeping this tea causes nearly no loss of color to the liquor.
Upon drinking, I noted that this is a strong Earl Grey. Strong as in tea flavor, whereas the mild citrus-ey taste followed the sip. It seemed earthy in flavor but did not have the malty qualities found in the scent; this may be a lack of perception on my part, though. I was very surprised to find that this EG had none of the dryness that I found in any of the 5 or so EGs that I have sampled before this. The second steep was not nearly as strong, as to be expected, but still contained the distinct EG flavor.
I was satisfied in finding a EG that was better than Adagios EG Bravo. It lacked the smooth quality of A&D’s tea, but it otherwise nearly matched them in all other aspects. My search for the best Earl Grey continues, but until I find hat Shambala, I can rely on this Earl Grey to satisfy my hankerings.
It was getting close to bedtime when I decided I wanted a hot cup of tea to settle down on. I wanted something light on caffeine, like this one good can of green tea from Andrew&Dunham that I drink. The problem lies in how I feel pressured to re-steep and get as much out of it as I can(I bought it out of a set of three cans for twenty-five dollars, and this college student has not much to spend on tea with). Since I was going to bed soon, it seemed inefficient to make only one cup of it. In the back of my tea caddy sat an ignored box of Bigelow’s Plantation Mint. It was given to me by my sister sometime late last year, and it would be easy enough to put together. So I gave it a shot.I have been trained to assume that most black teas take 4-5 minutes to steep properly, yet the package suggests no more than two minutes. Fair enough, I wager. Inside the bag itself, the tea almost looks like a green tea, as opposed to a black tea. Even closer inspection reveals that the green leaves are only the mint. The tea leaves and mint inside are finely cut, so lower-than-boiling water was used in the steeping in order to avoid over-steeping. The end result was an iconic red liquor that is reminiscent of regular black tea.
While most bagged teas yield a high amount of particles in the water, the liquor was exceptionally clear. I attribute this to the deliberate shredding techniques that Bigelow uses in preparing their tea. Whereas a tea company like Lipton uses the dust, or fannings, sifted from regular tea leaves, Bigelow simply shreds it all and sends that to the stores. As expected, the aroma was strong with spearmint.
A few initial sips allowed me to get a hint of the tea flavor. No bitterness or astringency to be found, but the mint coated my tongue with a slightly metallic flavor, probably as a result of the high temperature of the tea. I had to wait for the tea to cool off before I began the evaluation in earnest. A full sip yielded a rather weak flavored black tea with a powerful mint taste. It was almost as if I wasn’t drinking a tea, but more of a herbal mint tisane. The metallic sensation did go away though. The minty-ness was strong, and almost sweet at times, but it was far from unpleasant.
Ultimately I found the tea to be particularly lacking. It is… sufficient, for those lazy moments when setting up a cup of loose tea is too much effort to be worth it. The mint was soothing and honestly, the cup was enjoyable. I just wish there was a stronger tea flavor to it is all. I should note that this is my first taste of American-grown tea, and it was underwhelming. I reckon that there may be a stronger or more distinct flavor that would better define it though. Bigelow has a huge selection of black and green teas, and on account of the strong mint presence, this one was more of a tisane than a proper tea itself.
Beautiful liquor and a light taste more reminiscent of a white tea than the usually grassy greens that I drink. The Jasmine scent was nigh overwhelming out of the tin, but the tea itself was more subdued and found a good balance between overbearingly flowery and a breezy whiff of posies. I think I like the Dragonwell green offered by Andrew & Dunham more than this, but the Jasmine green still makes for a great cuppa.
My respects to coffee, but tea is so much easier to drink first thing in the morning. I guess I never got my taste for straight black coffee, though i did try it once, by drinking 7 cups of straight coffee through a 3-hour period. Didn’t work. Oh well, good work, tea shrub!