So, I’m used to Earl Grey from tea bags, yeah? Well before my loose-leaf revelation, back when I was more of a feckless youth, I was near completely apathetic to tea in general, and mainly surrounded by teabags and barley tea that my grandmother brewed in profusion due to a lingering mistrust of plain drinking water from her own younger years.
Despite the near 99% loss/lack of taste that was the typical result of brewing a tea bag from what I remember, I actually always liked Earl Grey. I loved the citrusy perfume, the bold contrast and harmony with the heavy smell of the black tea, the sense of somehow irrefutably English pomp it seems to evoke. These lovely promises of smell never really carried through into the brew very well (because… teabags), but if Earl Grey were just a fragrance, I would be all over that, and I remain a fan of the blend’s concept, if not always the taste.
Honestly, this is not really what I think of when I think of Earl Grey. I’ve never actually tried Lady Gray, but I imagine the lightness, intensely floral perfume, softer balance, and delicate taste are probably more closely matched with Lady Gray (just going off the name) than it does the classic Earl Grey, which I have always associated with a bolder, stronger kind of flavor and elegance.
Which is not to say I didn’t enjoy it, though, it’s a floral, sticky, elegantly hot mess of a black tea in quite a few good ways and the way it displays all the elements of its blend impresses me. The dry leaf is beautiful, the scattered feathers of pink-white amaranth petals and pomegranate seeds catch the eye coyly against the dark brown lengths of leaf while filling the room promisingly with their strong scent.
Tastewise, the bergamot is light, it blends into the tea subtly, making a citrusy tinge off of the sweetly sour pomegranate. The black tea base is lightly astringent and quite giving and friendly to other flavors, making room for the other ingredients to play out their roles while providing a good backdrop.
If pushed hard, I felt the tea was bolder and headier, although the perfume was too strong for me. Steeped more lightly and quickly, I find it to be an extremely elegant and layered experience, very ethereal and sweet, like a memory of sipping tea alone in a flower garden as petals dance by in a wind. The flavors transform and slip away quickly, both in the mouth and across resteeps (in a gaiwan, because my western pot is a pain to clean), adding to that sense of fleeting nostalgia, I think.
All in all, while not what I would be looking for if I was looking for an Earl Grey particularly, this tea is pleasant, quite interesting, and very classy (what I would think of as a “high tea” sort of tea). It isn’t something I would drink regularly (and it also seems to have an oddly nostalgic effect on me whenever I drink it), but I think it would be well suited to drink during spring. Perhaps during a picnic. Or while staring out the window blankly at the backyard. Or while idly contemplating the sky. As long as it’s a relatively contemplative and tranquil space where I can allow myself to be captivated by the unfolding of the perfume into the pomegranate and flowers and appreciate the change of textures as it goes from stickily sour to gently lingering in the sweetly dry finish.