This was one of the first flavoured teas I ever tried as a teenager. There were no looseleaf tea shops around, and I really didn’t know there was much else out there yet beyond Orange Pekoe, Earl Grey, English Breakfast or Peppermint tea. At a market downtown I saw the little wooden cartons of these and thought, “Hmm. I like Earl Grey. But I also like delicious things. Like cream. Is this something I’d like?” I might’ve asked the shop keeper what it meant that it said “cream” on it (oh, I was so young!) and, from what I took away, I remember she told me it was sweeter and creamier tasting than a typical earl grey. Well, okay, I was sold. I think I also bought a carton of Irish Cream Tea that day.
I quickly fell in love with it. It was the first time I’d ever tried buying myself a box of any tea, and I was, mercifully, not disappointed. But eventually it became difficult for me to find it anymore – this Christmas my mum was putting in an order from a British Imports shop and they happened to carry it. I mentioned to her how I used to love that tea, and, lo and behold, a little wooden carton appeared at my door soon after.
Opening it for the first time in what must be close to ten years or more was quite an experience, as you may imagine. It was such a blast of memories and nostalgia to my teenage years. It was also much more aromatic than I remembered. In the years since that first purchase, I’ve tried a number of Earl Grey Cream teas, and all of them have been so different. I worried, before it arrived, that this would taste just like one of the others and I wouldn’t even be able to tell it apart from, say, a Tetley or a Twinings or even a David’s Tea version. But this was different as could be.
In some ways I can understand those who say it’s too perfumey. I kind of agree. I can usually let a tea bag sit in my cup until I get to the bottom, but I’ve been mindful to pull this one out. Even so, sometimes I think to myself that I’ve overdone it. It’s so strongly… floral? Sweet? Whatever the “cream” flavouring is, it might be just a titch too strong for me sometimes in a way my teenage self really didn’t notice. I occasionally have to wince after a particularly concentrated sip. But even so, I still love it.
I think if one controls the strength of one’s steep, it might be manageable. Maybe I just need to add more milk- I used to take more when I was younger and never found fault with it. I haven’t quite been able to bring myself to bother yet, however. I kind of keep convincing myself that even when it’s a bit too strong, it’s just right. It kicks me back to the past, to a time where I was just beginning to “experiment” with tea and venture out beyond my mum’s tea cupboard of 200% Earl Grey, when venturing “downtown” was a pretty big deal. (Ironically, now in 2021, venturing out just about anywhere kind of feels similarly significant!)
In summary, this is a fun, aromatic tea that will fill your mouth with scent and flavour. Sometimes maybe too much, with too much gusto and teenage enthusiasm. It’s a little floral, a little fruity, a lot of energy, and I think somewhere in there there’s Earl Grey too. It’s like an excited puppy, jumping up to lick your face the second you walk in the door. It comes on a little too strongly sometimes, but it’s sweet, endearing, and familiar, too. With a little training, I feel certain I can get it to behave – but sometimes I’d rather not.