Always a Classic: Earl Grey from Kent and Sussex

In some ways, it doesn’t get more traditional than Earl Grey tea.  Next to English Breakfast black tea, it’s the flavor most people think of when brewing a cup of tea.  Earl Grey from Kent and Sussex brews up strong and tart, a full-bodied black tea with a touch of tart bergamot citrus.

Earl Grey is one of those teas that you customize as much or as little as you want, a lot like coffee.  Everyone had their preferred blend and balance.  You can brew this Earl Grey black without any additives, or brew it with honey and lemon, or add your preferred mix of milk and sugar.  Drink it hot, drink it iced, the smooth, crisp taste of Earl Grey works well with them all.

I brewed this tea hot, in my favorite teacup and saucer, and tired the brew black (no additives), and then with a splash of milk. On its own, this tea is a bit too bold for me, with a strong dry, tart mouthfeel that made me pucker.  Sometimes I prefer Earl Grey to be tart, especially when the leaves are blended with extra strong bergamot orange flavors, or when you want to top off your cup with a wedge of lemon and sugar.  This Earl Grey didn’t have as much citrus in the blend on its own, so I took the cup in a different direction, adding a swirl of milk to help boost the creaminess of the tea.

This is a solid standard to have in your tea cupboard, to brew up in whatever style suits your fancy.

 


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Black
Where to Buy: Kent and Sussex
Description:

Delicious Earl Grey! THE GREAT TASTE AWARDS 2007 Award winning Earl Grey. The History of Earl Grey Tea dates back to 1833 the then Earl Grey of Howick Hall the British Prime Minister suspended the price monopoly which the East India Company had until that point enjoyed with its Chinese trading. Originally pure chinese teas were flavoured with fine oils from the Bergamot fruit in an attempt to preserve the tea during the difficult clipper journeys by sea. It was thought that lengthy times at sea could result in tastes of mould and tar. That is how the tea was named and to this day Earl Grey is regarded as one of the very finest flavoured infusions.

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Get that Wild West feel with Wild Chicory Joe from The Tea Spot

When I think of chicory, I think of my favorite western TV shows and movies.  Why?  Well there wasn’t always a good supply of coffee out on the dusty trail, so chicory would be brewed as a substitute.  Chicory and coffee have a long history together, with chicory stretching or replacing coffee when the latter is hard to come by, from Napoleonic France to the American Civil War.  After these coffee-sparse times, some cultures developed a taste for chicory and still brew it alongside or with their coffee today.

I got a chance to try a cup of Wild Chicory Joe from the Tea Spot.  I’m both a coffee fan and a tea lover, so I can appreciate both sides of this story.

Wild Chicory Joe brewed up super fast, as quick and dark as coffee.  The brew was immediately full and fragrant, smelling like savory toasted grains or roasted nuts, over an undertone of more bitter, dirt-road earthiness.  The first sip was a bit daunting: it’s not coffee, it’s not tea, and my taste buds were not sure what to expect.  As I moved onto a second and third and fourth sip, the flavor grew on me.  Beyond the roasted notes, there were flavors like caramel and malt, and a touch of true coffee on the aftertaste.

I could understand how chicory got its start as a coffee replacement.  This brew is dark and bitter, but with a touch of the bright, citrus notes you find in a blond coffee roast.  Unlike coffee, the chicory isn’t oily, instead it brews up with a smooth mouthfeel and a more herbal flavor.

Maybe I’m channeling my favorite westerns, but this cup is distinctly masculine, with nothing floral or astringent, just deep, bold, bitter – pow!  All that said, the chicory does mellow out with some milk and sweetener so you can mix it like your favorite coffee or tea.  And since the chicory is decaf, you can make a latte at any time of day or night.
If you’re looking to switch  from coffee to chicory, this won’t be an easy transition, the chicory isn’t a perfect coffee replacement (not to mention, you’ll be craving the caffeine).  But if you’re bored with your tea or need a break from your coffee, Wild Chicory Joe will be a fascinating cup to try.  A cup of chicory might just be the perfect accessory to have on hand when watching your favorite western or reading your favorite wild west novel.  Happy trails!


Here’s the scoop!

Leaf Type: Herbal
Where to Buy: The Tea Spot
Description:

Hold onto your hats, coffee lovers! This natural coffee replacement is so darn delicious, you won’t believe your taste buds. Our Wild Chicory Joe brews into a boldly deep herbal tea that masquerades as a strong-brewed cowboy coffee, without any acidity. The roasted chicory root creates a dark espresso base while the chocolate barley malt adds cocoa notes and the fennel adds a little sweetness. Drink it straight or as the bold caffeine-free base for a latte. You might even trick some coffee fanatics into enjoying this cup of herbal tea. Giddy-up and grab some Joe!

Learn even more about this tea and tea company here!

Yorkshire Bold Organic Black Tea from AmiTea Organics

YorkshireGoldTea Information:

Leaf Type:  Black

Where to Buy: AmiTea Organics 

Tea Description:

Bold, smooth and delicious, this is the perfect, soothing, “start your morning” tea. This is my version of the famous Yorkshire tea. Of course the actual ingredient ratios have long been a secret, but I feel I have unlocked them, and now it is in an all organic version, just for you.
I have blended malty Assam and Nilgiri teas from India, A warm, rich Tanzanian tea and a smidge of smokey Chinese Yunnan, together they make a fabulous tea, hot with milk, or even iced for sippin’ on a hot day.

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

This tea is just delicious.

The malty goodness and rich well balanced flavor of this fantastic unflavored blended black tea is just perfect.  Perfect for that first cup of tea to wake you up in the morning or in the afternoon when you need a pick up to get you thru the rest of the day.  I really enjoyed this one.

First infusion was strong and rich.  Brewed up like a traditional black tea, this tea was such a delight.  I didn’t pick up any smoky notes like the description says, but I am fine with that.  I have had a lot of smoky teas lately and was happy for a break. Second infusion, the strong malty touch was still there.  Not as strong, but still discernible.

I have yet to have a tea from AmiTea Organics that I haven’t just adored.

I didn’t try this one iced.  Next time I will.  I would love to try this as an iced tea.  I couldn’t help but keep brewing this up hot.  It was hitting the spot, giving me that warm and cozy feeling.

The best part of this tea was how there wasn’t a high astringency factor.  I thought for sure there would be, but this was just smooth black tea deliciousness.

Another winner from AmiTea Organics!

Orange Peppercorn Breakfast from Handmade Tea

Orange Peppercorn Breakfast
Orange Peppercorn Breakfast

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Black

Where to Buy: Handmade Tea

Tea Description: 

Orange Peppercorn Breakfast starts with a base of Assam and Ceylon black tea. Next the blend contains a peppercorn blend (black, white, green, and red) to spice things up a touch. Lastly burnt orange peel is added to the blend. The caramelization adds a deep sweetness.

Learn more about the subscription plan here.

Taster’s Review:

Orange Peppercorn Breakfast from Handmade Tea has everything I love in a breakfast blend! Its deep and robust, perfectly sweetened naturally and lightly by the citrus,  with a wake me up spark from the peppercorns. It tastes a little like a mimosa with a kick and trust me I need a kick in the morning!

I have to be out the door soon for some appointments and had made another tea in my travel mug to take with me, but now I wish I had made this instead, except that it only arrived about an hour ago!

Handmade tea is a monthly subscription plan with two plan options. The one I subscribe to includes a big tin of tea and three tiny tins of the three elements used to make the blend with. Its really cool if you are a foodie or interested in blending teas yourself as it allows you to smell, taste, touch, and feel each individual ingredient on its own.

I love Caleb’s Handmade Tea! I have only received two months thus far but both have been beyond expectation and somehow I feel as though he has been stalking my tasting notes to figure out exactly what I want in a tea! I realize that is not possible as he has so many people who subscribe to his membership plan, there is no way he could stalk us and appease us all, but I tell you what, somehow he has managed to please my taste buds perfectly!

I adore peppercorn in tea blends, when done right of course, and even though I will admit I am not always that fond of citrus in teas, he really did this tea blend right by caramelizing the orange peel with a creme’ brulee torch to get that sweet sensation without making the tea too sweet!

I really suggest you check out this monthly subscription plan and you can check out more of the past blends here.

Bai-Lin Kung-Fu Classic Red Tea from Shang Tea

Bai-Lin Kung-Fu Red Tea
Bai-Lin Kung-Fu Red Tea from Shang Tea

Tea Information:

Leaf Type: Red Tea

Where to Buy: Shang Tea

Tea Description:

Hearty and flavorful, this brew has a complex flavor, crisp finish, and a deep traditional red tea hue. This tea is harvested from a white tea plant, which offers a smooth finish to a fermented tea.

Ingredients: Organic White Tea Leaves

Learn more about this tea here.

Taster’s Review:

Bai-Lin Kung-Fu Classic Red Tea from Shang Tea is quite spectacular! The aroma is like a malty black tea with aromas of cocoa, hay, and maple. My first reaction when smelling this while steeping was Mmmmmmmm. A deeper inhalation of this tea brings forth some berry aromas as well. Yet there is also something savory about this tea. My mouth was watering while I patiently waited for my tea to cool just a tiny bit so I could indulge!

This is a sweet tea! It even smells somewhat sweet. As I sip on this tea I find notes of honey, toasted cocoa beans, notes of roasted flavors, some kind of molasses perhaps, and a spark of spice. The after taste is lingering of that savory element I noted above. Almost an oregano note.

What a strange, interesting, complex tea!

This is not a tea for the faint of heart, it is bold, robust, not shy at all. It wakes you up and perks you up as it presents itself with a hearty “Hey there! Bet you weren’t expecting me!”

Its a bit sweet, a bit saucy, and all attitude! If this tea were a person it would be that interesting, but sometimes peculiar uncle Bob that sometimes makes you laugh and other times makes you go Hummmmm. Unless your uncle Bob is just creepy in which case this tea is not like him at all. It just has a way about it that speaks boldly for itself yet makes you feel comfortable with its unusual flavor. This tea makes you feel good to be a bit different, to go off the beaten path, to try new things, and indulge in rare delights that you won’t find around every corner.

If I were going to take a trek through the country I think I would take this tea along with me. It tends to make me feel invincible or like all things are possible. Its unusual, exciting, and unlike any other tea out there yet familiar enough in some of its flavor notes that I find it comforting at the same time as exciting.

Is it white or red or black? Its confusing right? Don’t despair, read all about it on Shang Tea’s blog here.