Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blue Flower Earl Grey by Tao of Tea

Blue Flower Earl Grey

 Seller Description: "A hand-crafted blend of full-bodied organic Indian black tea from Nilgiri, natural bergamot essence and beautiful blue cornflowers..."
Directions: 1 teaspoon per 8oz, steep 4-5 minutes
Website: Blue Flower Earl Grey
Cost: $11.00/3.5oz tin

Blue Flower Earl Grey
Teaware: 16oz glass infuser mug with lid
Measured dry: 2 teaspoons
Water Temperature: Boiling
Steeping Time: 4 minutes
Additives: 1 tablespoon of Sugar in the Raw

The first loose leaf tea I ever tried was from the Tao of Tea, and I had several of their blends shipped up to Alaska while I was teaching in the bush. Each sip always feels like just a little bit of home. This wasn't one of the teas I enjoyed up there, but I wanted to try out as many of their Earl Greys as possible.

Infused liquor
I've had to experiment a lot with this tea to dial in a better cup. I've made this tea several times now, and so far I haven't been able to tweak my steeping methods enough to truly enjoy it. Yesterday I steeped it for five minutes, and it was pretty bitter.

Adding a dash of milk did help slightly, and the creaminess did allow additional notes to peek out, but it was still not quite to my taste. Part of that might be the addition of the cornflowers - there's an element to this blend that's just hitting me the wrong way, and I think it's the slightly perfumey floral note. Hoping that my hesitation towards this tea could be fixed with a little tweaking, I tried a four-minute steep today and while the bitterness had abated it was left slightly watery but lacked as much of the floral note.

I finally steeped it for four and a half minutes, and it's been the best so far. A compromise between the two previous extremes. The flavor does still have a bit of a bite, as the black tea is the most prominent note by far, with the citrus note meekly following. While the floral note isn't as strong now as it was in the five minute steep, it's still keeping me from truly enjoying this blend.

Infused leaves
From the most bitter to the most watery, the amount of astringency has remained the same. I'm left with a moderate dry mouth, but it's never waned or become worse. Comparing that to my issues with the floral note, that's much less of a concern for me.

Overall, the memories I associate with this brand of tea are just better than the tea itself. It won't be continuing in the Battle of the Earl Greys, but I look forward to trying the more straightforward Earl Grey and re-introducing myself to the Smoked Earl Grey I enjoyed in Alaska.

Prominent Notes: Black tea
Aftertaste: Black tea and cornflower
Overall: This will not be moving forward in the Battle of the Earl Greys.

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