Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Earl Grey Provence by Mariage Frères

Earl Grey Provence by Mariage Frères
Seller Description: "The zesty and lightly peppered flavour of bergamot lends itself perfectly to black tea. In this version, our master blender weaves in the colourful flavours of Provence in all their glory: an astonishing addition of wild lavender gives a touch of warmth and mystery to the cup. Its round and ample body feels silky on the palate, energising all the senses."
Directions: "Measure out 2.5 g of tea for 20 cl of pure, filtered water. Bring the water to a simmer (about 95° C) and let the tea infuse for 3 to 5 minutes."
Cost: 9,50 €/100g

Teaware: 16oz tetsubin teapot with Depression Glass teacup.
Measured dry: 2 teaspoons
Water Temperature: Boiling
Steeping Time: 4 minutes
Additives: 1 tablespoon of Sugar in the Raw

Earl Grey Provence
This is the last of the three Mariage Frères samples, and I picked it out today because the dry smell is perfect for a warm smile on a dreary morning. It's cloudy, rainy, and a chill is hanging in the air. I love it! For one precious morning I feel like we've been magically transported from horrible, broiling Dallas to our wonderful heart-home in the Pacific Northwest. The tea has a spicy bergamot aroma mixed with a not-quite lavender floral scent, and the black tea blend is a faint note towards the end.

Once I brewed it, I was surprised by how pale the liquor was - before it darkened with the depth of the cup it was a lovely light gold. From what I remember of the other Mariage Frères teas I've tried, I was expecting something a little darker.

The flavor is sweet - sweeter than the Sugar in the Raw itself. There is some significant astringency, and a definite dry tongue sensation. As with the initial dry aroma, the bergamot and the lavender are most prominent, while there are only hints of the black tea base. From my experience, teas with a higher astringency seem to coincide with more bergamot, but in this case the lavender seems to be contributing as well.

A great cup on a cloudy day
I was curious how the lavender would translate into an iced tea, so I put a covered cup of this in the fridge to cool for a couple hours. It's not something I'm going to do again, as the flavor lost all its traction. It was half of the original pot and not altered in any way but temperature, but the lavender has lost all its freshness and its taste is watery if not almost papery.

Now that its been a couple hours since that first sip, I decided to brew up a second batch. This time I just used my 16oz infuser mug, but I added one more thing: a dash of milk. Oh, I wish I had made the first cup this way! The milk really helps cut some of the astringency and smooths out the flavor.

While this is an enjoyable cup of tea - especially with the milk - it does strike me more like a flavored black tea than an Earl Grey. For that reason it will not be moving forward in the Battle of the Earl Greys. 

Prominent Notes: Lavender and bergamot
Aftertaste: Not noticeable
Overall: An enjoyable tea, but it will not be advancing

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