Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rishi's Earl Grey vs. Victorian Earl Grey by Simpson & Vail

Earl Grey by Rishi vs. Victorian Earl Grey by S&V

This is the first face/off of the Battle of the Earl Greys. Today Rishi's Earl Grey goes head-to-head with the Victorian Earl Grey of Simpson & Vail. Both of these teas have already had their initial reviews, so this will be more of a comparison than a review.

Because I only had one sachet of the Rishi Earl Grey, I could only make only 8oz of it instead of the 16oz I will try to use for the rest of this project. In the preparation notes below, please note that all additives have been scaled down to match.

Victorian Earl Grey by Simpson & Vail
Teaware: 16oz glass infuser mug with lid
Measured dry: 2 teaspoons
Water Temperature: Boiling minus two minutes
Steeping Time: 4 minutes
Additives: 3 teaspoons of raw sugar, 2 tablespoon milk

Earl Grey by Rishi Tea
Teaware: 16oz glass mug with lid (filled halfway, to 8oz)
Measured dry: 1 tea sachet
Water Temperature: Boiling minus two minutes
Steeping Time: 4 minutes
Additives: 1-1/2 teaspoons of raw sugar, 1 tablespoon milk

And now for the criteria that's been evolving throughout the series of initial reviews...

1. Does the tea taste smooth, without any jarring notes?

  • Earl Grey: No, it was very bitter.
  • Victorian Earl Grey: Yes, very! This only gets better with additives, and milk helps it really pop. The rose and lavender come to the forefront and then the black tea and bergamot slide on in.

2. If this is a variety blend, does the Earl Grey flavor profile maintain the driver's seat?

  • Earl Grey: There are no distractions, but the bergamot flavor is very understated and difficult to pick out. It's not a variety, but the black tea is more dominant.
  • Victorian Earl Grey: No, the rose and lavender are definitely prevalent, but it doesn't detract from our enjoyment.

3. Is there a "Wow!" factor? Something that makes it stand out?

  • Earl Grey: Not a positive one.
  • Victorian Earl Grey: Yes! It fills my mind with satin, crinolines, and lace.

4. How is the astringency? Does it detract from the tea?

  • Earl Grey: Mild to moderate, but that's not its major detraction.
  • Victorian Earl Grey: There's not much at all. It's a nice, smooth drink.

5. Does it have any special ties to sustainability, Fair-Trade, or eco-friendliness?

  • Earl Grey: It is organic and Fair Trade, but the company is making poor decisions as of late regarding packaging (one step forward, two steps back). You can read more about that in this tea's initial review.
  • Victorian Earl Grey: It's certified Kosher.

During the infusion process
Overall: While we didn't agree on every point, my husband and I did come to the same conclusion overall.

Jake definitely enjoyed both. He preferred the Victorian Earl Grey, but didn't mind the bitterness of the Earl Grey at all. He actually drained the rest of the cup as soon as I was finished reviewing it.

I, however, had a much stronger preference. I really enjoyed the Victorian Earl Grey and didn't care for the Earl Grey at all. The only reason I might hesitate to settle on the Victorian would be that it is less of an Earl Grey focus than I am looking for. But when I send my mind a couple weeks into the future it's much more enjoyable to think about starting my day with the Victorian than dreading the bitterness of the Earl Grey.

So, the winner of this face/off is...

The Victorian Earl Grey by Simpson & Vail


  1. I am a big Earl Grey fan, and I enjoyed reading your comparison. The Victorian EG sounds great. Might have to give that one a try.

    1. Thank you, that means a lot! It is a tasty one, and I'm a little sad my sample is nearly gone because it's been so enjoyable. Happy steeping!