Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Earl Grey Extra by Simpson & Vail vs. Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black by Verdant


Today I'm excited to announce the fourth face/off in the Battle of the Earl Greys, between Verdant's Rose Bergamot Laoshan Black and Simpson & Vail's Earl Grey Extra!


Earl Grey Extra by Simpson & Vail
Teaware: 16oz glass infuser mug with lid
Measured dry: 2 teaspoons
Water Temperature: Boiling
Steeping Time: 4 minutes
Additives: 4 teaspoons of raw sugar




Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black by Verdant
Teaware: 16oz glass infuser mug with lid
Measured dry: 2 teaspoons
Water Temperature: Boiling
Steeping Time: 4 minutes
Additives: 4 teaspoons of raw sugar





Now that both cups have been properly infused, let's see how they meet the criteria!

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

  • Simpson & Vail: Yes, this is nice and smooth a hint of smokiness. This is an excellent straightforward Earl Grey with a strong kick of bergamot, nicely balanced with the black blend of Darjeeling, Assam, Chinese, and Sri Lankan teas.
  • Verdant: This is so smooth it's silky. While not quite your traditional Earl Grey flavor profile, the Laoshan Black base is buttery and just kind of amazingly flavorful. 


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


  • Simpson & Vail: Not applicable, this is a straightforward Earl Grey profile.
  • Verdant: Not entirely, the bergamot is not a prominent enough note for it to fit into the traditional flavor profile, but the elements are still there. There is also just a touch of rose, but it is very understated and somewhat faint.


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


  • Simpson & Vail: This has a richer amount of bergamot than many of its peers, which makes for a more traditional yet very tasty cup.
  • Verdant: Oh, yeah! The buttery and incredibly flavorful base really makes this tea stand out in a wonderful and unique way.

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


  • Simpson & Vail: The astringency is mild to moderate, but nothing that detracts from my enjoyment of this tea.
  • Verdant: There's not much astringency at all. This remains very smooth and silky.


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


  • Simpson & Vail: It's listed as a Kosher tea.
  • Verdant: Yes, in a big way! Verdant's teas are farm-direct, single-origin with ethical sourcing. As Kelsey told me in an email, they are not currently certified fair-trade or organic, but they do meet those standards. They explain their sourcing further on their website.


Jake's Opinion: The Simpson & Vail is the better Earl Grey, but the Verdant is the better tea overall, with an incredibly complex and rich flavor, along with a very smooth and buttery texture.

Lyssa's Opinion: Oh, my goodness, these are both so good! This was a very, very difficult call. I do agree with Jake that the Simpson & Vail adheres more to the traditional Earl Grey flavor profile, but I also love the complexity of the Verdant and its ties to organics and fair-trade. Truly, I could see myself happily making either one of these on a cold morning, but when it comes down to it, I think I'm going to have to go with the cup that makes me say "wow!" with each sip.




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

Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black by Verdant

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