Every summer I try to assign myself a project. Sometimes it's a series of smaller tasks and other times it's a single focus. This summer is going to be a bit of a combination - some writing, some scrapbooking, some sewing, and, of course, a quest for the perfect Earl Grey for me.
Now you'll notice that I didn't just say "The Best Earl Grey." I don't think there is such a thing. If you watch Malcolm Gladwell's "Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce" on TEDTalks, you'll see what I mean. I'm simply looking for the tea that best fits my own as yet undefined criteria.
As this is only a summer project, my goal is to post the final results in late August or early September.
There's a LOT of EG out there, so initially I'm going to just be working to eliminate the teas that I don't think will be solid contenders. I want to get it down to something nice and round, like 8 or 12, so I can treat it like a sports game and create an actual bracket. I'll post it when we get to that point, and you can play along if you like!
Right now, I'm looking at a single-elimination bracket because I simply do not have the quantity of each tea required for a double-elimination format. For example, an 8-tea single-elimination format will require enough of each tea for four rounds, including the initial review. We'll be using my new 16oz infuser mugs, so that will mean 8 cups worth of each tea instead of the 18 cups worth a double-elimination format would require.
The Final Bracket and Results
Over time this changed a little to separate the top contenders, mostly because it would have sucked to have the closest match somewhere in the middle instead of at the end. Because of this, our closest matches were between the four finalists, all fabulous teas which I would be delighted to have in my cupboard.
The Four Finalists
- Organic Earl Grey by Tealicious
- Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
- Earl Grey French Blue by Mariage Frères
- Silky Earl Grey by Teajo Specialty Teas
To see how we went from the original 50 Earl Greys to these four finalists, check out the final copy of the face/off bracket:
This is subject to change (hence the "evolving" part of the title!) and I will add to it the further I get into the project. For right now, these are some of the things I've been noticing:
- A smooth tea without jarring notes, like a bitter aftertaste, etc.
- I am open to different varieties (i.e. lavender, cream, etc.) but the EG flavors must take the driver's seat and maintain the focus.
- There must be a "Wow!" factor - something about it needs to stand out and make it special.
- Medium to low astringency - let's avoid too much of the "dry mouth" factor!
- Fair Trade and Organic would be preferred.
There's just too much great tea out there! During this project I've come across some amazing teas, but not all of them meet the Earl Grey criteria I'm looking for. To compensate for that, I'm going to rank the various varieties as I go. Please note that these will evolve throughout the project.
Earl Grey, Lavender:
- Victorian Earl Grey by Simpson & Vail
- Earl Grey Lavender by Rishi Teas (Fair Trade, Organic)
- Earl Grey Lavender by Revolution
- Earl Grey Provence by Mariage Frères
- Earl Grey Lavender by Adagio
- Lady Grey by Tealicious
Earl Grey, Cream:
- Cream of Earl Grey by DAVIDsTEA (Organic)
- Earl Grey Moonlight by Adagio
- Earl Grey Cream by Teavana
- Earl Grey Creme by Della Terra Teas
Earl Grey, Other:
- Summertime Earl Grey by Simpson & Vail (Kosher)
- Earl Grey Cheesecake by 52Teas
- Citrus Paradisi Earl Grey Blend by Simpson & Vail (Kosher)