Friday, 2 September 2016
As a dedicated Earl Grey lover it takes quite a lot to please me when it comes to the beautiful, bergamot infused drink. I'm fussy. I do give the variations of Earl Grey a go. Some I've loved, some I've liked and others I've not been at all keen on.
Supermarket own brand Earl Grey are not normally the first I turn to, I will admit. It tends to be weak, wishy washy and lacking any type of oomph. Or, at the other end of the spectrum, it's can be synthetic, overly perfumed and burns the roof of your mouth. Normally, I will only turn to own brand Earl Grey when Twinings is too expensive, as it can be in some places.
Earlier this summer I visited a friend who always buys me a box of tea when I go to stay. She very kindly read out the options and for some reason I decided to opt for this Taste The Difference Fairtrade Earl Grey from Sainsburys.
Not sure why I opted for this over Twinings as there wasn't much different in the price (Twinings was on offer at time of ordering) but perhaps I just fancied something new and different. After all, though a devoted lover of Twinings Lady Grey, I've equally been impressed by Marks and Spencers Empress Grey. Variety is the spice of life so perhaps I just fancied shaking things up a bit. Stepping out of the tea comfort zone.
From the offset this tea doesn't compare to Twinings. However, it's not a bad second. Here's why I feel this.
The base tea is of unknown origin, it doesn't state on the box where it comes from, simply that it's a black tea. It's quite strong and robust, and in itself makes for a good tea (note to self: maybe I should next try their English Breakfast and Assam blends) which is tasty and gives you a real kick start in the morning. However, the strength of the tea causes a problem.
Those of us who have drunk our body weight in Earl Grey will instantly know the warm, familiar taste of bergamot. That citrus taste which is hard to pin down to either lemon or orange, but takes the plain black tea and blasts it into a different stratosphere. In this tea, it's slightly lacking. It's more reminiscent of Twinings Delicate Earl Grey then the ever popular The Earl Grey available in every supermarket and convenience store in the UK.
The flavour of the bergamot is gentle, tasty, but does lack a certain oomph. It's there, but I just wanted it to be stronger to stand up against the tea they have used. And it just lacks a bit of something. However, the actual taste of the bergamot is nice and natural - thankfully this isn't one of those perfumed disasters found in some Earl Grey.
What I will say about this tea though is it's incredibly refreshing, and leaves a gorgeous taste in your mouth long after the cup has been finished. It's refreshing on a hot day and doesn't seem to sit heavy on my stomach during the mini heat waves we've had recently here in the UK.
Going back to the bergamot flavour, because it's - shall we say - dainty, I would avoid adding milk to the tea for fear of wiping out that Earl Grey essence completely, however, I find this tea really is spiced up by adding a slice of lemon. That seems to bring the bergamot out a little and I've found that since adding the fruit, I've had some really gorgeous cups of this tea.
I have tried leaving the tea to infuse to it's maximum time, but I found it went bitter and didn't actually alter the strength of the bergamot at all - rather it just made the tea taste a little stewed.
I do apologise for this mish mash of a review. It's a little all over the place granted!
However, I did actually like the tea. The bergamot is a nice flavour, but I just need a wee bit more of it added so it stands up against the high quality, but strong, black tea that Sainsburys have decided to use in this tea. It just needs a little bit more oomph and if Sainsburys read this and decide to make the flavour a little stronger, this will be a surefire hit.
But, do not be in doubt, this is a pleasant tea and I can't praise highly enough the black tea used. It's a robust, nice quality tea that will give the tea drinker a satisfying cup of tea.
I like the packaging too, it's really pretty.
I also can't fault Sainsburys for the options it gives their customers. You can buy this tea in boxes of 50, 100 and 200. You can buy it as a loose tea also (good for the traditional tea drinkers) and they also provide a decaff version too - and that's great because I know at least three people who need to drink decaff coffee and tea as part of a healthy diet.
I will easily give this tea 8/10 for the quality of the ingredients (I really am impressed with the black tea used). But to get it up to a 9 or 10 then Sainsburys need to add more bergamot flavouing. Not a huge amount more, but enough for us to taste the special element that makes Earl Grey, well, Earl Grey!
As a supermarket own blend this is really quite good. And I don't think the price, £1.20 for 50 teabags is bad at all. But, honestly, put it up to £1.50 and get a smidgeon more bergamot in there.
Then, it would be the perfect cup of Earl Grey.
This morning I am enjoying Twinings really good Gunpowder Green tea, that comes in this pretty Cutty Sark caddy. So, on this dull Friday morning decided there would be no better time to review this impressive tea!
Gunpowder Green is a Chinese green tea. It's name comes from the actual appearance of the tea - it's rolled into tiny balls of tea that do resemble old fashioned gunpowder pellets. When you shake the tin it really does rattle and roll!
The tea itself comes in this brilliant green caddy, which features an impression of the world famous British tea clipper, The Cutty Sark, which is on permanent display in Greenwich, London. You can visit this fantastic ship and I'm pretty sure this tea will be available to buy in the gift shop. It's also available online on Twinings shop, too. I love the naval theme which also decorates the caddy. It's a follow on from the really pretty packaging that was used on the jubilee and royal baby tea's.
When I first saw this tea I thought the price - £15 - was expensive. And I will admit that I got this caddy in a discount store in the UK, called Lathams, which is located in a place called Potter Heigham in Norfolk. I paid the princely sum of £2.90 because the use by date of this tea is the end of this month. The big question though, having tasted it, would I pay £15? I would most certainly.This caddy contains 200g's of tea which is a substantial amount of tea, so, yes, I think it's worth £15.
I am, if I'm honest, quite wary of green tea that is produced for the mass market. I find that some of the green tea's that are available to be sold in supermarkets are of a slightly lesser quality, often bitter and hard to drink, and quite off putting to the green tea newbie. So, when I try a more commercial green tea it's with a bit of reluctance. With this tea, I was more than surprised.
Green tea can be quite hard to prepare, it's fiddly, you have to monitor temperatures, time it correctly, try to work out a decent tea to water ratio. It's all a pain in the backside, unless you have the luxury of the Sage Tea Maker, which, I will admit I do. So reading the preparation instructions it said add boiling water - yes, boiling water! - and infuse for two minutes. Hmm, I thought to myself. Boiling water and tea? Normally, I follow the instructions, then alter it if it's undrinkable to me.
I was very surprised that actually this tea is robust enough to easily flourish in boiling water. Though, I will admit I timed it exactly for two minutes, and it makes a utterly perfect cup of tea. No more infusion, no less. Two minutes makes a perfect cup of tea.
The grassy element of green tea will either make you love it or hate it. I admit I like that quality about green tea, and this does have that slightly vegetable like element. Thankfully, though it's not at all strong, or overwhelming. It's just that special tang that makes green tea utterly divine (in my eyes).
This Gunpowder Green tea is utterly tasty. It's has flavour, enough to make you appreciate that you're having a wonderful cup of tea. But what I truly love is this tea's smoothness. It's so easy to drink and very mellow. It's gentle on the taste buds and totally lacks any bitterness - an element I can appreciate puts so many people off.
I felt really refreshed after taking this tea, but it's also strong enough to kick start you in the mornings, which is nice if you fancy a change from black tea or coffee. This is ideal to serve up as afternoon tea, and perfect for that end of day winding down drink too. It's a versatile tea that can be taken any time of the day.
In my opinion, this tea is delicate and is perfect for those who are new to green tea drinking and who may find some others on the market a little too strong. But it's satisfying enough for those who are established green drinkers.
I will admit that I wasn't impressed by Twinings recent new green tea, the steamed green tea range. I could never prepare it just right and it always seemed so bitter. But oh, how Twinings have got this one so right. It's utterly delicious.
I can only speak as I find - and this tea gets not one but two thumbs up! So if you find yourself visiting the Cutty Sark treat yourself to a tin of this truly delightful tea. If you're not, order it online. If you're a green tea lover DO NOT miss out on this blend.
And if you're stepping into the green tea world for the first time, prepare this exactly as it says on the tin and you will be guaranteed a beautiful, refreshing cup of joy.