Review: Red Leaf Tea Earl Grey Xtra Fancy

Bergamot Tea, Black Tea, Earl Grey Tea, Red Leaf Tea Add comments
Geoff’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"A second infusion of three minutes at a lighter temperature yielded far better results."
Geoff’s Teaview: 6.2/10
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I was curious to see how this tea earned the "Xtra Fancy" label. According to its bio, the reason for the "X" moniker was the use of a whole leaf black tea base as opposed to a broken leaf one. The difference may seem like a superficial one, but the cut of the leaf sometimes depends on the strength and color of the brew. The flavor may not be better or worse than others, but the brew yielded will be a thing of quality. The definitive grade of the tea base here wasn't mentioned. If I were to guess, I would say at least a GFOP (Golden Flowery Orange Pekoe), since golden tips were present.

My biggest concern was that it was indistinguishable from the other Earls I tried from Red Leaf. The others appeared to have the same quality of tea base to them - all good, for the most part. This certainly didn't deviate or waver in the bergamot department. It was citrus-sour like the day it was blended, very strong to the nostrils. I didn't catch a whiff of much else past that.

Brewing was as expected for a black; 1 tsp in 6oz of boiled water for three-to-five minutes. I infused on the lighter side - my usual 1 tbsn in 8oz for three. It met the Red Leaf requirement - for the most part - just...more of it.

The liquor brewed to an even copper; about as medium-dark as I expected, like a second flush orange pekoe. The steam aroma was more citrus than sour, which was a pleasant surprise. It didn't smell dry on the nostrils. Wish I could say the same for taste, though. This was a very bitter cup on the forefront with a citrus middle and an astringent aftertaste. I haven't run into that in a long time. The two traits I don't favor in black tea - dryness and bitterness - were out in spades. So much for the fanciness.

A second infusion of three minutes at a lighter temperature yielded far better results. There was no bitterness or dryness, the citrus aspects complimented the floral character of the tea base. And that's just it, there *was* a black tea presence, which I found quite welcome. Like a good high altitude black tea.

Some people like their Earls on the strong side of flavor. I've been known to like them to, if malty like an Assam. With this, however, I would recommend not boiling the water when brewing. Go for a 190F "pre-boil" - a good temp for a Darjeeling - and steep for two-and-a-half minutes. It would be lighter but probably less lip-curling.

— To purchase Red Leaf Tea Earl Grey Xtra Fancy, or for more specific information on ingredients or the story behind this particular tea, click here to go directly to the manufacturer's web site.

Teaviews Member: Geoff Geoff Reviewer
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