Review: Culinary Teas Russian Earl Grey

Bergamot Tea, Black Tea, Cornflower Tea, Culinary Teas, Lemongrass Tea, Orange Peel Tea Add comments
Sophie’s Teaview Snapshot
Its OK"The mix of bergamot oil, lemon grass and orange peel makes for a complex citrus profile that wavers back and forth between the sweet, the sour and the astringent, set over top a rather timid tea base."
Sophie’s Teaview: 6.6/10
Other Teaviews: Geoff gave it 8.7/10
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I always enjoy trying variations inspired by the classic combination of black tea and bergamot oil. A good Earl Grey can be so satisfying. But what if it could be even better??? This time around Culinary Teas decided to pay tribute to Russian tea drinkers of yore. Apparently when tea was first introduced to Russia several centuries ago, it was blended with various combinations of ginger, salt, orange peel, rice, onions, sugar and many other herbs and spices to make it more palatable. In this case, the mix has wisely been limited to Sri Lankan and Chinese black tea leaves, orange peel, lemon grass, blue cornflower petals and bergamot oil. Visually-speaking, this blend is very appealing: the long, curly tea leaves are interspersed amongst a good amount of contrasting elements. The bergamot oil strongly scents the dry leaves. It is more on the manly side of things, rather than sweet and fruity.

Based on the instructions found on Culinary Teas' website, I used a heaping teaspoonful of leaves in water heated to 205 degrees Fahrenheit. I had trouble dosing the infusion time. I stopped at 4 minutes out of the recommend 3 to 7 minutes because the bergamot threatened to become too intense and overwhelm the other flavours. However the tea base seems like it could have used more time, since it 's still a little thin. There are some underlying biscuity notes that are detectable but I would have preferred a tea base with more presence. The mix of bergamot oil, lemon grass and orange peel makes for a more complex citrus profile that wavers back and forth between the sweet, the sour and the astringent. But somehow the citrus notes don't seem to be working with the tea base. There is also a “greenish” taste to the finish, as though some citronella oil has been added to the mix. I find this rather unfortunate as I tend to associate it's soapy taste with cleaning products.

I infused the blend a second time for 7 minutes. The flavour profile is much more balanced this time around. The citrus notes have lost their soapy tinge and are now just sweet and refreshing. The lemon grass in particular is more prominent, adding an element of tartness to the finish. Again the tea base seems a little timid.

Culinary teas recommends having this tea with milk and sugar. I experimented with a subsequent cup and found that a small amount of sweetener did much to enhance the fruity qualities of this tea, making the flavour of the orange peel really pop out. The milk did wonders in terms of rounding out all the edges and somehow tying together an otherwise dissonant blend.

Even though I enjoy intensely flavoured Earl Greys and this blend has an interesting range of citrus notes, these somehow don't work together with the leaves. The bergamot oil seems too heavy for the delicate tea base used. I was happy to try this blend to satisfy my curiosity as an Earl Grey fan but I don't think I would seek this out for purchase.

— To purchase Culinary Teas Russian Earl Grey, 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.

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