Monday, November 7, 2011

Unique Fall Tea Series : Earl Grey Citrus from Boston Tea Co.

Earl Grey is a traditional "anytime" tea, but I'm recommending it in my fall series because I personally gravitate toward the heartiness of a really good, astringent, malty Earl Grey when the weather begins to chill. It's a comfort flavor in my repertoire and I confess that I have a particular weakness for a good Earl Grey Creme as a dessert tea. Perhaps it's the idea of it being a British staple that brings out the inner Jane Austen in me - who can tell?

So I was excited to try Earl Grey Citrus from Boston Tea Company after seeing it described as "updated with a hint of citrus." Old meets new? Bergamot oil traditionally lends Earl Grey its citrusy flavor, but Boston's version also adds other types of citrus into the mix and blends it with what seems to be a nice medium-variety Assam.

But what's unique about Boston's blend is that they've thrown in whole cornflower buds (stem and all!) alongside the aromatic citrus peel. It's not just the typical blue petals thrown in for appearances - in this blend I actually taste the difference it makes to the cup. I would go so far as to say it makes the tea three-dimensional.

I steeped two teaspoons in my Stumpy pot to make two large cups, about three minutes at boiling. The liqueur is the typical dark and vibrant brown you'd expect from an Assam.

As for the taste? It's not going to blow you away with the strength of the citrus - which makes this one unique. A true surprise, given the amount of citrus pieces in the dry leaf. My mouth is puckering from the astringency of the Assam blend rather than from the Bergamot. There's nothing that tastes chemical or overdone. The Assam isn't as brisk or bright as other blends I've tried, but it works well with the other ingredients.

If you happen to like a very strong citrus "punch" in your Earl Grey, you may not like this blend. If you're looking to try something more subtle or if you're not a fan of the particular flavor notes of Bergamot, this should be on your list, as you might appreciate the way it leans more toward mid-range notes and orange.

Pairs with: just about anything - but if you're looking for an authentic Earl Grey experience, try it with an almond or citrus-flavored scone and some clotted cream. If you don't happen to live in Devonshire or a locale where clotted cream is in plentiful supply, you could try blending a teaspoon of your favorite sweetener into sour cream to get the same flavor and texture.


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