More Earl Grey 🙂 yay!
Source: Char, in Winchester – I went into the shop when visiting my sister. You can also buy online, or mail order over the phone – this is what the tea society at Cambridge University does, and if you call them you can ask questions about the teas as well, and ask for advice on which to buy. I hear they’re very friendly (and certainly the person I met in the store was very friendly).
And may I say that this is the most sensible way of packaging loose tea I’ve seen – the bags come maybe half full (obviously as it’s sold by weight you’re not losing out by them being half full) so they’re really easy to deal with (i.e. tea doesn’t explode everywhere when you open them for the first time, for example) and are a really sensible way to keep the tea fresh without having to have a supply of tins.
Ethics: Char are a small and relatively young company (opened doors in 2006, see here). Most of their products don’t have any certifications, although they do sell a couple of certified Fairtrade coffees.
Their about page says that they import directly from growers wherever they can, and it looks like they’re a pretty small team (5 staff members are named), so I get the impression that they’re a small group of people doing things ethically but not big enough to go for certification of things. I may be wrong; “they’re friendly so they can’t be evil” isn’t logically rigorous, but it’s the impression I have.
Brewing instructions: brew with nearly boiling water for 3 minutes (or as desired). The tea is designed to be taken with milk. These instructions are interesting – I would have expected them to say boiling water (do they know something I don’t?). Having followed their instructions, nearly boiling definitely works (I wonder if it’s better for the cornflowers or something?). Look, you can see the cornflowers floating:
Appearance: Looks like, well, tea. Not much more to say about it. Maybe you can tell it’s Ceylon tea? I think that after you add milk, Ceylon tea is slightly on the cool-greyish-brown side, rather than other (e.g. Kenyan) tea which can be on the
Nose: It’s a bit more … fragrant (perfumed?), than other Earl Greys I’ve had (other Earl Greys I’ve had include: Williamson, Fortnum & Mason, Twinings, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, London Tea Company, Marks and Spencer, and Clipper Organic).
Actually, it’s probably equally fragrant as the Williamson one – but with a slightly different scent. I think it’s the combination of the citrus of the bergamot with the cornflowers, but it’s hard to capture … a slight sense of being fragrant and almost-but-not-quite cleansing.
Taste: It’s a Ceylon tea with natural bergamot and cornflowers (or so says the website). It’s a robust flavour – does stand up to milk, like it says it will – but blends well with the bergamot.
When I drink it I think “mmmm, yes, Earl Grey but something’s different …” – (mostly because I haven’t been drinking it for very long, I guess). Extremely pleasant. I’m not convinced that it’s “the” Supreme Earl Grey, but it’s a very nice Earl Grey, that’s for sure.
Food match: I’m having mine with Christmas cake … I think any cake type substance would go well with this tea. It has got the slight fruity/citrus/fragrant note, so probably not a tea to have with fish and chips, but cakes and biscuits of all kinds would do nicely.
Also good as an after-dinner tea.
Ever visited Char? Like Earl Grey? Think I’m very strange to have tried so many different Earl Greys? Leave me a comment 🙂
(As a note: at least the 3 Earl Greys I’ve reviewed on this site have been based on different teas – this one Ceylon, F&M from China, and Williamson from Kenya)