Most producers of Earl Grey use marginal quality broken bits of black tea, relying on the strength of the bergamot to carry the flavor of the tea. I’ve had many a cup of strongly flavored, but not terribly interesting Earl Grey tea over the years. Jing Tea, on the other hand, uses whole leaf Ceylon of respectable quality in their Earl Grey Supreme Black Tea, and it shows: both in the look of the dry leaf and in the taste of the brew. In addition to oil of bergamot, the flavoring ingredient that defines an Earl Grey tea, Jing has also added a sprinkling of cornflowers. I don’t think that I could identify the cornflower in the taste, but it adds a pretty blue visual accent to the pre-brewed tea. (Note: oil of bergamot comes from the bergamot orange, a small pear-shaped fruit originally grown in Southeast Asia but now also grown extensively in Italy.)
When I brewed the first cup of this tea I made the mistake of using too much leaf. This resulted in a cup that was a lot more like a brutal assault of bergamot oranges to the head than a strong, orange-scented, nice cup of tea. Subsequent tastings proved much more enjoyable when I was more careful about leaf quantity and I found that I really liked drinking it, particularly as a first cup of tea as I try to launch into the day.
Jing Tea’s online description of this tea states that they designed it to suit tea drinkers who prefer to add milk to their cup. It is certainly a tea with a strong personality, one that could hold its own even with a bit of taming by milk. Since I do not add milk to tea I brewed it a little weaker than the 1-2 teaspoon to a cup ratio that the company recommends on its packaging. This resulted in a rich and tangy brew, heavy on the bergamot, but not overpowering.
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