The dry leaf smelled very much like bergamot with rooibos (funny how that worked out, huh?) … but once it was brewed (boiling water for 8 minutes), I smelled lemon – bright, sunny lemon! – much more so than bergamot orange.
The flavor is also quite interesting. I taste the woody/nutty flavor of rooibos, and then I taste citrus fruit that tastes somewhere between a lemon and an orange. It doesn’t have a real distinct bergamot kind of flavor, and for those of you who are familiar with that bergamot flavor, you know what I’m talking about: it is a very specific flavor, and even though other citrus flavors come close to bergamot… those other citrus fruits don’t quite achieve “bergamot.”
Unfortunately, I don’t really think this Rooibos Earl Grey achieves the bergamot flavor either. The bergamot is there, only it is slight, and it is kind of tricky to get it to come out and play. I found that if I sipped casually, I could not taste the bergamot … I tasted only a lemony-orange flavor. But, if I gently slurped the tea, the bergamot was more noticeable. And with the rooibos, it tastes sweet, tangy, and quite tasty. Different, but delicious.
Red Leaf Tea describes this tisane as
In South Africa, the British habit of tea drinking caught on slowly. Tensions between the Afrikaners (descendants of Dutch colonists), native tribes, and British settlers did not encourage shared drinks at midday. Afrikaners also had the option of drinking their local rooibos (“red bush”) tea, a wonderful brew in its own right, which has only in the last ten years gotten the attention of the rest of the tea drinking world! Today, South Africa has grown into a modern nation, and tea drinkers are now free to mix and meld their blends and brews. Here is an exotic result of this sudden cultural crosscurrent: a robust and earthy Earl Grey Rooibos! You’ll be delighted with the mingling of citrus and herbal sweetness in this blend. Rooibos is noted for its lack of astringency, and the bergamot oranges used in Earl Grey tea are perfectly suited to this herb. Earl Grey Rooibos is a great new tea for a new century!
While this could never take the place of a good, classic black Earl Grey tea, it is still a tasty and interesting variation on a beloved favorite. And since rooibos is naturally caffeine free, it’s a great way to enjoy Earl Grey later in the evening.