This is one of the most intensely scented and flavored Earl Greys I’ve ever tasted. As with the majority of Earl Greys, its base is a Ceylon tea, and it’s a strong one. The flavoring includes a large dose of bergamot, and lemon added as well, for a very strong citrus aroma and taste.
As soon as one opens the packet, the bergamot aroma is evident. The leaves are large (that’s the P in BOP, for Pekoe, the larger, lower leaves on the tea plant), but broken (that’s the B in BOP), and broken leaves release more tea flavor than whole leaves do. The tea brews up medium-to-dark brown, and the aroma stays quite strong. With the first sip, the lemon note hits your tongue an instant before the bergamot, and then the bergamot has a long finish. If you aren’t already acquainted with Earl Grey tea, this might be too strong for a first tea. If you are already an Earl Grey fan, and are disappointed in Earl Greys characterized as “mild,” then this is definitely the tea for you.
Upton describes this tea as:
A recent addition to our Earl Grey Blends. The base for this tea is an elegant long-leaf Ceylon BOP1. The fresh, full bergamot flavor is married with lemon notes to produce a rich and full bodied tea.
I add sugar to this tea when I drink it, to balance out the citrus a bit. I personally think that milk in an Earl Grey is an abomination, and in this one it would be even more so because of the additional lemon. I know many people add milk to their Ceylon tea, just as if it were an Indian tea, but I really don’t recommend trying it here. I don’t recommend adding lemon, either – this is already strongly flavored. If you must add something besides sugar, use a very mild lime, or a sweet orange wedge.
Upton’s instructions say to steep this tea for 4 minutes; I found that a little too strong even for me. Steep it for 3 minutes, and save the leaves for a second steeping, which will give you a milder Earl Grey with less caffeine for later in the evening. Because there is so much flavor, both from the tea and the flavorings, this is a good choice for saving to have second or even third steepings.
I don’t like this particular Earl Grey as an iced tea; to my tastes, the milder an Earl Grey is, the better it ices, and mild is not a word I’d ever use on this tea. If you do decide to ice it, though, drink it immediately – bergamot oil pools and tastes funny if you leave the tea in the refrigerator overnight.
Upton offers over a dozen Earl Grey varieties, including some besides this one that have other citrus flavors added. There’s also an “Extra Bergamot” version. Earl Grey fanatics, take note!