Rooibos Earl Grey from Adagio Teas

Rooibos Earl Grey from AdagioWhen I opened up this tin, I was greeted by the very welcome scent of {en:bergamot}, that famous flavoring of all Earl Greys.  Earl Grey is my old standby of scented teas, and I am always on the lookout for new and delightful variations.

This particular blend, with a Rooibos base, features not just bergamot oil but orange rinds that I can only guess come from an actual bergamot orange. It also appeared to have cornflower blossoms, but as Adagio does not have ingredients lists on its website or sample packaging, I’m left guessing. It certainly did smell delightful.

Upon steeping, the light but distinct scent of rooibos emerged, with a whiff of caramel.  The bergamot scent was still there but not quite as strong as in the leaves themselves. Likewise the actual flavor of the infusion is not as strong as many Earl Greys. Rooibos has its own flavor of course, and one cannot expect the same tannic astringency that Black Tea lovers seek out. This tea has a lightness to it most suitable for late afternoons and into the evening, when caffeine is not quite as welcome as it is at the breakfast table.

Adagio describes this tea as:

Rooibos tea from South Africa, flavored with oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit. According to legend, this tea is named for Earl Grey, a British Prime Minister, to whom a Chinese noble entrusted its secret recipe for saving his life. Unfortunately, this story is not true. But we hope this won’t prevent you from enjoying our exquisite ‘Bravo’ version of the popular Earl Grey tea, the perfect afternoon tea. Naturally caffeine-free.

I do recommend as a minimum steeping time the seven minutes recommended by Adagio.  Many South Africans even steep their rooibos overnight for maximum strength, as rooibos leaves do not have the tannins that cause tea to become bitter when steeped for too long. While perhaps the bergamot flavors would have more play at a lower steeping time, the rooibos itself would be overwhelmed by the citrus notes that are so delightfully delicate when properly steeped. As for the cornflowers, I do not know that they added anything to the flavor, if that is what they were, but they certainly do look pretty in the tin.

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