Tea: Earl Grey Loose Tea

An Earl Grey Tea from Bigelow Tea

Picture of Earl Grey Loose Tea
Brand:Bigelow Tea
Style:Earl Grey Tea
# Ratings:1 View All

Review of Earl Grey Loose Tea

10 of 105 of 54 of 595 of 100
OutstandingExcellentGood Value

This is the first time I'm trying Bigelow Earl Grey in loose form. I've purchased the teabags in the past, but from other experiences, I know that the loose tea and teabags don't always have the same taste.

My first impression was that, compared to other black earl grey teas I've gotten in tins, this variety has much larger leaves. There were some twigs, but not too many. The size of the leaves is as follows: 33-50% larger than Harney & Sons Organic Earl Grey loose tea, and 100-250% larger than Twining's Earl Grey loose tea. The scent, just like with the teabags is very strong and pointed with bergamot. This is much more pointed than either the Harney & Sons or the Twining's. The Twining's note of bergamot is more diffused and more reminiscent of lemon. The bergamot note in Harney & Sons is a bit more like lime and a bit more pointed, but not nearly as much as the Bigelow note. The Bigelow note of bergamot is the most pointed and leans in the direction of the zing of a lime a bit more than either of them. But, it's not unpleasant. It's a good, strong note that -- just like with the teabags -- doesn't seem like it would need a squeeze of lemon to make the taste complete.

In terms of freshness, I don't see any best-by date, which is a bit disappointing. I'd rather have them stamped on a tin so I don't lose track. That said, it's extremely fresh. By comparison, I have a Twining's which doesn't expire for almost 9 months and its scent is very weak, it even looks like it's well on its way to going stale. Also, I have a Harney & Sons that doesn't expire for about a year and a half, and its presence is stronger, but doesn't come close to that of the Bigelow tea. (As a note, I just got the Harney & Sons tin about a month ago, directly from Harney & Sons.)

The tin says to make it with 2 rounded teaspoons for a cup and boiling water. It says to steep for 2 minutes or whatever time we prefer. I typically use 2 rounded teaspoons for the Twining's Earl Grey, and brew for 3 minutes, so I'm going to do 2 minutes, 30 seconds.

The brew is dark, which is normal for Bigelow's Earl Grey. I noticed the same thing with the teabags (the color is several shades darker than Twining's, in my experience). There was a honey-like scent at first. There is more woodiness to the loose tea (at least in the scent) than the teabags, but it's still more earthy than other varieties. I appreciate the depth. I think the juxtaposition of the earthiness with the pointed bergamot tone is very striking. I'm adding a spoonful of raw honey, which I do with every Earl Grey I have.

My first impression, upon tasting it, is that this has more broadness to the palette than the teabags. There's much more depth. It's immediately much more satisfying than the teabags. It has an earthiness, but it's more balanced and subdued. This tastes much better in loose form. It's night and day. It's strange, though, because the Constant Comment tea by Bigelow tastes better in teabag form. I wonder if that tea was mixed with teabags in mind, while this one seems mixed with loose tea in mind?

Compared to the Twining's, this is much more complete with just honey. Twining's Earl Grey (loose) is woody and lighter and I always feel like it's missing something if I don't have it with a squeeze of lemon. The Harney & Sons Organic Earl Grey (loose) is fine without a squeeze of lemon, but it doesn't have as much presence or depth. The pointed aspect of the taste doesn't seem to just be the bergamot in the Bigelow Earl Grey (loose). It actually tastes like they stuck to only one or just a few varieties of black tea when mixing it. I've noticed that when tea is single-source, the flavors are more pointed and specific. So, that's what I'd guess went on here. This is actually the first Earl Grey where I could actually detect some of the creamy maltiness of the black tea underneath the bergamot note. I'm really quite impressed with this. It's very stimulating (the tastes), so I might not drink this on a daily basis. But, it's very good. It's really in a different league than any other Earl Grey I've had. Great job, Bigelow!

As a side note (though this doesn't factor at all into my rating of the tea), the service at Bigelow is great. When I order from them directly (online), they typically ship my order within 24-48 hours. When I had a problem with a previous order, they gave me a full refund without any hassle. As I understand it, Bigelow is a much smaller, family-owned company, and it really shows in how they interacted with me as a customer. That appeals a lot to me when I'm deciding where to buy my tea, so I wanted to mention it.

Update: I'm adding 5 points to make the total 95, because I made the tea again today and it was even better. I was actually at a disadvantage because I used boiled water from a saucepan rather than my electric kettle (which was cleaning). This is the only Earl Grey I've ever had where the taste of the black tea has been so individuated and delicious. Again, I could taste the creamy, maltiness of the black tea. I'm very impressed. I'd highly recommend this tea to anyone.

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