Review of Special Blend Tea Bags with Earl Grey

4 of 103 of 52 of 545 of 100

This tea came from a Middle Eastern eatery, and I took home an extra bag to try on home well water (instead of our heavily chlorinated city stuff that gets fishy this time of year when the lake turns over). Turns out not all the "fishy" element was from the water!

Here's the second Earl Grey tea in a row I've reviewed that would be deemed unfitting even for the coffee-pot area of a cheap, rickety old motel. The aroma of the dry bag was so weak as to be nearly absent. I could smell the bag paper over the tea and everything in it. The strongest aroma I picked up from the dry bag (in a relative sense) and in cup was somewhat algal, faintly fishy, oceanic, or like damp driftwood. I've noticed this with a few mass-marketed Ceylon teas in particular; it's not horrible, but not great either, and not very tea-like. I couldn't detect the bergamot in the dry or wet bags at all, though the base-tea aroma did dominate the wet bag, instead of the algal element. Go figure—the wet bag smelled the least "damp" and the most like tea!

Flavor was the tea's most tolerable aspect, at least. That ain't saying much. The base tea seems to be of passable quality—darkens up nicely in-cup, and exudes a moderately strong, plain-tea taste. This was the only part of the process where I could pick up the bergamot, and even then, only in weak, fleeting fashion. That's weird, considering both bags I drank had randomly placed orange spots on them, as if hung and sprayed with orange oil. But I did pick up another strange and somewhat offputting element, fortunately weak: dusty, like house dust. Imagine going through one's grandparents' attic with stuff that hasn't been touched in 35 years, brushing off the dust. Such was the vibe, occasionally. If not for that, and even without much bergamot, the base tea's flavor was rich enough to be a 4-star.

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