The Good: Excellent flavor, Nothing detrimental in the nutrition department, Good aroma, Caffeinated, No aftertaste!
The Bad: None!
The Basics: The perfect tea. Period. Victorian Earl Grey delivers for tea lovers everywhere!
Earlier this year, I ran low on tea. Yes, those who read my reviews regularly might know that each year, I make a stop at Celestial Seasonings' factory/gift shop to avoid just this personal catastrophe. But I drank (and reviewed) a lot of Celestial Seasonings tea last year and as a result, I found myself actually surrendering and plucking out the tea bags that had been discarded to the back of my cupboards over the years. The most prevalent of these teas were the bags of Twinings Earl Grey that I had never gotten around to throwing away because, truth be told, it was the first tea I fell in love with in the form (brand) I loved it.
But those who read my reviews know that I have fierce loyalty to the brands I love. On my recent trip out West, this fanatical devotion to certain brands (in this case, an absolute refusal to spend money on gasoline at Exxon or Mobile stations) led to some serious problems (note to hybrid owners: Wyoming's hills cannot be taken on less than an eighth tank of gas). So, for the past few months, I have been experiencing some guilt over my relapse to Twinings Earl Grey and when I arrived at Celestial Seasonings this year, I made a beeline for the Victorian Earl Grey tea. And now, I am proud to review it.
Quite simply, this is a perfect tea. All of those years watching Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek: The Next Generation demand "Tea. Earl Grey. Hot." from the computer; this is the tea one has to imagine he was insisting upon.
Victorian Earl Grey Tea is a black tea from Celestial Seasonings. Black tea is made from mature tea leaves that are dried on the tea plant. Celestial Seasonings has its Earl Grey tea available year round and it is, for my money, the gold standard for that flavor of tea. Earl Grey is what I call an adjective tea; the flavor is its own, the name does not hold it to any standard other than to represent what is generally accepted as that flavor. In other words, Earl Grey tastes like Earl Grey and Victorian Earl Grey is the perfect embodiment of this flavor . . . without the waste many other tea companies insist on spreading with superfluous packaging!
Victorian Earl Grey comes in Celestial Seasonings' standard stringless tea bags. The tea bags are connected as pairs with an easy-to-tear perforation to separate them and the bags are neatly wrapped in a wax paper liner. A box of Victorian Earl Grey tea comes with 20 tea bags (ten pairs).
Ease Of Preparation
As a black tea, Victorian Earl Grey is ridiculously easy to prepare. A single tea bag will make the standard 8 oz. coffee mug worth of tea and could be reused and make a second cup of Earl Grey with surprisingly little loss of flavor. Indeed, this is one of the best teas for those who like to reuse tea bags. The second cup often comes out about as strong as the first, provided the first steeping was not over the recommended time. I tend to make my tea using a 32 oz. steeping tea pot and that works well, though in this method, the second brewing is about 3/4 strength.
To prepare Victorian Earl Grey tea, bring a pot of water to a boil and pour it over the tea bags. This tea takes only three to five minutes to steep according to the directions. In my experience, it gets no stronger after five minutes and as a rather strong tea, it does not truly need to be stronger than it naturally is.
Victorian Earl Grey tea, like any adjective tea, is somewhat difficult to rate on taste in that it is what it tastes like. There is no standard for comparison for Earl Grey, save other Earl Grey teas! Celestial Seasonings Victorian Earl Grey tea tastes like Earl Grey tea. It tastes like tea.
Earl Grey tea is a very strong tea, the type that kicks the morning out of bed, awakens the drinker at night and allows for a pretty level drinking experience to those drinking it throughout the day. The most reasonable analogy I can come up with is to compare it to Lipton's rather pathetic version of tea. This Earl Grey is like sucking on five Lipton tea bags in each sip. It is a very concentrated tea flavor and it has a bold flavor without being woody.
The scent is also very strong and unique to the tea, most likely a function of the Bergamot flavoring. Honestly, I don't know what Bergamot smells like, but as I do know what standard teas smell like, it seems reasonable that the forceful, dry scent of Earl Grey is the Bergamot.
Actually, dry is an excellent way to describe the taste of most Earl Grey teas, but not Celestial Seasonings' Victorian Earl Grey. Victorian Earl Grey flavor is strong and slightly dry with an aroma that smells like tea and warmth. However, where many Early Grey teas will leave a dry aftertaste in the mouth of the person drinking it, Victorian Earl Grey does not suffer this problem and as a result is a strangely satisfying tea experience for those who drink tea.
With a teaspoon of sugar, Earl Grey becomes surprisingly sweet, and any lingering dryness in the flavoring is cut as well. The result is a tea that is easy to drink and tastes quite good, but is very awkward to describe in its flavoring. The truth is, Earl Grey is a flavor of its own and I have come to consider Celestial Seasonings' Victorian Earl Grey to be the best Earl Grey I have had (not just because of brand loyalty, but based on the strength of the flavor and lack of the aftertaste).
The ingredients to this tea, which will explain my inability to describe the flavor, are quite simply: Black tea and Natural bergamot flavor with other natural flavors (including containing soy lecithin). There are no other ingredients or flavors, nothing that cannot be pronounced.
In terms of nutrition, this tea is devoid of it. One 8 oz. mug of this tea provides nothing of nutritional value to the drinker. There are no calories (save what one adds from sugar, which I recommend), no fat, sodium, or protein. There is caffeine and according to the Celestial Seasonings caffeine meter on the side of the box we discover this has a rating of 60. This is above cola (45) and a bit under drip coffee (90), though it is certainly enough to perk up anyone drinking it!
Victorian Earl Grey tea is very easy to clean up after, provided one does not get it on fabric. The tea bags may be disposed in the garbage, or composted if you have a good garden and/or compost pile. The tea itself will stain a mug a faint brown if it is left there for days on end, but otherwise may be cleaned up easily by rinsing out the vessel.
Victorian Earl Grey is a rather dark tea and as a result, it will stain any light fabrics it comes in contact with. As a result, it is highly recommended that one not let it linger on anything they wish to protect and not have stained. It may be cleaned off if the spill is caught quickly, but if it lingers, it is not at all easy to wash out of clothes, linens or other fabrics.
The wait was worth it as Celestial Seasonings proves that they can do Earl Grey with the best of them and even eliminate the aftertaste many of them have, making it a new standard for the flavor. Delightful, strong and potent, Victorian Earl Grey is THE Earl Grey to drink!
For other tea reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Tangerine Orange Zinger
Red Safari Spice
For other food or drink reviews, please visit my index page for an organized listing!
© 2011, 2008 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.