Thursday, March 31, 2016

Not Quite Festive, SpecialTea Holiday Earl Grey Blend Tea Disappoints.

The Good: Nothing bad in it, Does not taste bad
The Bad: Not overly flavorful, Unpleasant aftertaste, Expensive
The Basics: SpecialTea Earl Grey tea is overpriced and underwhelming, failing to either be distinctive as a tea or any form of iconic Earl Grey flavor.

My wife is incredible in how hard she tries to surprise me with new things (for enjoyment and review) that she thinks I would like based on past experience. She is pretty tireless in trying to keep me happy (though that is very easy with her!) and when it comes to holiday-themed food and drink, she usually is right on the money. I always feel bad when something she gets for me fails to land and I feel even more bothered when the product she gets for me is more expensive and does not live up to its hype. That is, sadly, where I am with the SpecialTea Holiday Earl Grey Blend tea she picked up for me.

I love Earl Grey tea and the idea of infusing Earl Grey with a chocolate flavor seemed like it would be a slam-dunk. Alas, it does not quite succeed with its promised flavors.


SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend is a caffeinated tea from SpecialTea, a tea company I have only recently learned existed. The tea comes in a single vacuum-sealed bag, much like coffee and the 1 oz. size was disproportionately expensive for the two servings we got out of it. The Earl Grey Blend is a holiday Earl Grey which is supposed to be an Earl Grey tea that is accented by chocolate. It does not quite live up to either promised flavor.

Ease Of Preparation

SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend is as easy to prepare as any other loose-leaf tea. One needs a decent tea pot and tea strainer (or related device for filtering out the tea leaves from one's beverage). One needs to measure out a heaping teaspoon per cup of water and pour near-boiling water over it. This tea has a surprisingly short steep time of one to three minutes and the tea is ready. I found that the tea did not actually get more potent after the two minute mark.

For those who are tea misers, a second cup made by reusing the same tea leaves resulted in a mug of tea that was less than half as strong as the first cup. The second steeping also resulted in a tea which was much drier and more bitter in flavor than the original brewing and that made it impossible to effectively reuse.


The scent of SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend is absolutely amazing from the tea leaf blend. There is a hint of Bergamot aroma that blends with a surprisingly stronger aroma of chocolate, with tea packing up the end of the olfactory experience. When brewed up, the Earl Grey Blend tea smells more like chocolate and tea than anything like a classic Earl Grey.

In the mouth, the SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend tastes dry and slightly sweet. The flavor is a fairly generic black tea flavor. In fact, the Bergamot flavoring that makes Earl Grey so distinctive only seems to come out as an aftertaste on the palate. The tea is not even sweet or chocolatey enough to sell itself on being more diversely flavored than some form of weakened Earl Grey.

With a hint of sugar, the tea becomes more palatable, but not much more flavorful. Sweetener cuts through the dryness of the tea, but does not bring out more of the hints of chocolate or even the Bergamot flavoring.

The SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend tea has a very dry aftertaste that lingers in the mouth for about five minutes after the last of it is consumed.


The ingredients to SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend tea are more complicated than some teas, arguably because the holiday blend required some "bells and whistles." The primary ingredients are China black tea, red sprinkles and silver ball candies (I kid not!). There appears to be nothing sinister hiding in this tea, but also there is no explicit mention of Bergamot in the ingredients, which is a pretty essential flavoring for Earl Grey teas (holiday or not!).

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 surprised me given the candies in the actual tea leaf blend), no fat, sodium, or protein. There is caffeine, but how much is not disclosed. One should not attempt to live on SpecialTea Earl Grey alone! SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend appears to be Kosher for those who keep Kosher.


Because this is a loose leaf tea, the SpecialTea Earl Grey Blend must be kept tightly sealed (airtight) to avoid denaturing. As well, because this blend has chocolate right in it, it should be kept in moderate temperatures for storage - not overly warm, lest the chocolate in it melt. Kept properly sealed, the tea my wife purchased for me last autumn would have expired at the end of July 2017, had I not brewed it all up first!

As for the tea itself, this is a dark tea and I would recommend cleaning up any spills on lighter fabrics as soon after they happen as possible. This will stain dark and medium fabrics, so consult your fabric guide for how to treat stains.


SpecialTea Earl Grey is not a bad tea, but it is an underwhelming Earl Grey tea, making it yet another from SpecialTea that may safely be passed by.

For other tea reviews, please visit my reviews of:
Republic Of Tea Cuppa Chocolate Tea Chocolate Peppermint Tea
Oregon Chai Dreamscape Herbal Chai
Lipton tea


For other food and drink reviews, please be sure to visit my Food And Drink Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2016 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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