Trader Joe’s Earl Grey

Earl Grey by Trader Joe’s
Black Tea / Flavoured
$1.99USD for 40g (20 sachets)

First Impressions

Just wanted to start off with the fact that I’m really sad that this is my last tea that I’m review from my cross-border tea shopping haul that happened back in September. I’m pretty sure this just means that I need to go shopping again (right?).

I picked Trader Joe’s Earl Grey because I love Earl Grey, and I like to judge tea companies based on the quality of their Earl Grey blends. Earl Grey came in a cardstock box, holding 20 tea sachets. Each tea sachet is individually wrapped in a foil packet – so bad for the environment! However, unlike the last Trader Joe’s tea that I reviewed, there weren’t any staples holding the tag to the string or the string to the bag – so there’s that, at least? The tea bag material is slightly stained yellow on multiple bags, so I suspect that it’s due to the bergamot oil.

The aroma of Earl Grey is primarily the bergamot, such a nice rich citrus flavour! The black tea base isn’t as strong compared to the bergamot, but I can smell it. It reminds me a lot of an Assam black tea with its rich malty notes. Earl Grey consists of: black tea and bergamot oil.

Preparation

Trader Joe’s recommends steeping Earl Grey in boiling water (100°C/212°F) for 3 to 5 minutes. My initial steep was for 5 minutes.

First Taste

Earl Grey steeps to a deep reddish orange. The aroma of bergamot is strong in the steeped tea. On first taste, all I can taste is bitterness, the tea is very astringent. I did another initial resteep, this time at 3 minutes, and found that tea was more drinkable. I could taste the bergamot, and the malty notes from the black tea play well with the citrus flavours. At 3 minutes, I found no bitterness or astringency.

A Second Cup?

I attempted to resteep Earl Grey and found the flavour to be severely lacking. I would say that Earl Grey is good for just one steep.

My Overall Impression

I thought that Trader Joe’s Earl Grey was just okay. Part of my problem with this tea is the packaging that can’t be composted or recycled (those foil-lined packets!), and that the tea was pretty terrible when steeped for 5 minutes (which is part of the recommended steeping times). However, Earl Grey did redeem itself when I did an initial steep for 3 minutes. The flavours were well-balanced, and it made for a decent cup of Earl Grey. That said, there are a lot of Earl Grey options out there that have less packaging (or more recyclable/compostable packaging). The flavour is on point for an Earl Grey, but it just doesn’t excite me as much as other bergamot black tea blends do.

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DavidsTea’s Phoenix Oolong

Phoenix Oolong by DavidsTea
Oolong Tea / Straight
$24.98 for 50g

First Impressions

Tiny disclaimer, I did get Phoenix Oolong for free via the DavidsTea Frequent Steeper program as one of my redemptions for the quarter (who else is happy that they removed the price cap on the redemption teas?!). Phoenix Oolong is a limited edition, online exclusive – which means that the tea is available online only and isn’t available at their retail locations, which is really unfortunate for anyone who just wants to try to tea because it means buying the full 50g or using a redemption on a tea that they might not like.

Phoenix Oolong came in a sealed, resealable foil bag with a printed label on it that gives some details about the tea. Phoenix Oolong is described by DavidsTea as having “fragrant lychee & plum” notes. When I opened the bag, I noted that the leaves are a dark, almost purpley-brown colour. The aroma of the dry leaf does remind me of a stone fruits, and it has a nice sweet floral fragrance that reminds me of lychee. Phoenix Oolong is a straight oolong tea from Phoenix Mountain in Guangdong Province, China. Phoenix Mountain is also known as Fenghuangshan (fenghuang is phoenix and shan is mountain).

Preparation

DavidsTea recommends steeping Phoenix Oolong in 90°C (195°F) water for 4 to 5 minutes. My initial steep was for 4 minutes.

First Taste

Phoenix Oolong steeps to a bright golden yellow with the initial steep. The aroma is a mix of fruity and floral, I find that the aroma of stone fruits (plum, apricots, peaches) is more prominent than the floral notes that I found in the dry leaf, although it is still present. The flavour is both fruity and floral in this straight oolong, I found that I can initial taste the plum notes, although part of it also reminds me of apricots. The floral sweetness is mostly at the end of each sip, and it mixes well with the fruity flavour to remind me of lychee. With a four minute steep, I found there to be zero bitterness or astringency. The tea has a bit of a thickened mouthfeel to it, which I found pleasant overall.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped Phoenix Oolong eight times (nine steeps total), adding an extra 30 seconds for each subsequent steep. I found that the colour was darker for the first two resteeps and gradually became lighter and lighter. The floral notes got stronger as the colour deepened. By the third resteep, it was very well balanced between the floral and fruity notes, and it was delicious.

My Overall Impression

I loved DavidsTea’s Phoenix Oolong. I’m pleasantly surprised and very happy that I did use one of my Frequent Steeper rewards on this. The oolong tastes great, I found the flavour to be fairly consistent throughout and really matched well with what DavidsTea had as the description. The leaves resteep remarkably well, and I think it’s definitely a must for resteeping over and over again. Yes, I do think that the tea is expensive for what it is, but given the quality (resteeping is a MUST for these leaves), it’s delicious and is just a very pleasant oolong. I think it’s definitely worth a try if you have the money in your tea budget or if you have a reward to use and you’re going to put in an online order anyways!

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Gypsy Soul Tea Co’s China Jasmine

China Jasmine by Gypsy Soul Tea Co
Green Tea / Flavoured
$7.25 for 40g

First Impressions

Whenever I’m trying a new-to-me tea company, I generally like to try a few things: usually a blend that seems unique to them, a straight or minimally blended tea, and an Earl Grey – only because I love Earl Grey and it’s one of my tea staples. This one was one of my choices from Gypsy Soul Tea Co because it’s a minimally blended tea. China Jasmine is a green tea, flavoured and blended with jasmine blossoms.

I’ve mentioned the packaging that Gypsy Soul Tea Co uses in my last review of one of their teas (Pumpkin Spice), but I do still like it. The label on the front tells me everything that I really need to know, and the clear plastic back lets me see the blend itself. I can easily see both ingredients: green tea and jasmine blossoms. I can also see that it’s full blossoms and petals, and not little tiny pieces. When I opened the bag, the first thing that hit me was the aroma. This blend has a beautiful floral fragrance from the jasmine, and I can smell both the jasmine and the green tea.

Preparation

Gypsy Soul Tea Co recommends steeping China Jasmine in 80°C (176°F) water for 2 to 3 minutes. My initial steep of this green tea was for 2 minutes.

First Taste

China Jasmine steeps to a light yellow colour. The aroma is very floral, the jasmine shines in this tea. On first sip, I can taste the floral notes from the jasmine, there’s a pleasant sweetness along with some grassy notes from green tea base. I think two minutes was a good amount of time to steep this tea, there’s no astringency or bitterness when steeped for two minutes. It’s a very pleasant jasmine green tea, I like that the green tea base isn’t too vegetal as I think that would distract from the floral flavour.

A Second Cup?

I resteeped China Jasmine four times, adding an extra 30 seconds of steeping time for each subsequent steep. I could that the colour of the tea got darker for the first resteep and lighter after that. The flavour of the tea remained fairly close to the initial steep, although I think that the floral notes weren’t as strong in comparison to the green tea base after the first resteep. The flavour balance was still enjoyable by the fourth resteep.

My Overall Impression

I loved Gypsy Soul Tea Co’s China Jasmine. I thought that the flavours were on point for a jasmine green tea, and had a nice balance between the jasmine floral flavour with the green tea base. The recommended steeping time of 2 minutes was perfect for myself, and I found that it resteeped beautifully. It’s definitely a nice green tea blend and is worth resteeping a few times, which shows off the quality of the ingredients.

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