Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Empire Tea Services, Moscow Nights
Ceylon tea, Bergamot, Lapsang Souchong, Spanish Safflower petals and Thistle.
While restocking my wife's favorite tea (Tea and Herbs) I asked if they had a smoky Earl Grey. A sample of this was tossed in with our shipment (Thank You ETS!).
First, a note of confusion that I will attempt to straighten out. This company, I have known for years as Empire Tea Services. Their newly re-launched website shows their retail name as Tea Temptations. After contacting their president, Lalith Guy Paranavitana, I have learned that ETS is the wholesale side of the business and Tea Temptations is the intended retail arm of the company. Lalith admits this may confuse people initially and ETS has very strong name recognition in the industry. So far now at least I will continue to use the Empire Tea Services name and direct you to the Tea Temptations web store.
I wish I had taken a photo of the tea in the resealable sample envelop (adding my own photos is something I hope to do in the future). The spanish safflower had worked its way to the surface. This gave the appearance of hot embers, along with the wonderful smoke emanating from the pouch it gave this a cool, almost ominous, vibe. So let's crank up a little Enter Sandman and have at it.
I used about 3g (2/3 scoop) of leaf and 12oz of water heated to 200F. I steeped in my press for 4 minutes. No, I did not look for steeping instructions. I just went with what felt appropriate.
The brew looks bronze in the press but much darker and 'thicker' appearing in the mug. The scent is sweet and smoky. I am digging this. It's funny, a year ago, the aroma alone would have sent me scurrying for cover. Today, I'm all bring it on!
The sip is sweet and smoky but the smoke is incredibly smooth. There are no rough edges. This is not a heavy Lapsang Souchong despite my attention to the smoke notes. The addition of the Ceylon gives it a rolling bubbling taste sensation. How can it be smooth rolling at the same time? I don't know, but that is the best way I can describe it.
The bergamot is present and clean but not anywhere near the dominant flavor. So be aware this is not an Earl Grey, but Tea Temptations does not call it by that name. It is a wonderful moderately smoky (they say light) tea with a hint of bergamot adding a bright yet subtle citrus element late in the sip that breathes a welcome bit of lightness into the cup.
This is not exactly what I was expecting, but erasing expectations from my mind, this is very tasty and interesting on its own merits.
Visit the Tea Temptations website.