Friday, October 3, 2014

The Secret Garden Tea Company, Buckingham Palace

The Secret Garden Tea Company Description:
One of our bestsellers! Earl Grey (citrusy bergamot and black tea), paired with fragrant Jasmine flowers. The result is divine. We offer this blend in honor of Henry McLaren.

Ingredients: Black tea, green tea, cornflower and jasmine petals, natural flavors.

100g (3.5 oz.): $10.25

Sample provided by The Secret Garden Tea Company

My Review:
This is an interesting idea, combining Earl Grey black tea with Jasmine green tea. I love them both when they are well executed. Putting them together could be exciting. I can't wait to get a cup brewing and see what happens.

The sample bag looks like paper but it has an aluminum interior. The top of the sample does not have a ziploc seal. Instead it is folded over and secured with a decorative seal. I have tea from many companies that have a similar system. For samples and larger quantities that you know you will use quickly, this works fine. If, like me, you have a hundred different teas, you will want to move larger quantities to a tin for proper storage.

Opening the bag, I  can smell Earl Grey - a combination of black tea and bergamot. At this point I am not detecting the jasmine. The black tea leaf dominates the mix but the eye is drawn to the pretty blue cornflower petals. Looking closer I notice the green tea leaf pieces and even some white petals that I assume are jasmine.

I put the sample in the press and debated what to do with the water. There are no steeping instructions on the label. Generally, I find black tea works well from 195 F to boiling. Green tea usually requires cooler water. I often use 185 F. So, I decided to shoot for the middle at 190 F. I steeped for 2 1/2 minutes.

The result is an orange/red cup of tea. It is clear and bright. The wet leaf has gorged itself. The green leaf really stands out now. The cornflower and jasmine disappear and you have to search for them.

This has nothing to do with the tea but I finally realized the darker shadow in my cup pictures is a shadow reflection of my hands holding the camera. I am going to have to work on the lighting.

The aroma is strong. I may have overdone the leaf. Yeah, this is really strong and kind of bitter. One tsp per 8 oz would have been enough. I may have used closer to 2 tsp (who am I kidding, 'may have', I definitely over-leafed!).

I believe this to be a blend of Ceylon, Assam, and Kenyan teas. It is earthy, and woodsy, with a solid bite. I am really not tasting much else, except the faintest hints of bergamot. I kind of sense the jasmine in the aftertaste.

I prepared a second cup with way less leaf and 200 F water. This took away the bitterness. It still seems I am tasting the black teas with only slight hints of flavor from the citrus and jasmine. The more the cup cools, the stronger the hints.

Other reviews I've read comment on how floral this tea tastes. Either, my sample is faulty or my expectation of floral is too high.

As a black tea blend with undertones of citrus and floral, this is a nice morning wake up tea. I personally was left craving a stronger presence of both to meet my preconceived image of this blend.

As I was writing this review I got word that The Secret Garden Tea Company has just lowered its shipping to a $7 flat rate. That is a reasonable fee, especially in Canada, and similar to what I pay for other companies in the US.


Update: I purposely set a half mug aside until it was stone cold. It was really tasty this way. The notes of bergamot and jasmine were still light but much more noticeable. Very much my preferred method of sipping this one at the moment.

You can find Buckingham Palace here.

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