While I drink coffee literally anywhere and any time and see is as an essential for waking up and/or an energy boost from, tea is primarily my drink for relax and contemplation in the afternoon and in evenings and late nights. I only have a couple of different coffees at home – dark roasted French roasted for the bistro brewer and espresso roasted for the espresso brewer. The serving formula is also the same; coffee in almost any form is served with warm milk – be it a strong coffee with warm milk (Café au lait) or an espresso with warm milk (Caffé latte). A black espresso can sometimes be great after dinner, but I am a meek lady when it comes to coffee – but the coffee must be strong to accompany the warm milk in a tasty way. Tea is a different matter. I am no connoisseur with high demands, but I do have some favourite teas. The chase for new teas is similar to the chase for new inks; always on the look for something new, and a perfect shade – often playing in the division of subtleties . The chase for the perfect burgundy red and the chase for the perfect Earl Grey are actually very similar. Earl Grey keeps being one of the teas that I never grow tired of. I have three Earl Grey favourites that have managed to stay at the top for quite a while – all three have different characters and one of them is a lady. The first (and probably my no 1 if I should be obliged to make one of the three a no 1) is Fortnum & Mason’s Smoky Earl Grey – a wonderful, delicately scented Earl Grey with a hint – just a hint – of smokiness. Brilliant combo. As far as I know this was F&M’s standard Earl Grey for a long time and it amazes me that I’ve not found any other brand that adds this lovely smokiness to the Earl Grey. F&M also carries a regular Earl Grey, but this is it.
The second is – surprisingly – an American tea blend that only (puritans – close your eyes here) comes in bags: Celestial Seasonings Victorian Earl Grey – a very aromatic version with an original character – without being heavily perfumed. The third earl is actually a lady – Twining’s Lady Grey which is their traditional Earl Grey with a hint of orange – a delicate tea. This is a very price worthy tea and I always have it at home. The only one of these three faves that are possibly to buy here is Twining’s Earl/Lady Grey. The American CS was actually found in Berlin and, while I have managed to find their herbal teas here, I haven’t been able to find their Earl Grey. So, when I got a box of CS Victorian Earl Grey yesterday – straight from Berlin I was very very happy and realized that it wast time for a tea post.
The F&M is not – by natural reasons – not to be found here either. What surprised me when I first found their teas during a long holiday in London (long to be in London again…and NY and…) a little more than a year ago, is that they are reasonably priced – just a tad more expensive than a can of Twining’s – and of very high quality. I mostly tried F&M out of curiosity and didn’t have high expectations on it since I (falsely) believed that their teas were more of a fancy label (and lovely tin can) sticked on a rather ordinary tea. I was proven wrong – the tea is exquisite and I have also tried some of their other teas which also have been of the same high quality. I do believe that both CS and F&M ship their stuff internationally, but I actually haven’t looked it up yet – still have plenty of delicious Smoky Earl Grey left. So. It is late and it is getting time to wrap this post up and take the last sip on my (almost empty) cup of tea and tuck in.
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