Posts Tagged ‘Oil Of Bergamot’
Tea Company: Hampstead Tea (website)
Ingredients: Fairtrade black tea, natural oil of bergamot
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Use one sachet or level teaspoon of tea leaves per person. Brew with freshly boiled water and infuse for up to three minutes
Earl Grey tea is one of the most popular and well-known kinds of tea in the Western world. It was named after the second Earl, Charles Grey, of Britain in the 1830s. Charles Grey was the prime minister at the time the act was passed to abolish slavery in the British Empire. This is quite an accomplishment, yet people know him for his tea instead.
Earl Grey is not a type of tea but rather plain black tea infused with the citrus flavour of bergamot. Hampstead’s Earl Grey comes in an attractive but difficult to open white tin canister. The picture on the front is an interesting image of two tea leaves in a brown and yellowish cloud of smoke. I had no problems opening the outside lid, but the inner one could not be pried with my newly-manicured fingernails (and I wasn’t favouring my fingernails). I had to use the end of a fork to pry it open.
The nose on the dry leaf is very lemony, however steeped clear orange infusion emits a surprisingly less citrusy nose as the aromas of the tea part of the beverage is now predominant. I think I had to take a second sip to make sure I was drinking an Earl Grey. That is because with many Earl Grey’s the bergamot flavour stands out and you really taste the lemony citrus note above all other flavours. There is usually a bright, tart, refreshing taste to most Earl Greys. I should note however, that the bergamot is often used to mask a lack of flavour in poor quality black tea. The quality of black tea used in Earl Grey needs to be checked.
The Earl Grey from Hampstead has a more muted bergamot note. The tea taste comes more to the forefront. So for those of you who do not like overpowering bergamot but prefer more subtle citrus flavours, I would recommend this tea to you. Does this mean that Hampstead is using better quality black tea than the other tea companies out there that they do not need to mask the tea flavour with an overpowering bergamot flavour? Perhaps. Their packaging says their tea comes from Makaibari, the first biodynamic tea estate in the world, situated 3-4000 ft high in the Himalayas. The dry leaf looks attractive enough. Short, black, dark brown, some Assam tea some tippiness, a good roll to it. It is a good leaf.
The question then becomes why deviate from the norm? If the majority of the tea companies are supplying the bergamot-favoured tea vs. the tea favoured tea and this is what consumers know is the norm, what they expect, is popular, and are eating them up then why fix something that isn’t broken? I can appreciate it being a better quality tea, but after tasting both “types” of Earl Greys, I gotta say, I like the “bergamot-favoured, plain, low-quality black tea” Earl Grey of the other tea companies, even though the tea is poorer. But then again maybe there is a market for an Earl Grey where the predominant taste is a good tea taste and a more subtle bergamot taste. I certainly prefer many of my flavoured teas to have a tea taste rather than a flavour taste. It’s just with Earl Grey that I prefer the opposite. And that is because I tend to favour lemony tastes. This is the first time I’ve tasted an Earl Grey with a stronger tea than bergamot taste and it is one I will not soon forget. Maybe there is something that can be said about the vantages of combining good quality black tea with bergamot? Hmm.
It is also notable that this tea is certified organic and fairtrade. What does fairtrade mean?
Chances are when you have a cup of tea in the morning, you are not thinking about the working conditions of those involved in getting the tea from the gardens to your cup, yet with the growth of social conscience today, this topic is becoming more and more relevant as can be seen by the growth in interest in the Fair Trade movement. Fair Trade tea has been around since 1994 in Canada and was slow to catch on. Today, its market share remains tiny, making up about one half of one percent of all tea sales in Canada. But it’s growing fast. The range of Fair Trade teas available is wider than ever.
How does Fair Trade work? TransFair, the certifying body, has a rigorous audit system which verifies industry compliance with Fair Trade criteria and allows companies to display the FTC label on products that meet these standards. TransFair belongs to Fair Trade Labeling Organizations (FLO), an international organization headquartered in Germany. Just as TransFair audits the activities of licensees, FLO manages certified producer cooperatives and importers. The work of TransFair and FLO complement each other so that the chain of commodities is tracked from the farm to the finished product, making sure that the Fair Trade criteria has been met. A Joint Body – a special council on the estate made up of workers and estate managers – is created. The Joint Body decides how the Fair Trade premium paid by licensed importers to the certifying body will benefit the whole community.
Proponents of Fair Trade argue that the FTC system works to improve the quality of life for tea plantation workers, their families, and communities in a number of ways. Fair Trade provides fair, livable wages and premiums, opportunities for social development programs, improved access to higher education, and funds to repair dilapidated housing and facilities. Other concerns that Fair Trade can address include health and safety issues such as water contamination, worker health, unsanitary sewer systems, access to healthcare, and emergency transit. Fair Trade promotes worker empowerment, worker autonomy, and facilitates social and economic mobility for workers and their families.
Today where consumers are looking for social accountability from producers, fairtrade teas are becoming a growing share of the market. This was the first fairtrade tea I’ve reviewed and I’m sure not the last.
You can purchase the Biodynamic, Organic and Fairtrade Earl Grey directly from the Hampstead Tea website.
Tea Company: Rishi Tea (website)
Ingredients: Organic lemon thyme, organic sage leaf, organic peppermint, organic lemon verbena and natural essential oil of bergamot
Vendor Suggested Preparation: Water: 212degF / Boiling / Leaves: 1 tablespoon per 8 oz / Infusion Time: 5 minutes
The Sage Bergamot tea is one of Rishi’s new teas, an organic “botanical blend” containing lemon thyme, sage, mint, lemon verbena and oil of bergamot. I could see chopped green leaves through the sample package but no discernable bits. When I inhaled the essence from the package, I noted the immediate freshness of the mint, the citric scent of bergamot and the cleanness of the sage and lemon thyme.
I went to the Rishi Tea web site for preparation instructions. The Rishi brew promised mood boosting and mental clarification for anytime of the day. Its 9:30 a.m. Sunday and I wanted something to perk me up.
I used the recommended water temperature, quantities and steep time – 1 tablespoon of the herb blend in 8 oz using boiling water with a 5 minute steep. I selected the small Japanese cast iron tea pot as it holds the heat well and also holds exactly 8 oz water. After I poured the hot water into the pot, I smelled the vapors and was delighted with the sage coming off first, followed quickly by the thyme and mint.
I poured the tea into a glass serving pitcher and made a note to use a fine sieve or a tea bag as there are lots of fine bits that floated about. The colour of the liquor is golden yellow.
I inhaled the scent of bergamot through my nose as I drew the cup to my mouth. My first sip provided a minty wintergreen freshness and a roundness in the mouth from the sage. I found this beverage refreshing and would even do this blend as an iced tea for the summer, served with a fresh sprig of one of the herbs used in the tea. If you let the tea stand longer, the sage comes through with a bit more pungency like a perfume developing the warmer deeper notes with body heat.
The wet leaves showed they were quite spent and it would probably not do for a refill. If you wanted more tea, I think you could use more water for a longer albeit thinner liquor.
For food pairing, I had a cherry Danish which killed the taste of the tea. However, afterwards, a sip took me right back into the tea. The sage was much more pronounced as it was obviously continuing to steep in the mug. I finished with the strong flavour of sage and mint on my tongue.
Again Rishi provides a well-balanced blend for an all-day sippable tea. My recommendation though is to use less tea or more water if you find the sage too strong but keep the steep the 5 minutes to get the health benefits from the herbs. Drink up quickly to avoid any harsh tastes from the sage unless you truly enjoy the herb.
You can purchase the Bergamot Sage directly from the Rishi Tea website.