It has been a couple of weeks since I published my last tea review: life has got busy recently, and as for me, I was stuck in my tea rut for a while. But as it is the highest time to renew the wardrobe and switch into spring fashion, I feel like it is also the highest time to update my tea “wardrobe” and let some new flavours into my routine.
Being a huge fan of earl greys, I am a little surprised I still haven’t dedicated an article to this majestic sort of tea. The history of earl greys goes back to the 19th century, and rumour has it that that the first blend of the tea was a gift from the Chinese mandarin to the Earl (named Grey) back in 1803. The controversy around this legend lies in the fact that the use of bergamot essential oils that are characteristic for earl greys was then unknown in China and, hence, most probably the very blend was created in Britain. This way or another, the tea discovery named after the famous Earl Charles Grey has since become even more popular in the UK and spread all over the world, conquering more tea lovers.
Earl grey is a well-known fella’, but what about Russian Earl Grey? This variation only started to develop quite recently: many orthodox tea fans articulated strongly against it, whereas others welcomed it with an open mind. Russian Grey is considered a milder version of the famous earl grey blend, and I definitely felt drawn to shaking things up quite a bit.
What is different in Russian Grey? First of all, it is bergamot that gets replaced by (or added to) lemon peel and lemongrass – the ingredients less exotic and more familiar to the continental Eurasian climate. Brands like Twinnings or Lipton were pioneers on this market, and possibly the most affordable and easy to find picks.
I went for Surprising Russian Grey from Lipton and now am ready to reveal all the “surprises” it harbours.
Packaging: is gorgeous! I mean, I am not a packaging victim, not at all, whatsoever (is it convincing enough?). The embossed writing, beautiful design in shades of turquoise and yellow, plus a pattern of Kremlin on the front of the box – I feel like nominating this tea for a design competition. As typical for Lipton, it comes in 20 pyramidal tea bags.
Ingredients: Black tea, aroma.
Scent: rich, intense and enchanting. A little fruitier than your standard earl grey tea, I dare to say.
Taste: just as with the scent, the flavour is a little fruitier and more refreshing than your typical earl grey tea. Lipton suggests it is “bold & vibrant” with a sharp lemon twist. Perhaps it is this “sharpness” that makes it “surprising”?.. Another claim of the marketing “brains” of the Lipton brand is “the empowering taste”. Not sure if it’s something connected with Russian empowerment that they attempted to suggest here? 🙂
Serving: According to the instructions, I would recommend to steep a tea bag in boiling water for 2-3 minutes. Since earl greys tend to get a little too intense, which is not everyone’s cup of tea (hehe), it might be a good idea to get rid of a tea bag after the first minute of brewing. It’s what I like doing anyways. Some add milk, but I like it as is, in its purity!
Overall experience: empowerment and boldness aside, I am a huge fan of this tea. As an earl greys lovers, I was eager to try something similar with a hint of difference – and Surprising Russian Grey served perfectly to this purpose. I loved how distinct and intensive it was, and truly looked forward to drinking it every morning. I like it as my morning tea (I even abandoned my trusty greens for a while), because it is a perfect day-starter.
“Sharpen up!” – shouts the packaging of Lipton’s Surprising Russian Grey at you. “Brew more power?”, it questions when you reach the very bottom. This tea is not only an unusual experience for your taste buds, but also plenty of fun to drink. I went through the box pretty quickly, which is always a good sign: it was simply my “go-to” morning tea for the whole month of March. For all earl grey fans, and not only them – this tea is a good reminder that classic is great, however it needs to be shaken up from time to time.
And what about you? Are you a fan of earl grey? Ever tried Russian grey, or some other earl grey variation (I believe, there are plenty)? How do you like your earl grey – with milk/sugar or pure?