“Strike the senses” with Lipton’s Surprising Russian Grey

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.

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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? 🙂

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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.

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“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?

Tea Review: Alnatura Frühlings Tee

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Spring is here! Although quite unofficial, but let’s be honest, we’ve been awaiting it for quite a while, haven’t we? Meteorological spring officially started on March 1st, but spring in our minds has been developing since Christmas, I dare to assert 🙂 Basically, we are more than ready to drop warmer and heavier layers and commence a new page.

As for tea, every time I start noticing the first daffodils making their way to this world and blue sky smiling in accordance, I am eager to start a new routine. I tend to change my tea regiment every spring, when I slowly but surely start gravitating towards lighter blends and reduce caffeinated teas. By saying this, I mean that I switch my Darjeelings and Earl greys for Rooibos or herbal infusions.

One of my last year’s discoveries was a “Spring tea” (original name: Frühlings Teeof a German brand Alnatura.

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Being one of my favourite organic brands, Alnatura has never especially attracted me with their tea assortment (besides my all-time favourite Good Evening tea). Last year’s special edition drew my attention straight away, not exclusively by its colourful packaging, but I dare to confess that it was also a factor. 🙂 I don’t gravitate to herbal infusions as per daily consumption (I do need my caffeine), but this time I’ve decided to give it a go.

It comes in a packaging of 20 flat tea bags, packed in a separate paper envelope (1,5g each).

Ingredients: Lemongrass, Raspberry and Blackberry leaves (ummm, exciting!), Lemon Verbena, Mint.

Scent: A lovely combination of ingredients makes for a beautiful scent. Light herbal, with quite a recognisable note of citrus.

Taste: it’s a winner! Its flavour is light, yet rich. Refreshing, yet aromatic. I can distinguish blackberry and/or raspberry leaves (I might be a little more advanced at it, since I remember steeping fresh leaves straight off the berry bushes). Mint is not very prominent, but it’s clearly present, and I believe is responsible for the slightly tingly aftertaste.

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Serving: Alnatura recommends steeping the tea for 8-10 minutes in boiling water. I would reduce the steeping time: 5 minutes is more than enough for an herbal tea of this kind. However the temperature of water should be as recommended by the manufacturer. Herbal teas in general (unlike green and white teas) are supposed to be steeped in boiling water due to the time some herbs need for a so-called “decocting”. Many tea lovers even prefer to “cook” their herbal tea for a while, not just pour boiling water over it. For chamomile and mint infusions 90 degrees Celcius water is preferable, but since here we are dealing with a more complex blend, I’d definitely go for 100.

Energy level: being a 100% herbal infusion, this tea does not contain caffeine, therefore there’s no danger of any additional energy. For that reason, I might not recommend it for early mornings, however I find it perfect for a lazy weekend or late evenings, just before going to bed.

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Frühlings Tee was my tea of choice in the spring 2015, and I still have a couple of tea bags left for the upcoming months. I like the taste of it, I love how refreshing it is and that it goes perfectly with every meal at any day or night time. I will keep my eyes open for this year’s edition of Alnatura’s Frühlings Tee, as I know they tend to bring them out, slightly repackaged, every year. I love my routines, and I like imagining this tea for the spring time being one of them.

What are your favourite herbal infusions? Do you have any favourite tea blend for this spring? Do you also tend to switch your tea “wardrobe” as seasons change?

x

Tea Review: Kusmi Rose Green Tea

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Have you ever felt inspired by tea? By its tender scent, intense flavor or even by design of its packaging. To me, it has always been Kusmi tea that worked like an aphrodisiac to my senses. The first time I tried a variation of Kusmi tea, back in 2012, I have fallen in love with sophisticated and extremely unique tea blends. I was enchanted by history of this tea too, and this is how my long-term relationship with Kusmi started.

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Its notional peak came on this year’s Valentine’s day with the newest addition to my collection.  Nothing shouts “Valentine’s Day” as loudly as a blend of green tea with rose petals. The iconic aluminium tin of Kusmi in pink attire was just a cherry on top. The tea is carefully packed inside the tin and “coronated” with a brand sticker – everything from its visual effect to the sophisticated flavour evokes luxury.

The story behind Kusmi tea is certainly as inspirational and unique as the tea range of this brand. “Founded in 1867 by P.M. Kousmichoff and established in Paris since 1917, Kusmi Tea has been carrying on the same activity to offer connoisseurs and gourmets exclusive blends and high quality traditional teas. Distributed all over the world, Kusmi tea blends are well-known for their pleasant tastes and the smoothness of their flavors”. Russian imperial origin of the founder mirrors in both the packaging (that portrays the outlines of tsarist Russia in the second half of the 19th century) and names of individual teas, be it St. Petersburg, Anastasia or even Tsarevna.

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Packaging: loose tea leaves packed in an aluminium tin

Ingredients: Chinese Green tea, rose petals (so simple, yet so perfect)

Smell: intense and very distinguishable rose scent

Taste: the flavour of rose petals gets quite overwhelming. In case of this tea it’s really important that you can bare it. For me as a huge rose jam, rose syrup and other rose delights lover, it was not an issue. However the concentration of rose petals vs. tea is very high.

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Serving: with Kusmi, little goes a long way. Do not overestimate your portion: generally, you won’t need more than a pinch of tea leaves for the required intensity. As usual with green teas, pour it over with water approximately 10 minutes after boiling. And enjoy!

Energy level: 5 stars out of 5. Dry leaves of green tea are highly potent and provide not only an intense flavour, but also quite a strong caffeine shot.

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Kusmi tea is a treat. It’s an obsession. It’s a journey. Journey full of discoveries and new experiences. Mine started four years ago and it looks like it won’t be over any time soon. At the moment, my collection consist of six colourful tins, six unique blends, six stories hidden behind its majestic name: be it Prince Wladimir or Green St. Petersburg.

If you are interested in more detailed blogpost about my Kusmi tea collection, let me know – I can go more into detail about each and every kind I own.

What are Kusmi tea variations you have tried? If you haven’t tried any yet, which ones are you eyeing? Let me know.

x