It’s a gloomy March day here at the Vicky A’s, filled with fog and snow and general dreariness. What could cure such a day? Tea, of course. (You had to ask?)
For a day like this, I personally like to break out the big guns: a sturdy, strong black tea, like an Earl Grey or something with a bit of punch. I have a Cream Earl Grey that cures most ills (which I will review in a later post) but for a day like today, my choice is Fortnum and Mason’s Smoky Earl Grey.
As stated on Fortnum’s website, it’s Earl Grey with a touch of Gunpowder and Lapsang Souchong teas blended in. Their description is as follows: “Created in response to a request from the Palace for a smokier Earl Grey, this unique blend combines traditional bergamot with a touch of Lapsang and Gunpowder tea, combining the best qualities of all three.”
As a lover of all strong teas (well, almost all; we’ll talk about the Lapsang another time), I have to agree that it’s an incredible blend. Thanks to the supersmokey quality of the Lapsang (from F&M’s description: “to give [the Lapsang Souchong] its unmistakable flavour, the plucked leaves are withered over pine fires, pan-dried and rolled and placed in bamboo baskets and smoked over smouldering pinewood fires.”), and the somewhat more subtle smoke of the Gunpowder tea, this is not for the faint of heart or palate but definitely good for a day like today, when nothing else will do. The recognizable comforting flavor of the Earl Grey is enhanced by the unusual earthiness of the multiple layers of smoke and envelopes you in an aroma that recalls the strength and comfort of a roaring fire. I’m not sure I was as in love with it the first time I tried it as I am now but the more I sipped it, the more I liked it and appreciated its complexity. This, of course, only encourages me to more tea-related derring-do!
If interested, I highly recommend ordering directly from the F&M’s site; their teas are utter magic and I have found I can’t be without them for very long. Since we’re not in London often enough to restock in person, we order online and are always amazed at how quickly it ships. The quality of the tea itself is worth the UK shipping price.
As for this particular tea, F&Ms suggests that you brew it 3-5 minutes and take it with a little milk or with a slice of lemon or orange on the side. I prefer all my teas straight with no additives so I get the full, unadulterated flavor but perhaps one day I’ll see what this whole “adding milk to tea” bit is all about. Cheers!