You just can’t go wrong when it comes to a classic, and Earl Grey [tea] is definitely up there among “the greats”, dating back more than a century! Then there’s Bai Hao Yin Zhen aka White Silver Needle, the most expensive and highest grade of white tea straight from China’s Fujian province. These two elements combine to result in Dammann Freres' Earl Grey Yin Zhen, the focus of this week’s post. What piqued my interest the most and drew me to purchase this blend was the concept. With black tea, let alone bergamot, being as strong as it is, I really wondered how incorporating white tea would make a difference at the end of the day.
Earl Grey Yin Zhen comes packaged in a red tin with black and gold accents. It is also embossed with the company name, name of the tea, as well as the catalogue number. Inside is what looks to be a very standard looking Earl Grey. The listed ingredients are: black tea, white tea tips, bergamot essential oil, and flower petals. Unfortunately, the white tea tips seem to represent less than 10% of the blend. I really had to dig around just to find the single tip pictured below. But that same tip is quite distinguished; needle shaped with a slight curve. It is also covered with fine hairs that resemble fuzzy, white down that I couldn’t help but pick up and touch. The black tea base is the opposite of uniform and has a crushed appearance to it. The cornflower petals sprinkled throughout really add a nice pop of colour, while the aroma is bright and citrusy, without being too overwhelming.
Dammann Frères recommends to steep this tea at 90°C (195°F) for 4-5 minutes. When brewing Earl Grey Yin Zhen, I used a slightly cooler water temperature (85°C/190°F) and a slightly shorter steep at 3 minutes.
Dammann Freres’ Earl Grey Yin Zhen steeps up quite dark in the cup after three minutes, and I have to note that I’m not smelling nearly as much Earl Grey “essence” as I did at the start. The white tea, as well as the bergamot oil come off muted compared to the malty black tea base. If I’m honest, this is the first time I’m enjoying this blend straight-up, usually I’m reaching for cream or milk to add in. The flavour overall is smooth and subtle, while still presenting enough of what you would expect from tasting a Earl Grey tea. It’s also pleasantly balanced; I appreciate how I can taste the black tea, but there’s little to no bitterness found. I do wish that the white tea was able to make a stronger, definitive contribution than notes of hay and natural sweetness.
From all the teas I’ve tried from Dammann Frères (since I discovered it last fall), this has been one of my favourites to sip on. Online, this France based company claims that EGYZ “will satisfy the most refined taste buds”, and for Earl Grey’s sake, it’s honestly worth a try. It is a solid [Earl Grey] offering that I’ll have no problem finishing, but ultimately falls flat for me up against the other Earl Greys in my collection.
Which brand makes your favourite Earl Grey? Sound off in the comments below!
Stay tuned for my first time experiencing tea stuffed into a mandarin orange!
Until we steep again…