This week I am reviewing Tealicious Tea Room Vanilla Earl Grey! After visiting their café in Durham, then reviewing their House Blend at the Immortal Wordsmith blog, Tealicious Tea Room got in touch to send me several more of their teas. Watch out for those coming over the next months.
I have already reviewed some unusual Earl Grey teas here, but vanilla earl grey is one of my favourites. When blended well, the sweetness and warmth of vanilla melts beautifully into the citrus notes of bergamot and tannin-malt of black tea.
Let’s find out if Tealicious Tea Room have created a winner.
Tealicious Tea Room Vanilla Earl Grey at a Glance
- Blend: Ceylon black tea with flavouring, vanilla and flower petals
- Flavour: Smooth black tea with drying bitterness and a sweet vanilla aftertaste
This tea has an okay flavour and a delicious aroma. It is drying and slightly bitter, with vanilla notes sweeping into the aftertaste. Sip this with a slice of cake to perfectly contrast with the sweetness and refresh your palate.
Full Review – Vanilla and Bergamot Black Tea
- Type: Loose leaf
- Tea: Ceylon black tea (Sri Lanka)
- Additives: Rose petals, blue cornflower petals, vanilla pieces, natural flavouring
- Flavour Notes: Smooth, black tea, bitter, vanilla sweetness
- Aroma: Vanilla, rose perfume, sponge cake, subtle bergamot
- Milk or Lemon: Neither
- Where to Buy: Tealicious Tea Room
Opening the loose leaf tea packet, the initial aroma is very strong with vanilla. It’s sweet and almost overpowering with that vanilla richness, but there’s not much else going on. If you take a deep breath in, you can get a slight waft of rose perfume too.
Once brewed into a slightly cloudy amber-brown colour, the tea develops a softer aroma. The vanilla loses that harsh edge and becomes mellow, like a slice of the softest white vanilla sponge cake. Finally, there’s also a subtle hint of bergamot that reminds me that this is indeed a cup of earl grey tea!
As for the flavour, it’s primarily a smooth yet brisk black tea. There’s a strong bitterness that emerges, drying up the sides of my tongue. But fear not, a swift and smooth flood of vanilla appears in the aftertaste to sweeten the deal. Overall, it’s pleasant to drink and the bitterness is actually an advantage – serve this tea with a slice of thick, rich cake (or other sweet treat of your choice) and you’ll find that it balances out perfectly.
My only criticism is that the earl grey element is very subtle. The bergamot flavouring adds a little freshness, but it’s not creating as much of a citrus edge as I’d like. Adding a slice of lemon could help, but I honestly quite like the vanilla and black tea blend as it is – just don’t brew it when you’re craving an earl grey!
How to Brew Vanilla Earl Grey
The instructions for this tea are to use two heaped teaspoons per 400ml of water – so that’s about a teaspoon and a half for a smaller mug. Brew for three to four minutes, then strain the leaves out. Tealicious Tea Room doesn’t provide any indication of whether you should add milk or not. Instead, they recommend a nice slice of cake alongside it. Sounds good to me!
For this review, I followed the instructions closely and tasted it without milk. I would stick closer to three minutes rather than four, to keep the bitterness to a minimum. Even with a five-minute brew, I doubt that it would be strong enough to add milk.
You could try adding a slice of lemon to this tea to compensate for the lack of bergamot. If you do, let me know what you think in the comments below.
Why Tealicious Tea Room?
Tealicious Tea Room is a small teashop in Durham that I had the pleasure of visiting a few years back. Alongside a range of loose leaf teas, there were freshly baked cakes and some delicious smoked salmon and cream cheese bagels that I devoured. As a small café/teashop, it is a wonderful place with a fantastic atmosphere.
Since my last visit, the tearoom has launched an online tea store where you can purchase these teas and have them delivered across the UK. I have linked to the site above and with the button below. Now, let’s take a closer look at the tea leaves.
This tea utilises natural bergamot flavouring rather than bergamot oils – this is not at all unusual. As readers of my Best Earl Grey Tea Guide will know, the majority of brands use flavourings as bergamot oil is so expensive. The fact that this tea uses natural flavouring is excellent, even if it only provides a subtle effect.
The other ingredients that are visible among the tea leaves are the rose and cornflower petals. These add a very subtle floral note but are used mostly for visual effect. Tealicious Tea Room Vanilla Earl Grey also features real vanilla pieces – probably tiny vanilla seeds that are dispersed and infused among the tea leaves. Overall, I am impressed with the quality and vibrancy of the ingredients used here.
Along with Teakruthi’s Vanilla Earl and T2’s French Earl Grey, this is fast becoming one of my favourite Earl Grey alternatives. The quality of the loose leaf is great and I love the flower petal ingredients that add some floral elegance and visual interest.
The only place to buy this tea is directly from Tealicious Tea Room, either by visiting their website online or café in Durham.
For brewing Earl Grey, you need something equally finessed to stir it with. My brightly coloured (but still food-safe) metallic teaspoons are ideal for a fancy afternoon tea or just table-scaping for that perfect Instagram shot. They are available in our Immortal Wordsmith tea shop, or on Etsy for shipping to the US.