Review: Downton Estate Blend tea from Republic of Tea

Downton Estate Blend tea from Republic of Tea.  Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Downton Estate Blend tea from Republic of Tea. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

The BBC’s popular serial drama, _Downton Abbey_, has returned to PBS for a 5th season!  Full of beautiful costumes, sets, and English countryside, this historical drama also includes tea as a regular part of life, as it was in Edwardian, and now “Roaring Twenties” era – English society.  The program has inspired a variety of products, from high fashion designs, to furniture and jewelry, to china and other housewares, to tea blends.  The Republic of Tea is the best-known company to have come out with a whole line of tea blends inspired by Downton Abbey.  The teas are available at Cost Plus World Market, and at some independent tea shops like Thyme for Tea in Niles.  I purchased this tin of tea for about $12 at the Cost Plus on Coleman Ave. in San Jose.

All of the Downton Abbey tea blends come in the standard Republic of Tea’s cylindrical tea tin, with a Downton Abbey movie still as the illustration on the label.  The Downton Estate Blend features Maggie Smith as Lady Violet Crawley, sitting at an afternoon tea table on the lawn in front of the Abbey, with a parasol in her hand.  The Estate Blend is an exclusive blend only available at Cost Plus World Market locations, and it is an Earl Grey flavored with vanilla. The tea is packaged in Republic of Tea’s standard round tea bags, 35 bags to a tin.  The package label describes the tea thus: “Earl Grey black tea has become one of the most enjoyed flavored teas in the world.  This classic traditional British tea with bergamot orange oil has been paired with exotic vanilla for an intriguing finish.  Enjoy this robust tea with or without milk and sugar or even over ice.  Perfect for high tea or any time of day.”  The ingredients are “fine black tea, natural bergamot oil and natural vanilla flavor.”

Upon opening the tin, vanilla was the first ingredient that reached my nose, followed shortly by the bitter citrus notes of bergamot.  I placed one tea bag in my travel tea cup and added about 10 oz. of boiling water, to steep for 3 to 5 minutes.  On drinking the tea, the vanilla is also the most prominent flavor, and the bergamot flavor really recedes into the background, leaving a vanilla-flavored black tea with a slight citrus scent in the background.  I drank from my travel tea cup over the afternoon, leaving the tea bag in the cup, and the tea didn’t grow bitter until it was completely cold.  I think this tea is a nice blend on its own, without milk or sugar, but those who like a sweeter cup of tea might like this tea sweetened, although I wouldn’t recommend adding milk, as the vanilla already smooths out the taste of the tea.

Even though this is an Earl Grey blend, the bergamot flavor is so mild that people who don’t tend to like Earl Grey might like it!  It is a nice addition to the tea party pantry, and would be delicious with scones, shortbread, or any afternoon tea menu.

Copyright 2015, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information:

Downton Abbey web page on PBS site
Republic of Tea Downton Abbey Tea web page
Republic of Tea Estate Blend tea web page
Republic of Tea Estate Blend tea on Cost Plus site
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Filed under Movies, Product Reviews, Tea, Vendors and Shops

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