Maybe this isn't a fair comparison. In one corner we have fresh, loose leaf Earl Grey from Jing Tea. On the other, a box of Private Selection Earl Grey tea in bags, newly bought, but of questionable freshness. I'm afraid one is quite the heavy weight, and the other is a sickly toad.
Actually, comparing the two teas in color, the PS is stronger. I steeped them for the same amount of time, and the PS tea is notably darker. But I suspect that has to do with something I read on the Bigelow tea blog, about how some companies use tea dust in their tea bags, which makes the tea "color" more quickly:
Tea dust is the smallest size tea leaf possible; however, the problem with tea dust is that although it provides quick color into the cup, it has no real tea flavor. It also happens to be an inexpensive tea to purchase.
So, the important thing here is the flavor, and there's no contest, none at all. In both smell and taste, the Jing tea is better. The citrus is amazing, very light, but full. And there's a spice I can't identify that jumps out in the tea leaves, but sits back and blends in in the steeped tea. Altogether a wonderful taste, and great afternoon tea.
The PS tea is bitter at this strength. It might be tolerable if I hadn't steeped it as long as the Jing. I did have the same experience with the Lady Grey that I bought... it needed a very short steeping time or it became bitter. I guess now I'll have to find some fresher / loose leaf Lady Grey and run some tests on that as well.
Hmm, ladies in the ring, dukin' it out. With lace gloves? Heh.