what do earl grey tea, vanilla bean ice cream, and “dharma & greg” have in common? (part 1: on tazo’s earl grey tea)

This was intended to be one article about appearances and how sometimes you can judge a book by its cover. The first item addressed was the recent change in packaging in Tazo teas, especially their Earl Grey tea—my (current) faverave tea.

The second item was Tillamook’s Vanilla Bean Ice Cream, which has also undergone a transformation in its containers.

The third issue was the seemingly dramatic alteration in the appearance of the ever-charming, ever-yummy Jenna Elfman of television’s Dharma & Greg fame.

But, each of the three parts took on a life of its own, and therefore this will be an essay in three parts: 1) “on tazo’s earl grey tea” (below), “on tillamook’s vanilla bean ice cream,” and “on jenna and dharma and greg and kate, too.”

I thought of giving the three the unifying title of “Ch-ch-changes” after David Bowie’s recording of the same name but opted for the more verbose title you see above . . .


Tazo’s new packaging and their (unannounced) new tea blends

I have written about my conversion to and taste for Tazo’s Earl Grey tea twice on this site before. The first was on December 1, 2013, and was titled “do you think that popeye and olive oil drank earl grey at tea time?

The second piece was published on February 1, 2014, and was titled “earl earl earl, earl of grey (yes, I’m the earl of grey),” the title referring to Gene Chandler’s doowop classic, The Duke Of Earl.

As the two pieces above made clear, last year I fell in love with Tazo’s Earl Grey tea. I extolled the virtues and the tastiness of the Tazo blend with its healthy mix of black tea and bergamot essential oil. This was surprising because I had never ever liked earl grey before.

Suddenly, I craved the Tazo day and night. It actually cut into my coffee intake—I can only handle so much caffeine in a day or my already minimal sleep schedule is disrupted even more than usual. So, all of a sudden I was drinking more earl grey and less French Roast and Sumatra!

The Tazo packaging for individual tea bags that I have come to know so intimately is—I’m sorry, was—a light purple paper packet with a black box at the top with “TAZO” in a font type that looked somewhat runeish. (I know—it’s runic, but that sounds too damn silly.) A description of the tea on the front of the packet reads “Black Tea – The Noir – A traditional tea scented with the essence of bergamot.”

The new packaging is white paper with the black box eliminated and the runic (there!) letters replaced with a plainer type. The description now reads, “Black tea kissed with bergamot’s lavender essence.” What appears to be a stylized purple wave moves across the bottom of the packet face.

Of course, I froze up inside when I saw this . . .


On April 22, 2014, I sent the following email to Tazo’s customer service department:


Regarding Tazo Earl Grey tea: while I prefer the familiar purple tea bag packet with the black logo box at the top, I can certainly learn to live comfortably with the new, white packet. In its way, it is a better design.

Unfortunately, I cannot live with the change in the taste of the Earl Grey: it is decidedly less bergamotty (sic), less oily even. It is blander all the way through, from first sip to last.

To show my affection for the older blend, please find here links to a pair of posts on my website regarding your tea:



I am writing a third post concerning the aforementioned changes. I was going to title it “the new earl grey, she ain’t what she used to be,” a nod to the old folksong, “The Old Gray Mare.”

Any chance that there are cases of the older, purple packeted tea in your warehouse?




On April 25, 2014, I received the following reply from a member of Tazo’s customer service department:

Hi Neal,

Thank you for taking the time to write. Your search for enlightenment into the world of Tazo is to be admired. With this first step on the path, may you find answers you seek.

I do apologize for the trouble with the changes with our tea.

A variety of Starbucks coffees, Tazo teas, brewing equipment and more are available for online purchase at www.StarbucksStore.com. If not found via the main website I could recommend the 3rd websites such as Amazon or Ebay.

If you ever have any questions or concerns in the future, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Julian D.

Tea Enthusiast Advisor


I responded immediately on April 25, 2014, to the above email:


Thanks for the response.

Regarding your message below: enlightenment often comes in forms most unexpected and to those not even seeking it.

Thank you for acknowledging the “changes with our tea.” I was dreading a note from you advising me to have my taste buds checked.

I will search the other sites you recommend, but should you stumble over a few years supply of the purple-packeted Earl Grey, please think of me . . .


PS: I will post a third piece on my Tazo experience on nealumphred.com. I will send a link to you via this address.


So, Julian D. did, in fact, acknowledge that the Earl Grey recipe/blend had been tampered with and altered. I was not provided with any direct info on the availability of the older, preferred version of the tea.

On April 26, 2014 (today), I emailed the online Starbucks Store this request:

“Do you have any of the older Tazo Earl Grey tea in the purple packets, NOT the new blend in the white packets? If so, I am interested in purchasing several cartons of that tea.”


I then went to Amazon and found a seller (Deals On Call) advertising what appears to be the older blend of earl grey. I sent them this email:

“I am interested in the Tazo Earl Grey Filter Bags that you are offering for sale at $3.01 per 24 count box. The box you have pictured is the older blend of the earl grey, with each bag in a purple or lavender envelope. Is this what you are offering for sale? I ask because Tazo has recently replaced this blend with a different (and, for me, inferior) blend of the earl grey. I want cartons of the older tea.”


So, after posting this piece (which will be just before 2:30 PM PST), I will send this off to Julian D., as per my promise to him in my email above.

Let’s see what happens, yes?

Finally, as I stated in my email above, my working title was for the post you are now reading was to have been based on the old folk chestnut,The Old Gray Mare.

Instead, it is now the first section of a three-parter dealing with how changing appearances often mean changing contents . . .

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