Earl Grey tea is a wildly popular flavored black tea known for its smooth flavor and aromatherapeutic properties. But where did this tea originate and why is it so delicious?
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HISTORY OF EARL GREY TEA
Tea lovers around the world get to enjoy this distinctive tea thanks to the tea enthusiast, British Prime Minister Earl Charles Grey. In the early 1800s, he tasked a Chinese tea merchant with creating the perfect tea blend to suit the spring water from his estate at Howick Hall, which contained noticeably high levels of lime. To counteract the acidic flavor, the merchant started with a popular black tea and simply added bergamot oil, which comes from the rind of the Italian bergamot orange fruit. The story goes that Lady Grey, as a prominent political hostess, entertained London’s high society with the family’s specially crafted Earl Grey blend and it became so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others.
Bergamot, the not-so-secret ingredient that sets this tea blend apart, originated in the tropics of South East Asia, even though 80% of the world’s bergamot is now commercially cultivated in Calabria, Italy. These highly fragrant citrus fruits blossom in winter and resemble a large lime or lemon, depending on ripeness. Bergamot oranges are too bitter to eat raw but the rind and zest are commonly used for flavoring. You can use bergamot flavoring to enhance jams, marmalades, syrups, cocktails, salad dressings, cookies, cakes, yogurt, and more!
Since the 1800s, the classic Earl Grey tea has significantly evolved and tea makers have blended up some pretty creative combinations. You can find close variations inspired by Earl Grey, such as Lady Grey, a black tea blend with cornflower blossoms, and Russian Earl Grey, a combination of Earl Grey with pieces of citrus peel mixed in for an extra fragrant punch. Or, if you don’t like black tea but have always wanted to try a nice cup of Earl Grey, never fear - you can now find caffeinated and non-caffeinated varieties of Earl Grey tea made with green, oolong, rooibos, and white tea bases.
A warm cup of tea is always comforting, but the fragrant bergamot essence found in Earl Grey is especially excellent for reducing anxiety and calming your nerves. In addition to relieving stress and improving your mood, Earl Grey tea is also associated with several health benefits. It’s an energy booster as it usually contains a bit of caffeine that perks you up without the negative side effects of coffee, it enhances digestion, it naturally contains catechins and fluoride which are good for your teeth and can fight dental infections, and the antioxidants in the bergamot oil boosts your immunity and helps fight colds. Also, drinking black tea over a period of time can benefit your heart health as it has been linked to lowering blood triglyceride levels and cholesterol levels, and the citrus extract in Earl Grey tea even increases your metabolism which assists in weight loss by breaking down food faster.
TIPS, TRICKS, AND TREATS
First, boil fresh water to 208°, then swirl a dash of the hot water around your pot or cup to warm it. This simple trick ensures a consistent steep which helps delicate teas release their essence and full aroma. If you’re drinking loose leaf, a good rule of thumb is to use one teaspoon of tea per 8 ounces of water. Finally, steep your Earl Grey tea bag, sachet, or loose leaf tea for three to five minutes to taste and enjoy!
Earl grey tea is an extremely versatile drink and can be enjoyed alone, with a bit of milk, honey, or even with sugar and a slice of lemon, as we know citrus only enhances the flavor of bergamot. The bold and smooth characteristics of Earl Grey tea also make it one of the most popular choices for a classic afternoon tea, as it pairs well with food (or even in food).
The next time you visit your favorite coffee shop, we recommend trying a London Fog. It’s a delicious tea latte made with Earl Grey tea, steamed milk, and vanilla syrup - or you can substitute lavender syrup instead for a sweet, floral balance to the citrus. If you have a sophisticated sweet tooth, try making a Lavender Earl Grey ice cream at home or you can even bake Earl Grey tea into any of your go-to cake, scone, cookie, and macaron recipes.
TOP RATED EARL GREY TEAS
If you want to try out earl grey tea for the first time or even if you’re a connoisseur looking for your next favorite brew, we curated a list of our most popular earl grey teas to help you narrow down your search. Take a look at these tried and true tea blends and sip for yourself!
ACHIEVE CLARITY (TEAMOTIONS)
Improve memory and focus with Achieve Clarity by Teamotions, an invigorating Earl Grey blend with rich black tea, bergamot oil, and a touch of sweet vanilla with holy basil and licorice root.
ORGANIC EARL GREY GOLD (BIRON TEAS)
Organic Earl Grey Gold by Biron Teas is a bright and clean brew with organic calendula flowers while keeping the traditional flavors of a classic Earl Grey. Enjoy straight up or with your choice of milk and sweetener.
DARJEELING EARL GREY (TEAPIGS)
This Darjeeling Earl Grey by teapigs uses the finest Darjeeling from the foothills of the Himalayas and zesty, citrus bergamot and lime flavors of the Mediterranean to create an elegant brew! Try this blend with a slice of lemon.
DOUBLE BERGAMOT EARL GREY (STASH TEA)
Stash Tea went the extra mile to make this extraordinary Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea extra bold with extra bergamot oil. They even sourced it from the extra sunny orchards of Calabria, Italy. When you taste the extra citrus oil we added to this famous mix, you'll agree... *Italian accent* It's-a delicious!
EARL GREY CREAM (DAVIDSON’S ORGANIC TEAS)
Davidson's Earl Grey Cream combines full-bodied organic black tea and organic calendula flowers with creamy vanilla essence for a robust black tea brew with a smooth, vanilla finish. Try making your own London Fog with this creamy blend!
ASHEVILLE GREY (ASHEVILLE TEA CO)
Asheville Grey is undoubtedly a classic Earl Grey, but with an Asheville twist. This blend features robust organic black teas and organic bergamot citrus oil with regionally grown calendula flowers for a dash of brightness.
CASIMIRA (DRYAD TEA)
Casimira is a seductive raspberry Earl Grey blend, fruity and delicious with a delightfully bright finish. This fruity twist on the traditional Earl Grey was inspired by the song of Dryad owner Rubiee's sister SJ Tucker and the character created by author Catherynne Valente.
ORGANIC EARL GREY (OTEAS)
Organic Earl Grey by Oteas is blended to achieve a distinctive flavor with a unique aroma derived from the addition of oils extracted from essence of bergamot and blue cornflower.
EARL GREY (AHMAD TEA)
Ahmad Tea is a British family business with over four generations of passion for producing the finest teas. For a classic Earl Grey tea, try this subtle blend of quality black teas scented with the elegant fragrance of bergamot. This favorite English brew is usually served without milk.
Whether you’re a tea head or a tea novice, the Sips by Tea Shop sells all types of tea from the best tea brands. We’ll teach you how to make the perfect cup of tea, whether you’re using loose leaf tea or bagged tea, whether you want the benefits of black tea or the benefits of green tea, or whether you prefer hot tea or iced tea. Need an extra energy boost? We’ve got caffeinated teas like black tea and green tea. Want to savor a comforting mug at night? We have herbal and caffeine free teas. Discover the world of tea with white tea, oolong tea, pu’erh tea, rooibos, cacao tea, and more.
Interested in trying these teas and others? Subscribers receive 4 teas chosen just for them in every box. Learn more here.
About Sips by: We’re a female-founded and led startup that makes discovering tea fun, personalized, and affordable. The Sips by Box is the only multi-brand, personalized tea subscription box. Each month, we match tea drinkers across the U.S. with delicious teas from over 150 global tea brands that we’re sure they’ll love. Based out of Austin, Texas, we are adept at savoring a hot mug even when it’s seasonally inappropriate.