What is Earl Grey?


 Oct 04, 2014 |  Written by Anupa Mueller

Grand Earl GreyWe've been surprised twice this past week by customers thinking that Earl Grey was just a Breakfast or "regular" tea.  By "regular", they meant a straight black tea similar to a Liptons or Twinings at the supermarket.  When we pointed out that it has a flavoring added to it, they were surprised.  So here's a tutorial on Earl Grey: If a tea is labelled Earl Grey, it will have Bergamot flavoring added to it.  And yes, it's "bergamot" without an 'n' in it! What is Bergamot or Oil of Bergamot or Bergamot flavoring?  It is a very distinct, aromatic flavoring that has citrus notes in it.  Originally, it was derived from the rind of a citrus fruit, about the size of an orange, from the Mediterranean region.  Legend has it that the 2nd Earl Grey, a British Prime Minister in the 19th century received a gift of tea flavored with bergamot oil.  It is definitely perceived as a very English tea similar to 'English Breakfast' but whereas an English Breakfast will never have any flavoring added to it, an Earl Grey will only be an earl grey tea if it has bergamot added to it. Earl Grey does not have to be a black tea.  At our Tea Room alone - we offer 7 varieties - they differ primarily by what tea is the base:

  • Earl Grey Fancy - Indian black tea
  • Silver Tips Earl Grey - Ceylon black tea
  • Grand Earl Grey - Keemun, sprinkled with Silver Needle
  • Earl Grey Imperial - Organic Darjeeling
  • Baroness Grey - Organic Darjeeling with a touch of Citrus
  • Lavender Earl Grey - Earl Grey on an Indian tea base blended with Lavender
  • Earl Grey Jasmine - A China Green Jasmine tea flavored with Bergamot
  • Evening Grey - Rooibos, a non-caffeinated base, with Bergamot,  Vanilla & Rose Petals

Additionally, you may see Earl Grey Creme, Earl Grey Citrus, Blue Flower Earl Grey, Darjeeling Earl Grey, Pu-erh Grey, Jasmine Grey and several other varieties on store shelves or online.  Twinings made their Lady Grey blend one of the most popular in the world and you will see many companies with variations to the name such as Countess Grey, Baroness Grey, Madame Grey or Miss Grey. This is usually a slightly milder blend.  Our Baroness Grey uses a Darjeeling base which results in a medium-body cup. In addition to tea, Earl Grey is excellent in food, particularly baked goods.  Some of our favorites are on our Pinterest Board, 'Drink your tea & eat it too!' Is Earl Grey for you? Our general recommendation to our customers is that if you prefer straight teas, varietals such as Darjeeling, Oolong or Green, earl grey blends will probably be too scented for you.  If you like flavored teas including fragrances such as lavender, citrus or jasmine, you should give Earl Grey a whirl - this could be your cup of tea.

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