Earl Grey Teas

by jptanabe

Earl Grey tea sounds exciting, slightly exotic, certainly elegant. A British favorite, this is a black tea "scented" with bergamot which makes it very distinctive.

Earl Grey teas are classic "scented" teas, not your usual, some might say boring, black teas. Clearly a British favorite, the name "Earl Grey" conjures up the sense of British upper classes. It's also well known to Star Trek fans of the Next Generation era as Captain Jean-Luc Picard's favorite - "Tea, Earl Grey, Hot!"

But is it any good? Well, yes, it's certainly more than pleasant, it's almost addictive once you acquire the taste for it. Earl Grey Teas are scented and flavored with the oil of a citrus fruit called bergamot. This oil adds an unmistakable "perfume" to the tea, which can nonetheless be drunk with or without milk, so for us Brits who are used to milk in our tea we can enjoy a cup of Earl Grey and still think we're drinking tea!

Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, Engraved by J. Cochran
Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, Engraved by J...

History of Earl Grey Tea

The story behind the name Earl Grey tea is that it refers to Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, who was the British prime minister from 1830 to 1834. Either Earl Grey himself, or a diplomat sent to China during Grey's leadership, is said to have saved the life of a mandarin, who then gave him the recipe for this special tea as a symbol of gratitude.

Generally, though, it is believed that this tale was fabricated as a marketing ploy. Whatever the truth of the origin of the tea, it doesn't affect its flavor and how enjoyable it is to drink.

All about Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey tea is traditionally made with black tea from China and flavored with the oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit. The fruit is not exactly edible, being mostly rind, but the oil extracted from this rind has a powerful aromatic flavor. It makes the tea "perfumed" and in fact, oil of bergamot is used by perfumers.

Since the distinctive feature of Earl Grey tea is the bergamot oil, not the particular black tea, it can be produced with other teas such as green tea, oolong tea, even white teas, and of course decaffeinated. For those who find the perfume a little strong, it can be varied by mixing a little Lapsang Souchong tea to give it a smoky flavor, or a little lavendar. In any case, drinking Earl Grey tea is one of the pleasures of life, albeit one that needs a little getting used to.

Earl Grey Loose Leaf Tea

Loose leaf tea is the best way to make Earl Grey tea of course! And, it allows the versatility of mixing it with other teas if you find the "perfume" a bit too strong.

Tea Bags

Don't feel bad if you don't want the hassle of using loose leaf tea, you can certainly enjoy Earl Grey tea in tea bags too. I often do!

Health Benefits

Earl Grey tea contains black tea, so all the benefits of the tea plant are included. The main health benefit comes from the antioxidants. These reduce free radicals, and since free radicals are damaging to the body drinking tea is generally considered a healthy choice.

The special ingredient of Earl Grey tea, though, is bergamot. Now it turns out that as well as smelling good, bergamot has many health benefits. Grown in Italy for centuries, Italians in medieval times used bergamot for treating fever and intestinal worms. They were not wrong, bergamot does have antiseptic and germicidal properties. The antiseptic feature makes Earl Grey tea good for oral health.

Bergamot is also an antidepressant, good for reducing anxiety. Often containing lavender as well as bergamot, Earl Grey tea can be a delightfully calming beverage.

Lady Grey Tea!

If you find the flavor of Earl Grey tea a little overpowering, try Twinings Lady Grey Tea! It has the same bergamot, but is gentler and lighter in flavor. It has additional citrus flavor (orange, lemon, lime) and is sprinkled with cornflower petals. Both relaxing and refreshing, try Lady Grey in the morning or afternoon, with or without milk or sweetener. You just might love it!

More about Earl Grey tea

  • Earl Grey tea - Article about Earl Grey tea on New World Encyclopedia
Updated: 06/16/2016, jptanabe
 
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What do you think of Earl Grey tea?


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Veronica on 09/28/2015

oh yes of course, you are right ! Downton . That is just what it was like . I wasn't aware you watched Downton in the States. It was so moving to be there 100 years on.

The N I tea is called something like ..... Embelly's . I can't recall it but it was lovely.

jptanabe on 09/28/2015

Ah, Northern Irish tea - that sounds great. I grew up in Scotland and it might be similar to what was served there.

jptanabe on 09/28/2015

Thanks Veronica for that information. I just checked the website and it has great photos of it set up as a military hospital. Made me think of Downton Abbey!

Veronica on 09/28/2015

I am addicted to tea and can't go more than 90 minutes without a cup. I dislike Earl Grey tea but do like Irish Tea, Bewley's Breakfast is lovely but for preference, Belfast teas are the absolute best. I always get some tea when we fly over to Belfast.

Try Northern Irish! " It puts hairs on your chest ! " :)

Veronica on 09/28/2015

JP ,

Dunham Massey had a display last year for WW1 as it had been converted in a military hospital in WW1 . SO for the centenary last year, the owners converted it back to a Military hospital using old photos and having bed spreads made and getting facilitators to dress up in nurses and soldiers uniforms. IT was a very moving experience to visit and I hope they do it again some time . The "operating theatre" was like a corridor with a lantern !

It really brought it to life. You would love it so much .

frankbeswick on 09/27/2015

Dunham Massey is eight miles out of Manchester in the town of Altrincham, easily accessed by metrotram. It is a great parkland where there are pleasant walks, where you can see deer and heron. We often walk there. You can pay to go into the gardens and the house, but I enter free as a member of the National Trust. There is a pleasant cafe, which is in the old stables:an atmospheric place to have tea, but Maureen and I sometimes enjoy a meal at a local hostelry, The Swan with Two Nicks, which is across the river from Dunham Massey.

I do find it hard it compare Earl and Lady Grey tea, as they are genuinely different. I have had both, and I prefer Earl Grey.

jptanabe on 09/27/2015

Yes, Lady Grey is very similar to Earl Grey, just more subtle. I find it very pleasant.

CruiseReady on 09/27/2015

I am not a frequent tea drinker, but when I do drink it, I definitely prefer Earl Grey. However, I'd never heard of the Lady Grey variety, and am now curious to try it. Would be interesting to have a cup of each, side by side, for the sake of comparison.

jptanabe on 09/26/2015

Oh I wish I could visit Dunham Massey and drink tea in the cafe!

frankbeswick on 09/26/2015

I love it. It is my favourite tea. Interestingly, the Earls Grey had a seat at Dunham Massey, only 6 miles from where I live, and I often walk in their parkland, now a National Trust property. The cafe there always sells Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas as part of their range.

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