Need help?

Fragrant and Fabulous Earl Grey Tea - Distinctively Divine

Cup of tea with biscuitEarl Grey is a classic tea with a distinctive taste that is loved by many, making it one of the most popular tea blends around. This delicately fragrant and refreshing tea is traditionally made as a blend of Chinese black tea flavoured with aromatic bergamot oil, but it can also be made with other black teas, as well as green, white, oolong and rooibos, and blended with flower petals and fruits for added interest.

It is generally accepted that this well-loved tea was named after Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey, who was Britain’s Prime Minister between 1830-1834. There are various explanations as to how this came about, but nobody really knows for sure. One story suggests the tea was a special blend prepared for Earl Grey by a Chinese Mandarin friend, and that Bergamot oil was added to the tea to counteract the taste of lime in the water at the Earl’s Northumberland home. Another tale tells of the tea being gifted to him by a Chinese Mandarin, whose son was saved from drowning by a member of the Earl’s household. Other stories abound, that may well be the result of Chinese whispers, so the true reason will probably always remain a mystery! The ownership of the original recipe for Earl Grey tea has been argued about between various tea companies over the years, but since it has never been registered as a trademark, tea companies are at liberty to produce their own versions of Earl Grey tea.

The essential oil that gives Earl Grey tea its unique flavour is obtained from the bergamot orange (citrus bergamia), a citrus fruit that is yellow or green in colour, and has been described as a cross between a lemon or lime and a bitter orange. It has a fresh, citrusy scent with sweet, floral and spicy notes, and tastes slightly acidic, but the flavour complements a full-bodied, black tea perfectly. The oil, that is extracted from the rinds of the fruit, is used in aromatherapy and perfumes, as well as for culinary purposes, such as a flavouring for cakes, and an ingredient for cocktails or gins. Bergamot oranges grow in a number of Mediterranean countries, but are mostly grown for commercial use in Calabria, a region of southern Italy.

To enjoy Earl Grey tea at its best it should be brewed, preferably with filtered water, heated to just below boiling point (water can be boiled and cooled for a minute or two), and steeped for 2-3 minutes. It’s important not to infuse for too long as tannins in the tea may overcome its subtle, delicate flavours. It can be taken black or with a little milk, and sugar, honey or lemon added if desired.

Tea-Direct has a great selection of Earl Grey teas for you to try. Here are just a few examples:

Pack of Earl Grey TeaEarl Grey Tea is a blend of large leaf Ceylon black tea and bergamot oil. It is typically served as a black tea, but can also be enjoyed with a splash of milk or a slice of lemon.

Pack of Decaffeinated Earl Grey TeaDecaffeinated Earl Grey Tea is a delicious, naturally decaffeinated version of this well-loved classic. Made with high quality Ceylon tea, cornflower petals and bergamot oil, this flavoursome brew can be enjoyed at any time of day.

Pack of Earl Grey Green TeaEarl Grey Green Tea delivers the intoxicating aroma of bergamot in a Chinese green tea blend. A delightful alternative to a traditional Earl Grey tea.

Pack of Earl Grey Rooibos ReaEarl Grey Rooibos Tea gives rooibos tea lovers a chance to enjoy the glorious flavour of Earl Grey in a rooibos blend. The addition of pretty cornflower petals makes it an attractive, caffeine-free treat.