Earl Grey tea is an acquired taste and has a somewhat ‘posh’ reputation. However, it’s actually a very accessible tea and is a very popular choice for anyone looking for a tasty cuppa to have with breakfast or in the afternoon.
The flavor of Earl Grey tea is well-known and approachable. With a combination of citrus, natural bergamot oil and black tea, it has an aromatic and floral taste that goes with pretty much any biscuit you can think of.
Earl Grey tea is also popular because there are many different varieties to enjoy, guaranteeing that there’s bound to be a type that you enjoy! To celebrate this regal drink, we’re going to take a quick look at the history of Earl Grey tea, as well as the Best Earl Grey tea brands that you can buy today.
The history of Earl Grey tea
Before we dive into our latest recommendations, here’s a bit of history about this type of tea: Traditionally speaking, Earl Grey is made from a black tea blend including oil of bergamot. Its roots in England go back hundreds of years, and is believed to be named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, this fellow right here who looks like he’s reaching into his coat for a pistol:
New year, new Earl Grey and we’ve got a great list of choices for you.
Hopefully he’s just reaching for a flask of some hot tea.
In any case, there are conflicting origin stories of this tea, with one saying that the Earl received the blend as a gift from somebody from China who was grateful to him for saving their son. Jacksons of Piccadilly, a teahouse dating back to 1815, claim themselves as the origin of this blend of tea.
Regardless of where it came from, it’s here now – and that’s what matters, right?
The different kinds of Earl Grey tea
While the tea blend is traditionally made from a blend of black teas, with flavor added with bergamot oil. This gives Earl Grey its signature floral flavor with notes of citrus and other fruit (depending on the type).
As well as bergamot, Earl Grey teas can also be flavored with lavender, rose petals, blue cornflowers and other flowers. Sometimes, Earl Grey producers will produce special blends with green teas, different types of bergamot oil and other combinations for a variety of tastes. Some of the most common types of Earl Grey are:
Decaf Earl Grey – The same famous drink, but without the caffeine.
Earl Green – A combination of traditional Earl Grey tea with green tea and bergamot.
Lady Grey – A blend of Earl Grey tea with blue cornflowers.
Earl Grey Oolong – A blend of oolong tea and natural bergamot oils.
Russian Earl Grey – A distinctive mix of citrus peels into traditional Earl Grey.
French Earl Grey – Depending on who you ask, traditionally adds lavender or rose flowers.
Red Earl Grey – Also known as Earl Rooibos or Earl Red, which combines natural bergamot or rooibos.
The health benefits of Earl Grey tea
All teas come with their own respective health benefits, and Earl Grey is no different. There have been several health benefits associated with drinking Earl Grey, but please bear in mind that there have not been any extensive studies carried out so far. If you’re suffering from any health conditions, always check with your doctor to check if Earl Grey is ok for you to drink.
While the studies of quality Earl Grey tea are limited, it is still a black tea. The benefits of black tea can support cardiovascular health, is high in antioxidants, and can also have anti-inflammatory benefits. Earl Grey also contains caffeine which can help you feel more alert and energized after drinking.
How to choose the best Earl Grey tea
Earl Grey comes in many different ways, so it can be tough to know which ones you should buy. Before you go onto your shopping journey, here are a few things to think about when buying the best Earl Grey tea.
Where did it come from?
Hardcore tea fans will most likely agree that the best black teas come from the island of Ceylon in Sri Lanka, and from Assam and Darjeeling in India. If you can get your Earl Grey tea from a producer that uses leaves from these regions, you stand a better chance of getting high quality. However, if your Earl Grey comes from somewhere else, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’ll be of lower quality.
Does it have natural bergamot oil?
While the black tea used in your Earl Grey blend will have the biggest impact on the flavor, the source and quality of the bergamot oil will also have an effect. To cut costs or enhance flavors, some producers will use artificial bergamot oil, while others will keep things natural. The best Earl Grey brands will use natural bergamot oils from natural bergamot fruits, so keep an eye out for information on the packaging.
What kind of flavor do you like?
There’s no single ‘best’ flavor of Earl Grey tea: it’s all down to your individual preferences. Just like most things, it’ll take a bit of trial and error for you to find your favorite, but you can narrow things down a little bit at the beginning. You can opt for sharper or smoother flavors, with various levels of citrus and floral notes. Read the reviews and product descriptions to get a better idea of taste before you buy.
Choose organic if you can
Organic Earl Grey tea may cost slightly more, but it’ll be better for you in the long run. We already know that natural food or drink products are better for us, so the best Earl Grey teas will naturally follow suit. This is especially true for loose leaf Earl Grey tea.
Try a whole bunch!
With so many different types of Earl Grey tea out there, the best you to find your favorite is to explore. You can check out many different types to find out which ones best suit your palate and budget. And, even if you get Earl Grey tea bags that you don’t like, you can always serve them to guests who we’re sure will love them.
The Best Earl Grey brands to enjoy
Taste is entirely subjective, but we’ve still put together this list of some of the best Earl Grey tea blends out there.
For the purposes of this list, we look at well most people enjoy the tea (by aggregating review scores from across the web), how accessible it is, and in this case, whether it’s worth the money or not for the average tea consumer. You might find a really nice Earl Grey tea blend that’s VERY expensive, but if most people won’t really notice the difference or appreciate it, it won’t necessarily earn the top spot since we’re taking value into consideration here.
Here are the best Earl Grey teas at a glance:
Let’s cut right to the chase and end the suspense, here’s our overall pick for the best Earl Grey tea blend. The Supreme blend by Harney & Sons contains four different teas, silver tips, and oil of bergamot. All things considered, if you’re looking for a quality Earl Grey tea brand you can rely on, this is a solid pick.
It lands on the pricier end of the scale when you break down the price per ounce of tea, so if you’re very budget-conscious you might want to try the next one, or something else from this list, but if you don’t mind spending a little bit more – this is one of the best you can get.
Taylor’s of Harrogate is a staple in many homes, it’s a solid tea blend, very reasonable, very accessible. You can see from all of the reviews that the quality and price ratio is spot on, and that people are very happy with what they’re brewing up.
Here’s some information from the manufacturer themselves: “Said to be from a secret recipe given to Earl Grey by a Chinese Mandarin in 1830, Earl Grey tea has a distinct flavor and aroma. A blend of fine black China teas and the natural oil of natural bergamot, this is a full-bodied, richly-flavored treat any time of the day.”
This is a delicious and classic Earl Grey tea that combines the best of both worlds of loose leaf and tea bags. These little pouches contain loose leaf tea, rather than tea bags where the tea has often been ground a lot finer and is sometimes of lower quality. This Earl Grey brand is nice because they bring you the convenience of bagged tea, with the quality of loose leaf.
It’s very well-reviewed and well priced, which has earned it a place on our list.
By the sounds of it, putting together this blend was a real labor of love. They visited dozens of tea houses in London to make sure they were getting things just right, and have sourced their organic bergamot from Southern Italy, using the oils from the peel for a fresh taste rather than any alternative flavorings. The goal was to make an organic Earl Grey that could stand up to scrutiny and make Brits proud, and it’s also quite reasonably priced at pennies per serving. We’ll call that mission: accomplished.
No list of top teas would be complete without having Twinings there! We’ve decided to add their caffeine-free option to finish off our list for those who want to enjoy the aromatic tastes of Earl Grey without worrying about getting to sleep afterwards. These tea bags of joy taste every bit as good as their caffeinated counterparts and come at a great price as well. And, because of its Twinings, you can be sure that you’ll get great quality at a great price.
Making the best cup of Earl Grey
Before we finish up, we thought it would be a good idea to write up a short guide on making the perfect cup of classic Earl Grey tea:
Water is the key
To make a perfect cup of Earl Grey tea, start with cold, fresh and filtered water (if possible). Avoid using hot water from the tap, or water that’s already been boiled. Also, when you heat your water, only use non-reactive vessels such as a stainless steel pot or a glass kettle. This helps to improve flavor and prevents impurities from getting into your tea.
Watch the temperature
The best way to prepare Earl Grey is with water that’s been heated to 208°, or, just below its boiling point. If your kettle lets you control the temperature, just heat the water until the beginning of its boil, before turning off the heat.
Preheat your cup
Most people skip this step, but it actually helps out a lot. Tea is generally quite delicate and needs the right environment for the best results. By pouring your hot tea into a room-temperature cup, you’ll affect the overall taste, and your drink will cool down a lot quicker. To warm up your cup, just pour in some hot water first and swill it around.
Measure it out
By measuring your tea precisely, you can tailor its taste to your exact preferences. If you’re using loose leaf tea instead of tea bags, its best to our just one teaspoon per six-ounces.
Exact measurements will vary depending on how strong you like your tea, how large your favorite cup is, and how many cups your teapot holds. For loose leaf Earl Grey tea, the rule is one teaspoon per six-ounce cup, or two teaspoons per eight-ounce glass of iced tea. It may be necessary to adjust this measurement to suit your taste, or to accommodate a large mug.
The amount of time you leave your tea bag or loose leaf tea in the water will affect the overall strength of the flavor. For Earl Grey, the general rule of thumb is to let it brew for three to five minutes. If you go beyond that time, the black tea may overpower the delicate floral and citrus flavors.
Add the extras
Earl Grey tea has a lot of flavor on its own, but you can add a little sugar or a slice of lemon to enhance it further. You can also add a little milk to smooth things out.
Enjoy your Earl Grey tea!
Now that you know what the best Earl Grey choices are, it’s time to get out there and find your favorite! Whether you go for loose leaf or prefer a tea bag, you really can’t go wrong with your selection, especially if you opt for organic and natural choices. From Lady Grey through to Russian Earl Grey tea and beyond, there’s a whole world waiting for you.
Do you think that something is missing from our list of best Earl Grey teas? Get in touch, let us know and we’ll update our article.
Last update on 2021-04-18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API