Monday, April 28, 2014


Earl Grey Tea
Photo by foodishfetish / CC BY

Twinings Earl Grey Tea
Photo by rickmccharles / CC BY

Afternoon Tea: Tea Cakes and sandwiches on a 3-Tier Cake plate
Photo by aliradford / CC BY

Decaf Earl Grey with Mesh Infuser Ball
Photo by stephanieasher / CC BY

English Tea Strainer
Photo by roboppy / CC BY


Earl Grey is one of the most popular flavored teas in the world. Traditionally, it is a blend of Indian and Ceylon teas, flavored with oil extracted from the skin of bergamot orange. [1] Bergamot orange is a type of citrus fruit that is usually grown in the Mediterranean and is commercially grown in Calabria, Italy. [2]


In order to enhance the taste of low-quality tea, tea flavored with bergamot orange was originally to imitate expensive types of Chinese tea. The first reference to bergamot-flavored tea was found in 1824; [3] however origin of Earl Grey is still unclear. 

It is often associated with Charles Grey, the British Prime Minister, also known as “Second Earl Grey”. According to Howick Hall Garden, Earl Grey was firstly made by a Chinese friend of Charles Grey to offset the taste of minerals in the water of Howick Hall, England. [4] According to World Tea News, “Another version tells how the blend was created by accident when a gift of tea and bergamot oranges were shipped together from diplomats in China and the fruit flavour was absorbed by the tea during shipping.” [5] According to tea company, Jacksons of Piccadilly, and tea manufacture, Twinings, they claim to introduce Earl Grey recipe from Charles Grey, “Legend has it, that my ancestor, the second Earl Grey, was presented with this exquisite recipe by an envoy on his return from China.” [6


Earl Grey is bold with refreshing "citrusy" fragrant of Bergamot orange (somewhat in between lemon, orange and grapefruit mixed together.) [7] This tea is well-known for English tea party or “afternoon tea,” a formal gathering with traditional table set to enjoy tea, tea cakes, tea sandwiches, and other bite-sized pastries. [8] According to Caroline-Jane Houston, Director of Food and Beverage at The Langham Hotel in London, she thinks, “Due to its light, citrus and floral character Earl Grey makes the perfect afternoon tea”. [9]


According to The Telegraph News in UK, a 2014 Italian research from University of Calabria found that Earl Grey helps lower cholesterol levels and reduce the chance of heart. disease.[10] Earl Grey contains caffeine as well, around 55 to 90 mg of caffeine per cup, and decaf Earl Grey at around two to 10 mg per cup. [11]


Tea sets are extremely important for the English tea culture. According to What's Cooking America, all porcelain tea cups were traditionally made in China so they did not have handle. Until 1710 when the Meissen Porcelain Company make a handle to the teacup, a tea etiquette called "Pinky up" was also firstly introduced. In the 19th century, Queen Victoria, who loved drinking tea, especially invented a tea service that includes teapot, creamer, sugar bowl, tea kettle, coffee pot, and waste bowl. [12] There is later special made tea utensils such as mesh infuser ball and English tea strainers.

Earl Grey is traditionally served hot. It can be served with a slice of lemon, milk, or sugar. Nowadays there are many varieties of Earl Grey available with different tea base depending on personal preference. For example, a base tea from Kenya, Ceylon or Assam usually has a strong black tea flavor, Nilgiri or Darjeeling is considered mild, and Earl Grey with a Yunnan or Keemun base is smooth and rich. [13] Other Earl Grey recipes include LadyGrey, London Frog, Earl Grey Crème, French Earl Grey, Russian Earl Grey, Earl Grey Green, etc. [14]

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