A Guide to Earl Gray Tea
Earl Grey tea is one of the world’s most beloved teas. With a deep golden hue, a malty taste and strong citric undertones, this tea has a unique flavour and aroma. Apart from its interesting taste, Earl Grey tea also has an intriguing story behind its origin and a special manufacturing process. Read more to learn everything you need to know about Earl Grey tea, from its history to health benefits and manufacturing process.
What is Earl Grey Tea?
Even though Earl Grey can easily be mistaken for having its own tea category, similar to green tea or white tea, Earl Grey is black tea flavoured with bergamot orange, a hybrid of lemon and bitter orange with a strong citrus flavour.
There are two different ways to make flavoured teas, and it usually occurs in the latter stages of the tea manufacturing process. These flavours can be infused while brewing the tea, which will give a delicate flavour, but for a stronger taste, the tea is flavoured by spraying extracts or essential oils on the tea leaves.
The Origins of Earl Grey
Even though its name suggests an English origin, like all flavoured or scented teas Earl Grey tea was a Chinese creation. Ancient tea masters in China are experts in the fine art of brewing tea and they were always experimenting with the flavour of their tea trying to make it more exotic. Tea would be scented or flavoured with flowers, spices, and herbs. Some popular flavours were jasmine, vanilla, ginger, mint and fruit like lychees or bergamot orange.
Charles Grey the second Earl of Grey and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1839 and 1834, was given a special blend of tea from a Chinese tea master. The story goes that the tea master originally used bergamot for the tea to offset the lime flavour in the well water on the Earl of Grey’s estate. The tea blend instantly became Lady Grey’s favourite beverage and she served it whenever she entertained, quickly becoming the darling of English society. Tea merchants in London began to replicate the flavour and coined it Earl Grey tea, thus immortalising the Earl of Grey not for his great political changes but for introducing the world to this unique blend.
How Earl Grey is Made
Being a flavoured tea, Earl Grey is manufactured almost in the same style as black tea. The process begins with the fresh tea leaves being plucked from the beautifully manicured tea gardens of Sri Lanka. Once complete, the leaves are then withered, rolled, oxidised/fermented, dried, sorted and tested. To make Earl Grey, black tea is flavoured with the oil of bergamot orange which can either be made with synthetic or natural bergamot flavouring and it is done during or immediately after the drying process.
However, while the manufacturing process of Earl Grey is uniformed, the tea may taste different when you try it at different places or from different brands. Making this special blend is an art and there are no two Earl Grey teas that taste the same because different producers use different amounts of bergamot orange flavouring.
Fun Fact: Even though Earl Grey is a flavoured tea, other flavours can be infused with this tea as well! Our Golden Pekoe with Earl Grey and Vanilla is the perfect example. This tea beautifully combines the strong and distinctive taste of Ceylon tea with bergamot and the sweetness of vanilla.
Health Benefits of Earl Grey
The health benefits of a black tea (the base of most Earl Grey teas) are abundant. Rich in antioxidants, there are numerous ways a cup of tea is good for you. Whether you have a cold, or you’re feeling a little down, a sip of liquid gold may help make you feel better. Like black tea, Earl Grey tea has many health benefits, here are some of them.
Tea is naturally rich in antioxidants, and therefore has high levels of catechin, an oxidant that fights oral infections. This blend also contains fluoride, which is a natural component that helps fight decay and protects the teeth against the formation of cavities.
Earl Grey is believed to improve digestion and tackle digestion related problems. The is believed to prevent constipation and other issues like indigestion, colic and nausea. The flavonoids in the tea can also help fight inflammation caused by digestion issues.
Nothing can truly bring about weight loss like regular exercise and a balanced diet but with drinking this tea you can certainly expedite the effects. By drinking Earl Grey, you will reap the benefits that come with consuming black tea.
All tea contains polyphenols, naturally occurring compounds in plant-based products, and these polyphenols act as antioxidants which fight against free radicals which are reactive molecules that cause cell damage and disease.
Storing Earl Grey
Proper storage is key to keep your tea fresh for as long as possible. While tea can never really go bad, it can get stale and lose its flavour, this is especially true with flavoured tea. Black tea has a longer shelf life than other teas like green tea. Since the tea is oxidised, it won’t react with the air and affect its potency. However, flavoured teas like Earl Grey have a shorter shelf life. To ensure your Earl Grey stays fresh for as long as possible be sure to store it in an air-tight container, away from light and other aromatics like coffee as that can affect the tea’s flavour.
How to Drink Earl Grey
Before brewing any tea, it is always best to follow the instructions on the package. Here are some tips that will ensure you have the best tea drinking experience.
- Use 2.5g of tea per 220ml of water.
- Ensure you don’t over boil or double boil your water. Ideally use spring water, and boil between 90 and 100 degrees Celsius.
- Pour the boiled water into your cup of tea leaves, stir, cover, and let it steep for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Enjoy your tea as is or with a splash of milk and sugar.
While drinking Earl Grey is the best way to fully appreciate the flavour of this brew, another great option is infusing the tea into some of your meals. Try this Prime Rack with Earl Grey; a succulent dish that beautifully combines the flavour of Earl Grey tea, whose sweetness complements the flavour of the meat.
Get your hands on a pack of Dilmah’s Earl Grey tea and enjoy it in any way you want!