by Rebecca Domorev June 12, 2020 7 min read
Everything you need to know about Earl Grey tea including why it (sometimes) tastes so bad, how to drink Earl Grey tea, Earl Grey tea and caffeine, Earl Grey tea variations, health benefits and more.
The story of how Earl Grey tea came to be is often disputed and varies in detail, however, the consensus is that it was named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey and British Prime Minister in the 1830s.
From the beginning, Earl Grey tea was a flavoured black tea made from a blend of Chinese black tea and bergamot oil. Bergamot is a citrus fruit similar to an orange.
In later years, Earl Grey tea was blended with a heavier Ceylon base with the idea that the extra flavour would allow for the addition of milk without overpowering the more gentle floral sweetness typically found in Chinese teas.
According to the Grey family, bergamot was added to black tea by a Chinese Mandarin-speaking individual for Lord Grey to suit the water at Howick Hall, the family seat in Northumberland as it helped offset the dominance of the mineral lime in the local water.
Some variations of Earl Grey teas exist including Earl Grey tea made with white tea, green tea, oolong tea and even rooibos tea as a base.
Not everyone loves Earl Grey tea, but there are a couple of reasons Earl Grey tea is often particularly unpleasant - and doesn't need to be.
The first reason is that low-grade black tea is used. A simple trick big tea companies use to lower costs is to douse low-grade teas with flavouring. The aroma may be pleasant at first and it sets you up to expect a good brew. Sometimes this placebo effect works! Unfortunately, the poor quality usually makes its way through towards the end of each sip and taste buds can't always be fooled! The lasting experience is not pleasant.
Tielka uses a high-grade dianhong black tea to create an exceptional blend in both Earl Royale and Lady Betty black teas, Tielka's own take on an organic blend of Earl Grey. The complex, sweet, creamy and nutty nuances carry both teas beautifully and the lingering effect makes a classy brew and is the perfect treat.
The other reason is that synthetic citrus flavourings are often used in an attempt to replace the real thing, which is natural bergamot oil. Natural bergamot oil is expensive and tricky to use. It evaporates quickly. Unless the Earl Grey tea is stored correctly, the unique taste of bergamot oil can be lost. Synthetic flavouring lasts longer. The usual cost-cutting applies. Proper tea storage is expensive and so are real ingredients. Synthetic citrus flavouring replaces the real thing, resulting in an often unpleasant flavour experience.
Tielka uses natural bergamot oil in both Earl Royale and Lady Betty black teas to create the perfect blend and packages them in airtight, light-shielded bags. Loose-leaf options are vacuum-sealed further ensuring the wonderful accent of natural bergamot oil has no option but to be absorbed by the beautiful black tea base.
Earl Grey tea can be enjoyed both black or with milk. Higher grade Earl Grey teas are best enjoyed black as they use natural bergamot oil applied to more delicate black teas as the base. The addition of tea will mask some of the unique nuances in these beautiful ingredients.
Earl Grey tea can also be served with honey or a slice of lemon.
As Earl Grey tea has a black tea base, Earl Grey tea is best brewed at 100 degrees Celcius (212 degrees Fahrenheit) for 3 minutes. The old measuring system of "one teaspoon per cup" applies, or if you are a true tea-enthusiast and love precision, we recommend 1gm tea/100ml water. For a stronger brew, we recommended adding more tea, rather than brewing longer.
There are many wonderful benefits of drinking Earl Grey tea!
As bergamot is the star ingredient, let's have a brief look at the benefits of bergamot oil. You may wish to note, Earl Grey tea that uses a synthetic citrus substitute will not have these same benefits.
Bergamot oil with its sweet scent is well known for its relaxing properties - it helps elevate mode and alleviate stress. It is also cleansing and can help relieve pain.
The list of black tea benefits is endless. From protective antioxidants supporting the prevention of cancer, heart disease, stroke, to lowering cholesterol and supporting good mental health through its relaxing properties, while assisting with good brain function, there is no shortage of benefits!
Earl Grey tea has the same quantity of caffeine as a typical cup of black tea (27.5mg/250ml cup of black tea) as black tea is the base of Earl Grey tea. If there are other additional caffeine-free ingredients, there will be marginally less caffeine, but not enough to be worth considering as black tea is the predominant ingredient.
Tielka has two takes on the traditional Earl Grey tea. One is Earl Royale, a blend of a high grade dianhong Chinese black tea, sweet orange peel, cornflower petals and natural bergamot oil. The other, Lady Betty has the same ingredients as Earl Royale with the addition of rose petals.
French Earl Grey tea is a play on the traditional Earl Grey tea blend, which normally consists of a black tea flavoured by bergamot oil or synthetic citrus flavours. The characteristic floral and fruity notes that create a French Earl Grey teas vary significantly, however, one consistency is the addition of rose petals. Some blends include hibiscus, mallow flowers, fruit pieces and other floral ingredients.
Tielka's own play on the French Earl Grey tea is Lady Betty, one of Tielka's best-kept secrets, and is blended with a Dianhong style Chinese black tea, natural bergamot oil, cornflower petals and rose petals.
This depends on the type and quality of black tea of your French Earl Grey tea. French Earl Grey tea can be enjoyed with or without milk.
For lower-grade, heavier black tea varieties, a dash of milk can help mask some of the more unpleasant notes.
If your French Earl Grey tea has a high grade Chinese black tea base, like Tielka's Lady Betty, some of the more intriguing subtle notes may be missed with milk added. In the case of Lady Betty, we recommend trying your brew without milk first and then adding a dash for comparison.
For a different twist, we recommend Tielka's French Earl Grey - Lady Betty - be enjoyed as an iced tea, and without even a natural sweetener. It is refreshing and is a beautiful palate cleanser.
French Earl Grey is best enjoyed in the late morning.
In addition to the benefits of Earl Grey Tea, the added ingredient of rose petals bring a plethora of benefits. The rose flower is a natural aphrodisiac - it's no wonder so much romance is caught up in a bouquet of rose flowers. Rose also has wonderful cleansing, detox properties and may help prevent urinary tract infections. The rose flower may help boost immunity due to the vitamin C content. It can also help treat menstrual pain and aids with relaxation and stress reduction.
French Earl Grey tea has a similar amount of caffeine as a cup of standard black tea (27.5mg/250ml cup of black tea). As there is the addition of some other caffeine-free ingredients, such as floral and fruity ingredients, there may be slightly less caffeine content, but not enough less to ensure this tea can be enjoyed before sleep without any ill-effects for those with a caffeine sensitivity.
Tielka's own take on a French Earl Grey is called Lady Betty, and is currently both a Tielka favourite and Tielka's best-kept secret. Since we launched Lady Betty in 2016, she has had gained a small but faithful following. And for those willing to take the risk and enjoy her for the first time, they are not disappointed. Indeed, they seem to keep coming back time and time again for more!
Lady Grey tea is a trademark flavour of Earl Grey created by Twinings in the early 1990s. As the traditional Earl Grey was too strong in flavour for the Nordic market, Lady Grey tea was created with the addition of lemon and orange peel. Some variations include cornflower petals.
Tielka's Earl Royale is a blend of similar ingredients to Lady Grey tea. Tielka's black tea base of a high-grade dianhong style Chinese black tea mixed with natural bergamot oil (rather than a lower grade black tea and citrus flavouring that our competitors use) makes it a significantly better tea, one worthy of winning Gold in both the 2018 and 2019 Golden Leaf Awards.
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Are you still on high alert every time your throat starts to feel a tinge of soreness?
Do you prefer a natural remedy over pharmacy-bought products?
You'll be happy to know ginger already hiding in your cupboard or fridge may help prevent and treat that sore throat.
"A sore throat occurs when the throat is red and swollen. It is a common symptom of a viral or bacterial infection, such as pharyngitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. Swallowing can be especially difficult and painful, and the back of the throat can feel itchy, dry, or scratchy. Acid, chemical irritation, and reflux can also cause a sore throat."
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