Learn More about Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey is the Flavoured Tea we all love, and yet know very little about! More mysterious than the books we read or the movies we watch, this Tea has so much uncertainty surrounding it that no one really knows where it came from or even when. But despite its elusive beginnings, Earl Grey Tea remains one of the most popular Teas in the world.
When one thinks of this aromatic brew, one famously scented with bergamot oil, thoughts often drift to English upper-class gentry, to lavish banquet halls and magnificent country homes. However, you do not need to be a Lord, a Count or even an Earl to enjoy this flavoursome beverage. Forget the silver trays and decorative chinaware, and instead, just jump into the world of this wonderful loose leaf tea with The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company today.
What is Earl Grey Tea?
While the most famous way of making this Tea is with Loose Black Tea, it is not the only one. Earl Grey Tea can come in the form of Green Tea or even a Herbal Tea such as Rooibos. For the most, however, the so-called “official” Earl Grey is a flavoured China Black Tea.
Bergamot oil, the critical ingredient making the difference, is added after the drying process of the Tea leaf. It provides a citrusy punch like no other, and is the fundamental reason why this Tea is so stupendously popular. Without bergamot, you cannot have Earl Grey; it’s as simple as that.
Some manufacturers choose to flavour Tea with the natural rind of bergamot, which also offers visual appeal before brewing, as well as its trademark taste. Most, however, use essential oils owing to efficiency. And the overall flavour is always the same: notes of sweetness, floralness, fruitiness, and if using Black Tea leaves, maltiness.
What is Bergamot?
Interestingly, the bergamot fruit is a hybrid of the lemon and Seville orange. It grows on the Citrus bergamia tree, which is best known for flourishing throughout the Mediterranean, as well as in regions of Africa, southeast Asia and even the south of France. It is mostly cultivated in the Italian province of Calabria, an area accounting for 80% of bergamot production!
Although some choose to eat the fruit straight from the tree, it has quite a bitter taste as an individual entity. Instead, it is used in several culinary dishes, as well as, of course, Tea! And much like Earl Grey, no one knows the true origins of bergamot.
The name “bergamot” may derive from either one of two theories. The first theory suggests its naming having a close association with the Italian town of Bergamo, where the fruit was first commercially produced. The second is that the name originates from the Turkish words “beg-armudi”, which means “the Prince’s pear”. Alas, we will likely never know, although it’s worth noting that, rather than a Prince, some say French King Louis XIV and his Royal court used bergamot as perfume.
History of Earl Grey Tea
As it turns out, this Tea existed long before being called Earl Grey. Many historians today believe that the first examples of a bergamot-scented Tea came not out of active interest to experiment with flavour, but to preserve the Tea leaves during difficult journeys overseas.
Lengthy times at sea could result in tastes reminiscent of mould and tar. To combat this, producers used bergamot fruit to maintain the freshness of the Tea, though eventually, its fruity flavour grew popular in its own right.
But one glaring question begs: why name this Tea “Earl Grey”? Honestly, no one knows for sure why or even how a 19th Century British Earl and eventually Prime Minister came to have such close ties to a Flavoured Black Tea.
One tale suggests that the naming of the Tea coincided with a diplomatic trip made by Earl Grey (the man, not the Tea) to China sometime during his political career.
According to this legend, either the Lord himself or one of his men saved a boy from drowning in a river. The boy’s father, overcome with gratitude, allegedly gifted the Earl with Black Tea leaves scented with bergamot oil to say thank you for saving his son. Upon his return to Britain, the Earl grew accustomed to the brew and sent for more, with it eventually being named in his honour.
Though a wonderful story, no records suggest that Earl Grey ever visited China in his life, so of course the tale remains totally unfounded. The first historical (rather than legendary) reference to Earl Grey (the Tea, not the man) came in the 1850’s, some years after the death of Earl Grey, but the first published advert for buying this beverage, printed by Charlton & Co, didn’t arrive until the 1880’s. Alas, the glaring questions of how and why “Earl Grey” persists today.
Brief Biography of the 2nd Earl Grey
Charles Grey (1764-1845), an Earl, a Prime Minister and a refined English gentleman, was born the son of General Sir Charles Grey (the 1st Earl Grey) of Fallodon, Northumberland. He first entered politics in 1786, aged 22, standing as a member of Parliament for the Northumberland constituency.
In 1808, Charles’ uncle, Sir Henry Grey of Howick, passed away, whereby the young politician inherited Howick Hall, a home he resided in for the rest of his life. He had his first child through a scandalous affair with Georgiana Cavendish, the Duchess of Devonshire, siring a daughter in 1792. Two years later, he married Mary Ponsonby, together having fifteen children.
Grey distinguished himself throughout much of his political career, committing, in particular, to parliamentary reform. It became one of his greatest achievements, despite splitting opinion within his own Whig Party. Charles Grey served as First Lord of the Admiralty and later as Foreign Secretary and Leader of the Opposition. In 1830, following the death of King George IV (who allegedly despised Grey), he became Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
During his short tenure as the head of the British government, Charles Grey had a tremendous impact on the progressive development of democracy in England and Wales after the passing of the Reform Act of 1832. He also oversaw reforming measures that included restrictions on the employment of children, and perhaps most famously, the abolition of slavery throughout the British Empire.
Prime Minister Grey resigned in 1834 following publicised divisions in the Irish church. He was succeeded by Lord Melbourne (1779-1848), who famously mentored Queen Victoria in her early Royal life. Grey retired to his beloved Howick Hall, remaining there for much of his later life until dying peacefully aged 81. Where Earl Grey Tea came into the equation is anyone’s guess!
Earl Grey Tea in Popular Culture
“Tea, Earl Grey, hot” - a phrase frequently uttered by Captain Picard of the Starship Enterprise. For those who are not familiar with the saying (or the famous television program, for that matter) this quote originates from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which ran from 1987 to 1994. Portrayed by the actor, Patrick Stewart, Captain Picard’s favourite brew is Earl Grey Tea.
When on the bridge of his spaceship (better known as the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D among all you nerds out there), Steward’s character often ‘orders’ his favourite beverage through a futuristic machine known as a replicator, which has the ability to ‘materialise’ the tea upon command.
Unfortunately, The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company do not have access to this technology, and must suffice with putting on the kettle, and brewing up the ‘old-fashioned’ way! (We can only dream!)
Earl Grey Tea Caffeine
Does Earl Grey Tea contain caffeine? It depends on the Tea! If you’re choosing Earl Grey Black Tea, then expect the same amount of caffeine as any other Black Tea; around 60-90 mg per 8 oz serving. An Earl Grey Green Tea, meanwhile, may yield about 35-70 mg of caffeine per 8 oz serving.
What about Earl Grey Herbal Teas? Here, one can expect no caffeine at all. Almost every type of Herbal Leaf Tea, excluding infusions such as Yerba Mate Tea, are entirely caffeine free. Rooibos, a herb grown exclusively in the Cederberg region of South Africa, is one such example of a caffeine-free beverage.
Those who like the taste of bergamot but wish to cut down on their caffeine intake should consider Teas such as Rooibos Earl Grey Tea and Rooibos Earl Grey with Lemon Peel. We also stock two decaffeinated Earl Greys, one a Black Tea variety and one a Green Tea variety, both of which have had between 96% and 98% of their caffeine content removed.
Contrary to popular belief, no decaf Tea (referring to Tea that originates from the Camellia sinensis plant) contains 0% caffeine. With our two Earl Grey decaf Teas, we use the Co2 decaffeination method, which is not only the safest but also the most efficient method available to the global Tea Industry. To find out more information, read our informative blog: How Much Caffeine in Tea and Coffee.
Earl Grey Tea Benefits
Earl Grey benefits the mind, body and soul. When it comes to the mind, it enhances cognitive function; when it comes to the body, it boosts the metabolism; and when it comes to the soul, it simply tastes great. What more could you possibly want from your cuppa’? When it comes to Earl Grey, it actually has a great deal more to offer, as it turns out.
Earl Grey Black Tea, like all Black Teas, contains an abundance of beneficial antioxidants capable of combating free radicals in the body, which are the product of natural, though harmful, human oxidation.
When left unchecked, free radicals can wreak havoc on the body, increasing the risks of several chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes.
This Tea, meanwhile, can combat the dangerous influence of oxidation by neutralising free radicals, which in turn reduces the risks of developing these conditions, as well as aiding one’s well-being in a multitude of other ways, too.
Like most teas, including almost All Types of Tea, Black, Green, White, and Oolong, Earl Grey can help to keep those pesky pounds off! The small amount of citrus extract found within this brew can help to stimulate the metabolism. It is important to recognise, however, that the effects of the bergamot oil are minimal. The inclusion of black tea leaves, on the other hand, potentially hold the key to Earl Grey’s weight loss ability.
The frequent consumption of Earl Grey Tea can likewise stimulate and even boost the metabolism. This, in turn, can lead to your body enhancing its ability to burn fat quicker, and more efficiently.
Further to this, studies have indicated that the moderate caffeine content found in Earl Grey can also lead to improved weight management. Similar to the Bergamot oil, these results are minimal. Still, all of these elements combined may be the answer to once again fitting into your favourite pair of jeans! After all, even the smallest of differences are differences nonetheless - every little helps!
Again thanks to its antioxidant potential, this beverage can keep your ‘ticker’ in check - in more than one way! First and foremost, it combats free radicals in the body, which you now already know reduces the risks of developing cardiovascular disease.
But furthermore, a study published in the 2014 Journal of Functional Foods focused on the bergamot oil used in Earl Grey, with suggestions made that it could be just as effective as statins at controlling cholesterol. The magic components found in bergamot are called hydroxymethylglutaryl flavonoids (GMGF), which can combat proteins in the body that potentially cause heart disease.
While the research is only in its preliminary stages, it could be good news for 60% of British adult males and 75% of British adult females who currently have too much “bad” LDL cholesterol in their system - providing they drink Earl Grey, that is!
An estimated 750,000 people in the UK live with either Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, with the number set to double in the next 40 years as Britain’s population ages.
Could Earl Grey be the answer? Possibly. A study conducted at the University of Singapore and published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition saw some 2,500 aged 55 (or over) tested to measure their cognitive function.
The experiment was repeated 2 years later, with the results indicating that those who drank two to three cups of Black Tea a day, regardless of the type, had a 55% lower chance of developing cognitive decline.
Those who drank six to ten cups, on the other hand, had a 63% lower chance. A 2016 meta-analysis likewise supported the frequent consumption of Black Teas such as Earl Grey Tea for reduced risks of cognitive decline, stating that: “Daily Tea drinking is associated with decreased risk of CoI, MCI and cognitive decline in the elderly”.
Stress Relief and Depression
There is nothing quite as harmonious as sitting down on the sofa after a long, stressful day, and enjoying a cup of your favourite tea. It seems as if all your worries gradually drift away, and in a way, they do!
Earl Grey Tea contains an amino acid known as L-theanine. This component in the tea can increase alpha brain activity, which subsequently leads to experiencing a state of calm and ease.
Aside from improving your overall mood, L-theanine also contributes to reducing depression and anxiety. Further to this, the caffeine content in this tea can help to increase focus and clarity, without - for the most - resulting in side effects such as jitteriness and restlessness.
Ultimately, Earl Grey can either help you face your issues head-on, or simply provide you with a clear and relaxed mind to sleep well and try again the following day.
Our Selection of Earl Grey Loose Tea
It’s almost hard to believe the sheer amount of choice one has when it comes to Earl Grey Teas available here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company.
Whether you want a Black Tea, a Green Tea, a Decaf Tea, a Herbal Tea or a Tea Blend - we have an Earl Grey that fits the bill! Which one suits you best? Here are just a few to consider, with many others available on our website or in store
Earl Grey Green Tea
Combine the scrumptious flavours of Earl Grey with the health benefits of Green Tea and what do you have?
Our wonderful Earl Grey Green Tea, that’s what! For those who’re particularly health-conscious, this beverage is an especially excellent choice. Earl Grey Green Loose Tea contains Epigallocatechin gallate, a polyphenol catechin with an unparalleled ability to improve one’s everyday way of life.
More than any other antioxidant, EGCG is the one to have, with this Loose Tea containing, on average, 200mg of the substance per 8 oz cup. And not only is it health-beneficial, but likewise provides Green Tea with its characteristic green colour and defined grassy flavour.
Russian Earl Grey
Not only does this particular Tea offer defined citrusy notes from the addition of bergamot, but also from Spanish orange pieces, with a spicy kick of Thai Lemongrass thrown in for good measure!
It is a mixture of Leaf Tea from China and Ceylon, a combination that makes a match made in heaven.
When brewed to perfection Russian Earl Grey Tea this blend boasts a lovely fruity overtone with a beautifully mellow finish. Suffice to say, it’s extraordinarily unique to the very last sip, so much so that you’ll be brewing up another cup in no time at all!
Earl Grey Darjeeling
Darjeeling Teas have a nickname: The Champagne of Teas. This refers not only to the fact that, like Champagne from the Champagne region of France, Darjeeling Tea can only come from the Indian district of Darjeeling, but also to the exceptional quality of these remarkable brews.
Knowing this, who honestly wouldn’t want to make an Earl Grey out of a Tea touted for its exceptional quality?
Here at The Kent and Sussex Tea and Coffee Company, we’ve done just that, creating a blend noted for its traditional “Darjeeling” flavours complemented perfectly by essence of bergamot. It makes a terrific afternoon Tea, although there is never a bad time to drink Earl Grey Darjeeling.
Decaffeinated Earl Grey
If you, like many, are sensitive to excessive caffeine intake, then our Earl Grey Decaffeinated Tea is a great place to start. This beverage, similar to most other Earl Greys, boasts citrusy flavours and malty undertones.
Unlike most other Earl Greys, however, it contains next to no caffeine. This Tea is also an excellent choice for pregnant women owing to its lack of caffeine.
According to NHS Choices, pregnant women should not exceed 200 mg of caffeine a day, the same rough amount as 2 cups of Coffee. Better still, one needn’t even worry about that much caffeine with our Decaffeinated Earl Grey Tea.
Earl Grey Tea Bags
This is our “House” Earl Grey, a flavoured Black Tea packed into convenient Tea Bags. While many like the idea of brewing Loose Leaf Tea, sometimes we just don’t seem to have the time.
As such, if the clock is working against you first thing in the morning, or if you want nothing more than to sit down as soon as possible after a long day in the evening, then our Earl Grey Tea Bags make life just that little bit easier.
Each parcel contains 50 individual Tea Bags so one can enjoy this delicious brew fifty times over!
Rooibos Earl Grey Tea
Rooibos is a herb grown exclusively in the Cederberg region of South Africa. It is caffeine-free and low in tannins, making it an excellent alternative to so-called “real” Teas such as Green, Black, White and Oolong.
The herb is notably versatile and can accommodate countless flavours and additions, with Rooibos Earl Grey Tea being one such example. Famously, Rooibos Tea, flavoured or unflavoured, can reduce symptoms associated with allergies, as well as treat colic, lower blood pressure and improve skin health.
Most of all, Rooibos Earl Grey Tea tastes great, offering trademark citrusy flavours combined with herbaceous undertones and slight floral hints.
Earl Grey with Cornflowers
This is a blend of South China, Assam (India) and Darjeeling (India) Teas infused perfectly with natural oil of bergamot, as well as beautiful cornflowers. These petals add extravagance to the brew, bringing it to life.
Earl Grey with Cornflowers Tea has sweet, fragrant notes and a delicate flavour. It is an Earl Grey Tea of the finest quality, and will undoubtedly impress all those who drink it.
And even before brewing, this Tea quite literally looks as good as it tastes! What more could you possibly want from your morning cuppa’?