History of Earl Grey Tea

History of Earl Grey Tea


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One of the most famous and popular of all teas is Earl Grey. This beloved and almost required tea, for some people, is distinct because of the addition of bergamot oil. Bergamot oil comes from the rind of a bergamot orange and enhances the drink with a sweet, citrus and even floral note to the tea. No wonder it is a favorite around the world.


The actual origination of Earl Grey tea is not on record and wholly unknown. There are of course many theories and plausible explanations but the one that most people agree upon involves a Chinese merchant and lime. During the early 1800’s, Charles Grey, 2nd Earl and British Prime Minister at the time, wanted to create a blended flavor of tea that would offset the water at Howick Hall in Northumberland. The water was notorious for being lime flavored, and Earl Grey commissioned a Chinese gentleman to create the new blend. The gentleman chose bergamot oil to infuse with Chinese black tea since it was the most used tea of that period.

There are still a few doubters who think the bergamot oil’s original purpose was to mask the lack of quality in the Chinese black tea. However, because of the name and how even Lady Grey used to serve it to her gentry guests, this version seems unlikely. As time went on, the aristocrats began choosing Earl Grey as it symbolized wealth and status.

We may never entirely be aware of the true origins of Earl Grey Tea. But as the story goes, there is no denying that it has come a long way from over 200 years ago. And even now there are more variations of the classic blend.

How is Earl Grey Tea Made?

At the end of the tea making process, the tea leaves become dry. The tea leaves are blended with herbs, spices or even flowers, but in this case, bergamot oil. This creates a distinct flavor or scent of the tea leaves. Another option for blending the tea leaves is to coat or shower them with an extract, oil or agent on the dried tea leaves. The latter option is optimal for a stronger flavor and a smaller use of elements.

With that, producers have a different bergamot oil to black tea leaf ratio. Each brand can have a distinct smell and or taste of the blend. The key is to purchase the best quality of Earl Grey Tea.

Different Styles of Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea sold throughout England during the 1820’s, making it the earliest flavored tea that we know of. The tea company, Twinings, deserves credit for being the first to make Earl Grey Tea widely sought after. Of course, as time has gone on, there have been others who have wanted to create a new and improved Earl Grey flavor. Examples are the Green Earl Grey, the Earl Grey Chai, and the Breakfast Earl Grey.

However you take your tea, when you have it or whatever account you believe as the commencement of this famed beverage, an excellent cup of classic Earl Grey is always a recommended choice.

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