One day in the 1800s, a diplomat gave the 2nd Earl Grey black tea with an infusion of bergamot oil. And so marked the beginning of the Earl Grey tea family.
The prominent panoply of Earl Greys knows no bounds. It seems that every week a tea retailer introduces a new variety into the already bountiful fray. Indeed, The Tea Centre alone stocks seven Earl Greys!
To help you find the silver lining amongst all the (Earl) Grey, our company’s here to breakdown the differences between each variety and highlight the best of each blend! But first, a little history lesson is key…
The history of Earl Grey tea
It seems that mythological origin stories and tea go hand-in-hand! Earl Grey takes its name eponymously from former British Prime Minister Charles Grey. However, the exact reason why remains a mystery.
The most popular origin story is that a Chinese mandarin gave Grey the black tea-bergamot infusion after he saved his son during a diplomatic mission to China. However, this is also the most far-fetched story. Most tellingly, there’s no evidence that Grey ever went to China in the first place!
An alternative story comes from two London companies—Twinings and Jacksons of Piccadilly—that both lay claim to the creation of Earl Grey blend in 1836. Both allege that the prime minister personally requested a tea recipe that would offset the bitterness of his estate’s water supply. Back in the 1800s, it was not uncommon for drinking water to contain high levels of limescale at the time
Then, there is the third origin story, which ties in closely with the history of The Tea Centre’s East India Earl Grey.
The Earl Grey for spice lovers
The third origin story details that a Chinese ambassador gave Grey the bergamot blend as a thank you gift after he terminated the imperial East India Trading Company’s monopoly on the tea trade between Britain and China.
However, an unforeseen reaction to this mandate was the two Opium Wars. After losing their monopoly, the East India Trading Company began to nefariously filter opium into China in an attempt to offset British trade deficits. This saw Britain rely heavily on tea plantations in colonial India to supplant the tea imports that originally came from China.
In turn, East India Earl Grey is The Tea Centre’s signature blend that takes note of this important Britain-India-China history. We combine Earl Grey with traditional Indian Ayurvedic ingredients like orange peel and cardamom husks. Akin to chai with the addition of bergamot, spice lovers enjoy this infusion’s piney flavours and zesty aftertaste.
Lady Grey’s little sister
Did you know that Charles Grey’s wife—Lady Mary Elizabeth Grey—also has a tea named after her? Just like her Earl Grey counterpart, Lady Grey has the requisite bergamot plus an extra citrus twist!
Twinings were the first to envision Lady Grey as an Earl Grey with lemon and/or orange peel. Lady Grey was celebrated for her acute fashion sense during the nineteenth century. Similarly, Twinings’ 1990s blend was also considered zingy and ahead of its time. Coming into the 2000s, The Tea Centre decided to build upon this legacy and take things one step further with our stunning Miss Grey signature blend.
Where Lady Grey comes on too strong, Miss Grey tea offers a delicate touch. This is thanks to her truly floral bouquet. Alongside bergamot and lemon peel, this young blend also sports aromatic safflowers, cornflowers, calendula blossoms, and jasmine.
If Miss Grey is anything to go by, you can always trust The Tea Centre to innovate the latest and greatest black tea blends! Specifically, our company uses European distilling techniques to create our top-selling Decaf Earl Grey.
This technique employs the highly-esteemed carbon dioxide decaffeination process to safely remove caffeine from loose leaves. The result? A fantastic bergamot-black tea that doesn’t sacrifice flavour on the journey to creating a caffeine-free tea. Our tea-loving experts made this blend specifically for our tea sippers who are caffeine sensitive.
Moreover, this tea is also great for drinkers who want to enjoy that traditional bergamot flavour later in the day. If you want more information on the decaffeination process, read our blog on this topic here.
The Pear-fect Grey
Another day, another pear-fect signature blend from The Tea Centre. The gorgeous Monk tea is the perfect sweet Earl Grey for wintertime.
The Tea Centre saw a gap in the market for a delicious Earl Grey dessert tea and fulfilled this need with Monk. This is a warming brew that carries the taste and scent of spiced poached pears!
Why did we name such a sweet tea ‘Monk’, you ask? Simply put, this was just The Tea Centre’s fun way of paying homage to the role Buddhists monks played in first spreading the popularity of sipping tea across China. Overall, this is the perfect sip to satiate and keep sugar cravings at bay.
Earl Grey (but make it French)
Does an Earl Grey by any other name smell just as sweet? Considering French Earl Grey is The Tea Centre’s only bergamot blend that contains roses, it’s a strong contender for the title of ‘most fragrant Earl Grey’!
Our most exotic Earl Grey to date, our French variation is also bursting with tropical apricot and lush mango flavour. Furthermore, the addition of cornflowers alongside the rose petals makes this tea as beautiful as it is tasty.
Ready to sip this aromatic, fruit-forward tea from dawn to dusk? Oui, oui. You can also purchase this delicious blend in a loose leaf gift tin here.
The Grey for when you’re feeling blue
At The Tea Centre, we understand that sipping tea is just as important for your emotional health as your physical wellbeing. We know the magic that comes with taking time to brew up a delicious Earl Grey and sinking into relaxation with every sip.
This was the inspiration behind The Tea Centre’s Earl Grey Blue Flower. We wanted to provide our tea lovers with a gentle sip that one could reach out for when looking for an emotional pick-me-up.
Specifically, this tea boasts purple malve blossoms, which symbolise love, protection, and health. In addition, bright blue cornflowers are said to represent tenderness and stability. Furthermore, both blossoms are European herbal medicines that were historically used in tonics for health as well! You can explore all the health benefits of Earl Grey Blue Flower here.
Now that we’ve taken you through every one of our Earl Grey variations, it’s now time to go back to basics. For those who want to avoid all the bells and whistles that come with our innovative blends, you can always find The Tea Centre stocked with the traditional Earl Grey blend.
Unlike other retailers who base their Earl Grey off Keemun loose leaf, The Tea Centre’s version consists of Ceylon black tea instead. Overall, this gives the blend a more refreshing and crisp taste.
Furthermore, our Earl Grey loose leaf is certified organic! This means our loose leaf comes from regenerative tea gardens and implements sustainable practices through every step of the manufacturing process. The Tea Centre does all of this to make this good sip just that little bit greater!
Ready to stock your kitchen cabinets with The Tea Centre’s delicious range of Earl Grey teas? You can easily navigate through all our tasty blends here.