Written by Eric Rasmussen on August 17, 2010.
It’s time to tackle one of the big ones: Earl Grey. As far as popular flavored teas go, it’s hard to beat Earl Grey. It’s a blend of tea that is available nearly everywhere. Tea drinkers all have their favorite blends and their own special recipes for preparation. Earl Grey tea distinguishes itself as a blended tea, typically black, with bergamot, a type of orange from Italy.
Due to the tea’s popularity, you’ll find it’s available as everything from tea dust in a bag to refined blends of rare leaves requiring delicate preparation. Many of the mass-produced tea bags are suitable if you’re on the go or in a restaurant without options (though my wife and I often come prepared with our own), but of the Earl Grey blends I’ve tried, there are three blends that left an impression:
Two Leaves and a Bud – this blend uses large, full leaf Ceylon tea. Ceylon is a lighter black tea that works well in blends. The leaves are heavily scented by the bergamot, nearly veering into the realm of candles and soaps rather than beverages, but overall it’s a solid take on a classic.
Numi Tea – Numi’s blend is known as “Aged” Earl Grey, blended with very strong Assam tea. The citrus from the bergamot helps to round out the flavor, but the strength of the black tea ultimately wins out. It is always my first choice on a day where I need that extra push to get going, but anyone that prefers lighter teas may need to add cream or sugar.
Harney & Sons – their blend of Earl Grey is intended for the “connoisseur”, which is not surprising when you see that it’s called Earl Grey Supreme. They want you to know they’re not messing around. The black teas are all of extremely high quality and perfectly blended. Without the bergamot, it would be an incredible tea. With the bergamot, it’s an exemplary tea that I make sure to keep stocked at all times. It’s always a strong choice for breakfast, but also works nicely as an afternoon tea on cooler days.