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Earl Grey has become a standard tea found in most homes and restaurants in the United States. Its mild flavor suits most palates, it pairs well with a variety of foods, and makes a great choice for enjoying an afternoon cup of tea.
With hundreds of choices out there, which tea do you choose? Whether you prefer tea bags or loose leaf, caffeinated or decaffeinated, we have done the work for you and narrowed down your list to the top 10 Earl Grey teas to fit any palate and any budget.
Our Favorite Earl Grey Teas
Best Overall: Rishi Organic
Best Loose Leaf: Davidson's Tea
Best Budget: Bigelow
Best Decaf: The Republic of Tea
Rishi organic Earl Grey is a beautifully balanced tea with fabulous bergamot flavor and delightfully fragrant lemony notes. It comes in both loose leaf and tea bags but we prefer the loose leaf variety. It has beautiful large tea leaves that bloom to a fabulous taste.
Rishi is a direct trade company whose quality control and social responsibility practices allow them to produce a high quality, sustainably grown tea
This full-bodied tea is a perfect choice for health conscious tea drinkers as it is USDA certified organic, grown without using chemicals.
This tea should be stored in a cool dry location using the included resealable foil bags to maintain its freshness. Be sure to store it away from strong scented spices and drink it within two months of opening to maintain its integrity and flavor.
Best Loose Leaf Variety
Davidson’s organic Earl Grey is a certified fair trade tea. It is flavored with natural bergamot oil giving it a bold Earl Grey flavor with a long lasting bergamot aroma.
The bag contains enough tea to make close to 200 cups and is resealable and foil lined to keep the tea fresh. Make sure the tea is stored away from strong spices especially if storing it in the bag. If your pantry space is small, we recommend transferring it to an airtight canister for storage.
We recommend steeping this one for four minutes for a bold yet delectable cup. If steeped too long, the bergamot can be overpowering.
- USDA certified organic
- Brews 200+ cups
- No additives
- Money Back Guarantee
- Long expiration dates
- Flavor may be a bit mild for coffee drinkers
- Price is on the high side
This light and refreshing Earl Grey is perfect with a morning pick-me-up.. This blend unites the full-bodied black teas from China and India with a touch of citrusy bergamot oil from Italy. While Earl Grey possesses the delicacy and nuance of flavor to be enjoyed on its own, this tea is also beautifully accentuated with a slice of lemon or a splash of cream and pairs well with a buttery morning pastry.
The tea comes in a resealable zipper bag with a 5-layer structure, foil lining, rounded corners, and a tear notch for easy opening.
This tea should be steeped for 3-5 minutes. We recommend 3 minutes if enjoying it on its own or 5 minutes if adding a splash of cream.
Best Tea Bag Variety
Harney & Sons Imperial
For those who want the ease and convenience of a tea bag, this caffeinated Earl Grey tea has an excellent flavor and aroma. It blends fine black teas, rich in natural bergamot, with oolong to create a great tasting medium bodied tea.
It comes in a beautiful tin and contains 30 tea sachets. The silk sachets provide you with a more intact tea leaves making them superior to traditional tea bags, giving you a flavor similar to loose leaf with the convenience of a tea bag.
We recommend steeping each tea sachet in 8 oz. of just under boiling water for 5 minutes. Serve with a slice of lemon or a splash of cream.
Taylor’s of Harrogate
The elegant fragrance of bergamot gives Earl Grey its famous flavor. This tea balances beautiful Sicilian citrus with light and delicate teas from Indonesia and high-altitude teas from the Blue Mountains in southern India.
This tea has a stronger citrus flavor than bergamot which is preferable to some palates. It is one of the most consumed teas due to easy accessibility and you get 50 bags for less than $10 making it a great tea for a budget conscious consumer.
We recommend infusing one tea bag in just under boiling water for 3-5 minutes. Serve with or without a splash of milk.
Best green tea variety
This bergamot Earl Grey tea makes a perfect tea for anytime of the day. It is a blend of premium loose leaf darjeeling green tea with natural bergamot oil from Italy, combining the health benefits of green tea with a floral & citrus flavor.
The tea comes double zipper, foil lined vacuum sealed bag to maintain its freshness and quality flavor. Make sure the tea is stored away from strong spices especially if storing it in the bag. If your pantry space is small, we recommend transferring it to an airtight canister for storage.
It can be served hot or iced as well as with or without sugar, making it a great tea for the hot summer months.
We recommend brewing two teaspoons in just under boiling water for 2-3 minutes.
Best rooibos variety
This is a great herbal alternative to traditional Earl Grey. Oil of Bergamot is added to antioxidant rich rooibos from South Africa to create this herbal Earl Grey blend. The bright purple coneflowers add a hint of sweetness and make this tea look as good as it tastes. It is a great caffeine free option for anytime of day.
It comes in an airtight, reusable zip-lock bag. Make sure the tea is stored away from strong spices especially if storing it in the bag. If your pantry space is small, we recommend transferring it to an airtight canister for storage.
We recommend steeping 1.5 - 2 teaspoons in just under boiling water for four to five minutes.
Best Budget Friendly Tea
Hand picked black tea leaves blended with bergamot oil sourced from Calabria, Italy. Bigelow’s Earl Grey is full bodied with a distinctive citrus finish of the bergamot fruit and gentle citrus back notes.
Each cup has 30 - 60 milligrams of caffeine making it great for a quick afternoon pick-me-up.
Bigelow’s Earl Grey is full bodied with a distinctive citrus finish of the bergamot fruit and gentle citrus back notes.
Each tea bag come individually wrapped in a foil pouch to protect the flavor and ensure freshness.
We recommend steeping one bag in 8 ounces of just under boiling water for 1 to 2 minutes. For iced tea, place 6 tea bags in a one-quart container. Pour 1 cup of boiling water over tea bags; steep 10 minutes. Remove tea bags and add 3 cups of cold water.
You can’t go wrong with the company that started blending and selling Earl Grey!
Legend has it that the second Earl Grey was presented with this exquisite recipe on his return from China. He liked it so much he asked Richard Twining to recreate it for him and tea drinkers have enjoyed the blend ever since.
This tea is fragrant and flavored with the distinctive notes of citrus and bergamot, giving it an uplifting floral aroma and refreshing taste.
Individually wrapped foil sealed tea bags maintain freshness and ensure quality flavor. Store tea bags away from strong spices and herbs.
We recommend steeping one tea bag in 6 ounces of just boiling water for 4 minutes. Serve with a slice of lemon or sugar and a splash of milk.
The Republic of Tea
This tea blends Kenyan ceylon black tea leaves with pure bergamot oil. A great mood booster, the strong bergamot flavor will help to awaken and calm the mind.
Republic of Teas Earl Greyer is decaffeinated using an all-natural process and tea bags come in a canister in a canister. We suggest transferring tea bags to an airtight canister and storing away from strong spices and herbs.
We recommend steeping one tea bag in 8 ounces of just boiling water for 4 minutes. Serve with a slice of lemon or sugar and a splash of milk.
What is Earl Grey Tea
Simply put, Earl Grey is any tea flavored with bergamot, an oil extracted from the rind of bergamot oranges grown mostly in Italy. Beyond that, the varieties are virtually endless.
The base of Earl Grey is black tea, and many different tea varieties, from ceylon to assam, can be used. The flavor profile comes across as a bit floral with a very distinct note of citrus.
The History of Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey tea is named after Charles Grey, an English aristocrat who was educated in Eton and Cambridge and elected to Parliament at the age of 22. He gained the title of Earl when his father passed away in 1807. Charles, the second Earl Grey was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1830-1834.He was most know for the Reform Act of 1832 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833.
How he became associated with the tea is a bit murky at best. One story tells that the tea was created on accident when a gift of tea and bergamot oranges were shipped together from diplomats in China and the fruit flavour was absorbed by the tea during shipping.
Another version of the story involves a Chinese mandarin friend of the Earl blending this tea to offset the taste of minerals in the water at his home in England. Truthfully, it is not really clear why the tea was named after Charles.
Regardless of its actual history, Earl Grey tea became popular in Britain in the late 1800s by the Twinings tea company. Twinings was the first company to market the tea and it spread to the United States as a result of the Industrial Revolution.
The Flavoring Process (bergamot oil)
Earl Grey tea is flavored with either oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange or using a synthetic bergamot flavoring and both techniques have their advantages.
Natural bergamot offers an intense and sharp citrus flavor, however, the flavor varies depending on where the fruit was grown. Most bergamot is cultivated in Southern Italy, mainly Calabria, but it can also be grown in Turkey or France. Synthetic bergamot will give the tea a stronger and more consistent flavor and allows those who are allergic to citrus to safely drink it.
Tea can also be flavored by adding the bergamot rind to the blend. It is usually added at the end of the process once the leaves have dried. Adding the rind will ensure the bergamot flavors the tea and gives the tea an attractive appearance.
Variations of Earl Grey
- Lady Grey - adds blue cornflower blossoms
- Russian Earl Grey - blends the traditional tea with lemongrass and pieces of citrus peel
- Red Earl Grey - A blend of rooibos and bergamot
- Earl Green - Green tea (often baozhong or pouchong varieties) blended with bergamot
- Mademoiselle Grey - lavender or rose is added to the tea to add a heavier floral note and beautiful color
- Lord Grey - blends traditional earl grey with rose petals and other spices
Health Benefits of Earl Grey Tea
Not only is Earl Grey tea tasty, it is also loaded with health benefits. Studies show that drinking it on a regular basis can significantly improve your overall health.
Gives you an energy boost
The energy boost is a result of the caffeine found in black tea. Caffeine makes you more alert, activates the mind, and provides a boost of energy to get you through the day.
Tea is known to stimulate the nervous system and bergamot is used in aromatherapy for its calming effect. The combination of the two in Earl Grey resultus in an overall calming of the mind and mood.
Aids in weight loss
Polyphenols found in black tea inhibit obesity by suppressing the digestion and absorption of lipid and complex sugar. Polyphenols also can reduce the proliferation of fat cells resulting in overall weight loss.
Improves blood pressure
High blood pressure is linked to heart failure, stroke, and kidney damage. Long-term drinking of black tea results in the improvement of blood pressure from either the lower or higher sides.
Reduces the chances of onset of cardiovascular disorders
Drinking black tea on a regular basis reduces the onset of heart disorders by improving the antioxidant status of the body.
Reduces your risk of cancer
The phytochemicals present in black tea have been found to inhibit the key events of cancer stimulation.
Lowers blood glucose
Earl Grey is good for diabetic patients because it is a non-sweetened drink that both decreases the blood glucose and improves the status of insulin in the body.
Earl Grey Caffeine Content
Like any other black tea, the caffeine content can vary. A number of factors including whether you use tea bags or loose leaf and the time steeped can create a caffeine variation of 19 - 90 milligrams. Loose leaf tea tends to contain more caffeine per cup than tea bags and the longer you steep your tea, the higher the caffeine content.
Generally, a cup of Earl Grey contains between 55 and 90 milligrams of caffeine and a cup of decaffeinated Earl Grey contains between 2 and 10 milligrams of caffeine.
How to Brew Earl Grey Tea
- Use cold filtered water or spring water
- While your tea steeps, cover it retain the heat
- For loose leaf tea, add 1 teaspoon of leaves per cup to water that is close to boiling (around 200 degrees) and steep for 3 minutes
- If using a tea bag, use one tea bag per cup of water and steep for 3 minutes between 200 and 212 degrees
- Avoid over-steeping your tea. If steeped too long, the tea will become bitter, not stronger. If you prefer a stronger cup of tea, use more tea leaves or a second tea bag.
How to Serve Earl Grey Tea
Traditionally, earl grey tea was served in the afternoon. However, The bitter, sweet, sour, and floral flavors blended with malty and full-bodied black tea make it suitable to consume at any time during the day. Typically, earl grey tea is served two ways, in the American style with milk and sugar, or the British style with lemon and sugar.
Earl Grey Parings
- Madeleines - their not too sweet, citrusy note complements the notes in Earl Grey nicely
- Spicy foods - the smooth floral notes in earl grey are a great contrast to treats like gingerbread
- Dark Chocolate - a chocolate cookie or fudgy brownie goes well with the floral citrus of the tea
- Lemon cakes - the subtle citrus notes the bergamot offers complements the citrus flavor in lemon cakes
Tea should be kept out of the light to maintain its integrity and should never be stored for more than twelve months. Whether you prefer bags or loose leaf tea, the best way to store tea is in a tin or dark jar with an airtight lid, placed in a dry pantry or cabinet. Tea should not be stored in the refrigerator unless it is a rare blend.
Dried tea leaves have only a 3 to 5 percent moisture content. This prevents tea from spoiling in the same way fresh food does when dried but also causes tea to soak up any moisture like a sponge. Storing tea in a clean, dry, airtight container will prevent excess moisture absorption promising you a quality cup of tea.
Things to consider
The region you select will affect the flavor and additives to the tea. Tea brewed in France usually contains lavender while teas from the UK have a smokier flavor. If you are new to Earl Grey, try teas from a variety of regions to find the one best suited to your palate.
Tea leaves should be intact and shiny and any flowers should have a bold color. After brewing for the recommended amount of time, check to make sure the water has an amber or deep red color. Taste the tea to see if the flavor is what you want, if the flavor is too strong, try steeping for less time. If the flavor is too weak try adding more tea, or a second tea bag. If you still cant get the brew strength and flavor you prefer, try a tea from a different region.
Tea Bag Variety
Look for organic, gourmet, or premium blends if you prefer the convenience of tea bags over loose leaf. Mass produced tea bags are made from tea dust which results in a taste that is inferior.
Earl Grey has a smooth distinct flavor that makes a staple in many homes. It complements a variety of food parings or can be enjoyed on its own. The teas outlined here offer a wide variety of qualities and characteristics that will allow everyone to find the tea best suited for their particular needs so brew up a cup and enjoy your afternoon!