Earl Grey tea is a true classic. The beauty of Earl Grey is that it makes a wonderful mixer for cocktails, lattes, and cooking. This is a simple and sophisticated Earl Grey Tea cocktail made with Grand Marnier garnished with an orange slice.
Today I'm making a simple Earl Grey Tea cocktail in celebration of the United Kingdom's National Tea Day on April 21st. Tea is the most popular drink in Britain, with over 165,000,000 cups being drunk in the UK every single day of the year. The two most consumed teas are Earl Grey and English Breakfast.
Why are they so popular?
In studying tea, I’ve noticed most tea drinkers from western countries prefer flavored black teas. One of the most popular flavored teas in the west is Earl Grey. Not for me though. Even though Earl Grey is an international bestseller, it took me a long time before I even liked Earl Grey tea.
But I never gave up – always willing to try a new tea, I finally came across an Earl Grey that I liked. I had to find out why. What made this one so different from all the other Earl Grey teas that I’ve tried.
Why was this one Earl Grey tea so superior?
Not All Bergamot is Equal
The distinctive flavor of Earl Grey comes from bergamot oil. Bergamot is a Mediterranean citrus fruit. The bergamot fruit has a very generous rind and is prized for its fragrant essential oil by perfumeries and tea blenders. The black tea used as a base for Earl Grey is a blend and often comes from China, India or Sri Lanka.
I discovered that some tea blenders use natural bergamot oil while others use artificial oil. Unfortunately, most are artificially flavored. When a natural oil is used it will say 'oil of bergamot' or 'bergamot essential oil'. Natural bergamot has a subtle but intense flavor. And it’s not easy to find.
If the tea is artificially flavored it will read 'bergamot flavoring' or "bergamot flavor'. It's definitely not the same as essential bergamot oil.
Related: 10 Best Online Tea Shops
Tea Blending is a Craft
Since Earl Grey is a blended, flavored black tea, the exact blend of black tea used, as well as the choice and amount of bergamot oil will greatly affect its flavor. Here is where the craft of the tea blender is so very important.
The best Earl Grey tea I have ever had was a handcrafted artisanal tea blend from Steve Smith Teamaker. Steve was the founder of Smith Teamaker. Before that, he founded Tazo Tea, which he sold to Starbucks. Prior to that, he co-founded Stash Tea.
When I initially tried Smith Teamaker Earl Grey tea, dubbed 'Lord Bergamot', a few years ago, I was compelled to reach out to Steve to find out what made it so extraordinarily delicious. He said the key was using an all-natural bergamot oil from Italy. Italian bergamot oil is very expensive but is the preferred oil.
Of course - the Italians - when it comes to food you can't mistake their passion for excellence! This makes the Earl Grey tea a tad pricey, but it’s definitely worth it.
The black tea base for the Smith Teamaker Earl Grey is a blend of Assam tea from India and Sri Lanka tea from the Dimbula and Uva regions. You won't find Smith Teamaker Earl Grey in most stores. But you can buy Smith Teamaker Lord Bergamot on Amazon.
I love watching this video of the tea crafters at work.
Grand Marnier is the classic liqueur
Grand Marnier is a French liqueur and is a remarkable blend of cognac and tropical oranges from the Caribbean, created in 1880 by Louis-Alexander Marnier Lapostolle.
The cognac is made from Ugni Blanc grapes from the Cognac region in France. It is a perfect blend with Earl Grey tea.
Earl Grey Tea Cocktail
Earl Grey Tea Cocktail
Earl Grey Simple Syrup
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp Earl Grey loose tea (heaping tsp)
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ice
- 1 ½ oz Grand Marnier Liqueur
- 1 ½ oz Earl Grey Simple Syrup
- ½ oz lemon juice (fresh squeezed)
- 1 orange slice
Earl Grey Syrup
- Bring ½ cup water to boil in a small saucepan.
- Add Earl Grey tea leaves to brew for 4 minutes.
- Add sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Strain syrup into measuring cup. Set aside to cool.
- Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add Grand Marnier, Earl Grey Syrup, and lemon juice. Shake well.
- Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice.
Where to Buy The Best Earl Grey Tea
Since my discovery of premium Earl Grey tea with real oil of bergamot, I've found a few other brands that also make an excellent Earl Grey tea blend. You may want to try some of them out too.
I've only tried their London Earl Grey, but they have a variety of teas flavored with bergamot. The London Earl Grey is a premium black tea from China flavored with oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit. It comes as a full-leaf tea in individually wrapped bags.
They offer many varieties of Earl Grey tea both loose and bagged. Its flavor is made up of simple black tea flavored with oil of bergamot.
The White Anastasia Tea is a blend of white tea, orange blossom, bergamot, and lemon producing a lovely delicate tea. It reminds me of an oolong. The Anastasia tea is a blend of black China and Ceylon teas with scents of bergamot, lemon, lime, and orange blossom. They use the essential oil of bergamot to scent their tea.
Makes a traditional Earl Grey blend made with premium Assam black tea and pure bergamot extract, which lends a citrusy twist to the tea. This is a full-bodied and robust tea, with a rich amber-colored infusion. They have a variety of teas flavored with oil of bergamot.
Makes curated tea blends and loose-leaf varietals crafted in small batches in Portland, Oregon.
The Earl Grey Citrus Black Tea is a blend of black teas from India with the natural oil of bergamot fruit, a pear-shaped sour orange originally found in Italy. The dry leaf is delightfully fragrant. The tea is characteristic of a bright liquoring cup of tea. The fruity and fragrant citrus flavor of this tea also makes a great iced tea.