Earl Grey is a classic. 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 best seller, 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 so superior?
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 an artificial oil. Unfortunately, most are artificially flavored. When a natural oil is used it will say “oil of bergamot.” Natural bergamot has a subtle but intense flavor. And it’s not easy to find.
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 effect 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 hand crafted 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 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 Earl Grey here.
Grand Marnier is the classic liqueur
The beauty of Earl Grey is that it makes a wonderful mixer for cocktails, lattes and cooking. Today I am making a simple Earl Grey cocktail with Grand Marnier.
Grand Marnier is 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.
Enchanting Earl Grey Tea Cocktail
Yield 1-4 cocktails
Earl Grey tea is a classic. The beauty of Earl Grey is that it makes a wonderful mixer for cocktails, lattes and cooking. This is a simple Earl Grey cocktail with Grand Marnier.
Earl Grey Simple Syrup
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 heaping tsp Earl Grey tea leaves
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 ounce Grand Marnier
- 1 1/2 ounce Earl Grey simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce lemon juice
- orange slice for garnish
Earl Grey Syrup
Bring 1/2 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 cocktail shaker with ice. Add Grand Marnier, Earl Grey Syrup and lemon juice. Shake well. Strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with orange slice.
1 cocktail. Save remaining Earl Grey simple syrup for additional cocktails.
Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving
% Daily Value
Sodium 1.3 mg
Total Carbohydrates 9.4 g
Sugars 8.7 g
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
I hope you enjoyed my tips on how to buy the best Earl Grey tea! What is your favorite Earl Grey tea?
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