Earl Grey Tea: Everything You Need to Know (And How to Make it Properly)

earl grey tea leaves

Quick Look:

  • ORIGIN: blended in China, popularized by Lady Grey
  • TASTING NOTES: citrusy, lemony, floral
  • STEEP TIME: 3 to 5 minutes
  • CAFFEINE METER: Moderate to High

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What is Earl Grey Tea?

One of the most well-known teas in the world, Earl Grey tea is a black tea blend flavored with hints of citrusy bergamot oil.  Different varieties such as Keemun, Assam, or Ceylon can be used as the base for this popular blend.

There are several theories on the origin of Earl Grey Tea, one being that a Chinese tea master created the blend as a gift to 2nd Earl Charles Grey (and Prime Minister of the UK).

As the story has it, the tea master chose to strategically use bergamot in the blend to disguise the taste of lime in the local water. 

Allegedly, Lady Grey enjoyed the new tea blend so much that she managed to popularize it throughout England by exclusively serving it at all her high society gatherings, and even asking local tea merchants (such as Twinings and Jacksons of Piccadilly) to recreate it. 

How do you pronounce Earl Grey?

The proper way to pronounce earl grey is “url gray”.

What do you need to make Earl Grey tea?

Tea Scoop

This is the perfect tool to help you get the perfectly measured scoop of tea leaves every single time. You won’t regret adding this to your tea arsenal!

Electric Tea Kettle

An electric tea kettle with a temperature setting is a must-have brew gadget for tea drinkers! You can set the temperature to the degree for the perfect brew every time. This kettle is a favorite of ours. Or you can check out our full post on the best electric tea kettles.

Spring Water or Filtered Water

To get the best flavors from your tea, use high-quality water. Don’t use tap water or distilled water!

Tea Pot with Strainer

A teapot with a built-in strainer makes brewing tea so much easier when you’re using loose tea leaves. If you’re an avid tea drinker, you won’t regret buying this tea tool!

Loose Earl Grey Tea Leaves

Using loose tea leaves really will give you the best tea-drinking experience. By letting loose leaves steep in the boiled water, they have room to unfurl and release all of their natural aromas. If you can’t use loose leaves, a tea sachet is the next best thing, since they have more room than a traditional tea bag.

Tea Cup

This one is up to you! Use whatever cup makes you happy! If you need some inspiration, check out some of our favorite drinkware.

Milk, Sugar, or Lemon

Earl Grey tea can be enjoyed with any, or none, of these extras!

How do you make Earl Grey tea properly?

To make the perfect cup of Earl Grey tea, you will want to use 1.5 teaspoons of tea leaves for each 8-ounce cup. If you don’t have loose-leaf tea, use 1 tea sachet or 1 tea bag.

Tea tip: if you want a stronger flavor, add more tea leaves rather than steeping them for a longer period of time. Most people don’t realize this, but steeping tea too long doesn’t increase the good flavors, it actually can make it more bitter.

Step 1: Pour your water into the tea kettle.

Use cold bottled spring water or cold filtered water. (Tea Tip: Do not use distilled water – this will negatively impact the taste). Make sure to pour some extra water to warm up your teapot or steeping vessel.

Step 2: Boil your water.

For an optimal flavor experience, bring the water to about 210°F. This is important, as the flavors will not fully develop if the water does not get hot enough. If you do not have an electric tea kettle with a temperature setting, just bring your kettle to a full boil, then remove it from the heat and let the water sit for a moment before steeping the tea.

Step 3: Warm up your teapot.

First, pour a bit of your boiled water into your teapot or steeping vessel and swirl it around for a few seconds to allow it to warm the vessel. Then you can discard this water in the sink. 

Step 4: Put your Earl Grey tea leaves into the teapot and add the rest of your hot water and then cover the pot.

Step 5: Steep your tea leaves for 3 to 5 minutes.

Step 6: Strain your tea leaves.

This is easier if you have a teapot with an integrated strainer

Step 7: Decant your infused tea into your teacup, add milk and sweeteners to taste, and enjoy!

Tea Tip:

If you want to drink your Earl Grey the British way, try it with a slice of lemon and sugar to taste. If you prefer to try it the American way, sweeten your cup with milk and sugar to taste. 

Can you cold brew Earl Grey Tea?

Did you know cold brewing is the best way to make iced tea? Yes, you can absolutely cold brew Earl Grey tea for a smooth and refreshing drink!

Keep reading for the steps to Cold Brewing Earl Grey tea at home.

To learn all about the cold brew process, check out our post on everything you need to know about cold brew.

How do you make cold brew Earl Grey tea properly?

To cold brew Earl Grey tea, use 1.5 teaspoons of Earl Grey Tea leaves for every 8 ounce cup of water.

STEP 1: Add your tea leaves to a pitcher with an infuser.

STEP 2: Pour room-temperature filtered water or spring water over the tea and stir gently.

STEP 3: Put your pitcher in the refrigerator for 10 to 12 hours

STEP 4: Strain the leaves, add milk and/or sweeteners to taste, and enjoy!

Dairy-Free Alternatives to Add to Earl Grey Tea

If you are lactose intolerant or just want a dairy-free option to use in your tea, we have some great substitutes for you:

Almond Milk:

This plant-based milk alternative will add a hint of nutty sweetness to your tea. There are different flavors and sweetened options, however, we prefer to stick with the original unsweetened version.

Oat Milk:

Derived from whole oats, this dairy-free milk will give your tea some creaminess with a neutral flavor. This one is a favorite of ours.

Coconut Milk:

Extracted from the grated pulp of mature coconuts, coconut milk will add a rich sweetness to your tea without any lactose! 

What does Earl Grey tea taste like?

Earl Grey is a full-bodied tea with citrusy, lemony, and floral notes, thanks to the addition of its trademark bergamot oil.

What are some variations on Earl Grey?

London Fog

This is the most well-known variation – a sumptuous combination of Earl Grey, steamed milk, vanilla extract, and sugar.

Lady Grey

There are two different versions of this variation; the Cornflower Lady Grey, which combines Earl Grey with blue cornflower blossoms, and the Citrus Lady Grey, which combines Earl Grey with orange peels. “Lady Grey” is also a trademark of the popular tea brand Twinings. 

French Earl Grey

This variation combines Earl Grey tea with rose petals for a beautiful floral blend.

Earl Green

The Earl Green variation replaces the typical black tea leaves with bergamot-flavored green tea leaves.

Earl White

The Earl White variation substitutes the usual black tea leaves with bergamot-flavored white tea leaves.

Red Earl or Earl Rooibos

The Red Earl exchanges Earl Grey’s traditional black tea leaf base with bergamot flavored Rooibos tea for a bright red brew. 

Russian Earl Grey

This variation takes the traditional Earl Grey blend and adds orange peels and sometimes even lemon grass for a citrusy take. 

How much caffeine is in Earl Grey tea?

The exact amount of caffeine in Earl Grey tea can vary based on the type and steep time. On average, a cup of Earl Grey has anywhere between 50 and 90mg of caffeine.

As far as the tea spectrum goes, this is a moderate-to-hight amount of caffeine content.

Tea Tip: There are some decaffeinated Earl Grey tea options on the market, which can have between 2mg and 10mg of caffeine per cup. 

What are some health benefits of drinking Earl Grey tea?

Earl Grey tea has many health benefits including antioxidants, heart health, cholesterol control, anti-inflammatory properties, and more!

For a full summary, check out our post on the health benefits and possible side effects of black tea.

Where can you find good quality Earl Grey tea?

There are several good-quality Earl Grey options you can try. Here are just a few options to get you started:

What is the best way to store Earl Grey tea?

When it comes to storing Earl Grey, there are a few important things you will want to avoid. These are air exposure, light exposure, moisture, heat, and strong odors. 

In order to keep your tea in its best and freshest condition, you will want to store it in a container that helps avoid the above-mentioned threats. 

The best containers are made of opaque materials with a tight seal. Some good options include non-reactive metals, glazed ceramics, and non-leaching plastics.

Beware that while you may see wood tea storage options, they are not best for storing loose-leaf tea, as they can have their own odors that can alter the taste of your tea. 

Once you have your tea in its storage container, keep it in a cool, dark place. 

Here are some good options for storing your Earl Grey tea:

Looking for ways to organize your tea bags? Try these:

You want to ensure your tea stays fresh as long as possible. To make sure you’re not making any common mistakes, be sure to check out our post on the best practices in tea storage!

We hope this guide helped you learn everything you need to know about Earl Grey tea and how to make it at home!

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