Earl Grey tea is one of the most popular blends of black tea in the world. With citrus fruit notes and chocolate undertones, this beverage made its mark among royalty and heads of state. But is there more to this historical and flavorful brew than just great taste?
Sipping on a warm cup of Earl Grey tea gives you a robust, floral, and citrusy sensation to the taste buds, but it also may provide you with many health benefits. Sipping this delightful beverage can benefit everything from the heart to the digestive system. In this article, we'll look at the history, the top Earl Grey tea benefits, and how to make a perfect cup every single time.
History of Earl Grey Tea
When most people think of Earl Grey tea, they immediately think of delicate porcelain cups, English tea houses, and royalty. However, the origins of this floral tea are from ancient China. Part of the work performed by a Chinese tea master would be to create new and enticing flavors for the enjoyment of the Western ruling class.
They would use everything from jasmine, chamomile flowers, and various fruits to create a new tea taste sensation. Bergamot oil was another way Chinese tea masters experimented with making a new flavored black tea.
This specially blended tea eventually made its way to England in the 17th century and was named after the second Earl Grey, Charles Grey, a British Prime Minister. However, the story behind the tea's name is a bit of a mystery. Some say Lord Grey saved a Chinese mandarin, and the tea was a gift for his heroic actions. Others claim the Earl was given the tea as a diplomatic gift.
Regardless of the origin of the tea's name, it instantly became the tea of choice among England's elite. The Grey family served the tea at diplomatic meetings and worked with Chinese tea masters to further refine the recipe. The recipe was then sold to Twinings tea company and used right up until 2011 in their Earl Grey tea blends.
What Is Earl Grey Tea?
Earl Grey is a flavored tea that contains black tea leaves infused with dried bergamot orange rinds. It has a low caffeine content. Manufacturers may also use natural bergamot oil extracted from the fruit's rinds to create some Earl Grey blends. While black tea is used mainly as a base tea to make Earl Grey teas, some tea companies will use green tea or oolong tea infused with the oil from citrus bergamot oranges.
Black, green, white, and oolong teas are all harvested from the same plant, the Camellia sinensis tea plant. The difference in the teas results from how long the tea leaves are left to oxidize or air dry. Loose tea varieties undergo little processing, while bag varieties are pulverized into smaller pieces.
Flavor and Aroma
The classic Earl Grey tea flavor has a lemony and malty flavor. Made from various teas like Assam, Darjeeling, and Keemun, the combination of these teas and the fragrant bergamot flavor makes Earl Grey a favorite among tea drinkers worldwide.
There is more than one Earl Grey blend available today. For example, French Earl Grey uses rose petals for a distinctive floral flavor. A blend known as Russian Earl Grey includes citrus peels and lemon grass. And let's not forget Lady Grey, a decadent blend of black tea, bergamot peels, blue cornflower blossoms, and lemon peels.
How to Make Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey teas will all taste different. Many manufacturers will put their own spin on the flavor or create a unique Earl Grey blend. Some manufacturers use more than one black tea variety in their blend, different amounts of bergamot, or varying oxidization times. All these factors affect the flavor of the tea.
After the oxidization, rolling, and drying process, the black tea leaves are ready for the distinctive Earl Grey flavor. Some tea companies will coat the black tea leaves with a spray of bergamot oil, while others incorporate the dried bergamot peels along with the dried leaves.
Health Benefits of Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey black tea contains many surprising health benefits. Most Earl Grey teas are heavily processed and placed into tea bags, significantly affecting the quality of the tea and all of the Earl Grey tea's health benefits. Choosing a loose-leaf Earl Grey tea, like this one, is always best for the best-flavored tea with all the healthy goodness.
Before taking any new supplement, food, or beverage as an alternative health treatment, talk to your doctor. They'll know if Earl Grey tea is safe to take with prescription medications or may affect an underlying health condition.
#1. Immune System Booster
Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C and are well known for having cold and flu-fighting abilities, and the bergamot orange is no different. A nice hot cup of this brew can help give your immune system a boost and help fend off cold and flu symptoms.
#2. Protects Oral Health
Black teas can help protect teeth from tooth decay and fight off oral infections. Earl Grey tea contains antioxidants and fluoride that are beneficial for oral health.
#3. A Great Way to Detox
The antioxidants in black tea also help fight off and eliminate free radicals. Free radicals can create all kinds of problems like cell damage and even cancer. Earl Grey can help detoxify the body and get rid of free radicals.
#4. Better Heart Health
Earl Grey tea leaves are rich in antioxidants and may help prevent cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, and even heart attacks and strokes. Antioxidants work to remove plaque from the inner walls of the blood vessels allowing blood to flow more freely. Consuming the beverage regularly also reduces LDL cholesterol levels in the blood.
#5. Energy Boost
Some tea blends use oolong or green tea leaves as the base for Earl Grey, but it's mainly black tea, and all have some caffeine. Even though the caffeine content in black tea is much lower than in coffee, Earl Grey tea contains just the right amount of energy without the caffeine crashes.
#6. Improves Digestion
Black tea has anti-inflammatory properties that may help alleviate gastric problems such as bloating and constipation. Drinking a cup of black tea can help soothe the stomach muscles and the pain associated with cramps.
#7. A Great Source of Hydration
Black teas like English Breakfast tea, Lady Grey, and Earl Grey are a great way to get enough water throughout the day with a ton of flavor! It is already naturally sweet, so you won't have to add sugar, which is excellent for people cutting down on sugar.
How to Make The Best Earl Grey Tea
Always talk to the tea seller to find out how to properly brew their Earl Grey tea blend. Since these teas can vary so much, they will all have different ideal brewing temperatures. The length of time the tea steeps will also vary significantly between brands. Follow these instructions to brew an Earl Grey tea that all tea lovers will enjoy:
Water And Temperature
We recommend using either filtered or spring water for the best brewing. Avoid tap or distilled water since these waters don't draw out all of the flavors and benefits from the leaves.
Earl Grey teas that use a black tea base are best brewed at higher temperatures, around 200 to 212F. Earl green teas are best brewed around 150 to 180F.
If you don't have a temperature-controlled kettle, the general rule is that water simmers at 190F and boils at 212F. If you notice bubbles just beginning to form on the bottom of the pot, it's a suitable temperature for Earl green tea blends. When the water just starts to become a rolling boil, it's the perfect temperature for the black tea versions.
The Right Amounts
If you're using tea bags, you already have the right amount of tea - one bag per cup. We recommend using a loose-leaf variety, which will require roughly 2 grams or two teaspoons of loose-leaf tea in a tea ball or strainer with one cup of hot water. If you want it stronger, simply add a bit more tea leaves.
Let the tea steep for about two to four minutes to draw out the flavor. If you want a more robust flavor, let it steep longer or steep less for a weaker brew. To keep the contents of the cup hot so the heat of the water can draw out the flavor, cover the cup with a lid.
Earl Grey is best enjoyed without anything added. However, if you want to enhance the flavor, you can add a little bit of honey, lemon, or milk.
Earl Grey offers a ton of sipping enjoyment! Keep in mind that flavored teas are not all the same. Some flavored teas use artificial ingredients, while others are simply low-quality teas. To get the health benefits from your next cup of Earl Grey, look for high-quality, all-natural teas like these. You don't have to be royalty to enjoy the taste of Earl Grey, but you'll sure feel like it!