We think it’s fair say that most people, whether they be tea fanatics or not, have heard of an Earl Grey. It's one of the most iconic blends of black tea – but just what makes an Earl Grey an Earl Grey and why do we have two?! It’s time to meet the Earls and get to the bottom of this.
what is an earl grey
What makes an Earl Grey an Earl Grey is the inclusion of a special citrus called bergamot - usually paired with a soft black tea. Bergamots are about the size of an orange but green like a lime, and unlike its citrusy cousins, you wouldn't want to take a bite of the fruit itself as it's more sour than a lemon and more bitter than a grapefruit. But when extracted, the oils & peel are much softer & floral - making it great in everything from candles to a cuppa!
so what's the difference?
Well, it all comes down to how you fancy your brew.
The traditional way to enjoy your earl grey is not with milk, but with a slice of citrus instead to compliment the bergamot - we love a bit of lemon, but anything from grapefruits to clementines work well. When we first set out and wanted to bring this classic blend to our range we kept it old school, and so darjeeling earl grey was born - a light black tea base, with soft bergamot tones.
But as time went on we started to notice people adding a splash of milk to their mug and finding it too weak. That's because darjeeling black teas are much softer than the ones you'll find in things like our everyday brew or chai.
So, we said to ourselves, why not use those stronger teas? Enter, earl grey strong - the 'strong' refers to the black tea used for the base (Assam, Ceylon, & Rwandan teas, like in our everyday brew, as well as the original Darjeeling) rather than the level of bergamot. Strong enough to add milk, without losing any of that delicious bergamot tone.
a little history & nobility
For those who aren't so up to snuff on their knowledge of British politics of the 1800s, you might not have heard of Earl Grey beyond the brew!
Earl Charles Grey was the British Prime Minister from 1830-1834. Despite his leadership delivering some pretty major changes like the abolition of slavery in 1833, poor old Charlie is best known for the brew he supposedly loved so well.
Now, the story of how he got so attached to this iconic cuppa is a little hazy. The most common version goes that a visit to China (either by the Earl himself or an envoy) included happening to save the life of a mandarin noble's son - dramatic, right?!
The nobleman was so thankful that he sent the Prime Minister a special blend of tea, and the Earl was said to love it so much he had the blend replicated in the tea houses of London for him to enjoy.
While there's no actual evidence of this interaction taking place, it makes for a great story, doesn't it?