Think Earl Grey is just bergamot oranges and black tea leaves? Think again. Tea masters are constantly innovating, taking the classic British tea to entirely new heights. Today’s Earl Grey tea blends feature new ingredients like flower petals and citrus fruits that make this tasty English tea even yummier. Discover the best Earl Grey tea flavors with this breakdown of our nine favorite innovative blends.

What Is Earl Grey?

Earl Grey tea is a British tea that blends black tea leaves — typically Assam, Ceylon, or Darjeeling black teas — with bergamot orange rinds. The bergamot flavor adds a citrusy touch to black tea, making this tea blend a bit more vibrant than other breakfast teas. The black tea leaves are flavored using dried or fresh bergamot rinds, bergamot oil, or artificial bergamot flavoring. For high-quality flavor, look for blends that are made using oil of bergamot and bergamot rinds rather than artificial flavorings.

Bergamot oranges are a special type of citrus tree that can be found in Calabria, Italy. These oranges aren't like a typical orange. From the outside, they look more like limes and they offer a flavor that blends notes of orange, lemon, and grapefruit. Italian bergamot oranges feature a green rind rather than an orange one and the rind is also bumpier and more pear-shaped. The flesh of the orange is green rather than orange in color as well. The fruit tree is likely a hybrid between sweet lime trees and bitter orange trees.

Earl Grey tea is sold as a loose leaf tea as well as in tea bags like those from tea companies like Twining's, Bigelow, and Harney & Sons. You can also find blends in larger sachets like those from Stash and Numi organic teas. The roots of the tea can be traced back to English society in the early 1800s. The tea is believed to be named after Lord Charles Grey the Prime Minister of Great Britain during the early half of the century. 

There are two main stories behind the historic tea. The first is that the tea was a gift to Lord Grey after one of his men saved a Chinese man's son from drowning. The second legend says that the tea was designed specifically to improve the harsh water at Howick Hall where the family resided in Northumberland. The water in that region had high amounts of lime and the bergamot orange worked to improve the flavor. 

Whichever legend is true, the tea became a staple in British society. Lady Grey served the tea when hosting diplomats and foreign leaders and the tea is still an important part of society today. It can be found everywhere from fancy afternoon tea gatherings to drawing rooms in private homes. Discover the best earl grey tea flavors here from classic staples to innovative flavors with additions of lavender and cream.

The Best Earl Grey Tea Flavors

Earl Grey Black Tea

For some, the original Earl Grey tea is the best Earl Grey tea. They enjoy the simplicity of earthy black tea leaves blended with citrusy bergamot oranges. The tea is typically made using either Chinese black tea or Indian black teas as a base. Some blends also use black tea leaves from Sri Lanka. This classic tea is the perfect blend of sour and roasted flavors without having to add fancy sugars or sweeteners. Enjoy the tea on its own or add a slice of lemon and dash of milk to enjoy it like the Brits. 

London Fog Tea

London Fog tea is a lesser-known Earl Grey blend but is increasingly popular. It can now be found at major coffeehouse chains like Starbucks. This Earl Grey blend offers a flavor profile that is both floral and sweet as well as bitter and sour. London Fog tea is made by blending traditional black tea leaves and bergamot orange rinds with milk and vanilla syrup. It is rich, frothy, and subtly sweet adding a new dimension to the classic blend. It's a great drink choice for warming up in the fall or cold winter months.

Lavender Earl Grey Tea

Lavender Earl Grey tea blends the floral notes of lavender petals with the citrus tang of bergamot oranges. The tea is one of our bestsellers thanks to its unique flavor profile. Each sip offers a layered flavor featuring earthy black tea notes with floral hints and citrus undertones. The aroma of this tea is also out of this world with a blend of lemony and orangey tones belied by floral undertones.

French Earl Grey

Earl Grey can be mixed with a variety of flower petals to create new flavor profiles. Some of the more common floral additions include jasmine and hibiscus. French Earl Grey, however, blends Earl Grey tea with rose petals or French blue cornflowers. It's a beautifully delicate tea with subtly sweet flavors and floral undertones.

Earl Grey Cream Tea

Earl Grey Cream tea adds a new warming dimension to classic Earl Grey by blending in a touch of vanilla. The vanilla helps to balance out the bitter notes of bergamot and also adds a creamy texture that makes this tea more full-bodied. The vanilla adds a crisp dimension to the tea and also lends a delightful fragrance.

Lady Grey Tea

Lady Grey puts a new spin on that classic black tea with natural bergamot. The name "Lady Grey" is trademarked by tea brand Twinings and comes in two varieties: Cornflower Lady Grey and Citrus Lady Grey. The Cornflower Earl Grey blend substitutes Cornflower oranges for the classic Italian oranges while the Citrus Lady Grey uses Seville oranges. 

Russian Earl Grey

Russian Earl Grey is a citrus-heavy take on the classic black tea blend. This type of Earl Grey uses a host of citrus peels and lemongrass to play up the tart and lemony notes of the bergamot. The result is a citrusy drink that invigorates taste buds and offers a refreshing and tingling body. The tea often includes citrus fruits like lemons, orange peels, bergamot, cornflower petals, and lemongrass. It's like the vibrantly colored steeples of orthodox Russian churches blended into a delightfully vibrant drink.

Rooibos Earl Grey 

Rooibos Earl Grey is a caffeine-free alternative to traditional Earl Grey. The black tea leaves are replaced with herbal rooibos tea leaves. Rooibos tea is a South African tea that is cultivated in the mountainous Cederberg region of the country. The tea features tart and sweet notes similar to cranberries. Since this blend is caffeine-free it's perfect for enjoying Earl Grey all day long.

Tea makers will love the sweet and tart flavor additions in this stunning tea blend. One thing to note is that the steeping time with this tea will be longer than black tea blends. That's because herbal teas typically need to be steeped for 5 to 10 minutes while black teas should only steep for around 2 to 3 minutes.

Earl Grey Green Tea

This type of Earl Grey swaps out the black tea leaves and replaces them with green tea leaves. The flavor is more vegetal and lighter than traditional black tea varieties. It also has a lower caffeine content since green tea leaves don't contain as much caffeine as the black tea leaves. Some companies also blend bergamot rinds with other true teas like oolong tea and white tea to elicit new flavors.

The Best Earl Grey Tea From Floral to Tart

Pour yourself a cup of Earl Grey and savor the exquisite flavor that can only come from innovation and inspired blending of flavors. For the best tea flavor, choose Earl Grey teas that are made using natural oil of bergamot or bergamot orange rinds. You'll also want to make sure the black tea leaves used to make the tea base are of high quality. If you want a tea that is environmentally friendly, look for Earl Grey teas that are organic and Fair Trade. 

Make Earl Grey your new favorite tea with these unique blends that put a new spin on the classic black loose tea and bergamot blend. With each cup of tea, you'll relish new flavors and health benefits thanks to the addition of healthy ingredients like citrus fruits, spices, and flowers.

Tags: Black Tea