Newbie looking for Earl Grey help
Hi – I’m just now embarking on serious tea drinking. A friend gave me a tin of Mariage Freres Earl Grey French Blue. Wow. I’m hooked.
I want to try other Earl Grey teas but as I look around I’ve found some terminology I’m not familiar with. I wanted to ask if someone here might be able to shed some light. What’s the difference between Earl Grey, Earl Grey Extra, and Earl Grey Imperial?
I think I might like an Earl Grey with slightly more bergamot, and would love some suggestions. Thank you!
Those terms don’t REALLY mean anything. That’s just a tea company trying to dress up their Earl Grey.
Things like “Extra” can sometimes imply that their tea has more bergamot than the “usual”, and this is usually confirmed in the tea description. “Double-shot of bergamot”, or something close. Sometimes it just means they threw in some blue cornflowers to make it look superspecial.
I enjoy Earl Grey variations, such as Russian Earl Grey (other citrus fruits added, and/or lemon grass), and Dorian Grey (varies depending on the company, but often with caramel, or rose added).
I’d recommend Kusmi Teas, because they use Earl Grey as a base for a lot of their teas. But their teas are also quite mild.
If you’re looking for a bolder flavor, shy away from “creme” or “lady grey” varieties.
I think AJ covered most everything :) but wanted to add sometimes Imperial or Supreme can have to do with the tea base. For example, Harney and Sons Earl Grey Supreme is named so because the tea base is made with higher grade tea, including Ceylon Vintage Silver Tips. Highly rec that Earl – it’s my fave! Even though it is not heavy on the bergamot, the bergamot is zingy and fresh tasting and goes so well with the very special tea base.
From one Earl Grey lover to another, enjoy your Earl Journey!!!
Just to throw another one in (I’m not a big fan of EG), Samovar’s Earl Grey is really deliciously balanced.
The Dorian Grey with rose sounds fantastic. What do you recommend, AJ?
Well, most of the people above have tried way more Earl Greys than I have. In terms of Dorian Grey, Sympathy for the Kettle is the company that makes their version with rose (and vanilla and rosehip). I’ve never tried theirs (it doesn’t seem anyone on the site has, or at least haven’t bothered to log it). But it’s right here: http://sympathyforthekettle.com/index.php/catalog/product/view/id/104/s/dorian-grey/
The other four (the caramel variation) seem to be similar or alike. I’ve tried one (and then later purchased 100 grams of it), and I rather enjoy it—the bergamot isn’t TOO strong, and it has a nice balance of caramel, with some interesting other flavours from the apple and possibly the many flowers mixed in. The one I tried was from Great Wall, who hasn’t gotten an actual website off the ground yet.
My favourite just plain Earl Grey though, is from a less-known company known as “Hazo”. Both the tea and the bergamot are quite bold, but they balance nice.
Thank you all for this help and your great suggestions! I really appreciate it. I have a lot to explore and these will give me good starting points.
AJ is right. They are all modifiers. There are a few rules of thumb I follow with Earl Grey:
- If there is a feminine modifier, then it will have less bergamot and be more mild. The most obvious version of this is Lady Earl Grey, but I have also seen princess earl grey, Mrs. Earl Grey and others
- If it has a modifier that implies strength, then it will be stronger. Examples are Earl Grey-er, Extra Earl Grey, etc.
- Many are self explanatory. For example, if the blend is a Earl Grey White, then it is white tea with bergamot. If it is Raspberry Earl Grey, then it is black tea, bergamot and raspberries.
- Then there are some “standard” blends that use other ingredients. Here are a few that come to mind. Remember, this is a very basic overview:
- Russian Earl Grey: Earl Grey with additional citrus (orange/lemon) and flowers
- Earl Grey Imperial: Uses a Darjeeling Base
- Victorian Earl Grey: Uses Rose petals
- Creme Earl Grey: Earl Grey with Vanilla
- French Earl Grey: Earl Grey with Lavender
I think these cover the basics. Anyone else know of any other popular blends?