alxardnax said

My Earl Grey never turns out right.

Hello Everyone,

For some reason whenever I try to make Earl Grey it never turns out right. I can make a good cup of any other type of tea, including the really delicate ones but my earl grey always turns out… kind of meady. I have tried with and without using the Breville one touch tea maker, tried different brewing times and temps, different brands (Dammann, TWG, Harney and Sons, Mariage Freres, Steven Smith Teamaker…). When I order Earl Grey tea out, its usually just right, but why can’t I make a good cup of it?!

Any ideas? Thank you.

14 Replies
darby select said

Boy, that’s hard as it looks like you’ve tried EVERYTHING! The only thing I can see to ask is what water you use? Here is how I do mine and it works (for me at least).
I use Ice Mountain bottled water.
Use 2 tsp of tea to 16oz water
Brew at 195 for 2min 30sec

Hope that helps!

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I mostly drink Cream of Earl Grey from DAVIDs Tea…I do ~3tsp for 16oz, steep ~210 for 3 minutes, add ~1.5tsp German rock sugar and a splash of milk or two.
Sometimes, if I’m doing Teavana’s Earl Grey, I do ~1.5tsp for ~8oz, steep ~210 for 3 minutes, add ~1.5tsp German rock sugar and a ton of milk. Way too much bergamot in that one for me. But I’ve never had a problem… I just use tap water, and sometimes it’s reboiled, and I never notice bad things.

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alxardnax said

I’ve tried filtered tap water and Fiji bottled water. I’ve been wanting to try some different water bottle brands to see if that helps but I seem to always forget to pick up a couple different water brands whenever I’m out.

Hopefully, changing the water I use will help. Also, I only tend to put about 1 tsp per 8oz cup, I should try 1.5 tsp next time. And I have never brewed it below 205 F but I am going to try it at 195. I know you should brew black tea at about 212F but I feel like whenever I use that temp for Earl Grey it turns meady and bitter.


darby select said

I always brew black at 195…seems not to get bitter then. If you like it stronger, then add more tea too.

cteresa said

yep, water can be the most likely culprit. Get a couple of cheap mineral water, and try it.

also time. Not sure what is meady, but if you mean it is tanninic (like bad red wine? like pomegranates?), consider underbrewing it a little bit. the aromatics (bergamot) usually steep faster. After a certain point the longer you leave the leaves in , it is just increasing tannins, the aromatics were all transferred first. Try 2.5 minutes and no more. if it´s weak, increase the tea ammount.

but chances are likely it is the water. even filtered, dunno filtered water always tastes sort of sweet-ish salt-y to me. And water with a bleach note can totally kill bergamot teas.

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Azzrian said

Could your temp gauge be off?

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teaenvy said

my personal experience with black tea is not all of them brew best at boiling. definitely lower the temp a bit to see how it goes. and more leaf shorter brew time too.

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How long do you steep it for? A lot of people brew black teas for 5ish minutes, I aim for about 2-3, seems to be about perfect (for me).

It sort of seems like you’ve gone through the mickey mouse roll call of higher end teas up there. Has this all been ‘recent’? Or is this spread out over time? In other words, how many of those do you still have at home right now?

I do think you’re aiming a bit weak though. The minimum tea you should use is one ‘measuring’ teaspoon for every sixish ounces, roughly 1.5 for eight ounces (this is what ‘perfect’ teaspoons do).

If you’re already filtering the tap water, I doubt bottled water would make too much of a difference. Maybe. But really, buying bottled water, you’re just buying water from someone else’s filter. And most bottled water… they do this stupid thing where they filter the water, and then turn around and add junk to it, to make it taste more natural. Different story, don’t get me started ;)

The temperature idea from darby is a pretty good one as well, especially if you’re trying to mimic what you might receive in a restaurant. Most restaurants won’t brew with boiling water due to the damage liability of someone burning themselves.

Dinosara said

I just want to echo what Dylan has said and say that those would be what I would adjust first: temp, time and amount of tea. Also I tend to brew my Earls (and most of my black teas really) along the specifications that he gave.

Where are you ordering your Earl Grey when you order it out? Have you tried getting the brand that you’ve had when ordering? A lot of places you would potentially get to see the tea bag or whatnot when you order it. Or ask, if it’s not clear. Everyone’s Earls are different, and it can take a lot of tasting to figure out your favorite. If you can’t match results using the exact same tea, then there’s a mystery.

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Kaitlin S said

Define “meady”?

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To me, something about Earl Grey always just lends itself to tasting better when prepared and served to me by someone else. Preferably in a porcelain cup and saucer, with milk in a matching pitcher and small square lumps of sugar.

Since you’ve tried everything else, I’d advise sticking to it that way.

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alxardnax said

Thanks for everyone’s advice! I think I have finally realized that it has to do with the black tea base. Now I just have to figure out which is the one I like best in my Earl Grey: Ceylon, Assam, Darjeeling, etc. or a mixture of several.

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Keemun said

…give the water time to cool down a bit after boiling. Let’s say 10 minutes. Then start the infusion. 2-3 min. If the taste is still not what you have in mind then use even cooler water…good luck

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