Earl Grey Revisited

Most of the households I grew up around had a 100 count box of Lipton or Salada brand black tea bags in their kitchen pantries…tea dust in a stapled paper bag.  At our house, we also had either Twinings or Bigelow’s Earl Grey tea.  These and Bigelow’s Constant Comment tea were considered  fancy teas in my circle.   These days, I usually prefer pure, organic leaf teas … pure… meaning with no scents or flavors added, just the tea leaf.    I had not consumed an earl grey tea in ages…but a couple months ago, while hanging around the historic Los Rios Street in San Juan Capistrano getting ready for our big tea tasting events… I came upon Hidden House Coffee house and ordered a pot of earl grey, it was stunning!  It actually stopped me in my tracks!  I had to know where they got this spectacular tea from…it is Tea Forte‘s loose leaf earl grey. It’s more floral than most earl grey teas – I think because along with bergomot oil, they add corn flower petals too.  I got hooked again on this popular flavored tea.  I woke up craving “that” cup of tea for several days…which led me back to Hidden House to indulge in more pots of this fragrant brew.  I decided to check out Tea Forte online and spent an hour enjoying their site, their award winning tea accessories, as well as,  I now have a stash of my own Tea Forte earl grey at home too. (see photos below of their Kati brewing system and their single steep pre-portioned pouches for us lazy bones 🙂   This is my new favorite steeping tea cup and tea gift).

Today’s earl grey tea offerings are not like those of days gone by…the quality and choices available are delightful.

This got me thinking about other earl greys.  My daughter loves Mighty Leaf’s earl grey…offered in a silken pouch.

Mighty Leaf quality teas in a silken pouch

Mighty Leaf quality teas in a silken pouch

 

Harney & Sons has several, even a white earl grey.  Harney describes their Earl Grey Supreme as…

“To the connoisseur we offer Earl Grey Supreme, which uses a higher grade of teas along with the addition of Silver Tips. Most of our customers have never gone back to our regular Earl Grey once they have tasted the Supreme. If you love Bergamot and fine tea, this is the blend for you”
Dean & Deluca carries many French brands of fine teas, including Mariage Freres (which I purchased and posted about here.) Their Earl Grey tea came in a cute satchel -it has a hint of bergamot…they use darjeeling tea in this earl grey.

What makes earl grey an earl grey?  Bergamot.

Bergamot Orange...beautiful and fragrant

Bergamot Orange…beautiful and fragrant

Bergamot is an aromatic oil found in the peels of bergamot oranges. It’s floral and rich, with a slightly bitter or astringent taste.  Earl Grey tea is a tea blend with a distinctive flavor and aroma derived from the addition of this oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a fragrant citrus.  Other varieties add lavender, jasmine, and differing citrus peels to the mix.

 Why is Earl Grey tea called Earl Grey?

Earl Grey was named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, (13 March 1764 – 17 July 1845), known as Viscount Howick between 1806 and 1807, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 22 November 1830 to 16 July 1834.  According to the  Howick Hall website, “The tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, to suit the water at Howick, using bergamot in particular to offset the taste of the lime in it. Lady Grey used it to entertain in London as a political hostess, and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it. It is now sold worldwide and the Greys were sufficiently unbusinesslike not to register the trade mark; as a result, they have never received a penny!”

In getting out of my little tea rut … and branching out to try something new (even though it stems from something old for me)…I came across my new favorite tea gift for tea novices to tea lovers – Tea Forte’s Kati tea brewing system – allowing anyone to brew loose tea by the cup…..simple to use and enough design patterns to satisfy most needs and interests.

Individual steeping cup...double walled with stainless infuser...the Kati cup comes in several designs and is a great gift too.  Comes with Tea Forte single steeping pouches already portioned out for us lazy bones :-)

Individual steeping cup…double walled with stainless infuser…the Kati cup comes in several designs and is a great gift too. Comes with Tea Forte single steeping pouches already portioned out for us lazy bones 🙂

They describe the Kati system as:

“Our double-wall ceramic tumbler and integrated stainless steel infuser make brewing loose tea by the cup simple. The innovative double-wall construction keeps tea hot and the tumbler cozy to hold. Brews a generous 12 oz cup, is dishwasher and microwave safe.”

Tea Forte single steeps...use in their Kati tea cup with built in stainless infuser... a great gift with many style choices...I just love this double walled tea cup...

Tea Forte single steeps…use in their Kati tea cup with built in stainless infuser… a great gift with many style choices…I just love this double walled tea cup…

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There is much innovation going on in the tea delivery systems and in the availability of high quality leaf teas…making it a great time to drink tea.  Hurray for us tea drinkers…it’s about time 🙂

4 Comments

  1. What a wonderful experience! It’s funny that you mention Lipton’s tea because I’ve seen it everywhere I’ve travelled out of the UK but I’ve never once seen it in the UK, it’s most odd. I suppose it must only be made for the export market. Leaf tea does definitely have a fuller flavour, and I can only imagine how good that tea must have tasted in the Hidden House. Have you ever seen loose leaf Lady Grey? I do like a nice Earl Grey from time to time, but for me Lady Grey has the edge because it seems to have a slightly more complex and interesting taste. I would definitely try that tea you had though, it sounds like a taste sensation.

  2. Yes, Lorna it was a wonderful experience…it’s always so nice to have your expectations exceeded (just as in your scone tasting experience I suppose)
    I do like Lady Grey…I have not had it in a while, will have to seek some out soon. Always good to hear from you Lorna 🙂

  3. So funny that I read this today, instead of when it arrived in my inbox! About one hour ago, I was on Mighty Leaf’s website and ordered some Earl Grey! Can’t wait to get it. Quite the timely post 🙂

    • Good for you…you’ll need lots of Earl Grey now that school is back in session 🙂
      I just love Mighty Leaf’s too…make sure it is handy when we come out next time … please 🙂