Ideal for discerning tea drinkers everywhere.
Not all tea was created equal. In fact, not all Earl Grey tea was even created equal. Ask yourself this; have you ever tasted a truly exemplary cup of Earl Grey tea? There is a good chance that you haven’t – even if you have been drinking it for most of your life.
We’re sorry to turn your world upside down like that, spilling your freshly brewed cuppa in the process. But let’s be frank here; your tea enjoyment depends on it. Most store-bought teas and supermarket brands don’t rely on high-quality ingredients. Because of this, you could be missing out on what a really good cup of Earl Grey tea truly tastes like.
Now is the time to take your game up a level, with these 6 steps to choosing the very best Earl Grey tea, IDEAL for discerning tea drinkers everywhere.
BE BRAND AWARE
If you think that reaching for the most expensive brand on the shelf is the path to tea-based nirvana, then think again. Indeed, just because the tea is attached to a premium price tag, doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily the best around. In fact, many shop bought Earl Grey teas are pretty similar in quality but hugely divergent on price. It’s important to be aware that you’re often just paying for the brand.
What matters is how tea leaves are sourced, grown, processed, and packaged, not the name on the label. And, since we are talking about Earl Grey tea, you have to consider where the bergamot flavour is coming from as well; it should come from natural, essential oil from bergamot rind, rather than any artificial flavouring. All key considerations which should go into every good cup, we think.
Pay particular attention to brands that add preservatives, artificial flavourings, or additions to improve the texture of lifespan of the tea. These can compromise the natural flavours of a cup of Earl Grey. Basically, your perfect cuppa should only contain black tea and citrus zest.
Though so many drink it, few have much idea of how Earl Grey tea is made. Since the process determines what the resulting tea will taste like, it’s a good idea to get educated if you’re to be a more discerning drinker in the future.
Be aware of how the tea leaves in your cup were produced. The Tealeafed site recently published a detailed infographic that showed just how this type of tea is made, and it’s a fascinating procedure.
It reveals that there are two different types of methods used – one that relies on actual bergamot rind and another that sprays on natural or artificial flavouring. If your tea is flavoured from natural oils from the bergamot, then it is the real deal. Artificial or synthetic flavours don’t hold up as well, however, and should be avoided. Needless to say, you have to know what is going on behind the curtains to ensure that you get a more authentic tasting Earl Grey tea. Ask the right questions and you’re more likely to be satisfied with the answer.
THE TEA LEAVES
The first thing you should be taking note of is the origin of the all important black tea leaves. Now, the finest leaves are found in Darjeeling and Ceylon, and this kind of black tea leaf is an excellent base for Earl Grey tea.
Making sure that the tea is sourced from either India or Sri Lanka is the first step. You also need to check that the teas are single-origin – this means that they came from one estate – rather than being a blend, since the former offers a more cohesive flavour.
That isn’t to say that blended teas are bad, not at all. Nevertheless, each of the teas included in the tea needs to be carefully selected so that they complement the nuance of their partners in the pot.
These days, you can find bergamot all over the world, from Asia to Brazil, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, and Turkey. The real deal, though, comes from Calabria, Italy. If you’re striving for the very best cuppa (and that’s what you’re here for, right?) you may want to check that this is where the bergamot used in your tea is coming from.
Why make this effort? Well, the taste of bergamot can depend on where and how the fruit is grown. So, if you would like a more authentic flavour, it would make sense to go for the original source.
LOOSE TEAS VS. TEA BAGS
There is no denying that tea bags are convenient. There is no fuss involved – you simply plop a bag in hot water and your tea is ready in no time at all. The downside is that this convenience does come at a cost – most tea bags contain leaves that are of a much lower quality.
Many companies may use fannings in these tea leaves, which is essentially tea dust. As a result, very little of the authentic flavour is transported into your cup. In short, you are drinking a watered-down version of your favourite beverage. And no one wants that.
Loose tea leaves, on the other hand, tend to be carefully picked with a judicious eye. Furthermore, they are long and rolled. Thus, when they are immersed in hot water, the leaves unfurl and release a gorgeous flavour.
Of course, this isn’t a hard and fast rule. You still need to ascertain just where the tea leaves came from and how they were processed. It is the only way to be sure that you are drinking top-notch Earl Grey tea.
APPRECIATE THE BALANCE IN TASTE
Finally, let’s move onto what your Earl Grey tea should taste like. This blend should offer up a balanced flavour. This means that neither the taste of black tea or the bergamot should be overwhelming. Instead, they should beautifully complement one another, lifting their opposing number to dizzying heights with each new sip.
Thus, when you are testing out a particular brand, take note of the experience on your taste buds. There should be a hint of astringency from the black tea that is quickly followed up by the sweet and citrusy, almost cleansing, taste of the bergamot.
This is a tea that is meant to appeal to everyone. As such, it has a very pleasant flavour, and not too assertive. You should be able to drink it without adding milk, sugar, or any other adulterants.
So, there you have it – Earl Grey tea that is as good as it gets. Now that you are equipped with this knowledge, it’s time to put these skills to good use.
And with that, care to invite us round for a cuppa?