For as long as I can remember, the Earl grey has been a tea that I have personally looked down on as a cheap way to hide inferior leaves. As such on seeing the steaming cup of grey fluid, and then smelling the sour orange of the bergamot tree would normally either ask for anything but the same tea, or a glass of cold water. But in the sake of making an honest attempt to understand and comment on how to approach the budget tea market, I have soiled my lips with the poisoned chalice so that If forced to buy a grey tea, you can chose one that will not kill, but only maim.
Earl grey Is flavoured by the fruit of the Citrus bergamia; A lemon like fruit similar in sourness to the grapefruit, grown almost exclusively by the Ionian sea in Reggio di Calabria, Italy. Originally, it was added as a form of treatment for malaria, but like all things some tasteless souls found it likeable and chose to drink it as something other than medicine. Speaking of medicine, Earl grey is known to have the same interaction effects as grapefruit does on a range of medications in large volumes and after about 4 litres in a single day can be toxic…
Down at the local Pak’n Save, I proceeded to buy up the whole Twining’s range of teas (they were on special, and included three grey teas). Added to the Dilmah essentials earl grey that I already had at home for some strange friends I have who drink it almost exclusively, and the handful of single serves of Dilmah Earl grey acquired from various hotels around the nation, I began in earnest to find an earl grey that I can describe as tolerable.
I settled on the Twining’s Earl Grey as the benchmark. It has a soft buttery finish, and the bergamot is not as overpowering as the Dilmah varieties. I did enjoy the flavours of the NZ Earl grey tea also done by Twining’s, but I will discuss that one in a later post.
What was a bit of a shock, however, is that the grey tea’s have grown on me somewhat. Despite the fact I cannot really handle them without milk just yet (the correct method for the drinking of earl grey as instructed by two very English gentlemen) I have found an appreciation for them. In the future I will most likely not turn my nose up so quickly, but they are still not my preferred cuppa.