The prince of tea, Earl Grey has an intriguing taste and an equally fascinating history that bridges the gap between China and Great Britain. Among the world’s most recognized blends, it’s a flavorful twist on traditional brews.
From the hundreds of brands available, which Earl Grey tea should you choose to warm up on a chilly afternoon?
We’ll tell you all about this posh treat and review five top brands to choose from. Enjoy!
Our recommendations for Best Earl Grey Teas:
- Best Loose Leaf Earl Grey: VAHDAM Earl Grey
- Most Unique Earl Grey: Art of Tea Earl Grey Crème
- Premium Earl Grey Tea Bags: Harney & Sons Earl Grey Supreme
- Classic Earl Grey Tea Bags: Bigelow Earl Grey
- Best Organic Earl Grey: Numi Organic Aged Earl Grey
- Best Sampler Set: VAHDAM Earl Grey Sampler
All About Earl Grey Tea
The story of Earl Grey is somewhat of a mystery — tall tales abound, most disproved by research.
The consensus is that it came from China, a gift to Charles Grey, an Earl and former British Prime Minister, for ending the East India Company’s stranglehold on trade. A taste sensation, it fast became a favorite of the nobility for its distinctive flavor.
What Exactly is Earl Grey Tea
The original Earl Grey is black tea flavored with the oil of bergamot, an orange essence derived from Citrus bergamia. The Bergamot is a dwarf citrus tree found in the Mediterranean and grown commercially in Italy.
Taste and Aroma
Cold-pressed from the peel of the Bergamot orange, the oil of bergamot has an intense citrus flavor described as a cross between an orange and a grapefruit. The aroma is citrusy but with spicy and floral notes that make it a valuable oil for perfumes.
When infused into black tea leaves, it’s the special something that makes Earl Grey so unique that it’s used not only as a beverage but also as a flavoring for baked goods.
Earl Grey isn’t a registered trademark so there’s no international standard. Marketed by top purveyors, from Vadham to Bigelow, the taste and aroma vary based on the origin of the tea, the concentration of bergamot, and additional flavors.
In addition to the classic Earl Grey, there are a few popular variations including:
Russian Earl Grey: Black tea flavored with the oil of bergamot, but it also contains citrus peel and lemongrass for a tangy zip.
Lady Grey: Lady Grey, wife of Charles Grey inspired two versions of Earl Grey tea, one flavored with cornflower for a softer taste and the other brightened with Seville orange essence. The name ”Lady Grey” is trademarked by Twinings.
Red Earl Grey: This bergamot-infused herbal tea is made from a South African shrub called rooibos. It’s naturally caffeine-free and has a mellow taste that lets the bergamot shine.
French Earl Grey: Ubiquitous in Australia, French Earl Grey is a blend of black tea, oil of bergamot, and rose petals. Other additions may include hibiscus and mallow flowers for flavors that range from fruity to floral. Subtle notes may be lost in milk.
Earl Grey Green and Oolong: Earl Grey Green is any green tea infused with bergamot flavoring. Aromatic, the flavor ranges from floral to grassy and pairs well with honey. Oolong, the traditional Chinese tea, is made from the Camellia sinensis plant but is neither green nor black — the flavor depends on how it’s processed. Combined with bergamot, Earl Grey made with oolong has a clean but full-bodied taste that reflects the creative approach of the tea maker.
What to Consider When Buying Earl Grey Tea
Let’s see what makes some brands of Earl Grey teas better than others and how to choose one that best suits your taste.
Where tea is grown affects how it tastes. Soil quality, climate, and differences in manufacturing practices have a significant impact on flavor.
The best black teas often come from China and Assam or Darjeeling regions of India. Ceylon tea, grown in the highlands of central Sri Lanka, is especially brisk and slightly bitter with notes of citrus and spice that complement bergamot flavoring.
If you like your tea with plenty of caffeine and bold taste, you can also check out our guide with the best Assam tea brands. Or choose one of our recommended Darjeeling teas for a lighter and more flowery brew.
It takes the rinds of 100 bergamot oranges to make 3 ounces of essential oil. So not surprisingly, there’s a financial motive for using synthetic bergamot or cutting natural oils with cheaper flavorings often made from petroleum products.
Unless you have a citrus allergy, we only recommend brands with natural bergamot for its authentic flavor.
No two Earl Greys are alike. The type of tea and the concentration of bergamot result in vastly different brews.
Traditional Earl Grey has been described by some as an acquired taste, but there’s no shortage of companies making alternatives for people with discriminating palates.
Choose varieties with flavor profiles you already enjoy — the only preferences you need to satisfy are your own and perhaps your guests. If you like hardy black tea, brands sourced in Assam or Ceylon are a good pick. If you’re hooked on fruity herbal tisanes, you’ll enjoy Red Earl Grey.
6 Best Earl Grey Tea Brands Reviewed
If you really want to enjoy the taste and benefits of Earl Grey tea, it’s essential to choose a brand that uses high-quality ingredients. Here are our 6 top picks to choose from!
Best Loose Leaf Earl Grey Tea: VAHDAM Earl Grey
Vadham teas are among the highest quality in the world. Grown exclusively in India, their signature Earl Grey is blended from the finest Imperial black loose leaf and flavored with 100-percent natural bergamot oil.
- Amount: 16 oz (454 g)
- Type: Loose Leaf Earl Grey Tea
- Robust and smooth taste
- Great value for money
- Produced ethically by supporting the local community
- VAHDAM is a carbon and plastic neutral brand
The tea goes from picked to pack within 72 hours for optimal flavor. Delicious hot, it has a spicy fragrance and zesty orange taste that’s equally refreshing iced. Robust, it’s bold even in milk.
Shipped vacuum-sealed in a premium, puncture-resistant bag, you’ll also receive an aluminum-lined zip-top pouch to preserve freshness. The 16-ounce bag makes at least 200 cups for a remarkably modest price.
VAHDAM is an award-winning company that is quality-focused and socially aware. Products and packaging are certified plastic-neutral and climate-friendly. One percent of their revenue is spent educating their workers’ children, so every purchase supports a better future.
Order directly from VAHDAM to get your tea fresh and for the best price!
Most Unique Earl Grey: Art of Tea Earl Grey Crème
Art of Tea brings this classic blend to the next level with their Earl Grey Crème which has a unique, silky taste and aroma. In addition to black tea and bergamot oil, this blend contains French vanilla and cornflowers.
- Unique taste and aroma
- Organic high-quality ingredients
- Available as a loose-leaf version and in plastic-free teabags
Art of Tea is a Los Angeles based-company offering hand-blended teas made with high-quality organic tea leaves and botanicals. Read my Art of Tea review for more information about this exquisite tea brand.
So far I love all of the products I have tried from Art of Tea and the Earl Grey Crème is not an exception. When you smell this tea you will already know that you’re onto something special!
Art of Tea Earl Grey Crème makes a perfect morning or afternoon cup and has just the right amount of caffeine for a nice energy boost.
In addition to the loose leaf tin or pouch, Earl Grey Crème is also available in tea bags.
Premium Earl Grey Teabags: Harney & Sons Earl Grey Supreme
If you’ve tried Earl Grey and were overwhelmed, Harney’s is a pleasant surprise.
Made with top-quality black tea and natural bergamot oil, it’s tempered with oolong and silver tips — an exotic white tea from Ceylon. Mild and sweet, it takes the often-harsh edge off of traditional Earl Grey.
- Amount: 20 Sachets
- Type: Earl Grey Tea Bags (a blend of Black, Oolong, and White Tea)
- Mild and gentle taste
- Unique lemony flavor
- Comes in an elegant metal tin
New York-based Harney & Sons produces 300 varieties of expertly blended tea, including their highly regarded Earl Grey Supreme. By controlling the manufacturing process from farm to finish, their teas are consistently flavorful and always a great value.
Each reusable tin contains 20 sachets. Owner Mike Harney’s rating scale is printed on the back with scores for briskness, body, and aroma. This mellow blend is fragrant but relaxed and has more lemon than orange notes. Pair it with your favorite sweetener and enjoy it plain or with milk.
Driven by a passion for tea and the environment, Harney & Sons has donated more than three million dollars to 1% For the Planet, an organization supporting climate initiatives.
Best Classic Earl Grey Tea Bags: Bigelow Earl Grey
Founded in Ruth Bigelow’s kitchen in 1945, Bigelow Tea is a family-owned brand and a top seller. Offering more than 150 teas, their Earl Grey is a masterpiece.
Sticklers for consistency, the formula blends black teas from India and Sri Lanka with natural bergamot oil from Calabria, Italy — it’s harvested from the same grove year after year.
- Amount: 120 Tea Bags (6×20)
- Type: Earl Grey Tea Bags
- Classic Earl Grey tea
- Strong and clear flavor
- 120 individually wrapped tea bags
Less daring than VAHDAM but brisker than Harney & Sons, Bigelow’s Earl Grey is perfectly crafted for the American palate with a spicy aroma and a punch of orange flavor.
Each box contains 20 tea bags in individual, stay-fresh foil pouches. Ideal for travel, toss one in your bag for an afternoon pick-me-up.
Bigelow teas are blended and packaged in the US. A certified B Corporation since 2019, their business practices meet the highest standards for transparency — it’s a company you can trust. A premium product for a bargain price, Bigelow Earl Grey should be a staple in your kitchen.
Best Organic Earl Grey Tea: Numi Organic Aged Earl Grey
Numi’s organic Earl Grey is a single-origin black tea from Assam, India, with natural Italian bergamot.
Aged to enhance absorption, the result is a robust brew with no artificial flavors, colors, or fragrances. The full-leaf quality is unsurpassed with no tea dust or fannings to muddy its clarity.
- Amount: 16 oz (454 g)
- Type: Organic Loose Leaf Earl Grey Tea
- Made with premium quality Assam black tea
- High caffeine level
- Certified Fair Trade & USDA Organic
Remarkably rich, this Earl Grey is bold and brisk but not bitter with a surprising kick of caffeine. The citrus essence is delicate with a floral edge, but no single flavor stands out. Instead, it’s a balanced cup that will appeal to a wide range of taste preferences. It shines on ice with a wedge of orange.
Ethically sourced and Fair Trade Certified, Numi’s extraordinary teas are packaged in resealable 16-ounce bags with a surprisingly low price point. We expected to pay more for a tea of this caliber. Give it a try — you’re in for a treat!
Best Sampler Set: VAHDAM Earl Grey Sampler
Dazed and confused by the varieties of Earl Grey?
Give yourself a break and order this versatile sampler pack. It contains 5 of VAHDAM’s famous Earl Grey Teas from a conventional black blend to a spicy chai.
Sourced from India’s choice gardens, they contain only the finest loose leaf and natural bergamot extracts.
- Amount: 1.76 oz (50 g)
- Type: Loose Leaf Earl Grey Tea Sampler Set
- Includes 5 high-quality Earl Grey teas
- Try different flavors from rich and strong to citrusy and floral
- Great gift for any tea lover
Featured in Forbes magazine and USA Today, VAHDAM’s innovative supply chain model ensures your purchase reaches you at peak freshness. Each vacuum-sealed pouch makes about 10 cups and includes brewing instructions.
Splurge on a sampler for yourself and give another as a gift. Perfect for the first-timer, there’s no better way to try a range of flavors without breaking the bank.
Plastic- and carbon-neutral, Vadham is committed to a clean environment and philanthropic initiatives that improve the lives of its workers. Bargain-priced, it’s a feel-good purchase.
How to Brew and Serve Earl Grey Tea
Here is how to make a perfect cup of Earl Grey:
- Heat fresh water to almost boiling hot (about 206° or 97°C).
- Use 1 teaspoon of loose leaf Earl Grey (or one tea bag) per one cup of water.
- Let the tea steep for 2 to 5 minutes depending on how strong you like it.
- Serve plain, or add milk and sugar or honey for taste!
- You can also try making your tea with water that is not as hot — try water that is 190°F or 90°C for a bit milder brew.
- If you are having your tea late in the evening, buy decaf so you will not ruing your sleep.
- Serve with a slice of lemon for extra freshness.
In addition to brewing your tea right, it’s also important to store it properly. Read our guide about how to store loose leaf tea to retain maximum freshness and flavor.
How Much Caffeine Is in Earl Grey Tea?
One cup of Earl Grey tea contains about 50 milligrams of caffeine on average. However, it can range anywhere from 30 milligrams to as much as 90 milligrams.
As a comparison, a cup of coffee has about 120 milligrams of caffeine.
The main factors that affect the caffeine content of Earl Grey tea are:
- Type of Tea: Assam black tea usually has higher caffeine content compared to other black teas. Also the amount of caffeine in black tea is often a bit higher compared to green and oolong tea.
- Brewing Time: The longer you brew the more caffeine will be infused.
- Amount of Tea: If you use more tea leaves per cup it will not only taste stronger but also has more caffeine.
If you have questions or comments, post them below.
Enjoy your Earl Grey!