Review: Twinings Earl Grey tea.

Twinings of London Earl Grey Tea. Photo: Elizabeth Urbach.

Twinings Earl Grey can be found in most supermarkets in the San Jose area, as well as Cost Plus World Markets and occasionally, Target.  One of England’s most famous tea blends, Earl Grey is reputed to be one of Queen Elizabeth II’s favorites.  Earl Grey tea is a blend of Asian black teas, scented with bergamot, a small citrus fruit native to Sicily and southern Italy, and parts of Asia.  The fruit is cultivated almost exclusively for the oil in its rind, which is primarily used to flavor Earl Grey tea blends.  It has a pungent lemony scent and flavor, and goes well with Chinese and Ceylon black teas, which have a naturally lemony component to their flavor.  Like other black teas, Earl Grey blends should be brewed in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes, and can be served with sugar or a slice of lemon; it is not generally liked with milk, however.

Twinings of London is one of those established tea companies that produces consistently good-quality tea.  In 1706, company founder Thomas Twinings founded the first tea house in Britain, which was possibly the first “dry” tea and coffee shop in the world (selling tea leaves and coffee beans as well as pots of tea and coffee).  Twinings imported Chinese tea throughout the 18th century and sold it in their London shop.  In 1837, Queen Victoria granted a Royal Warrant to the company, and supplied her household with tea from Twinings, and this is a relationship that every succeeding English king and queen has maintained.  Its Earl Grey blend was developed in the 1830s, from a recipe given to Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, Prime Minister of England, and has been available to the public since then.  According to legend, the bergamot flavoring was added to cover up the heavy mineral taste in the water at Howick Hall in Northumberland, Lord Grey’s family home.  The family neglected to trademark the name “Earl Grey”, or the recipe, so that’s why it is available from so many tea merchants, and the Grey family receives no royalties from the sale of Earl Grey tea!

Twinings Earl Grey is available in tea bags, as well as loose tea in tins.  Its citrus-y and floral taste and aroma makes it suitable for the afternoon, perfect for an English afternoon tea.  It is the quintessential Earl Grey blend and, while there are many other Earl Grey blends and variations that are just as tasty, Twinings is a standard Earl Grey that is at home in every tea pot!

Copyright 2011, Elizabeth Urbach.

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For more information: Twinings of London USA website
R. Twining & Company, Ltd. UK website
“Earl Grey tea” Wikipedia article
The Earl Grey Tea House at Howick Hall Gardens in Northumberland
“Review: Twinings Irish Breakfast Tea”
“Have an English tea and Royal Wedding-viewing party”
“Different types of Chinese black tea available in San Jose”
“Tea and food pairings for black teas”
“Tea history: what type of tea did American founders drink?”
“Tea with the Founders: an 18th century style tea menu”
“Chocolate and tea: the perfect match?”
“Tea 101: How to brew a pot of hot tea using loose tea”



Filed under History, Product Reviews, Tea Tasting, Vendors and Shops

2 responses to “Review: Twinings Earl Grey tea.

  1. Pingback: Earl Grey Tea

  2. Dear Elizabeth,

    I just discovered your tea blog,

    I’d love to talk with you more about our new tea recommendation engine. Do you have some time to talk next week?



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