Blended and specialty teas are very popular right now. You’ll find endless combinations of tea varieties with any number of flavorings, including fruit flavors, spices and herbs. And with this new popularity, you can expect to see many new flavors coming out in the future. Everybody is getting in on the flavored tea market. Many tea producers have broadened their product lines considerably, and even some coffee purveyors are getting in on the flavored tea market; offering new and exciting combinations.
But, some of the very best blended teas have been around forever. Consider, for example, Earl Grey Tea. Nearly everyone has heard of Earl Grey tea, and most of us have had a cup now and again. However, many people don’t really know what Earl Grey tea is or where it came from, though this blended tea is one of the most popular in both the US and England.
Earl Grey tea started out as a blend of Chinese black teas, which had not been steamed, mixed with oil from the rind of the Bergamot orange. The Bergamot orange is a small orange that is shaped more like a pear. It is grown primarily in Italy. It is grown on an evergreen tree called a Bergamot, which is created by crossing the pear lemon with the Seville orange or the grapefruit. Today, most Earl Grey is made with Indian or Sri Lankan black tea. But it is the addition of the Bergamot oil that gives it the special flavor. The flavor is distinctly citrus, but not as sweet as the flavor of a navel or other traditional orange.
This tea is named for Earl Charles Grey, who was a diplomat for Britain. Earl Grey went on a diplomatic mission to China, where legend has it that he saved the life of the son of a local Mandarin Chinese man. The boy was drowning and the Earl pulled him from the water. The man gave the Earl the recipe for the tea as a gift of gratitude. The Earl passed the recipe on to his tea merchant, who began to blend the tea for his private use. However, the tea flavor soon got out to the public, and became an instant hit.
Earl Grey later went on to become the Prime Minister of England from 1830-1834. During his tenure as Prime Minister, he passed the act to abolish slavery in the British Empire. He is also credited with ending the monopoly on tea imports long held by the East India Company. Yet, he is most remembered for being the person who brought this delicious tea to England.
Earl Grey’s flavor is so popular because it is distinct and flavorful, yet it goes with everything. It’s a great tea to drink with food, but it’s also wonderful on its own. The unique ability of this tea to appeal to everyone is what has made it one of the world’s best selling teas for many years.
High quality Tippy Earl Grey is one of the finest Earl Grey’s you’ll ever find. Quality producers produce a better tasting Earl Grey than many other manufacturers because of two important factors:
- They use the best quality tea
- They have the expertise to blend tea
Many other Earl Grey teas you’ll find are made from low quality black teas. But, quality Earl Grey is made from tea leaves that contain extra tips; the finest black tea leaves you can buy.
After choosing the best tea leaves for this Earl Grey, A good blender blends it with natural bergamot oil, not an artificial flavoring. With some other Earl Grey teas, the bergamot flavor is overwhelming. These tea producers use a very large dose of bergamot to cover up the inferior tea they’ve used. But, with quality suppliers, the bergamot flavor is more balanced, letting the great tea flavor come through.
Some high quality Earl Grey teas also contain lavender, which is not common in most Earl Grey’s. The lavender is calming and relaxing, toning down the citrus intensity. The lavender provides a wonderful aroma and just a hint of additional flavor to the tea.
Creating great flavored and specialty teas is all about balance. Tea producers must work long and hard to find exactly the right recipe to create the perfect flavor. If the balance of tea to flavoring is not right, the flavor and the quality are compromised. That’s why choosing a tea purveyor who uses only the best tea leaves blended in just the right amounts with the highest quality natural ingredients is so critical. If you choose anything less, you’re not getting the cup of tea you deserve.
Flavored and specialty teas are a dime a dozen today. Some of them are excellent, using inventive combinations of high quality teas with spices, fruits and herbs. Some of them, on the other hand, are mediocre and expected.
But, it’s certain that you’ll enjoy the adventure of trying many of these new combinations. But, while you’re at it – don’t forget the Earl Grey. It’s the original blended tea – and it’s still one of the very best.