Updated: Dec 8, 2021
Ah, Earl Grey … a tea with a twist and a history. Rich black tea combines with delicate citrus, floral notes and a hint of vanilla into one cozy cup. It is enticing, exciting and relaxing at the same time. Breathe deeply and feel the stresses slip away while enjoying one of the most recognized and beloved flavors in the world.
Bergamot peel essential oil is responsible for the distinctive aroma and taste of Earl Grey among black teas. A citrus fruit from southern Calabria in Italy, bergamot has a smell and flavor completely different from oranges or lemons. From its origin days through today, tea companies have used bergamot to cover up lower-quality black teas to imitate the flavor of pricey Chinese teas. Over time, the flavor became popular on its own and is now an established blend. Studies suggest bergamot oil may lower cholesterol and has analgesic properties along with natural aromatherapy properties to ease stress and calm the mind.
Amy, Metolius Tea’s founder, set out to close Earl Grey’s historical quality gap by actually using the fine Chinese teas the bergamot has been used to mimic. She traveled to many markets and tea farms searching for the best source of black tea, finally choosing teas from the mountains of Yunnan province in southwest China, near Burma. Small farms at 6000 feet specialize in hand-picking the leaves, producing a high-quality product with just the right flavor profiles.
After the shipment of loose tea arrives at Metolius Tea, it’s blended and immediately packed to preserve freshness. Carley, our dry tea production lead, measures 40 pounds of loose black tea into a large bowl and adds premium first-press bergamot oil along with rainforest-harvested Madagascar vanilla bean. Blending everything together by hand ensures the tea is thoroughly mixed for optimum steeping and flavor. Next, she adds bright blue bachelor button petals to decorate our beautiful Earl Grey blend. The whole tea factory is infused with the aroma of black tea and bergamot from the time Carley starts a batch until long after everything is cleaned up and ready for the next product. Ah, Earl Grey …
In addition to a great cup of tea, Earl Grey is used in baking and cooking, for a special touch. In sweet recipes, loose tea is added to melted butter or hot cream and strained after the flavor is infused. Amy’s favorite tea-infused dessert is Earl Grey Creme Brûlée. Beef and pork are popular choices to braise in tea, adding flavor while the tannins help tenderize the meat. Steeping tea in a basic stock for a few minutes, before removing, gives finished sauces a unique flavor. It is also infused into rice for sweet or savory preparations.
For the small staff at Metolius Artisan Tea, a cozy cup is perfect for a mid-morning break which gives us much joy and reflection. There’s always a ready supply of loose tea, a steeper and china cups from Amy’s grandmother. Oh, Earl Grey!
Amy’s trip to Yunnan – https://www.metoliustea.com/post/my-visit-to-yunnan-china
Amy’s blog about Earl Grey – https://www.metoliustea.com/post/obsessed-with-earl-grey-tea
WebMD on black tea – https://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/black-tea-uses-and-risks