The History of Earl Grey Tea
The Story Goes Like This:
“Once, there was an Earl who traveled through China…
He was guided around by a whole entourage of men at his side, but more than anyone else, he trusted one local man and his son. The group of them were crossing a river in a boat when, suddenly, the boy fell overboard. Never having learned to swim, he nearly drowned. However, with some difficulty, one of the Earl’s men saved the child.
The boy’s father was overcome with relief that his son was still alive. In Chinese culture, one favor is always repaid with another, and the man felt deeply indebted to the Earl. He decided to give the Earl a secret recipe that had been handed down in his family for generations…
And this was the origin of Earl Grey.
Or so it’s said! In reality, the Earl in question (Lord Charles Grey) had never even been to Asia. But that doesn’t make Earl Grey any less delicious (or any less wildly popular–it’s the second most beloved scented tea in the world!).
Earl Grey gets its distinctive flavor from the combination of tea and citrus fruit. Traditionally, it was made from Keemun and Lapsang Souchong Chinese black teas, Darjeeling Indian black tea, Ceylon black tea (from Sri Lanka) and oil pressed from the peel of the bergamot citrus fruit. Today, there are all sorts of Earl Grey blends out there, each with its own approach to the classic tea. Here are our two favorites:
Premium Earl Grey is balanced, nuanced and slightly smoky (much like the original Earl Grey blend). For anyone who is used to Earl Grey from a teabag, it’s a revelation.
Pink Earl Grey is our wild variation on Earl Grey. Its base is green rather than black, and it’s spiked with pink rosebuds and rhubarb pieces for extra color and flavor.
We love both of these teas hot, with a bit of honey or sugar. They’re also a delight to drink iced… or as a martini…
The Earl Martini
– 750 mL vodka
– 6 heaping teaspoons Premium Earl Grey
– simple syrup (optional, to taste)
– orange zest or fresh herbs (such as a sprig of rosemary) for garnish
Infuse the tealeaves into the vodka for ten hours, or to taste. Strain well, squeezing the leaves as you go.
For each martini, shake 2 ounces Earl Grey vodka with simple syrup (optional) and ice in a martini shaker. Pour into a chilled martini glass and add a citrus or herb garnish. Enjoy responsibly.