Twinning Earl Grey

An article about twinning Earl Grey by Man O Tea.

Ah, my tea of choice... Twinings Earl Grey. It seems that no matter what new-fangled tea I try, or whatever brief infatuations I may have with one or another flavors, I always come back to this most favorite of teas. There is something about the aroma of bergamot oil that gets my juices flowing. (I've actually long-harbored a secret desire to wear bergamot-scented cologne... if anyone happens to know a brand, hook me up!)

I've tried many, many Earl Grey teas - generic, famous, cheap and expensive alike - but to date I've yet to find one that's as nicely blended as Twinings. Working with bergamot is apparently more difficult than it seems.

Most Earl Greys smell roughly the same, heavily scented with that flowery, fruity aroma we all know and love. (There truly are few joys in this world that can compare to stuffing one's nose into a freshly-opened tin of Earl Grey and inhaling deeply for fifteen seconds). But Earl Grey is one of those complex teas that smells entirely different from how it tastes. You rarely taste bergamot - instead I've found many Earl Greys have a decidedly smoky, robust flavor which is completely at odds with the lighty and fruity taste promised by its odor. This has always perplexed me. I don't particularly mind smoky teas, but in an Earl Grey its completely wrong... its like inhaling tobacco smoke in the middle of the Nordstrom's perfume department.

That wonderful aroma of bergamot promises something much more, and once I've got it in my nostrils I want to taste something that compliments the experience. This Twinings does very well. You can taste just the slightest hint of that fruity flavor, really just a tiny, tiny amount, but its there all the same and enough to satisfy. The tea goes down smooth, with little or no aftertaste or bitterness. Not smoky, not overly robust, just a light tea with the perfect little dab of bergamot.

Of course, there is such a thing as too much bergamot. Adagio's Earl Grey immediately springs to mind. Drinking that stuff is akin to downing a cup of heavily-scented liquid soap.

The only problem I've ever had with Twinings is consistency. Every now and again I get a box or a tin which lacks that special something... usually its a bit smokier and less flavorful. Ever since Twinings started individually sealing its teabags that's happened a lot less, though interestingly enough (especially for those "only-loose-tea-for-me" snobs) I've found the Twinings loose-leaf tins to be quite less thrilling than the bagged variety.

Return from Twinning Earl Grey to Chinese Green Tea Main Page

Stephen reviews various brands and blends at Tea Reviews. You can visit him at