For many people in the US, Twinings is one of first gateways into the world of tea beyond the longstanding supermarket brands . Nowadays, Twinings is in most supermarkets, but it was not always so; when I was a kid, Twinings Earl Grey and Bigelow’s Constant Comment were the only “fancy” teas available anywhere I was likely to be shopping. So this is the first Earl Grey I ever tasted.
And you know what? It’s still not bad. While today, with more online vendors, and more stores that carry imports, there is a much wider variety of Earl Grey tea available, this one still has the advantages of tea bags, the 3 Cs: convenience, consistency, cost. And so, in our house, even though we have lots of loose tea, many varieties of Earl Grey, there is still always a box of Twinings Earl Grey teabags around, and somehow, the box is always fresh, because it keeps getting used up.
And it could be the same for you. If you’ve been wanting to try Earl Grey, and aren’t sure where to start, this is a decent place to start. It’s readily available, easy to make, and inexpensive. And it tastes OK. It’s not a great Earl Grey, but it is a good Earl Grey.
The amount of bergamot is moderate, not overpowering but enough to give you an idea of what it’s supposed to be about. The underlying black tea is also moderate – not too brisk or strong, but not weak or watery either. While I don’t drink my Earl Grey with sugar, if you want to, sugar won’t hurt it. A slice of lemon or lime is an excellent complement to Earl Grey, since bergamot is citrus. (Or heck, a nice sliced kumquat, if you want to!)
Twinings describes this tea as:
A light & romantic blend of fine black tea, scented with bergamot, a citrus fruit.
Twinings has been blending my family tea for years. Today, I am proud to continue this tradition with the tea celebrated throughout the world known as Twinings Earl Grey. Legend has it, that my ancestor, the second Earl Grey, was presented with this exquisite recipe by an envoy on his return from China.
If you want to drink an Earl Grey as an iced tea, you have to brew it fresh and drink it immediately after it’s iced; otherwise, if you leave it in the refrigerator overnight, the bergamot oil rises to the top and tastes bitter. Speaking of drinking immediately, since this tea comes in a pasteboard box, you’ll want to keep it away from heat sources, and make sure to use it up withing a couple of months of opening the box, for best results.
A few miscellaneous notes: several years ago – before most of us had access to ordering loose leaf teas from around the world – a certain non-commercial consumer magazine did a taste test of Earl Grey teas. There were a few brands of bagged tea, and several brands of loose tea. Granted, it’s out of date by now, but it’s worth noting that at the time, professional tasters, tasting blind, found the Twinings Earl Grey teabags to be the second best of the whole bunch – not only the best of the bagged Earl Grey, but better than all but one of the loose teas.
Also worth noting is that Twinings Earl Grey is available in a decaffeinated version which tastes very much like the regular version, and it is also available as loose tea in a tin. (The tins make handy storage for thumb tacks, pins, the bottle caps our cat Pickle likes to play with, and other small objects.)
One last personal note about Twinings Earl Grey: as I said, it’s one of our household go-tos – so much so, that one year my spouse went to a Halloween party as a box of Twinings! Here he is, in the older-style box:
I’ll be reviewing a series of other Earl Grey teas over the next few weeks, but this is where it started.