With its delicate bergamot flavoring and unmistakable charm, who doesn’t want a friendly cup of Earl on hand as often as propriety allows? Follow these tips and tricks to learn how to serve Earl Grey tea every day in every way.
How to Serve Earl Grey Tea: In Classically British Fashion
I can’t say for certain how the true Earl Grey (a certain British Prime Minister, circa 1830, renowned for his tea and abolitionist policies) took his tea, but I will say this: it was the start of something great. Today, Earl Grey tea is one of the most popular teas in the world—and understandably so!
The sturdy base of black tea accented by juicy bergamot (a particularly delicious variety of Italian orange) is simple perfection. Some people find it tastes like fruit loops, while I myself consider Earl Grey the epitome of comfort on a cold day, and the perfect pick-me-up in the summer when served iced or as a granita!
History seems to agree that Earl Grey tea rose in popularity due in large part to the Earl’s wife, Lady Grey, who served the blend exclusively. But history is not as vocal about how she served the tea.
Today, many British people enjoy their Earl Grey with lemon and sugar. Whether or not that’s true to the original mode, we may never know. (And Earl Grey with lemon and sugar is delicious, so frankly, we may never care.)
So, if you are looking for a more "traditional" way to serve Earl Grey tea, try a classic Earl Grey blend like Mindful Morning and add a squeeze of lemon and a spoonful of sugar (or better yet, infused sugar). Because, to paraphrase another British icon, a spoonful of sugar makes the Earl Grey go down!
The Brits are famously sticklers about tea preparation, so before we move on, I feel I must mention a couple of guidelines for the ultimate Earl Grey experience:
- Excellent tea starts with the proper water. If you’re not sure about the purity level of your tap water, consider using filtered water to make your tea. The difference may surprise you!
- The ideal temperature for steeping Earl Grey is 208°F. (Or 97.8°C, if you’re feeling British.) This is just below the boiling point. (212°F, 100°C) If your water comes all the way to boil, you may want to let it cool for a few minutes before pouring it over your tea leaves.
- Warm your pot or your cup! Some tea experts suggest that the correct way to serve tea is to pour hot water straight from the kettle into your teapot or cup, swirl it around to heat the vessel, then discard the water. Then you can make your tea.
This process avoids drastic changes in water temperature as the leaves steep. According to the experts, that’s a big deal. And who am I to question a tea sommelier?
Follow these recommendations and lift your pinky high, and you, too, can enjoy your Earl Grey in a way that would make the Earl himself proud.
How to Serve Earl Grey Tea: With American Flair
Here in the states, we gravitate toward a different method of serving Earl Grey. Unlike our friends across the pond, in the United States, you’ll often find Earl Grey served with milk and sugar.
This is especially delicious with a creamy tea like Crème Brulee Earl Grey a dreamy blend that enhances the classic Earl with a subtle sprinkling of jasmine petals and a luscious swath of vanilla essence.
Of course, in America, we don’t like people telling us how or when to drink our beverages. (The Boston Tea Party and Prohibition both come to mind…) So as an American, it is your right to drink your Earl Grey when and how you like it!
In Boba form, with chewy gooey balls of tapioca fun…
In cocktail form…Earl Grey Mar-tea-ni, anyone?
Steeped strong enough to stand up without the teacup, or perhaps steeped so gently that the barest whisper of bergamot flavor can be tasted.
Sweetened with enough add-ins to tickle your brain; or served with no sugar at all, plain and simple, thank you very much.
No matter how you choose to enjoy your Earl Grey, I would strongly caution against combining the British and American methods. A milky tea will curdle when you add lemon. That’s gross no matter which side of the Atlantic you live on!
How to Serve Earl Grey Tea: As a Latte!
If you do love milky tea, try an Earl Grey latte (often called a London Fog)!
London Fogs are one of my ultimate comfort beverages. I love them all through the rainy months, but sometimes I can’t wait long enough for the chilly weather to come around again. When I need my Fog fix on a warm day, they make a wonderful iced latte! (So easy when you cold brew your tea! Works like a charm every time.
London Fogs are traditionally made by steeping Earl Grey in milk and adding vanilla syrup for sweetener.
The flavor combination is excellent in its classic form, but I also highly recommend a lavender London Fog! It’s amazing with a lavender Earl Grey like Delightful Morning, or you could infuse your milk with lavender buds before steeping your tea leaves.
Any type of milk makes a lovely London Fog. For anyone who is lactose intolerant or finds cow’s milk to be too heavy, both coconut milk and oat milk make delicious (some might say superior) alternatives! Mix up your Earl Grey latte experience with different kinds of milk to see what flavor combination you like best.
If any latte lovers are looking to decrease the caffeine levels in their Earl Grey, try a green or herbal Grey, or check out these decaf options.
Serve forth your London Fog with a batch of Financiers (a gluten-free almond tea cake), buttery shortbread cookies, or English custard for an afternoon tea the Earl and Lady Grey would be envious of!
How to Serve Earl Grey Tea: For Dessert
Not only is Earl Grey delicious as a tea, but it also makes an amazing flavor base for all things sweet: cupcakes, brownies, ice cream, pie, and more.
If it’s a dessert you love, the Earl can enhance it!
Of course, it’s also an incredible addition to classic sweet tea snacks because Earl Grey goes well with so many things. Earl Grey blackberry scones with lemon glaze, butter cookies, Earl Grey lavender honey tea cake…you get the idea!
Whose mouth doesn’t start watering at the thought of oatmeal hazelnut cookies with Earl Grey frosting? Or banana bread with tea-soaked raisins?
For a decadent twist on two Italian classics, try strawberry Earl Grey tiramisu and panna cotta with mocha whipped cream!
Dairy-free Earl Grey fans and coconut lovers have got to try tea-infused coconut cream custard! (Which would also make an excellent filling for this custard pie!)
When you use tea infusions or tea leaves in your baked goods, as an added bonus to the delicious bergamot flavor, you’re also sneaking a few antioxidants and extra health benefits into those desserts as well! And that, my friends, is what we call a win-win.
So whether you love lemons or lattes, brownies or boba, cocktails or tea cakes, there is a method for how to serve Earl Grey tea that is sure to win your heart and your taste buds! Brew yourself your favorite blend and have Earl Grey all day!