Earl Grey Tea: The Origin Behind the Name

bergamot orange


You’d be forgiven for thinking that earl grey tea, like most teas, originated in China, but it is actually a British born tea that is now consumed all over the globe, and its roots all started in politics. East Asian countries consumed a similar blend before earl grey tea was popularised, but it was the British that stamped their name on it.

If you’ve read any of our previous posts, you’ll have learned about some of the rich and depth history of tea and how only a few hundred years ago it was only typically consumed by the upper classes. The story of earl grey tea is no different, but it soon became a staple for households all over the UK, regardless of status or wealth.

In this post we’ll give you a brief background of earl tea, where it came from and how it got its name.

And just a reminder guys, loose leaf tea is where it all started.

Earl Grey: The Name


loose leaf earl grey

There are numerous stories about how Earl Grey came to be, but one thing we know for sure is that it involved English Aristocrat and previous British prime minister Charles Grey (2nd Earl Grey).

Some of the stories say that while visiting China Charles Grey saved the life of a lord and was gifted a blend of tea leaves which became named ‘earl grey’. Others suggest he simply loved the flavours and set out to recreate it and grow the ingredients when he returned to the UK.

A Brief History of Earl Grey Tea


As mentioned above, while the name Earl Grey was coined in the UK, the ingredients used in it had in fact been consumed by East Asian countries a long time before it was popular in Britain.

Any type of flavoured or scented tea started in China, where they experimented with their blends long before the Western world even knew tea was a thing.

bergamot orange

What gives earl grey it’s bold, aromatic and slightly fruity flavour is the oil from the bergamot orange, which originated in the tropical climes of South East Asia. The bergamot orange tree is now grown all over the world and according to sources 80% of the world’s bergamot now comes from Italy, where it’s not only used for earl grey tea, but also perfumes, candles and hundreds of other products.

So just like with tea, we have the Chinese to thank for the bergamot orange.

If you loved this post then we know you’re going to love our newest addition to our loose leaf tea family. Yep, that’s right the Earl Grey. Shop our earl grey blend here.

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