How is Earl Grey Different from Other Kinds of Black Tea? (Tips for Perfectly Brewing Earl Grey like Starbucks)

Earl Grey is undoubtedly one of the most famous and globally recognized tea beverages. This timeless blend has a history of almost 200 years. Early Grey is immensely popular among people of all ages.

What truly makes Earl Grey so unique is its perfect blend of bergamot oil and black tea. However, not everyone can make a perfect cup of Earl Grey tea.

Only Starbucks knows how to get this one right. The resulting citrusy and chocolate flavors make this tea a perfect delight in the morning and at night.  Starbucks takes a strong black tea base and adds the essence of bergamot oil and lemon to create this fantastic and unique tea flavor.

Now you must be wondering what makes Starbucks Earl Grey so unique that people find it hard to resist. So let’s see it for yourself and get a few tips on brewing this tea, ideally like Starbucks every time.

History of Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey is an English tea, but it first originated in China. At that time, Chinese masters used to work tirelessly for years to create new tea blends that can attract western traders and please the rulers.

Earl Grey black tea made its way finally to England in the early 17th century. The black tea is named after British Prime Minister Charles Grey. However, the story of its inception in England is still unclear.

Some reports suggest that Chinese mandarin gifted it to Charles Grey as Lord Grey’s guards saved her from drowning. Others say that Charles Grey was given bergamot orange flavored black tea as a diplomatic gift.

Whatever the story is, Earl Grey became a popular tea beverage worldwide because of its consumption by the royals and elite class. But, according to a British survey, if you prefer having Earl Grey over other types of Black tea, it makes you “posh.”

What Makes Earl Grey Different from other Kinds of Black Tea

It can be challenging for beginners to tell the difference between different kinds of black teas since they can be pretty similar. However, in Earl Grey black tea, it is all about that bergamot.

To help you understand what is so special about Earl Grey black tea, some of the differences between Earl Grey and other types of black tea are:

The taste of Earl Grey is quite different:

Just like cookie dough goes well with vanilla ice cream, bergamot goes well with black tea to create the world’s most loved type of black tea- Earl Grey. Earl Grey offers bold fragrance because of one of its main ingredients- Bergamot oil extract.

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While Earl Grey has quite a recognizable bergamot note so you will always know what kind of flavor to expect from Earl Grey. However, the flavors of other types of black teas may differ significantly.

The bergamot oil used in the preparation of Earl Grey black tea is made from an edible bergamot orange or lemon to give a more refreshing and unique citrusy flavor and scent different from the regular orange.

A perfectly brewed cup of Starbucks’ Earl Grey has a bold, strong, and nutty flavor. However, the taste will not be too overwhelming for your tastebuds as it is not as strong as other black variants in the tea industry. In addition, due to its versatility, you can choose to have it with or without any sweetener.

Caffeine Content in Earl Grey:

The caffeine content in Earl Grey made with a strong base of black tea will be similar to any other cup of black tea. However, some other factors can determine the caffeine content in your cup of Earl Grey black tea, such as how the plant was processed and how long the teabag was steeped in the cup.

The more the tea bag is steeped in the cup of Earl Grey, the higher will be the caffeine content. For example, suppose you have soaked in the tea bag for 1 minute, your cup of Earl Grey tea will have 14mg of Caffeine. However, steeping in the tea bag for 5 minutes will increase the caffeine content to 30mg or more depending on the tea blend and some other ingredients.

Shelf-Life of Earl Grey:

It is necessary to store flavored black teas properly to ensure your black tea remains fresh for a long time. However, generally oxidized black teas have more shelf life than the types of green tea.

Earl Grey black tea will get stale and lose its flavor if it is kept in unfavorable environmental conditions. Therefore, to increase Earl Grey tea’s shelf life, it is necessary to store it in a cool, dark place and an airtight container, so the air, light, and pantry items such as spices and coffee do not leach the flavor from the tea leaves. If stored properly, your Earl Grey tea blend will last six months to a year. However, after one year, it is recommended to replace it.

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Sub-types of Earl Grey:

Some of the popular sub-types of Earl Grey black tea that have successfully pleased people all around the world are:

Lady Grey

Lady Grey, named after the wife of Charles Grey, is quite similar to the original Earl Grey. However, in this variation, lemon and orange peel are mixed with bergamot essential oil to bring a more subtle flavor and less intense taste. People who find the taste of original Earl Grey too strong and overwhelming should try Lady Grey.

Russian Earl Grey

Now in this variation, the tea blend has a more citrusy flavor. More citrus fruits such as lemon and orange, along with lemongrass and cornflower petals, are added to the original tea blend to create the unique and more citrusy version of Earl Grey.

Tips for Perfectly Brewing Earl Grey like Starbucks

What sets Starbucks Earl Grey tea apart from other tea blends of Earl Grey is that each cup of Earl Grey is brewed at the right temperatures to enhance its unique flavor. The result is a citrusy, bold, and amazingly aromatic cup of tea.

So, it is always a good idea to take tips from the Earl Grey black tea master Starbucks on how to brew your specific tea blend perfectly. For a perfect cup of Earl Grey, it is necessary to know the right temperatures and steeping times for the best flavor.

To help you brew the perfect cup of Earl Grey tea each time, some of the tips that you must    follow are:

Use high-quality water:

For brewing the perfect cup of Earl Grey, it is necessary to use soring or filtered water. Springwater is generally of the highest quality and will deliver the best results. Distilled and tap water should be avoided while making Earl Grey tea or any other type of black tea as flavors of herbs and tea leaves cannot be developed well in these mediums.

Brew at the right temperatures:

It is a good idea to brew at higher temperatures for a rich flavor for Earl Grey teas. So, it is best to brew Earl Grey teas at 200℉ to 215℉. To control the temperatures, use a tea kettle with a built-in thermometer.

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Proper portions of tea leaves:

If you are using tea bags, then you don’t need to worry about anything. However, if you are using loose tea leaves, you must add only 2 grams of tea leaves for every 8 ounces of water. Later on, you can add more tea leaves to enhance the flavor if needed.

Steeping times:

For a perfect cup of Earl Grey, you must use a lid to keep the heat in your cup for a rich flavor. The longer the tea bag or loose tea leaves steeps in, the stronger the flavors will be. However, steeping in tea bags for a more extended period will result in bitter-flavored tea.

It is better to steep Earl Grey teas for 2 to 4 minutes. However, after 2 minutes, it is recommended to taste after every 30 seconds to ensure the flavor is not too strong for your liking.

Enhancing flavors:

Earl Grey is a versatile tea beverage that you can enjoy with or without the addition of milk, lemon, and honey. However, if it is your first time trying Earl Grey, try it without adding any additional flavors. It is the best way to enjoy this high-profile drink for the first time.

You can add honey, lemon, or milk to enhance the flavors. However, some people might not enjoy Earl Grey tea with milk as milk tends to do strange things with black teas. In addition, it may dull the citrusy flavor of Earl Grey a bit.


Earl Grey is undoubtedly the most sold tea beverage in Starbucks. It is considered the best of both worlds when it comes to deliciousness, flavor, and aroma. Bergamot is the star ingredient in this high-profile tea blend. So, don’t stop yourself from enjoying the tons of benefits of Earl Grey tea and take a flavorful sip of health. From the first sip to the last drop, you will be impressed by the unique flavor of Earl Grey tea.  So what are you waiting for? Grab your cup of Earl Grey black tea from Starbucks, or brew your perfect cup at home.