Twinings' earl grey

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Twinings’ Earl Grey Tea is an aromatic flavoured tea that comprises of a blend of Darjeeling black tea, Ceylon black tea, Lapsang Souchong black tea, Chinese Black tea produced in the Yunnan province, and the essential oils of the bergamot orange.It is named after Charles Grey, who was a great tea enthusiast and the second Earl Grey; he also served as the Prime Minister of England from 1830 to 1834. Prime Minister Grey was presented with a unique blended tea by a Mandarin envoy from China. He was so impressed by the flavour of the tea that he commissioned the major tea sellers, of the United Kingdom, including Twinings’ to produce the taste. Twinings’ tea prides itself in being the first to reproduce the Mandarin blended tea to the Earl’s liking, and hence being the first producer of the immensely popular blend Earl Grey Tea. When brewed properly, Earl Grey Tea is a rich, smoky black tea blend with a slight citrus smell (attributed to the flavoring ingredient of bergamot oil). It can be taken plain, with a lemon wedge, or with added milk and sugar.

History of Tea

The tradition of drinking tea dates back to an ancient Chinese legend. The legendary Chinese emperor Shen Nong (Shennong according to other historical records), in 2737 BC, is said to have discovered tea when the wind blew some leaves from a plant into the Emperor’s hot water. [1] Other sources claim the tradition of drinking tea might have been originated in the Yangtze valley of China, the Fukien province of China and the dense valley of Assam (currently a province of India).

Tea in Europe

While Europeans did have historical records of tea—such as in The Travels of Marco Polo, they did not begin importing tea until the sixteenth century. Portugal was one of the first European countries to import tea through an established trading port in the Chinese province of Macau. Tea drinking was thought to be made popular in United Kingdom by Catherine of Braganza, who married Charles II of England in 1662. [2] Being a princess of Portugal, Catherine was well acquainted and very fond of tea, which she introduced to the English royal court. Tea drinking became very popular in England and spawned a unique culture of its own within the upper-class circles of British society. The British East India Company soon started importing tea from China and tea was made available to the richer portions of the European society. Soon, tea houses became extremely popular and began to replace coffee houses which were more popular prior to the invasion of tea culture. Tea was so popular that the poorer classes sometimes bought used teas from the tea houses so that they could brew and drink their own tea. [3]

Expense of Tea

Tea was extremely expensive and therefore considered a luxury drink. This was because of two reasons: Firstly, tea had to be imported from China and journey alone took one year. Secondly, an extremely high tax was levied upon tea by the government of Charles II. In 1689 AD, the most inexpensive tea was 7 Shillings per pound this would account for an entire week’s wages for the average workers. [4] Because of the increased demand, merchants started smuggling tea to avoid paying taxes.

History of Twinings' Tea

In 1717 AD, Twinings’ founder Thomas Twining changed his coffee house into a tea house, which he named the Golden Lyon. Twinning’s tea house allowed both men and women and promoted an atmosphere for well mannered socializing. [5] This marked an important change in British culture because women were not allowed in coffee houses. Coffee houses in the 18th century were reputed to be smoke filled institutions that catered to the socialization of men, and were therefore deemed to be too vulgar to be attended by “respectable” women. [6] Thomas Twinning changed this when he welcomed female customers and provided a more acceptable atmosphere for the socialization of all sexes.

By the end of the year 1717, Twining’s business became extremely profitable and he began selling loose tea leaves instead of cold tea that was already brewed. By the 18th Century, tea became Britain’s most popular drinks. [7] By 1791, towards the end of 18th century, tea consumption reached a total of 15,096,840 pounds in England. By this time many coffee house owners followed Twinning’s example and shut down their coffee houses to make tea houses. By the time of Twinning’s death, he had acquired a prestigious customer base including the members of the British Royal Families.

Origin of Earl Grey Tea

In 1834, Charles Grey, the prime minister of United Kingdom, was given a sample of tea by a Mandarin Chinese merchant. He was so intrigued and impressed by the flavor of this tea, that he commissioned several leading tea companies to reproduce the flavor. Twinning’s was one of these companies. Twinning then produced a tea that was a mixture of Yunnan black tea, Lapsang Souchong, Indian Darjeeling tea and Ceylon tea. Twinning further flavored this tea with the essential oil of Bergamot (tropical citrus fruit). The combination of all these ingredients produced a pungent smoky black tea with a hint of citrus and certain spices such as cardamom, black paper, and cloves (even though these particular spices were not included in the tea blend). Because this tea was commissioned by the Prime Minister Charles Grey who was also the second Earl Grey, it became identified by the name “Earl Grey Tea”. The Twinings’ Company takes great pride in creating this specific blend of tea that is the most popular blended tea today.

The Earl Grey blend became extremely popular in the late 19th century, as it was served with breakfast, low tea in the early afternoon and high tea later in the afternoon. Twinings’ began producing the Earl Grey Blend as its major product.

Because Victorian society deemed Earl Grey tea to be too strong for women, there was a growing demand for a slightly less flavorful version of Twinings Earl Grey Tea. Twinings created a similar blend to cater these Victorian women called “Lady Grey Tea”. Essentially, the Lady Grey Tea blend was made up of the same ingredients as Earl Grey Tea, except that it had an added flavor: the flavor of Seville orange. Because of the immense popularity of Twinings’ Earl Grey Tea, Twinings Company itself became associated primarily with “Earl Grey Tea”.

Twinings' Earl Grey in Modern Day

In 1964, Twinings’ was acquired by the corporation Associated British Foods. By this time the Twinings premium tea, particularly their Earl Grey blend, was sold in 115 different countries throughout the world, making it the world’s leading premium brand of tea. [8] By the 1980’s there was a growing demand of decaffeinated beverages including tea. Twinings’ produced decaffeinated version of its world famous Earl Gray Tea to meet consumer demand. Furthermore, Twinings’ introduced a bottled ice tea beverage with Earl Gray blend. Additionally, an Earl Green Blend was also introduced—it was essentially the same blend as Earl Grey, but with green tea leaves instead of black tea leaves. This blend did not become very popular, as regular Earl Gray drinkers found the flavor of this blend too weak and regular green tea drinkers found the flavor to be too strong. In 1996, to meet consumer’s demand Twinings’ introduced organic Earl Gray tea. In the year 2000, Twinings celebrated 300 years of providing quality, premium, and excellently processed tea to the world.


  2. Gleason,Carrie. The Biography of Tea. St. Catharine: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007.
  3. Gleason,Carrie. The Biography of Tea. St. Catharine: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007.
  4. Moxham, Roy. A Brief History of Tea. Michigan: Running Press, 2009.
  5. Gleason,Carrie. The Biography of Tea. St. Catharine: Crabtree Publishing Company, 2007.
  6. Gleason,Carrie. The Biography of Tea.
  7. Moxham, Roy. A Brief History of Tea. Michigan: Running Press, 2009.