Earl Grey Tea

Gin Botanical: Earl Grey Tea

I’m a coffee drinker by nature, but if there’s no coffee to be had, then earl grey is my back-up plan. As a gin botanical, earl grey tea is pretty rare.

Earl Grey Tea: Facts

Earl Grey Tea

Earl Grey Tea

  • Earl grey tea is, traditionally, black tea flavoured with dried bergamot peel. Many modern teas use bergamot oil instead of peel.
  • The origins of earl grey tea are confounded with apocryphal stories and contested claims. Probably the most credible story (from the Grey family), is that the recipe was created by a Chinese Mandarin, for Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey (UK Prime Minister, 1830-1834), to specifically counteract the presence of lime in the water at his family home, Howick Hall.

    Interestingly, it was Grey’s government that introduced the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833, which abolished slavery across the British Empire.

  • Bergamot oil contains a compound called Bergapten, which is a potassium channel-blocker. If you drink too much earl grey tea, it can lead to muscle cramps. The case-study that this ‘fact’ is based upon, reports that the gentleman in question consumed four litres of earl grey daily. The curious can read more here, at the Lancet.

Earl Grey Tea: Nose

I don’t know if my nose is on the blink today, but earl grey tea seems to offer relatively little in the aroma department. There are the faintest hints of bergamot – a fruity lavender-like smell, but everything else seems to be quite muted. If anything, the alcohol scent seems to be more prominent than other gins from the range.

Earl Grey Tea: Taste

The flavours follow-suit from the nose; there is a greater hint of that aromatic, fruity-floral hit of bergamot, but the tea aspect remains elusive. If anything, it adds a slight harshness and increases the heat of the gin. I also get the feeling that much of the other botanical ingredients are muted.

I didn’t really get Beefeater 24 when I tried it, which also uses tea as a botanical (two actually) – maybe tea is something that my palate just doesn’t get.


One thought on “Earl Grey Tea

  • December 18, 2014 at 3:23 am


    I’m really enjoying your series on botanicals and with over 200 different ones used in Gin there’s a lot to choose from. It’s true Earl Grey Tea has a subtle profile of black tea and bergamot citrus notes. However, when steeped in hot water there is a recognizable release of smoky wood and this is what I like best. When used as a botanical in Gin the more subtle flavors are there but try The Spectator Gin (commissioned for the readers of the Spectator magazine and made by and available from Master of Malt) for those smoky wood notes – lovely!

    Regards, David Schofield


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>