Tea of the week – Williamson Earl Grey

I know, I know, another Williamson tea. And so soon.

Fact is, I was going to review Twilight from the Tea Palace (which is identical to a tea called Sundown which I used to drink). But I can’t find it – think I took it to work and left it there.

And having realised that … I reached for the Earl Grey. It’s what I do. Earl Grey is my default tea – I’ve had M&S, Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference, Clipper, and Williamson Earl Greys (Earls Grey?) – to say nothing of the less standard ones (e.g. with blue flowers, etc) – and I like them all. They are soothing. And soothing, dear friends, is what I’ve needed today … it’s been a day of looking up forms and prices for passport-type things on the Home Office website, and that’s never fun.

Eudoxia drinking teaEudoxia takes solace in a mug of tea.

So. On with the review.

Source: The tea is Kenyan, grown on their own farms. I first had some of this in one of their big Elephant gift caddies. Gorgeous tins. Two Christmases ago, I think? Something like that. The box I bought to refill it I found at Waitrose – and I think it was a special ‘a small amount of money from this box goes to the RNLI’ promotion, too. They seem to be good people at Williamson Tea. You can buy online – loose leaf (loose leaf / williamson farm silver caddies) £2.55 for 100g, or teabags £2.55 for 50 teabags (50g). Hey, I should start buying this loose leaf …

I should probably add here that traditionally, Earl Grey is made from a blend of Indian and Ceylon (Sri Lankan) teas – or so I’m told. One then adds bergamot oil to it, for the citrus flavour. But any kind of black tea with added bergamot oil can be called Earl Grey.

Cost: A big lovely elephant caddy costs £8.90. See above for other prices.

Ethics: Excellent. Own farms, Rainforest Alliance and Fairtrade certification. See here on their website.

Brewing instructions: Boiling water, a minute or two to brew. I think your basic black Earl Grey is a pretty forgiving tea – don’t have to be ultra-careful about water temperature and times (unlike last week’s green tea with rose). This is probably why it’s one of the teas I reach for when feeling a little lost / stressed / down – or one I ask for when out. It’s difficult to get wrong (although a pub I was in last week managed it – it was terrible – think they had really hard water which they obviously hadn’t filtered).

I drink Earl Grey with milk, and sugar according to stress (no sugar = normal day, one sugar = uh-oh, two-three sugars = HELP!). I’m sure you could drink it without milk. I hear some people (like the villain in the Da Vinci code) drink theirs with lemon … which I’m not sure I quite understand, but I think I had it once and it was perfectly OK.

Appearance: Soothing brown. Especially when placed in a Winnie-the-Pooh mug, like so:

Hand holding a mug of tea

Nose: Mostly just, well, tea, with a hint of citrus (as you’d expect). A lot less strong / harsh than the Afternoon tea.

Taste: A medium-ish tea in terms of strength – that is, I wouldn’t describe it as ‘light’, but I wouldn’t describe it as ‘strong’ either. Perhaps slightly on the lighter side. A full flavour, with a pleasant hint of citrus (it would be more citrus-sy if you didn’t add milk). A nicely balanced and fairly full-flavoured tea.

(I find the taste hard to actually describe – to me, Earl Grey tastes of happiness, sorrow, friendship, comfort, difficult maths, and rainy afternoons)

Food match: Cake. Scones. Anything you eat with cream. Traditional afternoon-tea fare, really.

Or drink with knitting:

Mug of tea held over square of knitting

/ knit whilst drinking:

Hands holding knitting with mug of tea in background

It’s all good.

Love Earl Grey? Hate it? Understand what the whole lemon-juice thing is about? Have your own go-to tea for stressful times? Tell me about it 🙂

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8 Responses to Tea of the week – Williamson Earl Grey

  1. Alison says:

    I’ll be giving this one a miss I’m afraid – even after years of trying, the taste of Earl Grey just makes me feel incredibly ill. As for my tea for stressful times, I’d go for a cup made for me by someone who cares, preferably with a biscuit on the side and a big hug to go with it 🙂

  2. Fair enough. It’s not everyone’s, ah, cup of tea … (oh dear).

    Good criteria for stress-time-tea 🙂 I would definitely pick those factors above any particular beverage. In fact, that’s probably one of the reasons why I’ve ended up so attached to Earl Grey – in second year, during the exam season, I half lived in the corner of a friend’s room, and we’d sit there revising silently – but with frequent breaks for making each other tea and eating biscuits / cake.

  3. Hazelnut says:

    Yay! That’s the Winnie-the-Pooh mug I gave you! 🙂

  4. Yup! It’s a very nice mug 🙂

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  6. Louise says:

    Nooo, Eudoxia, you mustn’t put milk in Earl Grey, it gets rid of all the lovely citrus flavour! Having said that – I drink Assam as my ‘I want a cup of tea’ tea, with milk according to stress (little milk = I’m feeling strong, lots of milk = I need a hug), so Earl Grey is one of my ‘I’m feeling a little bit posh’ today teas – and yes, I drink it with a slice of lemon.

    The plus point of putting the lemon in is it means you don’t really have to brew it with filtered water (not sure how it works, but it does) and you never get the film of tannins forming on the surface – plus, it does bring out the citrus flavour even more. And makes it palatable – I have problems drinking Earl Grey sans milk and sans lemon; but milk and citrus is a combination that makes me worry 🙂

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