Since our first days brewing from our Citroen-H van, people have asked if we serve Earl Grey. Our answer for a long while was no, not yet – we wanted to do it properly. Among the first of our flavoured teas, we wanted our Earl Grey to be something we could be proud of – a good and proper tea like the rest. Last spring, after many, many rounds of tastings, we finally landed on something wonderfully simple and launched it as our 29th tea.
Where is Good & Proper Earl Grey tea from?
Earl Grey is a black tea which has been flavoured with bergamot oil, taken from the rind of this Sicilian citrus fruit. During the course of the development of our Earl Grey, we tried multiple different black tea bases in different blends and with different levels of oiling. In the end, we opted for something wonderfully simple – our Earl Grey loose leaf black tea is made up of a single-origin, Ceylon black tea base, from the remote Uva region in Sri Lanka (read more about this tea-growing region here), which is known for producing teas with natural citrus and pine notes, which naturally work well with the bergamot. The oil itself is extracted from the skin of the bergamot fruit, before being reduced to a concentrate and then tumbled through the tea and allowed to settle. During this process the majority of the liquid evaporates off the leaves, leaving the residual flavour behind. When brewed, both the tea and oil infuse into the water, giving the liquor that beautiful orange colour and distinct, aromatic flavour. The combination of the black tea and bergamot is the perfect balance of body and aroma – not overtly fragrant but with enough of the spicy hit of bergamot to make it a true earl grey. We also add blue cornflowers to our Earl Grey, but just because we love the way they look.
How to brew Earl Grey tea
As with all of our teas, we provide brewing instructions for how to make the most delicious cup. As Earl Grey has a Ceylon base, it is best brewed like other black teas – at a high temperature for a longer period of time than other tea types, such as greens, oolongs and whites. We recommend brewing 3.5g dried leaf (2 tsp), per 200ml teapot, in just before boiling 98C water for 3 minutes.
The result is a beautiful amber liquor and the perfect balance of body and fragrant aroma.
How best to drink Earl Grey
When it came to launching our Earl Grey in 2017, there was the much debated subject of how best to enjoy it. So we asked for your thoughts on the ultimate question – milk or no milk?
58% of you said that you prefer a splash of your milk with your Earl Grey, whilst 30% said that they enjoy it best, drunk with milk. 12% said that they like to take their Earl Grey with a slice of lemon. We think that our particular Earl Grey tastes delicious black, but we’d have to agree with the majority of you, that there is nothing better than a pot at tea time with a delicious cake and a good book – brewed with freshly drawn water, just off the boil, then poured over a dash of semi-skimmed milk.
How much caffeine is there in Earl Grey?
Due to its black tea base, a cup of Earl Grey contains a reasonable amount of caffeine. You can read more about how much caffeine you can find in a cup of tea, in our article here. Whilst coffee and tea both contain levels of caffeine when drunk, tea also contains an amino acid called l-theanine which has calming properties that leave the drinker feeling refreshed, but without the jittery effect you might experience with coffee.
Earl Grey is also sometimes heralded for its proposed health benefits, such as reducing anxiety, and lowering cholesterol, thanks to the presence of bergamot.
Each of our teas are numbered, in the order that we added them to the G&P lineup. Earl Grey is #29, the most recent addition to our tea collection, and after launching it in spring 2017, we are delighted to know that our tea drinkers love it every bit as much as we do.
It’s all about the details when it comes to making a perfect cup of tea.
Of course you can just boil some water and grab a tea bag but if you want to elevate the experience, there are a couple of extra steps you can take.
How do you make tea properly?
 Warm the tea pot and teacups.
 Use cold filtered water.
 Setting the correct water temperature for your tea.
 Using 1 heaping teaspoon of tea per cup.
 Steeping whole leaf tea or high quality tea.
 Setting the timer to steep the tea for the right amount of time.
And my reward? A perfect pot of tea each and every time.
For me, the joy of tea is in the ritual. The more I repeat the series of steps for brewing tea the proper way, the more I enjoy it.
There are many ways to make a cup of tea using different vessels but the easiest is in a teapot.
The other methods use country-specific steeping pots or cups like gaiwan (Chinese) or yixing teapot (Chinese), or kyusu (Japanese). There is a bit of technique and formality to using each of these vessels so it’s not as easy to use as a simple teapot.
Water for Tea
I like to use filtered water for tea. Use clean, cold water that won’t add any other taste to your tea.
Water that has come to a gentle boil is best for black and oolong tea. For green and white tea, go for a lower temperature (simmered water).
Amount of Tea to Steep
The general rule of thumb is to steep 1 heaping teaspoon of tea for every cup of water.
If you want to get fancy and use a scale, weigh out 3 grams of tea for each cup.
Best Tea to Steep
I rarely use tea bags since the tea is usually not as good as whole or loose leaf tea.
Tea in tea bags are the leftover broken bits, or “tea dust”, collected after whole tea has been processed. That doesn’t sound too appealing does it?
Good quality tea is a rolled whole tea leaf. As the tea steeps, it will unfurl in the hot water and you should be able to see the entire leaf. Whole, loose leaf tea is the best tea to steep.
Oversteeping tea leads to a bitter cup. This is the time to use the timer on your phone.
Follow the steep time recommendations on the tea package, but roughly it is: black tea usually steeps for 4-5 minutes, green and oolong for 3 minutes, and white tea for 4 minutes.
Once the time is up, your tea is ready to drink. Don’t leave the tea leaves sitting in water since that just makes the tea way too strong and bitter.
If you’re making a big pot of tea, use a tea filter to take out the leaves after the steep time. You can add the filter back in the teapot if you want to steep the tea again in hot water.
1. CLEAN YOUR PORTAFILTER
Before dosing the coffee to your portafilter, make sure that the portafilter is clean and tidy. Both moisture and leftover grounds might (and most likely will) make your future espresso taste over-extracted = astringent and bitter.
2. DOSE CORRECTLY
This should be pretty easy. With on-demand grinders you just need to push a button with your portafilter or hand and the grinder will dose your pre-set dose. If you want to be a really professional and geeky barista, check your dose on a scale before distributing and tamping. This way you can be quite sure that your extraction will be correct because your dose won’t be too much or little.
3. DISTRIBUTE YOUR GROUNDS IN THE PORTAFILTER
Most likely your grinder will dose the grounds to the portafilter’s basket to a mountain or a pyramid shape. This means that you have uneven distribution of the grounds so some parts of the basket will have more coffee and some parts less if you don’t distribute them before tamping. Bad distribution of the grounds might lead to channelling.
You can also use distribution tools if you want to get geeky. Distribution tools are really great way to enhance the consistency of your espressos and their extractions.
4. TAMP EVENLY AND CONSISTENTLY
I had my first barista training in 2012 when I was taught that I should tamp with 20 kilos of pressure. After “a few” tamps and several years, I still don’t know how much is 20 kilos of pressure. So let’s kill that popular myth.
So let’s tamp in a more modern way. The aim of tamping is to remove any air pockets in the coffee puck and do this so that the puck is completely leveled. Tamp so long and “hard” that you feel that the puck is compressed (in other words it doesn’t go down anymore). Pay attention that the puck is horizontally leveled so that you avoid channelling and over, under or uneven extraction.
5. RINSE YOUR GROUP HEAD
Before inserting the portafilter to the group head, you might want to rinse the group head to remove any old coffee from it. Easy way to keep your espresso machine clean. Rinsing will also make sure that your group head is properly heated and this way you might be able to extract more your coffee.
6. INSERT THE PORTAFILTER AND START BREWING IMMEDIATELY
After rinsing, insert the portafilter to the group head and start brewing IMMEDIATELY! If you don’t start brewing immediately, the heat from the group head might “burn” the surface of your coffee which leads to bitter notes in the cup.
Fun fact: in World Barista Championships you will lose a point if you don’t start the brewing immediately
7. BE AWARE OF THE YIELD & BREW TIME
Now you are brewing your espresso. If you are using a volumetric machine, be aware of you brew time. In the case of too short extraction time (under-extraction) or too long extraction time (over-extraction) you might want to make a new espresso and/or check your grind size and dose. If you are using a manual espresso machine, be aware of your yield e.g. if your espresso is running a bit too fast, you are just diluting (making it milder) your espresso and possibly also over-extracting at the same time.
8. SERVE WITH A SMILE
If you followed these steps and you’re using a good brewing recipe, most likely you will have a tasty espresso in the cup. It is important to remember that we baristas are in the hospitality business so be sure to serve your customers well. Tell them a little about the coffee you’re using and what kind of flavours should they be expecting from the espresso. And most important of all; SMILE. With a tasty espresso served with smile you can make someone’s day.
9. DISCARD THE PUCK, CLEAN THE BASKET AND RINSE THE GROUP HEAD.
After serving keep the places neat and tidy. Clean the basket from any old coffee and moisture, rinse the group head and insert the portafilter back to the group head. It is much easier, faster and nicer to make the next espresso when places are in order.