“Tea, Earl Grey, Hot… and whoever this ‘Earl Grey’ fellow is, I’d like a word with him..”
-Jean Luc Picard, Star Trek The Next Generation
This week one of our glorious customers ordered some Garden Grey Black Tea. This is a tea we blend ourselves with organic lavender grown in the wilds of Tibet. What an aroma! While this is not one of our more popular teas, it did get me thinking about Earl Grey in general.
Most tea lovers are familiar with Earl Grey. One whiff of this tea reveals the distinctive aroma on the nose and in the cup. This is a very traditional black tea with the addition of oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a very fragrant citrus fruit.
What about the man behind the tea?
Charles Grey (1764-1845) descended from a long established Northumbrian family seated at Howick Hall and was educated at Eton and Trinity College and Cambridge. He became the 2nd Earl of Grey, was a politician in the Whig party (Democrats) and he became Prime Minister at the ripe old age of 22! His first parliamentary address as PM was in 1787 and concerned a recent free trade agreement made with France, to which he was very opposed. He was involved in four years of political reform, the author of the Reform Bill of 1832 (which saw the reform of the House of Commons) and had an enormous impact on the development of democracy in Britain, abolishing slavery throughout the British Empire in 1833.
The Whig historian T.B. Macauly wrote in 1841,
‘At an age when most of those who distinguish themselves in life are still contending for prizes and fellowships at college, he had won for himself a conspicuous place in Parliament. No advantage of fortune or connection was wanting that could set off to the height his splendid talents and his unblemished honour.’
Outside of his political achievements Earl Grey enjoyed the life! He was said to be tall, slim and strikingly handsome, had 10 sons and 6 daughters with his wife and fathered at least one illegitimate child! Earl Grey enjoyed gallivanting around the country, breeding dogs, playing cribbage and also found time to have an affair with the Duchess of Devonshire.
There are several tales as to how the tea was named after such a noble and colorful figure! According to the most popular legend a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of the Earl’s men, first presented the blend to the Earl in 1803. This legend seems to have little basis as the Earl apparently did not set foot in China and the use of bergamot to scent tea was then unknown in China. Jackson’s of Piccadilly claim they were the originators of the recipe, which was given to them by the Earl himself.
While the truth is not known, like the very popular Earl himself, this tea is one of the most well known flavored teas in the world. Many people who I chat with over the years claim not to care for the very distinct flavor of Earl Grey. I have found by offering samples of Earl Grey, that most people have never experienced a good quality, loose leaf tea and the quality of both the tea and the bergamot is paramount! Any deviation can result in an unpleasant tea with a residual taste on your palate.
When brewing a hot cuppa Earl Grey, we infuse for only 2 minutes or so, and then enjoy multiple infusions from the same leaves. It is the perfect accompaniment to tea sandwiches and cakes (Mmmm!) but just drinking alone is fine too. ‘Gallivant’ with your Earl, and find your favorite way to enjoy.
Along with the Garden Grey, we offer two version of Earl Grey Black tea, one is our premium blend Earl Grey and we also offer an Organic Earl Grey. Our Organic Earl Grey is the tea we offer in the silk tea sachets and can be found served from nearly all of our serving partners.
You may be surprised to find you like the Earl, now that you know a bit about the man behind the tea.
I like this quote. When I went to find someone to attribute this quote to, I couldn’t find anybody so I’m claiming it for myself. That may be right, wrong, maybe morally questionable, but the truth is, life is way too short to drink bad tea. And there is no reason to drink bad tea when so many great options exist, everywhere.
Perhaps the quote should be, “Life is too short to drink anything except loose leaf tea” Loose tea is the better tea, fresher and allowing for the best flavor, the deepest, resonant, complex and any other word you can think of to describe awesome flavor. There are superb teas in bags or sachets, seek them out and stop drinking bad tea. The difference is immense.
Tea is an emotional beverage. What other drink conjures memories, alters moods and makes you a better person. Yes, there is a similar quote, “Life is too short to drink bad wine”, but tea is healthy and can be drunk every day. And you should drink tea every day. We all want to extend our time on this planet, and get the most out of each and every day. So drink tea and drink great tea.
Motivating? I’m not sure, perhaps I’m just trying to get to the end of this blog post. But how about this?
“Make the most of every day” I won’t try to claim credit for this adage, but if you are going to drink the world’s most popular beverage after water, make the most of it and drink a great tea.
Drink great black teas. A robust, strong Assam or Darjeeling with a splash of fresh almond milk or a rich cream. Drink a great breakfast blend like our Organic Sarasotan Breakfast Blend, Or a mild, sweeter Nilgiri. Or if you want more flavor, a spicy chai might be the perfect option. I almost forgot to mention Oolongs! Especially our ‘milky smooth’ Dung Ding Oolong.
Drink great green teas. Froth a pinch of a matcha green tea, or gently steep a pure Organic Sencha. Add a touch of flavor, maybe strawberry or gojiberries or any other subtle sweetness that brings out that cool wonderful green tea flavor. Yes, white teas too. Drink them!
Drink great rooibos teas. Drink a lot of rooibos. This is wonderful in the afternoon when there is no fear of caffeine stealing sleep from you. Drink Rooibos or Bush Tea when faced with solving a mystery ☺☺ This is not only a lovely, mild flavor, rooibos takes on other flavors like vanilla and orange peel (Selby Select) or Lavender or Rose (Mable’s Rose Rooibos). Drink Honeybush, and Chocolate Honeybush and the list goes on.
Drink great herbal teas, peppermint, Yerba Mate or hibiscus or tulsi. I just saw this weekend that Roselle blossoms were available at the Sarasota farmers market. They are they’re blooming in Florida and they make incredible tea as well as a gorgeous jams and jellies. Drink a fabulous chamomile tea from Egypt and dream of Cleopatra or floating down the Nile.
Drink great fruit teas. Share them with a young person. Introduce a child to the joys of tea. Start with the anticipation of the kettle boiling, then take a moment to select a tea to fit the mood, watch when hot water meets tea leaves and the flavors release. This called the ‘Agony of the Leaf’, what does it conjure in your imagination. Heat the mugs with hot water while you wait for all the flavor to extract, and then pour two mugs full, and blow cool air over your brew.
Start a young person on a tea journey, drinking tea as a part of a ritual, after dinner, before bed, in the morning, later in the day. There are so many opportunities to drink tea. This ‘Tea Journey’ will last a lifetime and you will be responsible for the the very first steps.
And then there is the perfection that are Mote Beach Tea or Little Monkey fruit teas. Make a cuppa either of these herbal gems before you go to bed. I promise you that your dreams will be finer, they’ll be sweeter and your sleep will be deeper and richer and better. I can’t promise that your dreams will come true, but a great cuppa tea can bring hope.
Share that idea with everyone, a life of sound sleep and fantastical dreams. You are never too old to begin a ‘Tea Journey’. And what a wonderful community to be a part of, drinkers of great teas!
Appreciate all that goes in to a great cuppa tea. Where the tea was plucked, how far it might have traveled, who else might be enjoying the exact same cup at this same moment. How many years or decades or centuries have people been drinking this same tea. Or how much progress has been made in heating up the water. Before electricity, 200 years ago or 2000 years ago, how did they boil water, what was the mug like or bowl or the cup. There is much to consider in a simple cup of tea.
And be sure to steep your tea for the correct time. Not too short, robbing yourself from a fully expressed cuppa. And not too long, for the bitterness or astringency might distract from the beautiful flavors intended for you.
Give the gift of tea. Nothing can be so easy to share, so thoughtful, so considerate for either a tea lover experienced in drinking great tea, or introducing someone to your favorite tea. Tea elevates the idea of a gift to a new level.
Yes, I want you to buy my teas, and we have plenty of options for you. But find a new place to buy tea, a wonderful loose leaf tea. You will recall the moment later, when you are drinking or serving this tea. Tea comes with its own story, you just have to be a bit creative about it. The story is available and there is joy to be had.
Serve a great cuppa tea in a fine piece of China, in a cup that needs a saucer. Take a moment and make it special. You will enjoy the experience even morel, or help someone else feel special. That’s where this big thought started, with living your life to the fullest. Life is too short and so find the moments, the joys to extract a bit more than you may have expected. Surprise someone, delight them. Give that gift or treat yourself. You deserve it.
So drink up, Life is too short to drink bad tea.
Local Tea Company
British Actor, dramatist & Stage Director
(24 May 1855 – 23 November 1934)
” Tea tempers the spirits and harmonizes the mind,
dispels lassitude and relieves fatigue,
awakens thoughts and prevents drowsiness,
lightens or refreshes the body,
and clears the perceptive faculties.”
‘The naming of teas is a difficult matter,
It isn’t just one of your everyday games—
Some might think you mad as a hatter.
Should you tell them each goes by several names.
For starters each tea in this world must belong, to the families Black or Green or Oolong;
Then look more closely at these family trees—-
Some include Indians along with Chinese.”
T.S. Elliot, The NAMING OF CATS with liberties taken by Local Tea Company :>
The naming of this tea was very difficult too and you have every right to think the name was taken straight from a T.S. Elliot book! We are very excited about our Organic Strawbango Black tea and know many will love this blend as much as we do. Read More
‘I’m a tidy sort of bloke. I don’t like chaos. I kept records in the record rack, tea in the tea caddy and pot in the pot box’
I found this quote from my favorite Beatle very amusing. I also share the sentiment, excluding the part about the pot of course!
The tea caddy was a favorite kitchen item from my childhood and I have memories of opening our caddy and inhaling the rich smell of loose tea when Mum gave me me instruction to “put the kettle on and make a pot of tea”.
A TEA CADDY is a box, jar, canister, or other receptacle used to store tea. The word is believed to have derived from ‘catty’, the Chinese pound. The earliest examples that came to Europe were of Chinese porcelain in the shape of a ginger jar. They had lids or stoppers and were most frequently blue and white.
Later designs used a variety of materials with wood becoming very popular. Tea was very expensive so the caddies were locked and the keys only available to the lady of the house. In the late eighteenth and through the nineteenth century the caddies became even more elaborate often mounted in brass and delicately inlaid, with knobs of ivory, ebony or silver. Read More
November 5th is the perfect time to talk about our Pinhead Gunpowder green tea. For me, this tea conjures up images of Guy Fawkes, a very celebrated and notorious fellow in Great Britain. Born in Yorkshire, I am sure you have seen the mask below on Halloween or in the “V for Vendetta” movies or comic books, but do you know what Guy Fawkes was notorious for besides drinking Yorkshire tea?
“Remember, remember the Fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I see no reason why Gunpowder Treason should ever be forgot.”
In 1605 a group of conspirators including Guy Fawkes attempted to destroy the House of Parliament by filling the cellar with explosives. Known as the “Gunpowder Plot”, the conspirators wanted a Catholic King rather than the protestant King James I. The plan did not work and Guy Fawkes was captured, hung, drawn and quartered for his part in the plot, but his name lives on. Guy Fawkes Night is a festival in Britain remembering the Gunpowder Plot and the King’s survival. Read More
“All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little
stronger with each year that passes”.
We answer a lot of tea questions at Local Tea Company, and the most popular inquiry is about what makes for a good cup of tea? This tea quote is taken from an essay published in the Evening Standard in 1946 by the English author George Orwell. He directed his keen wit and passion for clarity in language to the topic of the perfect cup of tea.
When the world is at odds,
And the mind is at sea,
Then cease the useless tedium,
And brew a cup of tea.
There is magic in it’s fragrance,
There is solace in it’s taste;
And the laden moments vanish,
Somehow into space.
And the world becomes a lovely thing!
There’s beauty as you see;
All because you briefly stopped,
To brew a cup of tea.
No need to add any further sentiments to this ode. The words so sweetly sum up the importance of taking time for tea!