Recipe to make your own Earl Grey tea blend
Have you ever wondered how to make your own Earl Grey tea at home?
The truth is, it’s quite simple and the results are great.
In this post I share my tips on how to make homemade Earl Grey tea, whether you’re aiming for the classic flavor or want to create a decaf version using decaf tea or rooibos.
What is Earl Grey?
Earl Grey is a popular tea blend, made with black tea that is flavored with the oil of bergamot, a citrus fruit.
The bergamot oil gives Earl Grey tea its unique aromatic character which can be described as citrusy.
Personally, the aroma of bergamot remind me of something between lemon and orange.
Some blends also include the dried peel of bergamot and/or other citrus fruits.
Origins of Earl Grey blend
The exact origins of Earl Grey tea are a bit uncertain and have some historical variations.
However, it is generally believed that Earl Grey tea was named after Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey, who was a British Prime Minister in the early 19th century.
A popular story surrounding the origins of Earl Grey tea is that the Earl got this tea blend as a special gift during a diplomatic trip to China.
Delighted with the distinctive flavor of the tea, the Earl asked some tea merchants to recreate it upon his return to England.
Thus, the famous Earl Grey tea blend was born, named in honor of the Earl who introduced it to the Western world.
Can you make your own Earl Grey tea blend at home?
Yes! While there are many exceptional tea blends available, creating your own blend can be a delightful and enjoyable experience.
Earl Grey is no exception to this.
Also, crafting your own tea blend allows you to customize the flavor to your liking and explore various variations.
For example, you can make decaf Earl Grey by using decaf black tea, or substitute the tea for rooibos for a completely caffeine-free and interesting tea blend.
You can get the tricks to make both further down.
What you’ll need
About the ingredients:
Earl Grey is traditionally made using black tea as its base.
However, crafting your own blends allows you to make your own variations.
For example, you can easily make a decaf version by using decaf black tea or explore the option of substituting the black tea for rooibos, a herbal tea that complements blends wonderfully.
The possibilities for personalization are endless!
The most challenging ingredient to find for this recipe is food-grade bergamot oil.
Make sure your oil is approved for culinary use.
Some Earl Grey tea blends include cornflowers for visual appeal as they add a touch of blue to the dried blend (it doesn’t change the color of the tea liquor).
In terms of taste, dried cornflowers have a very subtle flavor that is mostly overshadowed by the tea and bergamot oil.
In this recipe, they serve more for aesthetic purposes rather than taste.
So, feel free to omit them if you don’t have any on hand.
Time needed: 5 minutes
How to Make Earl Grey
- Combine the tea with the bergamot oil
Put a small amount of tea in a glass jar, then add a few drops of bergamot oil.
Make sure you don’t let all the oil drops on one place but they are evenly distributed among the tea leaves.
Next, add the remaining tea and follow it with the rest of the bergamot oil.
- Mix and enjoy
Close the jar and shake loosely to let the tea.
Enjoy right away or let the blend sit in a closed container for 1-2 days so the blend soaks in the aroma.
- Essential oils are highly concentrated, so as described in the steps above, make sure to evenly distribute the oil among the tea leaves and avoid concentrating it in one spot.
- Don’t overdo it with the bergamot oil: I recommend using around 1 drop of bergamot oil for every 2 teaspoon of tea.
If your tea blend ends up lacking aroma, you can always add an additional drop to the blend later.
On the other hand, if your blend has an overpowering bergamot scent, you can add more loose tea to the jar to balance it out.
- You could prepare a small amount and use it up, but I prefer making it at least a couple of days in advance, so the oil impregnates the tea leaves.
- All the Earl Grey blends presented in this post are delicious both served warm or cold.
A word about safety
Ingesting small amounts of bergamot oil is generally considered safe for healthy adults, and in fact, most earl grey blends available in the market contain bergamot oil.
However, it’s important to remember that essential oils are highly concentrated, so it’s advisable to avoid direct contact with undiluted oils and NEVER ingest them undiluted or in larger amounts.
Prioritize safety by ensuring that the blend you use is safe for ingestion and that you don’t have any conditions that may make you unsuitable for ingesting a particular essential oil.
Additionally, be mindful not to use an excessive amount of oil.
Personally, I have found that an overpowering bergamot scent can cause a slight headache for me, even when I love earl grey tea and I can drink it without getting headaches.
Homemade Earl Grey Blend Variations
The reason I went through the effort of finding food-grade bergamot oil was that I often crave Earl Grey when I can’t have caffeine, such as late at night.
However, it’s challenging to find decaffeinated Earl Grey blends or Rooibos Earl Grey that truly satisfy me.
So, I decided to experiment on my own. I must say, the results are amazing!
While the steps for making regular Earl Grey are the same, I’ve discovered that there are slight differences depending on the tea base you use:
Decaf Earl Grey
Most decaf teas have a milder taste compared to regular tea, so using the same amount of bergamot oil can result in an overpowering bergamot flavor.
That’s why if using decaf tea, I recommend being cautious with the amount of bergamot oil you add to the blend.
How to make Decaf Earl Grey:
- Follow the instructions of this post, using at most 1 drop of bergamot oil for every 2 tsp. of decaf black tea.
(If you find the scent of the blend still too strong the next day (after letting the blend rest in a closed container), you can add 1-2 extra teaspoons of tea to balance it out)
- Brewing recommendations:
When you desire a cup of tea, steep it in freshly boiled water for approximately 2-3 minutes.
You’ll need around 1 teaspoon of the loose tea blend per cup.
When the steeping time is over, remove the tea and sweeten and/or add milk to your taste.
Rooibos Earl Grey
Rooibos goes incredibly good with bergamot oil!
I’m truly in love with this blend and proud of how well balanced my recipe turned, so you really need to try this one!
It will vary depending on the specific tea you use, but in my experience, when making rooibos earl grey, you can use a higher amount of bergamot oil.
How to make Rooibos Earl Grey:
- Follow the instructions in this post, using up to 1 drop of bergamot oil per 1 teaspoon of loose rooibos leaves.
- Brewing instructions:
When you desire to drink your rooibos earl grey, steep around 1 teaspoon loose tea per cup in freshly boiled water.
Let steep for around 5 minutes, then remove the tea solids and enjoy as is or with sugar and/or milk to taste.
Tips when making Rooibos Earl Grey
- Pure rooibos loose leaves aren’t always easy to find. I you don’t find loose leaves rooibos, you can cut rooibos tea bags open.
- Since rooibos tea consists of thin needle-like pieces that can become messy in a tea strainer, I recommend using a tea bag when steeping them.
Store the tea blend in an airtight container (for example like these ones), away from sunlight, moisture and heat.
The aroma of the oil will gradually fade over time, so I recommend using your blend within 4 months for the best flavor.
There is a possibility of milk curdling when adding it to Earl Grey tea due to the bergamot oil, although it isn’t a common issue.
While it has never happened to me, cold milk is thought to be more prone to curdling with Earl Grey.
Therefore, one way to prevent the dairy milk from curdling is by slightly warming it before adding it to the tea.
Homemade Earl Grey Tea Blend Recipe
- airtight container If transparent, like the glass jars I use, store in a dark place
- Combine tea of choice with bergamot oil. Make sure the oil is evenly distributed among the tea leaves.
- Store in an airtight container.For best results, let sit for at least 24 hours before enjoying the tea (but you could also make it right away, specially if you just make one serving).
- To prepare a cup of tea, steep 1 teaspoon per teacup. Use freshly boiled water and let steep for 2-4 minutes if using black tea or 5-10 minutes if using rooibos.You can enjoy this homemade Earl Grey hot or cold, as is or sweetened and/or with milk.
- For a decaf blend, use decaf black tea or rooibos.
- The ratio I use and recommend is around 1 drop of bergamot oil for every 2 teaspoon of loose tea.
If the blend turns too strong for your taste, you can adjust by adding more tea to it.
- Decaf black tea tend to need less bergamot oil
- If using rooibos, you will probably need more bergamot oil, up to 1 drop per teaspoon loose rooibos.
- Please take precautions when handling the essential oil, ensuring that it does not come into direct contact with your skin, and avoid ingesting it undiluted or in excessive amounts.