The London Tea Company describe their Earl Grey as “the capital’s classic flavoured tea” and I quite agree. Earl Grey is a classic that’s very British, even though it’s one of the most popular teas all over Europe.
Bergamot is a familiar citrus flavour yet we rarely use it for anything other than the Earl Grey blend. The first thing I noticed about London Tea Company’s blend was that bergamot isn’t even mentioned. Instead, the ingredients list black tea and “natural flavourings”.
I gave it the benefit of the doubt. Those natural flavourings could be real bergamot, after all. This is my unbiased review of their Earl Grey blend.
The London Tea Company Earl Grey at a Glance
- Blend: Black tea and natural flavourings (lemon/citrus/bergamot)
- Flavour: Light, bitter black tea with a hint of artificial citrus
This tea was a real let down. It has very little aroma and the flavour leaves much to be desired. A weak black tea with artificial-tasting flavourings resulting in a poor attempt at an Earl Grey.
Full Review - Earl Grey Black Tea
- Type: Tagged paper filter tea bag
- Tea: Pure Ceylon black tea
- Additives: Natural flavourings
- Flavour Notes: Bitter, hint of lemon peel, weak black tea
- Aroma: Hint of citrus
- Milk or Lemon: Anything to add a bit of flavour!
- Where to Buy: Amazon
The tea bags are individually wrapped in the box you purchase, which is good for keeping tea bags fresh. I decided to review this tea about 1 week after buying the box too. All of this should mean that the tea is strong, fresh and flavoursome.
Yet, when I ripped open the packet I couldn’t smell anything at all. It took a deep inhale with the tea bag pressed against my nose before I detected a whiff of black tea. No bergamot at this point.
I brewed it based on colour, as there are no directions on the tea wrapper. It quickly turned very dark with red and black tints to the usual earthy brown.
You can smell the citrus at this point. It’s definitely lemon and not bergamot. It is appealing though and for a moment, my hopes rise.
The flavour brought me back down. It’s very light and very bitter with little in the way of actual flavour. I can’t really taste any body or strength from the tea. There’s a hint of lemon peel that’s not quite on the level of toilet cleaner but it is getting there.
How to Brew Bergamot Earl Grey
Without instructions on the wrapper, you’re going on your own judgement. Use freshly drawn boiled water (water left in the kettle goes dull very quickly) and pour it over the tea bag.
I left it to brew for 2 minutes. If you’re drinking without milk, you wouldn’t want it darker than this or it would be overpoweringly bitter.
You should definitely have this tea with honey or sugar and milk. It really needs some flavour added to it. Make sure you leave your tea to cool slightly before you add your honey. This interesting article about the health benefits of honey explains why temperature is so important.
Why The London Tea Company?
Like Twinings, Pukka and Clipper, I see a lot of London Tea Company tea bags floating around hotel lobbies and in small cafés. You can see Fairtrade labels on all their boxes too, which is another reason to consider them.
On the box, there’s a web address to take you straight to the page on London Tea Company’s website where they tell you more about the growers they work with… but the link takes you to a 404 (page not found). Not a great first impression.
If you navigate through their About page sections, you’re met with generic content. The message is good, they support Fairtrade, but it’s not specific about the growers they work with. There’s nothing that sets them aside from other Fairtrade tea sellers.
When ripping open a tea bag, you’re met with the industry standard crushed-beyond-belief black tea particles. A little dusty, but not excessively so. It’s to be expected and I’m not surprised. This is nothing different to other tea bags from similar brands. It doesn’t always mean the tea will taste bad, but you can say with some certainty that it’s not going to knock your socks off either.
The white specs are the natural flavouring. After experiencing the lemon flavour to this tea I wouldn’t be surprised if this flavouring is a mix of lemon and bergamot, or completely lemon. That would explain why they list “natural flavourings” rather than “bergamot flavourings” on their box.
This is pure speculation, however.
The good things about this London Tea Company Earl Grey are few and far between. The black tea base is pure Ceylon tea, it’s certified Fairtrade, and the flavourings (whatever they may be) are natural rather than artificial.
But the flavour, aroma and actual experience of drinking this tea are not up to standard.
All I can say is; the price is usually quite low for this brand and you can always use this Earl Grey in baking recipes if you don’t enjoy drinking it. What do you have to lose? Try this tea and let me know what you think in the comments below.
I’m an Earl Grey junkie – use the tags below to navigate through my growing collection of Earl Grey teas and find out which is the best of the best. Or, if you fancy something a bit different, take a look at my Tea Review Index. Browse by tea brand, flavour or type!
If you have an obscure Earl Grey tea brand you want me to review, please let me know by donating and leaving a comment with details about the tea and where I can buy it.