Earl Grey vs. Lady Grey: What’s the Difference?

In the world of aromatic teas, few names stand out as distinctly as Earl Grey and Lady Grey. Both these teas offer unique flavors and experiences, yet they’re often confused or misidentified. 

This article will help you understand the differences between these two classic teas and allow you to pick the perfect blend for your next cup.

Black tea

What Is Earl Grey Tea?

Earl Grey tea is one of the most recognized flavored teas globally. This traditional British tea gets its distinctive taste from the oil extracted from the rind of the bergamot orange, a citrus fruit mainly found in Southern Italy. This tea is typically made from black tea leaves, and the addition of bergamot oil gives it a flavor that’s both robust and aromatic, with a notably citrusy tang.

Historically, Earl Grey tea is named after Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey, who was the British Prime Minister in the 1830s. The origin of the tea is steeped in legend, with one story suggesting that the Earl received the unique tea blend as a gift after saving a Chinese official’s son from drowning.

What Is Lady Grey Tea?

On the other hand, Lady Grey tea is a more recent addition to the world of teas and was introduced by Twinings in the early 1990s. Named after Mary Elizabeth Grey, the wife of Earl Grey, this tea blend was created as a lighter, more fragrant variation of the original Earl Grey.

Like Earl Grey, Lady Grey tea is primarily made from black tea leaves. However, it includes additional flavorings like lemon peel and Seville orange peel, which lend a lighter, more delicate, and refreshing citrus flavor. With its added layers of complexity, Lady Grey tea often appeals to those who find the taste of Earl Grey a bit too potent or intense.

The Differences Between Earl Grey and Lady Grey Tea

Though Earl Grey and Lady Grey may seem similar, several differences set them apart.

Flavor Profile

Earl Grey’s dominant flavor is its strong citrus note from the bergamot oil, giving it a robust, bold, and slightly tart taste. Lady Grey, meanwhile, has a more nuanced flavor, with the added lemon and Seville orange peel giving it a softer, more subtle citrus note.

Strength and Boldness

With its distinctive bergamot flavor, Earl Grey tends to have a more pronounced and potent profile. In contrast, due to its additional ingredients, Lady Grey has a lighter, more delicate taste.

Caffeine Content

As Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas are primarily made from black tea leaves, their caffeine content is similar, typically ranging from 40 to 70 mg per cup. However, the exact amount of caffeine can vary depending on factors such as the specific type of black tea used, the amount of tea used, and the brewing time.

Additional Ingredients

While Earl Grey typically contains only black tea and bergamot oil, Lady Grey includes additional ingredients like lemon peel and Seville orange peel, which create a more complex flavor profile.

History and Origin

Earl Grey’s history extends back to the 1830s and is linked to British aristocracy. Lady Grey, however, was introduced much later, in the 1990s, and was specifically created to offer a lighter, more fragrant alternative to Earl Grey.

Is Earl Grey Tea Better Than Lady Grey?

Whether Earl Grey tea is better than Lady Grey tea is largely a matter of personal preference, as both teas offer unique flavors and experiences. If you’re a fan of bold, robust flavors and enjoy a strong citrus note, you might prefer Earl Grey. However, if you prefer a lighter, more delicate tea with a hint of complex citrus flavor, Lady Grey may be your better choice.

Remember that the quality of the tea leaves, the source of the bergamot oil, and the brewing technique can also significantly impact the final taste of your tea. Both Earl Grey and Lady Grey are versatile teas and can be enjoyed plain, with a dash of milk, or even with a slice of lemon.

Best Earl Grey Teas to Try

If you decide that Earl Grey might better suit your taste, these are the best Earl Grey teas based on our extensive testing of dozens of options.

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose Earl Grey or Lady Grey largely depends on your taste preference and how you like your tea served. Both teas have their unique charm and flavors. The bold, citrusy Earl Grey can be perfect for an early morning wake-up call. At the same time, the lighter, more fragrant Lady Grey might be the ideal companion for a relaxing afternoon.

The best part about tea is the range and diversity it offers. So why not try both and see which suits your palate the best? After all, both Earl Grey and Lady Grey are testaments to the world of flavors that the humble tea leaf can offer.

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