I love tea. I drink lots of it. My favourite is Earl Grey, and I’m quite particular about it – I’ve tried a lot of brands and I think I am quite knowledgeable about it. I like the good quality loose leaf stuff best, but sometimes I can’t be bothered making a pot, and it’s not an option at work, so I use Williamsons teabags (they’re the best, but Tesco own brand will do – Somerfield own brand were good too but it’s the Co op now).
I don’t like Twinings Earl Grey, I think it is the worst on the market (I’ll elaborate on that shortly), but since starting a new job a few months ago I’ve been drinking it regularly. Why, you ask? Because it is provided free – we have a stand of different teabags, and it includes Twinings Earl Grey. I could bring my own, which wouldn’t exactly be expensive, but I’m loathe to buy teabags when they are provided for me.
Twinings Earl Grey is seen by many as the best Earl Grey there is – just read other reviews online. These reviews really baffle me, there is much better Earl Grey out there, and at similar prices or even lower.
Earl Grey should have a nice “clear” flavour. It should have a good taste of bergamot, which is what gives it its distinctive taste, without being cloying or sickly. You can serve it with milk or lemon (or neither) and with or without sugar or sweetener.
First, the practicalities. Twinings Earl Grey is available in bags or loose leaf, and teabags with strings and tabs are available. There are different size boxes available, and typically a box of 50 teabags will set you back around £2.50. There is also a decaffeinated version available which I have never tried.
Twinings Earl Grey does not have this lovely clear taste. I have experimented with brewing times, using milk, lemon or nothing, and the amount of sugar or sweetener (or none) that I use, and I have never found a decent cuppa out of all of it. Twinings Earl Grey has a ridiculously cloying flavour to it, it is not at all refreshing and leaves you with a funny taste in your mouth. I’ve just had a cup, and I now want to go and get some water to refresh my mouth; this isn’t right, I should be feeling relaxed and have enjoyed my cuppa. The flavour of Twinings Earl Grey is overpowering, not light as it should be, and far too fragrant a taste. It is what you could describe as a “sticky” taste I think, it leaves your mouth feeling as if you’ve just eaten some sweets which coat your mouth in sticky residue. This is mass market Earl Grey, but perhaps that is an unfair label – supermarket own brand Earl Grey teas are also mass market, but they are perfectly pleasant.
Look beyond Twinings when you want a good cup of Earl Grey, there’s so much better out there. For loose leaf I can’t recommend Suki highly enough, and for teabags I think Williamsons is the best but for a cheaper cuppa, Tesco is perfectly good. Really, Twinings does not make good Earl Grey tea, it’s a poor example of a wonderful drink.