We Tried 5 Earl Grey Teas And This Was Our Favorite

Wake up with the best possible cup of tea.

Photo: Allrecipes Illustration

During a diplomatic visit to China in the early 1800s, legend has it that former prime minister of England Earl Charles Grey rescued a tea vendor's son from drowning. According to the story, the vendor later presented Grey with a special blend as a show of gratitude: black tea leaves flavored with just a bit of oil sourced from the skin of a bergamot orange. Eventually, that delicious recipe would become the prime minister's namesake, as well as one of the best known tea varieties in the West: earl grey.

In all likelihood, the above story explaining Earl Grey's origin never happened. But while the origin of the tea blend's name is uncertain, its popularity is well-earned. As a strong tasting blend with a notable citrus taste, Earl Grey is a perfect starting point for tea novices. It can be served plain or accented beautifully with lemon and honey. And while traditionalists may not agree with adding milk to a good cup of Earl Grey, we can't say we'll blame you if you prefer a creamier drink.

But if you're not already settled on a favorite earl grey blend, how do you figure out which tea companies have the best bergamot taste for your buck? To find out, we tested five brands of Earl Grey, all of which are available online or in stores. So grab your favorite cup and saucer as we go through our picks, from best to worst.

Best Earl Grey At a Glance

Best Overall: Stash Earl Grey Black Tea
Runner-Up: Tazo Earl Grey Black Tea
Best Decaffeinated Tea: Twinings of London Earl Grey Black Tea
Best Organic Tea: O Organics Earl Grey Tea

What We Looked for When Ranking Teas

Taste: As with most of these tests, taste was the most important factor we considered when choosing our teas. For this test, we looked for a balance of black tea and citrus notes; the strength of the tea and any bitterness in the mix was also considered during the tasting.

Price: All in all, a good cup of earl grey should not cost all that much. We looked for brands that gave you plenty of tea bags without breaking the budget. All but one of the brands we tested provided 20 bags for less than $5.

Caffeine Content: Most black teas contain a decent amount of caffeine, though not nearly as much as the average cup of coffee. When choosing brands, we made sure to look out for a decaffeinated brand tea enthusiasts could enjoy.

Additional Features: In addition to the above considerations, we also looked into whether a brand contained organic ingredients. We also tried to choose brands that were available nationwide, either online or in stores.

How We Tested Each Tea

For this taste test, which was conducted solo, I made each cup of tea by steeping one tea bag in eight ounces of hot water. An electric kettle was used to heat the water to boiling. I let each bag steep for exactly three minutes before removing the bag and letting the drink cool down. Because I wanted to test the quality and strength of the tea itself, I elected to drink each tea plain and forewent any additions like lemon, honey or milk.

Best Overall: Stash Earl Grey Black Tea

stash earl grey tea walmart

When craving a good cup of earl grey, there's two things I look for: strong black tea taste and discernible citrus flavor. Stash's Earl Grey blend had both in spades. Even with only three minutes of steeping, the black tea taste was almost too strong, and the citrus taste so noticeable that I'm not certain a lemon wedge would have been necessary if I wanted it. Despite its strong taste, Stash's mix avoided bitterness — another plus. If you don't want to worry about potentially weak tea, then Stash is definitely the brand for you.

Buy It: $3.99, Walmart

Runner-Up: Tazo Earl Grey Black Tea

tazo earl grey tea box

Tazo is a great choice for those who are not as fond of stronger bergamot flavors. The tea blend still provides a strong black tea taste, but the bergamot is more of an accent than a feature. The citrus notes being more in the background means that tea drinkers can more easily adjust their cup to contain the perfect balance. If you'd rather add a lemon wedge to your brew than receive a bergamot-heavy mix, then Tazo is your best bet.

Buy It: $3.39, Target

Best Decaffeinated: TeaTwinings of London Earl Grey Black Tea

twinings earl grey tea

There's no reason that decaf drinkers shouldn't be able to find a decent cup of Earl Grey. And to prove it, Twinings has crafted a pretty delicious mix that even caffeine fiends may find worthwhile. While the black tea in Twinings mix is certainly not as strong as some tea drinkers might prefer, the bergamot comes through beautifully, creating a lighter-tasting earl grey that's already full of citrus flavor. For those looking to skip the jitters, or for those who simply aren't looking for a strong cup, Twinings has you covered.

Buy It: $3.32, Walmart

Best Organic Tea: O Organics Earl Grey Tea

o organics earl grey tea

O Organics' blend was so delicious that it almost made our runner-up mix. It's the next strongest tea in our list after Stash's, and it has a delicious amount of citrus flavor to boot. The fact that it's organic while still being one of the most affordable choices on our list doesn't hurt either. If organic products are important to you, or you're just a Safeway customer on a budget, then you won't be disappointed by this buy.

Buy It: $2.99, Safeway


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