A true classic, Earl Grey is a drink that's stood the taste-test of time. After rising to popularity in the 18th Century, it quickly became one of the best-sellers across tea purveyors throughout England and beyond.
To earn its label, Earl Grey tea must comprise a mixture of Indian and Chinese tea leaves, crushed, folded and infused with the oil of bergamot oranges. This tantalizing combination has captured the heart of tea-drinkers around the world, but it never hurts to explore new flavors. With the tea market full to the brim with potential alternatives to Earl Grey, there's just too many options out there to not give a few a brew.
Lemon and Ginger
One of the most cited positives of Earl Grey is its flavor - rich with the tang of citrus fruits. The mixture of orange in with the tea leaves gives it a refreshingly light taste without straying too far from traditional tea.
For a similar taste with a new twist, try out lemon and ginger - all the impact of citrus fruits with a balancing effect of the more tang-tasting root. This mix is the perfect selection for anyone looking to try out something a little more adventurous without straying too far off the eaten bath.
In Earl Grey, a variety of leaves from both India and China are used to create that signature blend. This mix is what gives Earl Grey tea its ''can't quite put my finger on it but I know it's delicious'' flavor - especially once infused with its added ingredients.
To replicate this effect, try Indian Masala Chai. Its history dates back to before Indian independence. When the British found that Indians weren't so fond of their beloved tea, they set out to create a variation that would be more palatable to a population accustomed to rich, intense flavors. A little cinnamon, a sprinkle of ginger and a few cardamom pods later and the masala chai that's still touted by train chaiwallahs today was born. Exact ingredients can vary from maker to maker, but for the full effect, try it with generous helpings of milk and sugar.
Earl Grey tea is popular among many of its drinkers because of its simultaneously energizing yet calming effect. Rather than the buzz that comes from coffee or the sleepiness induced by many herbal teas, Earl Grey manages to achieve a balance of the two that makes it great for concentration. This is a result of the leaves' combination of L-Theanine, a relaxing amino acid, and caffeine, a stimulant.
This combination can actually be found in all black teas, but for a similar potency as well as a rich flavor, try Darjeeling - considered by many to be the world's highest quality black tea. Nicknamed the ''Champagne of the tea world'', Darjeeling achieves that invigorating effect with an added touch of luxury. Described as light and floral, the refreshing taste makes for an excellent morning pick-me-up.
Mango and Bergamot
Perhaps the most distinct defining characteristic of Earl Grey tea is the infusion of bergamot oil. This is the ingredient responsible for many of the tea's famed health benefits; it encourages hormone secretion, which is said to help with issues such as anxiety and, according to the Journal of Functional Foods, maintain cholesterol balance. It's an ingredient used in many homeopathic treatments and it's becoming increasingly popular in custom tea blends.
For an alternative taste with all the benefits of Earl Grey, try Whittard's Mango and Bergamot Green Tea. The unique flavor combinations produce a refreshing, citrus taste that offers a fruity variation from your normal tea routine.
One of the most commonly lauded benefits of drinking Earl Grey tea is its concentration of anti-oxidants. During the rolling of leaves, the tea produces theaflavins and thearubigins that help the body fight off ''free radicals'', which are formed as a result of exposure to the sun or to toxins.
This makes Earl Grey a great choice for the health conscious, but the tea with the highest concentration of anti-oxidants is actually Matcha. This Japanese drink has taken the world by storm in recent years, as studies have found that it is even healthier than green tea - previously considered the pinnacle of health drinks. This emerging food trend means that you'll also find Matcha in many forms, as chefs and bakers experiment with Matcha cakes and more.
A surprising but pleasant side effect of Earl Grey tea is the benefits it provides for your teeth. This particular tea is high in fluoride, the key ingredient often found in toothpastes that helps strengthen the enamel of your teeth for a more pearly white smile.
There are a number of teas with high fluoride levels, and the benefits are particularly efficient in caffeine-free teas. To get a similar smile with a new flavor, sample the South African delicacy Rooibos. As well as an intriguing nutty taste, this tea is hailed for its many health benefits and its lack of caffeine makes it a great evening drink.
Often, those who opt for Earl Grey instead of English Breakfast tea or coffee to follow their meal say that it helps with digestion. This is likely due to the combination of system-boosting caffeine and anti-inflammatory bergamot oil. It can also help you re-hydrate during or after an illness thanks to its high potassium levels.
Another tried-and-tested favorite for aiding digestion is Peppermint tea. Peppermint is known to serve as a mild muscle relaxant, and its antispasmodic properties can help ease intestinal cramps. When you couple these benefits with the palate-cleansing taste of mint, it makes for the perfect end to a hearty meal.
Da Hong Pao
For tea buffs and anglophiles, few teas can match up to the long history of Earl Grey, which has been enjoyed in England since the early 1800s. Legend has it that the first example of Earl Grey in England came about after Lord Grey (for whom the tea is named) was gifted a sample by a Chinese envoy.
If you want a different drink that also comes with a story, treat yourself to a cup of Da Hong Pao - the most expensive tea in the world. Also shrouded in Chinese legend, it is said that this tea cured the mother of an emperor during the Ming Dynasty. In gratitude, the emperor then protected the trees from which the leaves came by covering them with his big, red robe - or, translated, da hong pao.
Earl Green or Earl White
Even if you're an avid Earl Grey loyalist, you can still experiment with new flavors simply by switching from black tea to green or oolong. While Earl Grey is typically made from black tea leaves, its steady popularity has encouraged manufacturers to branch out into other varieties, with many delicious results. Typically these twists are labelled ''Earl Green'' or ''Earl White'' to reflect the new leaves.
For a sweeter twist on Earl Grey, you could also try the Canadian invention ''London Fog'' - perhaps misleadingly named, as it has yet to find mainstream popularity in the UK. This drink combines Earl Grey tea with milk and vanilla syrup.
With so many options on offer, it's well worth experimenting with Earl Grey alternatives. You might even find the drink that's just your cup of tea.