I grew up in Darwin – the tropics. I think this is a large part of the reason for my not being interested in hot drinks as a kid: I didn’t see the point. My parents, having lived in Adelaide their whole lives, still drank them; Mum was into coffee (it was the ’80s, so it was Nescafe), while Dad was into tea. In my memory, my house had two sorts of tea: Lipton’s black tea and Twinings Earl Grey. Now on the rare occasions that I had tea, I treated it almost like a cheat’s dessert. I would add milk, and two sugars (…heaped). Dad, however, drank the Earl Grey. I assumed that he was simply being snobbish, because I assumed Earl Grey was just a brand. And then one day – I don’t remember why, but I must have been in my mid-teens – I tried Earl Grey without milk.
And the world changed. There was something different… what was that taste? Was it orange?? I was never going back to plain black tea, for preference.
Despite the discovery that Earl Grey was about flavour, not just brand, I didn’t become a tea drinker overnight. I still didn’t really see the point, even when I moved to Melbourne and it was cold. Over time, though, I came to enjoy tea more. I discovered T2 and the idea of loose leaf tea; I discovered variations on the theme of Earl Grey, as well as other flavoured black teas. These days, I happily drink cup after cup of tea in holidays, and I even have some lovely tea pots and I knit tea cosies.
Which brings me to this year. 2018 is going to be my Year of the Earl. My plan is to taste many different Earl Grey teas: different brands and different variations on the theme. I’ll be sourcing lots of Australian teas, because they’re the easiest for me to source, but there will be a few international guests as well.
Things to note: I generally have sugar in my Earl Grey (1/2-1 tsp); I never, ever add milk; I am on board with the flowers being added.
I’m really excited to see what comes up over the year. If you have a favourite boutique tea, let me know in the comments, or send me an email! And if you have a favourite tea – English Breakfast, perhaps, or a green tea? – why not consider playing along? Tell me about it and I’ll feature your story here!
8 thoughts on “Year of the Earl”
Here in Adelaide, Kappy’s tea & coffee do an Earl Grey called Earl of Oz which has lemongrass, native lemon myrtle and rosella mixed in. I like to drink it when i want something with a bit of zest.
That sounds fantastic. Thanks for the tip!
Saw your tea thing on @tansyrr’s Twitter, and I can recommend this tea: https://www.theteacentre.com.au/p/earl-grey-blue-flower
(My favourite is https://www.theteacentre.com.au/p/rose but it doesn’t count because it’s not Earl Grey)
Ooh awesome! That looks great, will have to check it out!
Americans are really into the iced tea thing, but some think that’s sacrilege. What are your thoughts on the subject?
(Fr’ex, would you have been more a tea drinker in Darwin had it been iced?)
I don’t think it’s evil but I’ve never really been into it – certainly not iced black tea. I meant to experiment with iced fruit tea this summer and just haven’t got around to it…