Beautifully intense yet enigmatic flavor; sweet, citrus aftertaste; dark, mysterious hue – when it comes to tea blends, Earl Grey is undoubtedly among the best. But whether you’re just beginning on your tea-tasting journey, or you’re a brew connoisseur looking to mix things up, you might want something new to try. We’ve got you covered!
There are several teas that have the same sort of flavor as Earl Grey. If you’re looking for a floral blend, you could try rose tea or lavender tea. If you’d prefer citrus, try Lady Grey or orange tea. Anything with bergamot oil as an ingredient will taste recognizably like Earl Grey.
We’ve put together a list of teas like Earl Grey that you should try next. The particular taste of Earl Grey is unique – hence why it’s so enduringly popular – but by considering the flavor profile of the blend we’ve identified 10 teas that are more than a match for the bergamot stalwart.
What does Earl Grey taste like?
We’d be remiss to recommend teas that resemble Earl Grey without first identifying what makes it such a beloved drink all around the world. While there are several varieties of Earl Grey sold by a multitude of brands, we’re going to focus on the most distinctive feature of the tea: its bergamot flavor.
The key ingredient of Earl Grey tea is bergamot oil, derived from the bergamot orange. A hybrid of lemon and bitter orange, bergamot has a tart, floral flavor with a grapefruit-like aftertaste. When added to black tea to make Earl Grey, this inherent sweetness complements the bitterness of the tea.
As a result, you could argue that the two predominant flavors of Earl Grey are floral and citrus. Each of the following teas fits into at least one of these categories, making each one a great tea to try next.
1. Lady Grey
Alright, we’ll admit it: this first one is a bit of a cheat – but if you love Earl Grey and haven’t yet tried Lady Grey, this is the perfect place to start if you’re looking for something a little more adventurous. Popularised by the British tea titan Twinings, Lady Grey is honorarily named for the wife of Earl Grey, Mary Elizabeth Grey, as a nod to the close relationship between the blends.
In fact, Lady Grey is almost identical to Earl Grey, with one key distinction: the addition of orange and lemon peel. This enhances the citrus flavor of the base Earl Grey blend, making for a fruitier and more delicate tea than its more robust, masculine counterpart.
Unlike Earl Grey, which is thought to have been invented in 1850 and popularised towards the end of the century, Lady Grey is a modern invention and is trademarked by Twinings. It was introduced specifically to appeal to the Nordic market, where customers supposedly found Earl Grey too strong for their liking. Two years later, in 1996, Lady Grey would appear on store shelves in the UK and went on to take over the world, albeit not to the extent of the base Earl Grey blend. If the bittersweet citrus is what you enjoy most about Earl Grey, then you should snap up some Lady Grey posthaste!
2. Lapsang souchong
Intensely aromatic and with heady, quasi-floral notes, lapsang souchong is exactly the unique tea-tasting experience you might be looking for. While Earl Grey is not necessarily dissimilar to a typical breakfast tea (the likes of which even a coffee-lover will have tasted), with both types having a roasted black tea base, lapsang souchong is almost in a category of its own.
The tea tastes smoky, and that really is char on your palette. The tea leaves are dried over smoke – which can be hot or cold depending on the blend and provenance – for a rich and pungent flavor. While the story might be apocryphal, it’s rumored that tea farmers in Fujian province, China, were forced to dry their leaves over a fire in order to escape an advancing army. Not all teas can claim such a dramatic backstory!
This intensity of taste isn’t to everyone’s liking, but it’s a conceivable step up from Earl Grey. If you enjoy the crispness of an Earl Grey, its floralness, and its lingering aftertaste, then you might well enjoy lapsang souchong!
3. Constant Comment
Created by the Bigelow Tea Company in New York, Constant Comment is threefold the company’s debut, signature and most popular blend. In fact, according to the Bigelow website, the blend was created by founder Ruth Campbell Bigelow after she found herself dissatisfied with the teas on offer in the 1940s. Blending what the company considers the first specialty tea in the US, Ruth’s efforts were praised far and wide – giving rise to the “Constant Comment” moniker.
So, what makes it special? The recipe is of course a closely guarded family secret (and the Bigelow Tea Company remains a family affair to this day), but, at its core, Constant Comment is a black tea blended with sweet spice and orange rind. As a result, the taste experience is not dissimilar to a mulled cider, with autumnal flavors cut through by a sharp citrus kick.
While the taste of Earl Grey can sometimes be a little intangible, Constant Comment tingles on your throat. If you enjoy the flavor combination of black tea and citrus but would prefer a spicier blend, Constant Comment will suit you down to the ground. You can buy it here.
4. Russian Caravan
Some consider Russian Caravan to be the supreme black tea, and with good reason. You might have been attracted to Earl Grey due to its depth and body of flavor; there’s no question that the bergamot oil brings a crisp taste to the tea that converges in a nuanced aftertaste. If that sounds good to you, you’ll love Russian Caravan blends.
What constitutes Russian Caravan can vary, but the traditional tea is a blend of oolong, keemun and lapsang souchong. This means it begins as a sweet tea on your palette before growing malty and smoky for a richness at the back of your throat. It’s not unusual to find Russian Caravan blends without lapsang souchong, however, if you’d prefer to skip the smokiness; in many such blends, the lapsang souchong is replaced by Assam, fortifying the malty taste.
So-called because of the imagined journey of tea from China and the Mongolian Steppes to Russia via camel-driven caravan, Russian Caravan is a voyage of taste on your palette. Any fan of black tea simply has to try it!
5. Dan Cong oolong
If you’re already a tea enthusiast, you might be surprised to see an oolong on this list. Semi-oxidized and therefore more delicate than a fully-fledged black tea, oolong teas typically do not exhibit the same depth of flavor as an Earl Grey. When used as the base for an Earl Grey blend, in fact, they’re liable to be overwhelmed by the intensity of the bergamot oil. However, the inherent sweetness of oolong tea – and Dan Cong oolongs in particular – could make it the perfect next tea for lovers of Earl Grey.
The most popular type of oolong is Tie Guan Yin, deriving from southern Fujian province, where some of China’s most sought-after tea is grown. Dan Cong oolong, on the other hand, is cultivated among the wild trees of Guangdong province. These oolongs, generally speaking, possess a more mellow and honeyed flavor, often exhibiting the taste of orchid.
One such example is Ya Shi Xiang, which is light and honey-sweet. If you prefer the sweeter elements of Earl Grey, compared to its tartness, then Ya Shi Xiang should be the next tea for you to try!
p.s. Ya Shi Xiang is popular known as ‘duck s*** aroma oolong,’ but we promise that its taste does not match the name! (That said, we’ve never attempted to brew duck droppings…)
6. Rose tea
Perhaps the most common complaint about Earl Grey tea is that tastes too much like perfume. It’s true that the flavor of bergamot oil is headier, resulting in a tea that is less earthy than you might like. This floral flavor profile is shared by rose tea, the taste of which is perhaps the closest on this list to the inscrutability of bergamot. They aren’t siblings, but they could be cousins!
Rose tea might sound fancy, but you’ve probably tasted rose flavors before. Consider, for example, Turkish Delight, the traditional sweet flavored with rosewater. In tea, with the sweetness offset by a bitter black tea base, this flavor can become truly magical. You can also brew rose tea with only rosebuds – thereby technically making it a herbal infusion and a tea at all – for a more mellow taste.
Originating in Persia, rose cultivation gave rise to myriad industries, with products including perfume, rosewater and – of course – tea! Luxurious and enigmatic, just like Earl Grey, rose tea could well be your new favourite hot drink. Give it a try!
7. Jasmine tea
Incorporating delicate jasmine blossom, jasmine tea exhibits a similar combination of sweetness and dryness to a good Earl Grey. Perhaps the most attractive aspect of jasmine tea is that several blends use green tea, not black tea, as a base: while there is no particular advantage of one over the other, jasmine tea could open up your palette to a wide variety of green teas, which some can find an acquired taste to begin with.
While jasmine flower is thought to have been used in tea as early as 500AD, it wasn’t until China’s Qing Dynasty (1644-1912AD) that the export of jasmine tea became widespread. In fact, it was only in 2014 that Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian province, was recognised by the United Nations as the true home of jasmine tea.
According to Chinese culture, the smell of jasmine is the smell of heaven, and jasmine tea is traditionally served as a welcoming gesture to guests to show that they are held in high esteem. You might similarly use jasmine tea to make time for yourself in a busy day, and treat yourself to a little taste of heaven.
8. Lavender tea
When it comes to floral teas, you don’t get much more intense than lavender It’s worth making clear, to begin with, that the aroma of lavender is far more powerful than the taste of lavender tea: in fact, by using lavender buds (and by adequately boiling and infusing them) the taste becomes sweeter and more mellow. This is a similar phenomenon to the brewing of rose tea – it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking a bouquet!
Unlike camellia sinensis, also known as the tea plant, lavender grows naturally in the west. As a result, there is a period in springtime during which you’ll be able to pick wild lavender buds to make tea for yourself (always make sure to wash them thoroughly!) This experience of connecting with and imbibing nature will make it taste all the sweeter!
Lavender has long been considered a herbal remedy, and its restorative properties have long been touted (though the lack of scientific proof should be noted). In particular, it’s claimed that lavender has beneficial effects on the liver, which is partly responsible for hormone production; as such, drinking lavender tea supposedly helps relieve menstrual cramps and migraines. Well, it’s worth a shot!
9. Linden flower tea
Like lavender tea, linden flower tea is a sweet and strong-smelling concoction purported to have several health benefits. Unlike lavender tea, however, brewing linden flower tea involves much more than the buds of the relevant plant. In fact, linden flower tea often uses the flowers, leaves and even sticky bark to create the perfect infusion.
Deriving from the linden tree (also known as basswood in North America), the oiliness and sweetness of the ingredients of linden flower tea can be reminiscent of bergamot oil, though the taste is unsurprisingly more tree-like. However, what Earl Grey and linden flower tea share is an abundance of tannins. This is the same amino acid that gives tea (which is to say, the drink derived from the camellia sinensis plant) its astringent flavor. As a result, despite linden flower tea being a herbal infusion, it ultimately tastes not unlike tea!
Linden flower tea is high in antioxidants – in particular, tiliroside and kaempferol – that can combat inflammation and promote relaxation. This is scientific fact! However, the extent to which these antioxidants are present, and therefore how much they can help combat inflammation when consumed in a few cups of tea, is yet to be determined.
10. Orange tea
While bergamot is a type of orange, it doesn’t exactly taste like one – and certainly not like the sweet tangerines, satsumas and clementines we enjoy as healthy snacks. As a result, you might have been a little disappointed in Earl Grey, and its bittersweet flavor profile may not be quite to your liking. In which case: try orange tea!
You’ll be able to find a variety of blends using conventional oranges, but you can also make orange tea at home. Simply boil orange juice or concentrate, cinnamon, cardamom pods and a teabag of your choice (though a relatively neutral black tea is recommended, such as a Sri Lankan or Kenyan blend) and you’ll have a beautifully orange-infused cuppa.
What’s worth noting about this concoction, however – and other teas involving orange – is that it will be incredibly sweet. Perhaps that’s what you enjoy, and there’s nothing wrong with a sweet tooth, but part of the pleasure of Earl Grey is its bittersweetness; its enigmatic aftertaste; the sense that you’re wandering through the foggy streets of London at night. You won’t get this from the Floridian taste of an orange tea. But you could always drink both!
Made as an infusion from the calyces of the roselle hibiscus plant, this popular herbal tea is particularly big in Mexico. Over in Senegal, it’s the national drink, and for good reason. Hibiscus tea is a delicious brew with a sharp taste and hints of cranberry. It’s said to lower fat levels and blood pressure, too.
Hibiscus wasn’t always used for tea. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the entirety of the hibiscus plant was used in Malay medicine to treat fever, sore eyes, and even venereal disease. It’s been said that the leaves were often applied to boils and spores to increase recovery time.
In China and India, they really went all out with making the most of hibiscus, using its tea form to darken hair, a practice that was eventually passed on to the Arabs and Portuguese. Hibiscus was sometimes referred to as the shoe flower as the petals were also produced as a black shoe dye. These days though, its most popular use is for brewing tasty drinks.
Darjeeling is situated in the foothills of the Indian Himalayas, a mountainous region ranging from 100–4200 meters that border Nepal, Bhutan, and Tibet. A lot of the tea bushes there were planted with tea seeds that had been smuggled out of China by infamous Scottish adventurer and botanist Robert Fortune almost 200 years ago.
Thanks to the cool weather and topography, Darjeeling seemed like the perfect place to experiment with the production of tea. Fortune sold a lot of his seeds to Dr. Campbell, Superintendent of the District, who planted them in 1841. By 1866, Darjeeling had 39 tea plantations of 100 acres cultivating 133,000 lbs of tea. Within a decade, production had increased tenfold!
There’s a reason why this is often called the “champagne of teas”. It’s a perfect cup of tea, less bitter than standard black tea, and boasting citrus and floral flavours, similar to a standard cup of Earl Grey. It’s also capable of complimenting drinkers with musky-sweet notes that mimic muscat wine. This a very classy drink to impress friends and loved ones with!
Keemun is a light and gentle tea, with hints of nut and malt. It pairs well with a lot of unsweetened cocoa to really bring out the light floral aroma, which is reminiscent of a cup of Earl Grey tea.
It’s believed Keemun tea was discovered by a government official in 1875 who was in the Keemun area to learn more about the production of black tea. The man, Yu Ganchen, went back to his native China with the knowledge that Chinese leaves could make black as well as green tea, which they were the biggest exports of.
Unbeknownst to him, this leaf could also be made into green, white, oolong, Pu’erh, and fermented tea but it was Keemun (or China Black) that was on his mind. It went on to become one of the first black teas to be exported out of China and is enjoyed by thousands to this day!
Nilgiri tea is made by infusing leaves of Camellia sinensis, which was brought to the Nilgiris district in Tamil Nadu, India by the British (who pinched it from China). The leaves are usually processed as black tea but it has been expanded into the world of green, white, and oolong teas.
It’s described as a very fragrant and full-bodied tea, that works just as well boiling hot as it does iced. With its citrus and floral notes, Nilgiri is a good tea if you’re looking for an Earl Grey vibe.
Nilgiri has acted as an immense source of income for the economy of India. Most of the money is generated through exportation. It is extremely popular in Iran, the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, Russia, wider Europe, and the United Arab Emirates. The factories in Nilgiri pride themselves on a careful and precise harvest process, also making sure their workers are producing Nilgiri tea in safe conditions on fair pay.
Pu-erh, pronounced poo-air, is another Camellia sinensis classic, exclusively made in Yunnan province, China. Just like Earl Grey, it it dark yet sweet and thanks to its unusually high caffeine level (a cup contains between 60 and 70 milligrams) is usually drank first thing in the morning.
This delicious tea went hand-in-hand with Chinese medicine with its oxidative properties. It was even sued to aid failing stomachs by filtering toxins throughout the body. It’s also good for the spleen as it can help cleanse the blood and eradicate free radicals.
Back in the day, fresh leaves were supposed to be dried in the sun, but when days were overcast, they had to settle for firewood which would cause the tea to have a smoky taste, as well as a smoky aroma which used to be called the “old tobacco flavour.” This isn’t for everyone, but for many, it’s what attracts them to teas like Pu-erh