Battle of the Earl Greys


Every summer I try to assign myself a project. Sometimes it's a series of smaller tasks and other times it's a single focus. This summer is going to be a bit of a combination - some writing, some scrapbooking, some sewing, and, of course, a quest for the perfect Earl Grey for me.

Now you'll notice that I didn't just say "The Best Earl Grey." I don't think there is such a thing. If you watch Malcolm Gladwell's "Choice, Happiness, and Spaghetti Sauce" on TEDTalks, you'll see what I mean. I'm simply looking for the tea that best fits my own as yet undefined criteria.

As this is only a summer project, my goal is to post the final results in late August or early September.

Format Information

There's a LOT of EG out there, so initially I'm going to just be working to eliminate the teas that I don't think will be solid contenders. I want to get it down to something nice and round, like 8 or 12, so I can treat it like a sports game and create an actual bracket. I'll post it when we get to that point, and you can play along if you like!

Right now, I'm looking at a single-elimination bracket because I simply do not have the quantity of each tea required for a double-elimination format. For example, an 8-tea single-elimination format will require enough of each tea for four rounds, including the initial review. We'll be using my new 16oz infuser mugs, so that will mean 8 cups worth of each tea instead of the 18 cups worth a double-elimination format would require.

The Final Bracket and Results

Over time this changed a little to separate the top contenders, mostly because it would have sucked to have the closest match somewhere in the middle instead of at the end. Because of this, our closest matches were between the four finalists, all fabulous teas which I would be delighted to have in my cupboard.

The Four Finalists
  • Organic Earl Grey by Tealicious
  • Bergamot Rose Laoshan Black by Verdant Tea
  • Earl Grey French Blue by Mariage Frères
  • Silky Earl Grey by Teajo Specialty Teas

To see how we went from the original 50 Earl Greys to these four finalists, check out the final copy of the face/off bracket:

Evolving Criteria

This is subject to change (hence the "evolving" part of the title!) and I will add to it the further I get into the project. For right now, these are some of the things I've been noticing:
  • A smooth tea without jarring notes, like a bitter aftertaste, etc.
  • I am open to different varieties (i.e. lavender, cream, etc.) but the EG flavors must take the driver's seat and maintain the focus.
  • There must be a "Wow!" factor - something about it needs to stand out and make it special.
  • Medium to low astringency - let's avoid too much of the "dry mouth" factor!
  • Fair Trade and Organic would be preferred.


There's just too much great tea out there! During this project I've come across some amazing teas, but not all of them meet the Earl Grey criteria I'm looking for. To compensate for that, I'm going to rank the various varieties as I go. Please note that these will evolve throughout the project.

Earl Grey, Lavender:
  1. Victorian Earl Grey by Simpson & Vail
  2. Earl Grey Lavender by Rishi Teas (Fair Trade, Organic)
  3. Earl Grey Lavender by Revolution
  4. Earl Grey Provence by Mariage Frères
  5. Earl Grey Lavender by Adagio
  6. Lady Grey by Tealicious

Earl Grey, Cream:
  1. Cream of Earl Grey by DAVIDsTEA (Organic)
  2. Earl Grey Moonlight by Adagio
  3. Earl Grey Cream by Teavana
  4. Earl Grey Creme by Della Terra Teas

Earl Grey, Other:
  1. Summertime Earl Grey by Simpson & Vail (Kosher)
  2. Earl Grey Cheesecake by 52Teas
  3. Citrus Paradisi Earl Grey Blend by Simpson & Vail (Kosher)

Other Notes:

Want to help? Here's a link to my Tea Wish List on Amazon.

If you are a tea company and interested in supplying tea samples for this project, please visit my Policies page for more information. Thank you!


  1. Have you tried Red Rose's Earl Grey? I drink it almost every day!

  2. No, I haven't heard of it before, but it's nice to know you're an EG enthusiast too! Do you recommend it?

  3. That would have been great!

    Really, there's a whole host of teas that I wanted to try during this project, but in the end I had to go with what I could get my hands on during the timeframe I set. I might come back to this later on, but at this point in the battle it's about whittling things down to a winner.

    And I think a sample size of something like 50 different Earl Greys isn't too shabby! ;)