I Tried 12 Grocery Store Earl Grey Teas to Find the Best One

My caffeine jitters say "you're welcome."

March 28, 2022
Photo by James Ransom. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Alya Hameedi

Pre-pandemic, coffee shops were basically my office. I’d sit at a corner table with an Earl Grey tea like I owned the joint—essentially becoming the classic, fictional mob boss who takes meetings in the back booth of an Italian restaurant. The only difference was that I did a little more “drinking tea,” and slightly less “murdering all my enemies.” But other than that, totally the same.

I’ve spent so much time buying Earl Grey tea at coffee shops that it’s embarrassing. Ellen Degeneres once made fun of me, specifically, for doing so. And when you’re called out for your tea obsession on national television, you know you’re pretty far gone.

But I’ll admit, the habit is expensive (I mean—do my kids really need to go to college?), and more importantly, I’ve been avoiding indoor public spaces during the pandemic. Which means, I’ve had to cut out my trips to coffee shops. I’ve really missed the magic of working with the perfect cup of tea. And in the last two years, I just haven’t found my store-brand tea soulmate yet (though spoiler, now I have, and I’m sipping its magnificence while I write this!). So I asked Food52 if I could go on an epic* quest to find the very best Earl Grey brand to brew at home. They were on board, and I drank a whole lot of tea so…here we go.

*The first and last time anyone will describe sipping tea as “epic,” probably.

What's Earl Grey Tea, Anyway?

Earl Grey tea is, quite simply, a black tea mixed with oil from the bergamot plant, a citrus fruit grown in Italy. It’s named after Earl Charles Grey II, who was the prime minister of Great Britain from 1830 to 1834. He’s credited with introducing his tea namesake to Europe—where it took off and, afterwards, grew in popularity all over the world.

Join The Conversation

Top Comment:
“As a teen living with a foster family we were served tea, special occasions it was Twinings Earl Grey I loved the smell so much that I’d buy small packs of it to put in my drawers as a potpourri, my clothes had the distinct smell of bergamot. As I got older I loved Bigelow’s Constant Comment which to me had a stronger taste than Twinings. I love a good flavourful Earl Grey. ”
— Atticussprings

But beyond providing his name, no one is certain how he came to the recipe. Accounts range from the tea secret dramatically being given to Grey after he saved a man’s life, to the less exciting—like his family needing to cover up the taste of their gross mineral water. My theory is aliens, but as zero historians agree with me, believe that at your own risk.

The Testing Criteria

There are lots of variations on the classic. For this test, I often tried multiple kinds of the same brand and then just dropped my favorite one in the list. And I wasn’t picky on Earl Greys that were snazzied-up a bit, I was looking for the best—so I can’t count out a little lavender if it gives me the most transcendent tea-sperience of my life, can I?

I tried all the teas in one afternoon, applying the recommended brewing method for black tea—using water that’s just under boiling and letting the tea steep for three to five minutes. I like my tea on the stronger side, so I went with five minutes across the board. When looking for the best Earl Grey tea, there were a few factors that I was looking for, balance between the tart citrus of the bergamot and floral sweetness, bold, smooth flavor (I still want it to feel like a black tea), and a pleasant fragrance (is there anything better than breathing in a warm cup of fragrant tea right before you take a sip?).

There was some steep competition. But now, it’s time to spill the...you know.

The Teas

1. Adagio Teas: Earl Grey Lavender

Price: $9 for 15 tea bags

This was an understated offering—black tea that’s light and sweet with just a hint of citrus. The lavender is noticeable, but not so much as to be overpowering. It felt like the kind of soft tea you’d sip at a spa before a treatment.

2. Art of Tea: Earl Grey Crème

Price: $21 for 12 tea bags

First, the smell of Art of Tea’s offering is absolutely delectable—like being in an old-fashioned ice cream shop. Which made me concerned that it would be way too sweet, but the vanilla is so light, complementing the acidic quality of the citrus nicely. It’s a twist on classic Earl Grey, but leaves its bold taste intact.

The one downside is that their tea is pricier than some of the others, but if you’re looking to splurge a little, it’s amazing.

3. Bigelow: Earl Grey

Price: $4.74 for 20 tea bags

This tea reminds me more of English Breakfast (the bergamot notes are very light), but it’s affordable and pleasant. So if you’re like me, and can go through quite a bit of tea in a workday, it’ll save you from going into crushing debt due to your tea habits.

4. Harney & Sons: Earl Grey Supreme

Price: $10.14 for 20 tea bags

Harney & Sons’ Earl Grey blends the signature black tea and bergamot oil combo with white tea. And this gives it a more complex flavor than some others on the list—with a bold, wintery feel that makes you want to drink it in front of a roaring fire. Plus, the brand has the prettiest old-fashioned tins! It would make the nicest gift of the bunch.

5. Numi: Aged Earl Grey

Price: $6.99 for 18 tea bags

The citrus notes are present in Numi’s bright Earl Grey but balanced nicely with its soothing black tea. If you’re looking for a classic Earl Grey with high-quality ingredients, it fits the bill nicely. A little forgettable, though.

6. Rishi Tea & Botanicals: Earl Grey

Price: $56.70 for 1 pound of tea leaves (makes 35 cups)

A very smooth tea that replaces the (more often found) lavender with notes of geranium and rose, adding a dash of floral complexity. This is also a pretty tea and, brewed in Rishi’s glass teapot, perfect to serve to guests when you want to be a little fancy.

7. Sama Tea: Awaken & Energize Earl Grey

Price: $9.95 for 15 tea bags

I really liked this tea — it smelled like warm honey mixed with a hint of vanilla. The quality of the tea was strong and the flavor was lovely — a little bitterness balanced with floral sweetness. However, the bergamot oil gets a little lost here. If I were craving Earl Grey, it probably wouldn’t be my first choice.

8. Stash Tea: Double Bergamot Earl Grey

Price: $23.59 for 108 tea bags

This tea was super budget friendly, but the affordabilty doesn’t mean it skimps on flavor. It’s bright, bold, and the perfect tea to sip on all afternoon. The extra bergamot really stands out, and while I was worried it might be too tart, it was incredibly balanced. I tried a few of their other flavors too, but the double bergamot was just so good.

9. Tazo: Earl Grey

Price: $3.28 for 20 servings

I often buy Tazo on Target runs because it’s both flavorful and super affordable—and this instance was no different. This is not a sweet Earl Grey; it’s on the bold side, reminding me more of coffee, with an earthy aroma and tart after taste.

10. Teavana: Earl Grey Crème

Price: $23.12 for 60 tea bags

This was so fragrant that I could smell the flowers wafting toward me the minute I opened the box. And taste-wise, it was like an explosion of flavor: slightly tart with floral notes and a lingering taste of vanilla. If you like your tea sweet, this one will satisfy you without any added sugar. It was a bit too intense for me, though.

11. Twinings: Earl Grey

Price: $4.49 for 20 tea bags

This is a very classic Earl Grey—the kind of tea Ted Lasso would certainly hate—slightly tart with stronger notes of bergamot than some of the other teas. It doesn’t quite evoke the coffee shop feel (which I tend to associate with more complexity), but it does the job.

Bonus: Twinings claims that Richard Twining was the first to recreate the tea for the Earl—so for any Earl Grey purists out there, this is your guy.

12. Vahdam Teas: Earl Grey

Price: $11.99 for 30 tea bags

This Earl Grey leaned more toward the bitter side as well, but with a bold flavor. Smooth and deliciously tart, the bergamot oil really shines. This was definitely a top contender for me, though ultimately, there were others that won out.

The Winners

And the winners are….

Best Overall

Art of Tea: Earl Grey Crème

I could not stop drinking this, even knowing I still had a lot of tea to try. I finished the taste test and made myself another cup! It was so light and balanced, the sweetness was exactly the right amount and if I could make a perfume from its scent, I would. It is one of the more expensive options, but still cheaper by the cup than going to a coffee shop!

Look, I have found my tea soulmate and I am never letting go.

Honorable Mention

Sama Tea: Awaken & Energize Earl Grey

I was a little torn here when picking a favorite, because I really, really liked this tea. Ultimately though, the bergamot is overpowered by other flavors, and so it just didn’t feel Earl Grey-ish enough to give it the top spot. That said, I thought it was such a unique take that I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out that this is a lovely, very smooth, sippable tea.

Best Budget-Friendly Option

Stash Tea: Double Bergamot Earl Grey

I just loved the boldness and classic taste at such a low price. This wasn’t a blind taste test, but I suspect I would have guessed the price of this as quite a bit higher than it is. It’s quality with value.

What's your favorite brand of Earl Grey? Let us know in the comments.

This post contains products independently chosen (and loved) by our editors and writers. Food52 earns an affiliate commission on qualifying purchases of the products we link to.

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Allison Sanchez

Written by: Allison Sanchez

A freelance food, travel, and humor writer


Coconut November 25, 2023
Can’t wait to try these earl grey teas! My favorite is Jasmine pearl tea. Can you please send suggestions of brands and do a testing also of this tea?
Mszig November 8, 2023
Being a devoted Earl Grey consumer I have sampled many of the teas from this article..taste wise I prefer the Tazo ( Starbucks London Fog) for convenience and Stash. I used to order Assams from Upton, but their teas changed two years ago and I found my favorites tasted weaker and less malty. Recently I was introduced to Teabox.com which ships teas directly from India…Assams and Darjeelings most featured. I prefer a malty, rich flavor and brew for 5 minutes and add a splash of milk. The Teabox Classic Earl Grey Citrus loose tea is excellent. Malty with very balanced Bergamot. Their Assams have each been quite good also.

I recently ordered their Chai sampler…until I found Teabox I didn’t know each area in India has its own unique blend of spices for Chai. I’ve sample two of them and each was distinctly different and lovely. Thank you for the great article.
Chris W. November 8, 2023
Is it good to use sustainble and eco-friendly tea packaging?

debalex5 February 3, 2023
The Art of Tea is BEYOND. Thank you so much! It is kind of its own thing, though, with the creaminess. Not "pure" Earl Grey. Which do you think might be a more straightforward EG?
Mszig December 9, 2022
Like Allison I too am an Earl Grey afficianado…but I enjoy my tea with a small splash of milk, she does not mention if she like hers straight or with a bit of milk. I find it smooths out the flavor of the tea. For convenience and time I currently like the Tazo Earl Grey…. I’m not a fan of the pseudo Earl Greys made with lavender. Most of my teas are Assams purchased as loose leaf from Upton Tea but none of their Earl Grey teas are “just right” for me. I have a few Assam producers on their site that provide that malty, toasted mouth feel I enjoy…but even with those there is a variance year to year. Much like vintages of wine. I have liked the Numi (which on the west coast is carried by Whole Foods) Not a fan of the watery Bigelow or Twinnings. Like wine, tastebuds determine your favorite.
Babette's S. October 4, 2022
Bagged teas...BLECH! Serious tea drinkers brew loose tea. CHECK OUT THE EARL GREY SELECTION FROM UPTON TEA IMPORTS & THE TEA TABLE, also, GOLDEN MOON has a terrific Earl Grey. I really can't take this gal seriously as a tea expert or connoisseur. This tasting review is strictly her opinion. Tea for me is like fine wine...all different depending on the blend & terroir. If this had been a serious tea tasting, it would've been done like America's Test Kitchen does reviewing products with both staff & public. Personally, this article was yet another silly waste of space on FOOD52. If this was a serious tea tasting article, the reviewer would've noted & investigated the tea base for each Earl Grey blend. The tea base is as important as the bergamot & any other flavorings. This article was a complete waste of my time. Been a serious tea drinker for over 40 years...only loose tea, whether tea or tisane. Must have over 25 different tins of teas on my pantry shelf. FOOD52 please don't waste space with silly amateur articles.
Encartamazegame January 16, 2023
This is literally an opinion ranking on Earl Grey teas available in grocery stores. Calm down. This article is not for you; it's for people who are new to tea or for people who need accessible and/or affordable options. It's silly to be so elitist about tea in a comment. Go write your own blog post or article if you think it will be helpful to others who want non-grocery store options.
Babette's S. April 24, 2023
I'm not being elitist, I'm just passionate about tea. I'm entitled to my opinion on the article, just as you are. I NEVER criticize other folks for their comments on articles. I don't know who you are or why you are being critical of my comments on this article & chastising me, because you have almost zero content in your profile. I've been an avid Food52 subscriber since just about the beginning, but they do post (from time to time) articles that are pretty amateurish & just take up space on the site. This article has been posted at least a second time since original posting in March 2022. Food52 used to be a serious food, cooking & drink site but amateurish articles like this one make me wonder & if it's just "filler." I can't help but wonder whose friend at Food52 she is & how much she was paid for the article.
Frances H. September 18, 2022
Indar Tea. Beautifully blended in France. 🫖
Hedy September 13, 2022
Everyone, Please try Williamson's Earl Grey--my favorite! First had in London under the name Williamson and Magor some 20-plus years ago. I get it from Teadog.com but it's also available from Amazon.
PixieDC April 24, 2022
Wondering why Republic of Tea’s Earl Greyer was shown in the pic but not reviewed? It’s a little on the expensive side but easily accessible at most Whole Foods, etc. Very prominent bergamot flavor.
mary April 8, 2022
I don't see where any of these choices are organically grown. Conventionally grown tea and coffee crops are heavily sprayed. I stick to supporting organic not only to protect my health but to support farmers that choose not to spray the earth with more chemicals and to protect the farm workers.
Johonna C. July 1, 2022
Art of Tea, Sama, and Stash ARE organic!!
Adrianne H. April 7, 2022
TeaPigs Tea! I feel a bit snobbish buying something by the name, but it earns it with their Earl Grey :)
NancyJ April 7, 2022
Taylors of Harrogate Earl Grey - buy it in leaf form and order it - they say it keeps 18 months but, like good coffee beans, it’s best early in it’s life.
Judy April 7, 2022
Serendipitea makes an amazing Earl Grey. Not in supermarkets though. Mail order only. I think they have a shop on Long Island. All of their teas are amazing.
Gail April 5, 2022
My favorite is Cream of Earl Grey from Genuine Tea in Toronto. They easily ship to the US. Worth the splurge!
Bananapotamus March 30, 2022
Harney and Sons is a favorite along with Stash’s double bergamot. However, all time favorite I discovered in Australia - T2 French Earl Grey. More floral, very pretty to look at (it’s loose leaf) with a few random petals sprinkled in. Buying from them in the States was fairly easy, I believe they have a warehouse here.
bethwatson March 29, 2022
I’m a huge fan of the Stash Double Bergamot. I add a teabag to the pitcher when I’m brewing iced tea and it makes a delicious difference!
Nd$iu!!Nz4J9d5@ March 29, 2022
I know an individual who owns the company that freeze dries the bergamot oil for Twinning's Tea. If you open a bag there are tiny tiny blonde specs that you can pick out of the tea. If you can separate one out from the tea and put it on your tongue you will get a burst of bergamot flavor. When he told me how much bergamot oil he freeze dries for Twinning's (a massive amount) and I considered just how little bergamot is in each tea bag it blew my mind to consider how much Bergamot Tea Twinnings must sell. I encourage anyone who has some Twinning's Bergamot Tea to open a bag and pick out a few of these freeze dried specs bergamot for the experience. I think it's quite fun.
Deb S. March 29, 2022
Was just thinking about buying Earl Grey tea to replace some of my coffee so this article is very timely for me. Thank you for sharing your Ellen “guest appearance “. You were great!
Ewhitake March 29, 2022
I have a very large Starbucks cup and combine 1-Stash and 1-Bigelowe Earl Grey tea bag and steep for 15 minutes. Yum!!!
McK_cook March 29, 2022
For me it’s Fortnum and Mason. It’s a pleasant and straightforward tea.