Earl Grey VS English Breakfast Tea: Knowing The Difference

earl grey vs english breakfast tea: knowing the difference
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A cup of tea is one of the best ways to light up the day. The drink will keep you motivated throughout the day and help you with staying fit, glowing and healthy. However, to most homeowners, English Breakfast tea is the first thing that rings in their mind. Not many people know about the Earl Tea Drink. 

Earl Tea Drink is almost the same as the English breakfast. It contains an almost equal number of rich content when compared to English Breakfast. But, there is a lot more. In this piece, we are going to show you the difference between the two types of teas and go ahead to take you through their method of preparation and the roles each type can play to make your day a buzz.

So, what is the difference between the two teas?

Both the English Breakfast and Earl Grey are black tea. They can be used interchangeably if you prefer working with different taste. However, numerous characteristics are distinct to each of these types of tea. The distinct characteristics relate to:

1. Ingredients

English Black tea is a blend of different types of high-quality leaves. The tea is because of processing and finishing of brands such as Assam, Ceylon, Keemun and Kenyan leaves.  Each of these teas has distinct flavours that blend to give the black tea its unique, aromatic and refreshing taste. Keemun leaves are smoky and citric. Ceylon is a little bit sour and Piney.  Assam tea prides its malty and bitter flavour. While Kenyan tea comes handy with a fruity and floral taste.

Earl Grey tea a quintessential type of tea in the British world is brought to limelight through the integration of bergamot. Just like chocolate for peanut butter and vanilla for the cookie dough, the bergamot gives this tea its distinct flavour.  However, this does not mean that the tea falls in its unique bracket. It is one of the flavoured drinks made up different types of tea from across the planets. It is a base consisting of the Black Indian and Chinese leaves blended with Bergamot.

2. The flavours 

Due to the difference in the blends, these two types of tea give a unique type of flavours that are not only refreshing but also distinct. 

Earl Grey tea derives its taste from Bergamot. It comes handy with a slightly citreous flavour. Your first seep of this quality flavour will make you think it’s a cross between lemon and grapefruit. It is not overwhelming to the taste buds since it doesn’t have a strong taste as compared to other black variants in the industry. Due to its versatility, you can choose to take the tea with or without any kind of sweetener or honey. 

Earl Grey comes in additional subtypes. Some subtypes may be a little bit stronger and bitter. Two common subtypes include the stronger Scottish black tea and the Irish Black tea. Otherwise, the subtypes can also be categorized further depending on the main ingredient used for their personalization. For example, you can add vanilla over your tea to give it more vanilla-like taste. When you add mellow flowers to the drink, you will come up with Lady Grey. On the other hand, when you add rose petals to the drink, you will make the Rose Grey tea out of your tea. 

English Breakfast tea prides its hearty flavour made up of light floral undertones. Blending the tea with milk gives it a honey-like taste with a scent similar to toast. This tea is more hearty and versatile as compared to Earl Grey counterpart. 

However, English Black tea comes in a wide range of tastes depending on how you manipulate your ingredients. It is more robust and awakening to bring out the elements of alertness during the early hours of the day. You can choose to do with a sweet, malty or bitter taste. Popular accompaniments for the drink include milk, sugar and honey.

3. The origin

The origin of a specific tea matters a lot when it comes to its naming, method of preparation, its flavours and quality. The margin between English Breakfast and Earl Grey is widened due to factors relating to the difference in origin. 

  • Earl Grey

Earl Grey tea is 100% Chinese in Origin. However, it was popularized by the English culture. During ancient times, Chinese tea masters were more determined about improving the taste of their teas. Therefore, they went ahead to experiment with different blends to come up with more exotic blends. This bid was mainly to capture the attention of reigning emperors. And, of course, for business purposes, since at the time the region received various trade merchants from Europe and other parts of the world. 

The master infused different types of flowers and leaves. Some of the potential flowers and fruits used for the experimentations included rosebuds, sweet lychee and bitter oranges. However, they made sure that the infusions were drinkable and distinct as possible.

Early Grey originated from around 1830 to 1834. History has it that the tea was as a result of infusion by a mandarin tea master in the country. It was a gift to Charles Grey, the second Earl of Grey. It was from the Earl of Grey name that the tea coined its routes.  Originally, the Bergamot was used to offset the lime flavour from the drink 

According to historians, Lady Grey—Earl Grey’s wife—was more enthusiastic about the new flavour. Other than entertaining the drink, she went ahead to make her subtype using additional mellow flowers. The tea became an iconic drink popular to England, named after the Prime Minister whose hearty works in child labour reformation and abolishment of slavery was magnanimous. 

  • English Breakfast 

English Breakfast is a century-old tradition with a string of historical record. Founded in around the early 1300s, the tradition is riddled with distinct practices including specific drinks to work with. At the centre of these drinks is the English Breakfast tea.  

English Breakfast tea was founded by Robert Drysdale in the year 1892.  The Scottish tea manufacturer a merchant was motivated to finding an infusion that could completely define the buzz that comes with English Breakfast. 

According to historians, even at the time Robert founded the drink, there were other infusions made with other types of floral flavours. However, the invention of this hearty drink led to another series of inventions. It served as a high opener to a wide range of tea with the same main ingredients but different flavours. 

Method of Preparation

Both Earl Grey and English Breakfast are flavoured black teas. They are scented in the end phase of processing—usually from dried tea leaves.  To make sure that the tea features a visually appealing aesthetic appearance and smooth feel, during the preparation, the tea is finished with spices, flowers and herbs. The additional ingredients are infused with the tea leaves to give the resultant products an ideal aroma and flavour. 

Besides that, there is a second method through which you can make the scented teas. You can coat the leaves with the finishing ingredients. This is mainly done through spraying the essential oils and flavouring agents over your finished leaves. By alternating the ratio between your finishing products and tea leaves, you can easily achieve different flavours, feel and colour. 


Making a cup of English Breakfast or Earl Grey follows the same process. Once you have acquired the scented black teas, you are almost half-way through with the journey. Here is the absolute procedure to follow for a hearty and rejuvenating brew with balanced flavour and scent. 

1. Measure your ingredients

This process is not necessary when working with tea bags. However, when using the loose tea leaves, it is a general rule of the thump to use 6g for 240Ml of water. For deeper flavours, you can alternate the recipe to contain more leaves.

2. Boil your water

Boil fresh and cold water over a stovetop using a separate pot. When using tap water, make sure that it is thoroughly boiled to eliminate the hardening agents. The compound can easily affect your pot and bury the taste of your drink. A glass or stainless steel kettle is the most preferred when boiling tap water. 

Make sure that the water is rolling boiling. Earl Grey tea steeps best at a temperature of about 98 degrees Celsius while English Breakfast can do with a temperature range of between 96 to 98 degrees. For quality flavour, use a thermometer to measure your working temperatures. 

3. Pour the boiled water in a cup 

Add the boiled water into a cup of tea. However, before this, you can choose two options: to place the tea leaves inside the cup and pour water over them or add water to the cup and use an infuser.  However, when using the teabag, just pour the water in the cup and immerse your teabag. 

4. Steep the tea

Using an infuser, steep the leaves in your cup of water for approximately 2 to eight minutes. The steeping duration should be relative to your preferred taste and colour you are aiming for.  In case you don’t use an infuser, you can go ahead and strain the drink to remove the loose object from its surface. You can then go ahead and add extra ingredients such as lemon juice or milk for whatever flavour you want. 


Both Earl Grey and English Breakfast teas can be used interchangeably. They both come handy with a wealth of antioxidants and beneficial elements that have a highly euphoric awakening attitude. Feel free to test any of the variants and take your breakfast a notch higher. 

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Mary L

When you discover something you love you want to share it with the world, that’s only natural. My passion had become my way of life, and I am finally able to share a cup of the good stuff with the ones I love. Proof that dreams really do come true when you can share your favorite brew.

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