Black Tea vs Earl Grey, Taste, Differences, and Similarities


Tea Facts, Tea Guides /

Want to understand more about how Black tea and Earl grey match up? Here’s the black tea vs earl grey comparison on the differences. As well as the flavor, properties, caffeine content, how they’re made, and how each is brewed.

So I’ve got all the answers here, let’s start with a summary… 

Black tea and Earl Grey are both Black tea blends made from the Camellia Sinensis. Earl Grey is flavored with bergamot peel essential oil. black tea has more caffeine 47.4mg than Earl grey 30mg. With similar polyphenol properties. Earl grey is now made with Green, Oolong, White, and Pu’er tea.

In terms of flavor, Black tea has an astringent flavor and Earl grey a more floral flavor.

I should also point out that this isn’t a competition, neither Black tea nor Earl Grey is “better” than the other. They are both just different.

Earl Grey tea for example doesn’t normally include milk. But Earl Grey could also be a good morning tea the same as a Black breakfast tea.

And like Earl Grey, Black tea could be taken straight as black tea, with no added sweetener, or unlike Earl Grey, it could be taken with or without Milk.

That’s the summary anyway, but let’s get into more of the comparisons of Black tea vs Earl Grey tea…

What are they? Black tea vs Earl Grey tea

Both black tea and earl grey are a true tea type, meaning both of them are made using the only tea plant “Camellia Sinensis”.

The difference comes in how they are made…

Black tea – is an authentic tea, which, aside from sometimes being made from a variety of Black tea blends, normally has no additional flavors added.

Early Grey – on the other hand, is its own unique flavor of tea and is rightly called a “flavored tea”. This is because it’s flavored with the essentials oils or peels of bergamot, which is a small orange. 

This flavored tea doesn’t have to be made using just black tea, it can also be made using any true tea variety such as Green, White, or Oolong. But for Earl Grey, it is mostly flavored black tea.

Similarly, flavoring doesn’t have to be done only with essential oils of bergamot, a tea can – and often is – flavored with any type of flowers, spices, oils, roots, extracts, or even natural and artificial flavors.

black tea
black tea

Flavor – Black tea vs Earl Grey tea

Black tea has its own unique flavor that is often described as earthy, malty, citrus, caramel, leather, fruity, smoky, nutty, brisk, and metallic, honey, and sweet.

In simple terms, black tea has a bold, brisk, and
astringent flavor profile. 

You would expect a similar underlying flavor from Earl Grey tea, however, it’s not … not really. There’s something rather exotic about the added bergamot oil. It gives Earl Grey a bold, strong, and nutty flavor.

Simply put, Earl Grey tea offers a sweet, floral flavor profile, and yet has bitter, and
sour tones and layers in its depth.

What is exciting about Earl Grey tea is the aromatic treat it provides as soon as you open the sealed packet of fresh Earl Grey tea leaves. You even get a similar aroma from a box of Earl Grey teabags.

For those who are just slightly more adventurous in their teas, other than just the classic flavor of black tea, then Earl Grey tea which you can even get on Amazon,  is the option you may want to switch to.

Try Earl Grey to compare it for yourself…

If you’re starting with Earl Grey, I’d probably suggest something like these Earl Grey flavors on Amazon.

And for you loose leaf aficionados, I’d definitely try this Earl Grey loose leaf option.

In fact, the loose-leaf option would go really well as a wild card in a tea tasting session, with my popular Tea Sommelier Course to really enjoy a simple process with friends or family. Here’s the info…

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Properties Black tea Vs. Earl grey tea

Both black tea and earl grey tea contain similar properties.

Both contain powerful groups of polyphenols such as epigallocatechin gallate, Thearubigins, Theaflavins, and amino acid L-theanine. As well as several other catechins or flavonoids.

These properties are known to help protect against many chronic health conditions.

Earl Grey, specifically, has antioxidants that are believed to support heart and health. It helps in the prevention of serious cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and high blood pressure.

Also, Earl Grey has certain antioxidants that help to cope with oxidative stress that causes cell damages.

Caffeine content – Black tea vs Earl Grey tea

You can find more about caffeine content specifically in my Earl Grey tea caffeine article.

In general, Black tea is high in caffeine content when compared to other true tea varieties such as Green tea, Oolong, and White tea.

So because Earl Grey tea is a flavor variation of Black tea, Earl Grey tea also shares a similar caffeine content.

However, some varieties of Earl Grey come with flowers and other flavor agents. These may help to reduce the amount of caffeine content.

In an 8 0z cup of black tea, caffeine adds up to 47.4 mg. Whereas in an 8 oz cup of Earl Grey, the amount of caffeine adds up to 30 mg. This can also help in knowing how many cups you should drink.

So on average, black tea may have higher caffeine content than Earl Grey tea.

earl grey teabags
earl grey teabags

How are they made? – Black tea vs Earl Grey

Black tea is made purely from the leaves of the tea plant “Camellia sinensis” and is sent through an oxidation process.

This oxidation process is what makes the Black tea a dark-brownish color. When tea leaves are plucked they are initially green. it’s the oxidation process, that makes Black tea the color we know and love.

Black tea goes through a full-oxidation process, unlike White tea and Green tea leaves. Oxidation is the process of exposing tea leaves to moist oxygen-rich air.

Earl Grey tea is also made using the same type of Black tea as the standard, base Black tea variety. 

The difference comes when this black tea is mixed with bergamot peel. These days, Earl Grey tea uses bergamot essential oil.

For Earl Grey tea, the Black tea base can be from a single country. Or it could be from a single estate or a blend of Black teas from around the world for a more exotic flavor. 

High quality and expensive Earl Grey are made using bergamot from Calabria, Italy, which yields a stronger bergamot flavor. So even within Earl Grey, there are various flavor profiles.

How to brew steep Black tea and Earl Grey tea 

Here’s the really simple process for how you make each of the teas, starting with Black tea.

Black Tea

  1. Add one Black tea teabag or one tablespoon of Black tea leaves into an 8 oz cup
  2. Add hot water with a temperature between 200 F and 212 F.
  3. Steep for 3-5 minutes, strain, and add sugar if needed.

Earl Grey is usually drunk with milk and sugar in the US and with lemon and sugar in the UK.

On that note, you might also like to know…

Is tea popular in America?

Most popular tea in England

As well as…

American tea vs British tea

Here’s the really simple process of making Earl Grey. You don’t need to add any bergamot, this will already be imbued in the Earl Grey blend during processing. Plus you might want to get my Tea Sommelier Course to get the best out of tasting any tea.

bergamot-fruit
Earl Grey contains peel from the bergamot fruit

Earl Grey

  1. Add one Earl Grey teabag or one tablespoon of Earl Grey tea leaves into an 8 oz cup.
  2. Add hot water at a temperature of 208° Fahrenheit, or just below the boiling point.
  3. Steep for 3 minutes, strain and add sugar if needed. 

These measurements are pretty standard for both authentic Black and Earl Grey tea brewing. And as you can see when it comes to both these teas, there are only slight variations in how they’re made. Mainly as they’re both based on Black tea as a base.

You can always add more tea, a different type of sweetener, or even milk and steep for longer to make it more palatable for you if you wish.

That’s almost it…

So maybe you learned something about tea today, if so then I’d love to hear your experience with both teas. And you might want to learn more by reading through my other articles. Or take a look at my Tea Sommelier Course to take your tea huge steep forward!