It’s been over a month since I got back from London (land of the magical teas), and while my stash is holding strong, I’ve had a tumultuous relationship with one of my Fortnum and Mason teas: Countess Grey. Like the classic Earl Grey, Countess Grey is a black tea flavored with bergamot, but also has orange added to it, resulting in a much lighter flavor. It is a really lovely citrus-y tea that goes well with breakfast or as an afternoon treat. However, our relationship has two major hiccups:
- I only brought back one box of Countess Grey and two boxes of Wedding Breakfast. Shoot, I didn’t even bring back the box, I stuffed the 25 individual tea bags in the nooks and crannies of my over-stuffed duffel bag. It has been bitter with me ever since.
- It’s caffeinated. While I love the flavor, I don’t have a whole lot of time on weekdays to brew a cup of tea before work and I prefer to drink teas I can enjoy plain at my desk, so my evenings are when the majority of my tea times happen. Since I’ve found that I perform better at work under some semblance of consciousness, I have to go to bed early.
Countess Grey and I have been working things out; we’ve talked it over, contemplated couples’ therapy, and have come to the solution that works best for both of us: an open relationship.
Sew a scarlet letter “T” on my sweaters, I’ve got another grey gal that fixes the bill.
Enter Twinings Lady Grey tea. Twinings hails from Andover, Hampshire in England. Its founder, Thomas Twining, is credited with establishing the first known tea room in London, which is still in business today. Nowadays, they boast a Loose Leaf Tea Bar and offer Masterclasses with their Tea Ambassadors (note to self: things to do the next time I’m in London). Lady Grey was trademarked by Twinings in the 1990s for their Nordic market, who found that traditional Earl Grey tea was too strong in flavor. Twinings remedied the situation by adding orange and lemon to the mix, resulting for an even lighter citrus flavor. Much thanks to our Nordic friends for having sensitive taste buds.
Though an England-based company, Twinings is a very commonly found tea brand in the United States; many varieties can be found in major grocery stores. My sister had mentioned the similarity of Countess Grey to Lady Grey, but I didn’t intentionally look for it since I had so much Countess Grey left. I was in the tea aisle looking for work teas (teas I keep at my desk for sanity purposes- more on those later) when I stumbled across the Twinings section, and, lo and behold, there was Lady Grey shimmering in her blue packaging. While it was a nice find, my attention went straight to the gal next to her: decaffeinated Lady Grey.
Cue the hallelujah chorus.
Never mind my fairly full stash of Countess Grey, I bought a box and brewed some up that evening. With my usual fixings of milk and sugar, I was pleased with my cup. It could be the addition of the lemon, but Lady Grey has a “brighter” taste than Countess Grey; it tastes a little bit like an orange creamsicle, except not nearly as sweet. At the risk of sounding horrendously cheesy, it tastes like sunshine. Countess Grey’s flavor is more reminiscent of sitting on the back porch on a nice afternoon with a good book and shortbread cookies; has its own lightness, but a little more subdued. Both are fantastic in their own way, but I’m thrilled that I can add a little more variety to my evening teas (Sleepytime Mint is also upset with Lady Grey’s arrival. I just can’t win). I have been drinking it non-stop since I’ve purchased it and can’t recommend it enough.
Lessons learned: next time I’m in London, pack an additional bag solely for tea (international shipping is a doozy), check out the Twinings flagship store and take a Masterclass, and when my time with Countess Grey comes to an end, Lady Grey can step in and mend my broken, citrus-loving heart.