Charles grey


When you enjoy a cup of Earl Grey tea, do you ever wonder where the name came from? A real Earl Grey was indeed connected with the very popular tea. He was Charles, 2nd Earl Grey and British prime minister from 1830 to 1834. Today, March 13th would be his 258th birthday!

Few tea lovers have heard of him, and probably fewer have visited Howick Hall in Northumberland which has been the home of the Grey family since the 14th century. Charles Grey live at the hall with his wife and 15 children (can you imagine?) when not taking care of his political duties in London.

There are inconsistencies, mysteries, and unanswered questions of the beginnings of Earl Grey tea. The story from Howick Hall is that it was blended by a Chinese mandarin for the 2nd Earl Grey to suit the water from Howick by using bergamot to offset the taste of lime. Lady Grey, as a political hostess, used it to entertain and it proved so popular that she was asked if it could be sold to others, which is how Twinings came to market it and it is now sold worldwide. Jacksons of Piccadilly also claims to have owned the first recipe.

The truth will almost never be known since no one has ever been able to produce any reliable evidence that might settle questions about where the recipe came from, who first blended it and why bergamot. Sadly, the Greys, being unbusinesslike, failed to register the trademark and as a result have never received a penny in royalties!

Howick Hall (pronounced Hoe-ick), apart from its connection to one of the world’s favorite teas, is famous for its stunning gardens and parkland. After a stroll around the 2,700 estate, a popular stop is the Earl Grey Tea House which has been created in house’s old ballroom. A portrait of Charles, 2nd Earl Grey, hangs on the wall to remind all tea lovers of the important link between him, Howick Hall, and Earl Grey tea.

We sell the classic Earl Grey blend plus three other variations.

photo of earl Charles grey and a cup of tea
Howick Hall, Northumberland, England
Howick Hall, Northumberland, England
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