As anyone who has met me a few times will know, I'm a bit of a tea addict. I have Firm Opinions on what makes a good cup of tea. However, unlike many people with Firm Opinions, I do actually like a wide variety of different teas, whether they be fruit teas or theft (get it? Proper tea is theft?)
One of my favourites is Lady Grey, which I find ideal for a soothing cuppa in the mid afternoon. It's far too weak and feeble to be a morning caffeine fix (that's when I drink the strong black coffee that I could stand a teaspoon up in), so I only start to drink it when I want to start mellowing out so that I'm not up all night with insomnia.
It comes in tea bags, which many true aficionados would throw their hands up in horror at. Me? I'm a little bit lazy - loose leaf tea is a luxury for when I am at home. At work, I have bagged tea for ease.
It is described by Twinnings as being "A pale golden tea infused with refreshing citrus flavours". This tea is named for Mary Elizabeth Grey, the wife of the eponymous Earl Grey that tea drinkers will be familiar with. Not Lady Jane Grey the executed pretender to the throne.
The box says that it contains tea(!), Orange peel, lemon peel and flavouring.
How to make it
If you know how to make tea bag tea, then this is much as you would expect - 1 bag per person if made in a pot, otherwise one bag per mug. This needs to brew for a little bit longer than a regular tea bag (about 3-4 minutes). You serve it black or with orange/lemon.
Purist's answer: No! Do not pollute the tea with milk!
Actually, if you absolutely must have milk with your tea, then you'll be fine putting milk in this, it doesn't curdle or anything awful. It's just that there's very little point in bothering to have Lady Grey if you are going to cut it with the white stuff, because it will overpower the bergamot and citrus flavour. It will end up tasting like slightly perfumed weak tea.
In terms of aroma, it is very similar to Earl Grey, with a slightly musty but uplifting smell to it. I find it quite hard to tell the two apart by smell alone. The smell comes from the rind or oil of Bergamot, which is a type of citrus fruit.
If you are familiar with Earl Grey, then this will seem a little bit like having a watered down Earl Grey with lemon in it - it has the same musty bergamot taste, but with an added lighter citrusy fresh-tasting zing. Although bergamot is citrus, I don't find regular Earl Grey to be particularly citrusy, whereas this definitely is. I do, however, find that the lighter tones make it to be a little bit on the bland side if you like a strongly flavoured tea. A key difference of this tea over other black teas is that it is not very bitter, so you can drink it without sugar even if you find regular black tea too harsh.
Even though it is a black tea, it falls foul of some of the problems that fruit teas have, in that it smells stronger and more appealing than it tastes. Don't get me wrong, it is pleasant enough, it's just that the smell promises more than the tea delivers.
I find that this is pretty staining to my teeth (and mug), making it one of my dentist's favourite things. I try not to let it brew too long so that it slightly minimises the amount of tannin that gets deposited in my mouth.
This is fairly similar in caffeine content to a cup of Earl Grey. It isn't anywhere near as strong as a cup of coffee or a cup of proper tea, so it's not too good as a morning wake up cuppa. Equally though, it's too strong to have as a post-evening meal beverage, as it will keep you awake.
This costs about £4.40 for a box of 100 and £2.37 for a box of 50, though you can also get it in smaller quantities to try - I've seen it in selection boxes. So it's a little posher than many black teas, but accessible to the purses of us mere mortals.
Lady Grey is a very popular and accessible tea that is commonly available in larger supermarkets. Don't expect to find it in most small corner shops though.
One of the important things to know about tea is whether or not this is the kind of brutal in your face tea tea that you can stand a spoon up in and use to clean drains, or whether it is a delicate blend of purest perfumes but of no real substance. In other words, would I serve this to the plumber or to an elderly relative with a delicate stomach who had come to afternoon tea? This really is more of the latter. It is marketed as being "zesty and bright" and whilst I've never been one for coming up with elaborate descriptions of delicate bouquet, I think they've hit the nail on the head here.
How well does it keep?
Boxes of tea rarely last so long in my house that aging becomes a significant factor. However, I have tried some that was a couple of years old and I can report that it still tastes drinkable when it is out of date. But it isn't really at its peak by that point, so whilst I wouldn't advise binning it, I'd make an effort to keep it fresh.
A perfectly pleasant tea that is good for having when I'm in the mood for it. This is more of a tea suited to a sedate gentile afternoon tea than to have all the time. It is pretty accessible to even non-tea drinkers, if perhaps a little bit on the bland side.