Our Seattle tea broker gets this Earl Grey from Copenhagen because, as he says, "It's really hard to do a great Earl Grey but these people are masters at it." They begin with high-quality tea (though they are secretive, we're guessing that it's mainly Ceylon with some Assam or Yunnan), then blend it in a drum with natural oil of bergamot (no synthetic sprays here!).
Bergamot is a small citrus fruit that's a cross between a sweet lemon and a Seville orange. Legend has it that tea infused with its essence was presented by a Chinese mandarin to Charles, the Second Earl Grey, when he was Prime Minister in the early 1800s. Drinking our Earl Grey should make you feel like royalty yourself.
Earl Grey's citrus flavor makes it a well-loved ingredient in baked recipes and anything to do with chocolate. Erika, a trained in the baking and pastry arts in Vancouver, B.C., came up with a fabulous Tea Truffle recipe using this tea. You’ll find the recipe, as well as the recipe for a wonderful tea-infused drinking chocolate, in the tabs.
¼ cup plus 3 tbsp heavy cream
1⅓ tbsp butter
4 tbsp loose Earl Grey tea
4-oz package Chocolat Vitale drinking chocolate
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder for rolling
Bring cream and butter to a boil in small saucepan and stir in tea leaves. Remove from heat, cover, and steep 5 minutes. Place Chocolate Vitale in heat-proof bowl. Bring cream back to boil and strain through fine-mesh sieve onto chocolate. Press on tea leaves and discard. Whisk chocolate and cream until smooth. Chill, covered, until firm (2 hours or overnight).
Spoon level teaspoons of chocolate onto plate. Dust palms lightly with cocoa powder and roll each piece into a ball (redust hands as they become sticky). Drop rounds into bowl of cocoa and turn to coat. Store in airtight container in fridge.
Makes about 20 small truffles.
1½ cup whole milk
2 tbsp. cream
2 tsp. loose leaf Earl Grey tea
⅓ cup Chocolat Vitale drinking chocolate (approx. half a 4-oz package)
Combine milk and cream in small saucepan over low heat and bring almost to a boil.
Remove from heat and stir in tea leaves. Cover and steep 8 minutes. Strain and pour back into saucepan. Add Chocolat Vitale and heat slowly, whisking constantly, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth and foamy (but not boiling).
Serve immediately in a demitasse. Add a biscuit and you have dessert!
Makes 4–6 demitasse servings.