Earl Grey can be something of an acquired taste for some tea drinkers, present company included. But for those Earl Grey fans who have acquired the taste, it’s one that they’re quite passionate about. If you need any proof of that, then consider the outcry that recently broke out when Twinings changed the formula of their Earl Grey blend, arguably one of the most popular blends in the world.
Earl Grey is typically made with a black tea base to which oil of bergamot has been added. There can be minor variations on this theme, including Twinings’ own Lady Grey, which also adds essence of lemon and orange peel. Bergamot is a citrus fruit that’s primarily grown for commercial use in southern Italy, though it is also grown in more modest quantities elsewhere.
Twinings has been making Earl Grey tea for nearly two centuries now but they slipped up recently in a blunder reminiscent of the new Coke debacle of some years back. Fans of the tea boiled over when Twinings dared to change the formula, adding lemon flavor and more bergamot than they previously used. The thoughts about this change from unhappy Earl Grey lovers were expressed in no uncertain terms, using such no-nonsense words as “foul,” “gross,” “dishwater,” and “vile.”
As the furor increased, a Facebook campaign was launched and the news spread from the expected British press sources to such far-flung media outlets as Canada, Scotland, United Arab Emirates, and more. Here’s what the Telegraph had to say about the fiasco. To their credit (and quite likely to the benefit of their bottom line), Twinings responded to all of the fuss, promising that “Earl Grey The Classic Edition” would be brought back to calm down all the fans who were up in arms.
As the company put it, in a statement at their Web site, “Whilst many love the new Earl Grey, a group of Earl Grey fans have asked us to make the previous blend available. Not wishing to disappoint, we have introduced Earl Grey The Classic Edition.”
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