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Ricotta Lemon Blueberry Muffins and The Legend of Earl Grey

Updated: Jan 31, 2020

Ricotta Blueberry Muffins, photo: Glen Almen
Ricotta Blueberry Muffins, photo: Glen Almen

This muffin recipe creates a moist muffin that is bursting with citrus flavor an antioxidants. These muffins are a great match for an Earl Grey Latté, also called a "London Fog." The recipe for both is below after a little introduction to North America's and the United Kingdom's most popular blend of black tea.

 Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen
Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) Franz Eugen Köhler, Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen

Earl Grey

Earl Grey is the one of most popular black teas in North America and the United Kingdom. It is so popular that it has been made into a range of tea blends. These include the original Earl Grey, as well as Lady Grey (contains lemon and orange peel), Russian Earl Grey (contains lemongrass), Earl Green (using green tea in place of black), Earl White (using white tea in place of tea), and Earl Oolong (using oolong tea in place of black tea). Original Earl Grey is black tea that is scented with the essential oil of the bergamot fruit. Sometimes this oil is natural and sometimes a synthetic extract is used.

Bergamot is a type of Mediterranean citrus fruit. The essence extracted from its aromatic skin is used to make the essential oil. The scent is similar to that of orange peel. It is similar to an orange in size and to a lime in color. It is most likely derived as a hybrid of lemons and bitter oranges. While Earl Grey is a citrus-flavored tea, orange pekoe is not. It is named after the grade of tea, orange pekoe, which is a medium-grade black tea named for the Dutch House of Orange.

There are many legends of Earl Grey tea, many of which are certainly apocryphal. However, it is known that received its name from Earl Charles Grey who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1830 through 1834. During his time as Prime Minister, slavery was abolished and he saw the passage of the Reform Act of 1821, which intiated reform in the the House of Commons.

The most popular legend says that Earl Grey was named in honor of Charles Grey to show gratitude to him. The story goes that he saved the son of a Chinese tea blender from drowning, so the blender gifted this particular blend of black tea flavored with bergamot oil to him. However, since bergamot is native to the Mediterranean, not China, and the Earl is never recorded to have visited China. This story is almost certainly not true.

The story according to Twinings Tea is much more likely. "Twinings has been blending my family tea for years. Legend has it that my ancestor, the second Earl Grey, was presented with this exquisite recipe by an envoy on his return from China. He liked it so much he asked Richard Twining to recreate it for him. Generations of my family have enjoyed Earl Grey tea and today, I am proud to continue the tradition with the tea celebrated throughout the world known as Twining Earl Grey." - The seventh Earl Grey

Tea lattes are a great substitute of coffee.
Tea lattes are a great substitute of coffee.

London Fog

Makes 2

8 oz. Brewed Earl Grey Tea

4 oz. heavy whipping cream or full-fat coconut creamer

2 to 4 teaspoons raw sugar

2 - ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

Cardamom, if desired

Prepare eight ounces of your preferred Earl Grey tea. Set aside to steep while you heat your heavy cream.

Heat heavy cream on very low heat for about five minutes in saucepan while whisking the cream. Or, heat cream in microwave for one minute and then froth with electric frother.

Pour tea into two teacups. Stir in desired amount of sugar. I prefer less. Add a half teaspoon of vanilla to each teacup.

Add heated cream.

Garnish with cardamom if desired.

Serve immediately.

Blueberries are believed to have one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of fruits and vegetables.
Blueberries are believed to have one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of fruits and vegetables.

Ricotta Lemon Blueberry Muffins

Makes 12

1½ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup white cane sugar

½ teaspoon table salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

⅓ cup melted butter

¼ cup heavy whipping cream

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1½ teaspoons lemon extract

1 egg

1 pint fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Place paper cupcake liners into standard size cupcake/muffin pan. If you do not have cupcake liners, be sure to grease the muffin cups well.

Combine flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a mixing bowl. Set aside.

In a small bowl mix whipping cream and lemon juice. Let stand for two minutes.

In stand mixer, combine melted butter, ricotta, and lemon juice - whipping cream. Mix together on low. Then stir in lemon extract and egg. Mix on low until well-blended.

Add in dry ingredients a little at a time to stand mixer bowl and mix on low setting until incorporated.

Remove bowl from stand mixer and use fork to gently stir in blueberries, adding them in a little at a time.

Place large spoonfuls of muffin batter into lined (or greased) muffin cups. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, checking at 20 and adding time if needed.

Let muffins sit in pan for five minutes before carefully removing them. Use a butter knife to pop them out of the pan if needed.


More about Earl Grey


Janae Jean is a professional music instructor, composer, sound healer and writer. She has a BA in Music/Education from Judson University and a MM in Computer Music/Composition from the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University. She is passionate about tea and creating our own daily rituals. Visit for more about music lessons. Contact her via for questions about tea, ceremony, music composition, sound healing, writing, photography, or other relevant topics.



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