Bryn supplied evidence from 1914 and Glyn Hughes provided evidence of “Earl Grey’s mixture” from 1884.
This blend of tea flavoured with bergamot is said to have been popularized by Charles, the second Earl Grey (1764–1845). Although OED editors have found evidence for ‘Earl Grey’s mixture’ from as early as 1891, the first example referring to tea in the entry for Earl Grey dates from 1934, in an advertisement from the New York Times.
Furthermore, since that entry was first published, we have found an earlier use from 1929:
1929 ‘J. Swift’ Chronicles of a Gigolo xi. 113 She brought me beef tea, port wine and jellies from Robert Jackson’s, and his Earl Grey tea, and tracts on animals and Christian Science.
Can you help us find even earlier evidence of Earl Grey referring to tea?
Posted by OED_Editor on 11 October 2012 6.13