THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN: Earl Grey Scones from Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

J.P. Morgan, the subject of The Personal Librarian had a tea blend made exclusively for him by Lester Vail, an expert tea maker in the 1920s: black tea with citrusy bergamot, a mellow, smoky Earl Grey. Morgan Blend Tea is based on this original formula, discovered in correspondence at the Morgan Library in New York City that reveals the association between Morgan and Vail. The original formula is still produced today by Simpson & Vail, one of the oldest tea companies in the United States. If you enjoy smoky teas, there’s nothing better than a cup of this on a cold dreary day to pick up your spirits!

Along with the tea, it might be appropriate for book clubs to serve Earl Grey Scones. We can envision J.P. Morgan and Belle da Costa Greene enjoying a steaming cup of his special tea with complementary scones in his beautiful crimson and gold study in the Morgan Library.

We are not bakers, so don’t have a personal recipe to share, but this scones recipe by Ellie Haley looks delicious.

-Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray



Photo: Phil Atkins


10 servings

Prep Time

15 mins

Cook Time

20 mins

THE PERSONAL LIBRARIAN: Earl Grey Scones from Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Recipe adapted from You can also use a food processor to make the dough.

For the scones
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • Tea leaves from 4 bags Earl Grey tea
  • 1 1/2 cups unsalted cold butter, cubed
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • Heavy cream, for brushing (optional)
  • Coarse sugar, for topping (optional)
For the glaze
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Heavy cream (optional)
To make the scones
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and tea.
  2. Work the butter into the dry mixture, until you have pea-sized pieces of butter with a few slightly larger chunks. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the vanilla and 1 cup of the buttermilk. Stir, adding the last 1/4 cup slowly, if needed (the mixture should not be too wet).
  3. Turn the mixture out onto a clean, floured surface and gather the dough together. Pat the dough into a circle about 1 inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the circle into 10 equal-sized triangles and place on the prepared baking sheet. If desired, brush the top of each scone with heavy cream and sprinkle with the coarse sugar.
  4. Bake scones for approximately 17-20 minutes or until golden brown. Let the scones cool slightly before glazing.
To make the glaze
  1. In a small bowl combine the powdered sugar and lemon juice. Optional: Add the heavy cream or milk one teaspoon at a time, whisking until free of lumps and a runny consistency.
  2. Use a fork or a spoon to drizzle the glaze over the scones.