Has anyone experimented (successfully or not) with growing and drying your own tea leaves?
Sure. Step 1: Move to Puerto Rico or at least to Coral Gables.
tea can be made from lots of things. I grow chamomile, anise hyssop, lemon balm, etc. not exactly earl grey, but still..
Raintree Nursery sells tea plants. They say they are hardy to zone 7.
Here is a link that might be useful: Raintree Nursery Tea Info