Lots of people find the unique flavor of Earl Grey to be their favored; smoky and fragrant with hints of citrus, it’s reputed to be the tea of choice for Captain Picard from Star Trek.
Although lots of people believe Earl Grey as a type of tea, any black tea with bergamot flavor added is actually Earl Grey. Some manufacturers will even use their lower quality black tea to produce Early Grey in the belief that the strong flavor of bergamot will mask the poor taste of the tea. Largely taken black with maybe a piece of lemon added, Earl Grey is nevertheless among the most popular of all of the flavored teas from the world.
The popular myth is that Earl Charles Grey, the prime minister of Britain in 1830, was given the recipe from a mandarin he met while touring China. Earl Grey was reputed to have demanded his tea supplier in London recreate the tea for him, and the taste became fashionable, eventually spreading worldwide.
It is an excellent story, but unlikely to contain much truth. Charles Grey never seen China and the Chinese drink very little black tea in any case, which means the real origin of Earl Grey tea remains a mystery.
What is Bergamot
The bergamot used to flavor Earl Grey comes from a tree that’s grown in the south of Italy. A citrus fruit, somewhat like orange, lemon and grapefruit mixed together, the odor is often likened to orange blossom. The oil of the fruit is added to cologne including one of the first Eau de Colognes from Germany. It’s sometimes called The Prince’s Pear even though it is inedible. There is also an herb known as bergamot with entirely different properties.
In the winter months, before it ripens, the fruit crop is picked by hand. Specially made cold presses are used to extract the bergamot essence, which is then saved for at least a year. Bergamot is used in aromatherapy to treat depression, and also has anti-microbial effects which may strengthen the immunity of the body to colds and illnesses. Perhaps Earl Grey tea is a great remedy for winter sniffles.
When Earl Grey tea was invented, it was believed that tea produced”improper impulses” in girls, and thus Lady Grey was devised. Lady Grey is still a popular blend today, although it is no longer thought to cause any special impulses among female drinkers!