Earl Grey is probably the most famous flavored black tea in the world. It is always a blend of tea, many different types are used, and bergamot flavoring. The origin of Earl Grey tea is that the 2nd Earl Grey did a favor for a Chinese mandarin and received the Earl Grey recipe in return.
One of the interesting points about this story is that the majority of bergamot is produced in the Mediterranean and Italy is the largest producer. There appears to be little evidence that it was grown in China. Although the origin of Earl Grey goes back to before 1830 the Oxford Dictionary researchers found the first mention of an Earl Grey cup of tea was not until the 1920’s. The current Earl Grey endorses the Twinings product that is supposed to come from the original recipe. When we were starting up our company back in 2002 we visited a tea blender in England who said it was surprising that the black tea used in Twinings was a blend of Chinese and Indian. We don’t know if this is still the case as Twinings only state black tea on their web site. It is hard to believe that a Chinese mandarin would suggest an Indian tea and from the history of tea growing in India it would not have been available for the blend in the 1830’s. So its looks like our Earl Grey organic and Earl Grey Royalty are one of the very few blends that comply with the original recipe. Must be because we have English heritage.
Earl Grey was the Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1830 to 1840 and was involved with the Reform Act of 1832 and the Slavery Abolition Act in 1833 that abolished slavery in the British Empire. He became Lord Grey which he inherited when his father died in 1807.
So what is an Earl? The name dates back to around the year 800 and comes from the Old Norse name of Jarl which was a warrior/nobleman. An Earl becomes a Lord when he inherits his father’s estate. Many will remember Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey. The hierarchy in England starts with a King, followed by Prince, Duke, Marquess, Earl and Viscount. As with Earl Grey you inherit the title or it can be given by the reigning monarch in return for great service to the country.
Earl Grey gained popularity in America when it was drunk by Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek.
BergamotBergamot is a pear shaped citrus fruit the size of an orange with a color mainly similar to a lime but some varieties can be orange. The oil from the rind of the fruit is used to make an Earl Grey tea. It is also used in making Turkish delight and to make marmalade.
It is grown mainly in the Mediterranean, mainly Italy, and is often called the orange bergamot. Derived from the citron and sour orange. The origins of the fruit are not clear but it was found in the Mediterranean in the 18th century.
As with most fruits there are many health benefits claimed including pain reduction, improved blood circulation, reduced anxiety and help with urinary tract infections to name a few.