Earl Grey Tea
Many people find the unique flavor of Earl Grey to be their favorite; smoky and fragrant with hints of citrus. Although considered a specific a type or variety of tea, any black tea with bergamot flavor added is considered an Earl Grey tea.
Origin of Earl Grey
The story of how this tea began is shrouded in mystery and contradiction. 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.
Versions of the story claim that he had saved the life of the mandarin, and the tea was a special gift of gratitude.
Earl Charles Grey was then reputed to have demanded his tea supplier in London recreate the tea for him, and the taste became fashionable, eventually spreading worldwide.
Yet, it has also been said that Earl Charles Grey never visited China so the true origin of this popular blend is still a mystery.
What is Bergamot
The bergamot used to flavor tea comes from a tree that is grown in the south of Italy. A citrus fruit, somewhat like lemon, orange and grapefruit mixed together, the scent is often likened to orange blossom.
The oil of the fruit is added to perfume, including one of the original Eau de Colognes from Germany. It is sometimes called The Prince's Pear although it is not edible.
There is also an herb called bergamot with completely different properties.
In the winter months before it ripens, the fruit harvest is picked by hand. Specially made cold-presses are used to extract the bergamot essence, which is then stored for at least a year.
Bergamot is used in aromatherapy to treat depression, and also has anti-microbial effects that can strengthen the resistance of the body to colds and illnesses.
It was believed that the addition of fruit would calm the effects of tea, so Seville orange, lemon and bergamot extracts were added.
Lady Grey is still a popular blend today, although it is no longer believed to cause any particular impulses among female drinkers!
This article was written by Corinne Waldon of The Tea Spot.
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