Earl Grey Tea was once my favourite Tea, but now I find the citrus and floral infused black tea just too aromatic for my taste. I prefer instead, a more robust, cleaner tasting tea. Many others the world over though, love Earl Grey as the perfect accompaniment for afternoon tea.
What exactly is Earl Grey Tea? Earl grey is a flavoured Tea scented from the oil in the rind of Bergamot oranges, that grow along the coast of Italy and the south of France. Adding the oil from the orange rind to black tea gives the tea an aromatic, zesty flavour that, according to Twinings, sells more than any other tea blend in their range across the world.
Earl Grey or Charles Grey was the British aristocrat and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom between 1830 and 1834. There are numerous stories of Earl Grey Tea’s origins and why this famous tea bares his name. Charles Grey saved a Lord’s life in China and gifted the recipe for black tea scented with bergamot oranges’ oil as a thank you gift.
There is a story claiming that tea was stored onboard a ship bringing tea from China to England. The tea accidentally was mixed with bergamot oranges during the voyage – hence a new tea.
Another story is that Charles Grey and a Chinese friend added the flavours of bergamot oil to tea to reduce the taste of minerals in the waters at his home.
Whichever story you decide is the truth, Earl Grey tea is a classic, well loved tea blend.
Rivalry exists amongst tea companies today because the mystery of Earl Grey Tea’s true origins is unknown. The Twinings label has a letter from the sixth Earl Grey on the tin, stating that it is their family blend. Yet Jacksons of Piccadilly say their Earl Grey Tea is the original blend and say, ”often imitated but never equalled.”
What all Tea companies agree upon is how delicious, refreshing, and aromatic Earl Grey tea is. Simultaneously, it is so good for health because it aids digestion and may relieve intestinal problems due to the antioxidants. The bergamot has a calming effect and may also boost one’s mood. So Earl Grey Tea is suitable for people with anxiety, depression and stress.
Bergamot oranges were usually grown to make marmalade, and as an ingredient in perfume. Remarkably it takes 100 oranges to make just three ozs of oil. Traditional Earl Grey Tea has a base of black tea leaves that have been withered, dried and oxidized then flavoured with the bergamot oil to enrich the tea with aroma and flavour. Every blend of Earl Grey Tea is different because the ratio of tea to bergamot oil varies in each brand.
Earl Grey tea contains natural fluoride and antioxidants. Both are known to be good for our teeth.
Improved immunity due to the antioxidants in Earl Grey tea
Earl Grey tea is also said to reduce harmful cholesterol levels.
The citrus extract of Earl Grey tea can improve metabolism and increase energy consumption.
The bergamot oil has a calming effect on the nervous system and will lift one’s mood due to the oil’s aromatherapy qualities. It is also known to relieve digestive problems like acid reflux and some intestinal infections to a degree.
On the other hand, Lady Grey is a more modern tea blend trademarked by Twinings and similarly flavoured with bergamot oil with added lemon and orange peel. Twinings released Lady Grey in Norway in 1994 and the UK in 1996.
Content by Di Baker 2020
Title quote by Julie James
Images Di Baker and Unsplash