Earl Grey tea is a favourite of many Stir customers, as well as the Stir team ourselves. A black tea, it contains the essence extracted from the skin of the bergamot orange, grown around the coastal areas of Italy. Our selection of Earl Grey teas have either bergamot flavouring, as in our Earl Grey Blue Flower, or bergamot oil, as in our Earl Grey Supreme, Rose Earl Grey and Elegant Grey teas.
As well as the history of this aromatic tea, we are also fascinated with bergamot itself, and that is what we feel makes Earl Grey tea unique.
Origins of Earl Grey Tea
The true origin of Earl Grey tea is slightly murky. Its name was most likely derived from Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl of Grey and England's prime minister from 1830 to 1834. There are three 'theories' as to why the tea was created:
- Grey was given the tea as a gift from a Chinese man he saved from drowning
- Grey was gifted the tea as a diplomatic gift
- the tea was made to fit the water profile from Grey's house well, which had a lot of mineral content inside it. Bergamot was a flavour which worked well with the water taste
From here, it was introduced to the English market and has since become one of the world's most popular flavoured teas.
What Determines the Earl Grey Blend?
When bergamot essence, oil or flavouring is added to black tea, the resulting is given the name Earl Grey. The bergamot orange, from which the bergamot essence is extracted, grows around the Southern coastal areas of Italy, around Calabria and Bergamo. A small citrus tree which flowers during the winter months, bergamot orange is likely to be a hybrid of the Citrus limetta (lemon) and Citrus aurantium (bitter orange) citrus varieties.
Bergamot essential oil is extracted from the skin of the bergamot orange, Citrus bergamia. Traditionally this was done manually by slowly folding the peel by hand. Nowadays the oil is extracted mechanically, with machines scrapping the outside of the fruit under running water, from which is separated using centrifuges.
Is Bergamot Used in Other Products?
As a soothing and citrus-like scent, with a spicy taste, bergamot has a wide variety of uses besides being included in tea. In the past, bergamot oil was used as an antiseptic in Italian folk medicine and bergamot juice was consumed by indigenous Italians to treat malaria and intestinal worms. In Ayurvedic medicine, this oil was used to treat acne, sore throats, skin rashes and urinary infections. Today it remains a common ingredient in many products, including:
- skincare - bergamot essential oil is said to have antibacterial properties, making it helpful for acne-prone or inflamed skin
- shampoo - many shampoos contain bergamot essence, which is said to soften and tame curls, plus soothe an irritated scalp and reduce hair loss
- aromatherapy - when used in a carrier oil or in a diffuser, bergamot essential oil can help reduce stress and fatigue
- citrus flavouring - often found in gelatins and puddings
- beauty products - bergamot oil is used in soaps, lotions, creams and perfumes
- deodorant - bergamot oil can remove the bacteria that causes body odour
- bath and soap products - bergamot oil is added inside bath products to protect the skin against infections and relieve cracked skin
Posted: Wednesday 1 April 2020