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Earl Grey Tea - The Unique Flavor of Earl Grey Tea
Many people find the unique flavor of Earl Grey is their favorite; smoky and fragrant with hints of citrus, it is reputed to be the tea of choice for Captain Picard from Star Trek.
Despite many people thinking of Earl Grey as a certain type of tea, it is in fact just black tea with the added essence of bergamot. The bergamot is what gives it the unique flavor, and is such a strong scent that sometimes cheaper tea is used in the belief that the bergamot with mask the inferior flavor of the leaves. It is one of the best selling flavored teas all over the world, and is most often drunk without milk, though some like to add a slice of lemon.
Earl Grey Origins
Earl Charles Grey was the Prime Minister of Great Britain in 1830. The story is that while on a diplomatic trip to China, he saved the life of a mandarin. To show his gratitude, the mandarin gifted Earl Grey a special tea, which the Prime Minister took back to England with him. The tea quickly became a favorite in the Earls drawing room, and he asked his personal tea supplier to reproduce the same flavor for him. The new tea became fashionable and eventually spread throughout England and the rest of the world.
It is a good story, but unlikely to contain much truth! Charles Grey never visited China and the Chinese drink very little black tea in any case, which means the true origin of Earl Grey tea is still a mystery.
The bergamot used to flavor Earl Grey 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 the original Eau de Cologne from Germany. It is sometimes called The Princes Pear although it is inedible. There is also an herb called bergamot with totally different properties.
Bergamot is picked by hand in the winter, before the fruit is ripe. The essence is extracted mechanically by purpose made presses and stored for a year or longer before use. Bergamot is said to help resist colds and flu, having anti- microbial effects. The oil is also used to treat depression in aromatherapy oil, and as a digestive aid. So drinking Earl Grey could be good for you!
The Taste of Lady Grey
When Earl Grey tea was invented, it was considered that tea produced "improper impulses" in women, and thus Lady Grey was invented. 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!
About the Author: For more articles by Cory Willins, visit The Tea Spot where you can find information on chai tea , Japanese tea and more.