Earl Grey Tea – refined with Bergamot Oil

Earl Grey is a black tea flavoured with bergamot oil. Originally only black tea from China was used. Today, however, other teas are also refined with the aromatic oil of the citrus fruit.

But what is bergamot?

The Bergamot

Bergamot/Citrus bergamia is a citrus plant that is thought to have its origins in a crossbreeding of citron/Citrus medica and bitter orange/Citrus aurantium. It is mainly cultivated in the climatically suitable Calabria in Italy. This is where the top products come from. Further growing areas are found in Africa (Ivory Coast) and South America.

Although the flesh is occasionally used for the production of jam, it is only of minor importance. Citrus bergamia is actually too harsh for that.

Bergamot is mainly cultivated because of its essential oils contained in the peel.

The cultivation area in Calabria is relatively small, which means that the oil is only available to a limited extent, which in turn results in high prices. 200 kg of fruit must be harvested for one litre of bergamot oil. 

Earl Grey Tea

Earl is an English noble title which is inherited. The first Earl Grey was Charles Grey (1729-1807). He passed on his title to his son Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey (1764-1845).
This second Earl Grey is the one who gave the tea its name. He was a quite independent thinker, who did not blindly follow the higher aristocrats in all desires. For example, he refused to carry out an "action of dubious honourableness" in favour of the Prince of Wales, later King George IV, which markedly cooled the before friendly relationship. In addition, he was a politician who campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade. So he was also interested in human rights.

How the tea name "Earl Grey" originated

A legend tells us the following: On the way from China to England, a cargo ship got caught in a strong storm. Teaboxes were thrown around in the cargo area, opened and the contents came into contact with leaked bergamot oil. After arriving at the port of London, the Earl looked at the randomly flavoured tea. Because of the pleasant smell, he decided not to dispose it. Instead, he allowed relatives and acquaintances to taste the aromatic tea, and lo and behold, it tasted excellent to them.

That's how the tea came into the trade, and in honor of Earl Grey he got his name.

Pay attention to the quality of Earl Grey Tea

How good an Earl Grey is depends on three factors that add up to the quality:

1. good bergamot oil

The best bergamot oil still comes from Calabria in Italy, and is on the market as "natural Reggio Bergamot oil".

2. Good Tea

It is important to ensure that good tea qualities are flavoured, as this improves the taste experience considerably.

3. Tea Taster with experience

It is the task of tea tasters to mix the tea with bergamot oil in the right proportion. This responsible work requires many years of experience.

If all three points are met, you'll get top-class Earl Grey teas!