Earl Grey Tea

Real EARL GREY TEA is a delightful light refreshing tea - quite unlike the brown tea with milk commonly drunk in the UK. It should be unsteamed China black tea flavoured with oil of bergamot. Some makes such as Twinings use Indian and Sri Lankan (Ceylon) black tea and this produces a heavier tasting tea which, it is said, British people with an en-educated palate seem to prefer. It should always be drunk black.

The Bergamot Orange is the flavoring used in Earl Grey Tea. Oil of bergamot is extracted from the peel of the bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia or Citrus aurantium bergamia), a small pear shaped sour orange which is cultivated today mostly in southern Italy. Latest genetic research indicates that the Bergamot orange is most likely a cross (natural??) between the sweet or pear lemon (Citrus limetta) and the Seville or sour orange (Citrus aurantium) [First International Citrus Biotechnology Symposium, August 2000)] The sour orange is native to southern Vietnam, hence the Chinese connection. (This is NOT Bergamot or Bergamot mint; they are different plants in the mint family, also called bee balm or Oswego tea.)

Strangely, it is very difficult to obtain really good proper Earl Grey tea and most tea companies do not seem able to produce a quality product. So, set yourself the challenge of finding a light tea with a noticeble bergamot flavour. Drury is our favourite (as of 2001).

Earl Grey Tea - the most inexpensive luxury drink in the world.

Earl Grey of Howick Hall, near Craster, was one of Britain's most popular Prime Ministers. As Prime Minister, he also once sent a diplomatic mission to China and by chance the envoy saved the life of a Chinese Madarin. In gratitude, the Mandarin sent the Earl a delightfully scented tea, with its recipe. The special ingredient with which it was flavoured was oil of Bergamot. Earl Grey was delighted and in future always asked his tea merchant the Tyneside company, Twinings, for that blend. His drawing room soon became famous for its tea and in due course the family gave permission for the blend to be sold to the public. Now, Twinings have listened to some new marketing kid and "updated" their blend to include lemon because they think "yoof" will prefer it.
The Earl is turning in his grave right now. They have introduced a "classics" blend but it's all so confusing so best forget them. For inexpensive yet decent Earl Grey teabags in Eupore, take a look at the Aldi menu item - I've just finished (2016) some of their tea and it was mush better than Twinings.

Now, in 2018, I've returned to Drury's Superior Earl Grey loose tea, which is exactly the same blend I drank nearly 40 years ago. It is beautiful - the bergamot is subtly as is the China tea - it is remarkably inexpensive too! They have a shop in London 5 minutes from Trafalgar Square and their mail order works well.

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