The aristocrat of black teas has a delightful hint of citrus freshness, which it owes to the organically grown bergamot orange.
Earl Grey is a blend that was originally composed exclusively of Chinese tea varieties and lightly flavored with the delicate, bitter-scented oil of the bergamot.
The tea was named for Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey (1764–1845). In 1833, as prime minister of Britain, he ended the East India Company’s monopoly on tea exports from China. The tea was not invented by Earl Grey himself, however. Legend has it that during the passage from China to England a storm threw the ship’s cargo all over the hold, causing bergamot oil to spill over the bales of tea. When the ship docked in London, Lord Grey inspected the damage and chose to sample the tea before deciding whether the load should be destroyed. The tea proved so popular among his friends and acquaintances that the Earl thought it a better idea to place the “flavored” tea on the market.
Nowadays, Earl Grey tea is not blended only from Chinese varieties but also includes Indian varieties. It is an excellent accompaniment to salty dishes and light snacks.