Earl Grey

Tea flavored with bergamot to imitate the more expensive types of Chinese tea has been known in England at least since the 1820s. In 1837 there is a record of court proceedings against Brocksop & Co. who were found to have supplied tea “artificially scented, and, drugged with bergamot in this country”, but there is no known published reference to an ‘Earl Grey’ tea before advertisements by Charlton & Co. of Jermyn Street in London in the 1880s, though ‘Grey’s Tea’ is known from the 1850s.

The Earl Grey blend, or “Earl Grey’s Mixture”, is assumed to be named after The 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister in the 1830s and author of the Reform Bill of 1832. Lord Grey reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite, of tea flavored with bergamot oil. Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) is a small citrus tree which blossoms during the winter and is grown commercially in Calabria, Italy. It is likely a hybrid of Citrus limetta and Citrus aurantium.

THE LEGEND

During a storm on a voyage on the high seas between China and England, the cargo of the ship was heavily displaced and Bergamot oil was spilled and infiltrated the tea bales. At the arrival of the ship in London Lord Charles Grey (2nd) who was the British Prime Minister at the time decided to first sample the “dirty” tea and then decide if the load had to be destroyed. However, friends and acquaintances favored that tea and the Earl decided to present “flavored tea” to the trade.

The Earl Grey blend, or “Earl Grey’s Mixture”, is assumed to be named after The 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister in the 1830s and author of the Reform Bill of 1832. Lord Grey reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite, of tea flavored with bergamot oil. Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) is a small citrus tree which blossoms during the winter and is grown commercially in Calabria, Italy. It is likely a hybrid of Citrus limetta and Citrus aurantium.

BERGAMOT

The word bergamot is etymologically derived from Bergomotta in Italian, originating from Bergamo, a town in Italy; earlier references exist indicating derivation from Turkish Beg-armudi “prince’s pear” or “prince of pears”. Originally the Bergamot is grown only along a narrow, approximately one hundred kilometers of coastline between the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian Sea in Calabria, Villa San Giovanni to Gioiosa Ionica by the “toe” of Italy.

The essential Bergamot oil is pressed from the peel of small, yellow to orange fruit of the bergamot tree. To generate one liter of oil, 200 kg fruit must be pressed.


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