What the hell is Earl Grey Tea?

Charles Grey, 2nd Earl of Howick Hall, near Craster, was one of Britain’s most popular Prime Ministers. As Prime Minister, he was 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.

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.


It is this oil that give Earl Grey tea its fruity aroma as it steeps. In my opinion, it smells an awful lot like Froot Loops…or does Froot Loops smell like Earl Grey? I can’t remember any more.

To the left here is the comparison (or proof, if that’s what your looking for) of the difference in size of tea leaves. The pile of Earl Grey on the left comes from a tea bag. It is, quite literally, dust. The pile of Earl Grey on the right is whole leaf. Which leaf do you think has more surface area that allows for deeper steeping?

Is there a difference in taste tho? Absolutely. Although they both carry the taste of the ornage bitterness of the Bergamot, the tea from the whole leaf brew holds on to the tongue far longer. Is it better? I think so… as it carrys the flavor a longer time. But you’ll have to decide for yourself.

The thing I like about Earl Grey is the fatc that it has that specific, fruity aroma. With the proper steeping, the smell wafts throughout the kitchen, permeating it with goodness.

The tea bag? Little or no smell at all. It was sort of a disapointment to be honest. Sort of like going on a blind date with a movie star, and finding out that their acting credits include such stellar roles as “Third Screamer” and “Dead Girl on the Staircase”. It’s cool and all that they are in the movies, but at some level it’s not really all that impressive.

Now you’ll have to excuse me as I am bouncing off the walls thanks to the caffeine.

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