Earl Grey tea
is a tea
blend with a distinctive flavour and aroma derived from the addition of oil extracted from the rind
of the bergamot orange
, a fragrant citrus fruit.
Traditionally the term "Earl Grey" was applied only to black tea; however, today the term is also applied to green teas, including white tea and oolong, and tisanes, such as rooibos, that contain oil of bergamot.
The Earl Grey blend is named after the 2nd Earl Grey
, British Prime Minister
in the 1830s, who reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite
, of tea flavoured with bergamot oil
, taken from bergamot, a citrus
fruit typical of southern Italy
The legend usually involves a grateful Chinese mandarin whose son was rescued from drowning by one of Lord Grey's men, although this blend of tea was first made from fermented black Indian and Ceylon teas. As green tea is much more popular in China than black tea, it seems somewhat unlikely that they would have had a recipe for what we now call Earl Grey to bestow on visitors, though over the years many other varieties of tea have been used. In addition, Lord Grey never set foot in China. Another version of the legend has the son of an Indian raja being rescued from a tiger by one of Grey's servants.
Jacksons of Piccadilly claim that it was they who originated Earl Grey's Tea, Lord Grey having given the recipe to Robert Jackson & Co. partner George Charlton in 1830; according to Jacksons the original recipe has been in constant production and has never left their hands. Theirs has been based on China tea since the beginning.
Similar teas and beverages
- Twinings also has a proprietary branded tea variety called "Lady Grey" made with Seville orange, lemon and bergamot. Also of note is that Twinings received an official endorsement from the sixth Earl Grey, Richard Grey, whose signature appears on packages of Twinings Earl Grey.
- The beverage company Snapple has released a tea beverage based on Earl Grey called Snapple Classic Tea Earl Gray.
- Many boutique tea stores sell a similar blend with added rose petals known as French Earl Grey
- A beverage called "London Fog" is a combination of Earl Grey, steamed milk and vanilla syrup.
- Earl Grey teas made with extra large amounts of bergamot are often called "Earl Greyer".
Earl Grey tea in popular culture
- Fictional characters who are said to enjoy Earl Grey tea include Bobby Simone of NYPD Blue, Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Bruce Wayne in the comic book series Batman, Dr. Eleanor Ann "Ellie" Arroway in Contact, Frasier Crane of Frasier, Artemis Fowl of the Eoin Colfer books, Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard of NCIS, P. G. Wodehouse's Bertie Wooster (although he preferred Darjeeling at breakfast), Sir Leigh Teabing from The Da Vinci Code, Trent from Kim Harrison's Dead Witch Walking, L and Watari from Death Note. Mario Santos, from Los Simuladores, always drinks Earl Grey tea, Mr. 3 and Sanji from "One Piece" both comment that Earl Grey is best enjoyed in the afternoon. The main character from Haruki Marukami's Kafka on the Shore frequently drinks Earl Grey tea as well.
- "Weird Al" Yankovic, on the track "White & Nerdy" from his 2006 album Straight Outta Lynwood, mentions Earl Grey tea . The suggestion in the video is that Earl Grey is the "white and nerdy" alternative to the gangsta's 40.
- Steambot Chronicles signature Trotmobile model type is named the "Earl Grey II".
- Because of Earl Grey's aroma and Twining's distinctive packaging in England with Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, the tea is sometimes called "Old Stinky".