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What makes Earl Grey tea, Earl Grey?!

August 22, 2016

Bergamot Fruit - Used in Earl Grey Tea

It’s the most popular flavoured tea in the world but we are often asked what it is that makes Earl Grey tea, Earl Grey?!

Named after Charles, Earl Grey, a nineteenth century Prime Minister of Great Britain, there are a number stories about why the tea came to be named after him.

However, while the origins of its name are uncertain, the distinctive Earl Grey flavour is derived from the oil of Bergamot, a citrus fruit grown predominantly in Southern Italy. Calabria, in Southern Italy, is home to 80% of commercially grown bergamot.

The oil is either poured or sprayed on the dry leaf and the leaves are then blended to distribute the bergamot flavour evenly. Our Earl Grey teas are hand blended but larger companies making much higher volumes use huge blending drums instead.

Premium Earl GreyTraditionally, Earl Grey teas, like ours, have been made from black teas but in more recent times bergamot oil has been applied to green and oolong leaves too. In addition, while we stick to natural bergamot oil other producers may use synthetic bergamot to flavour the tea for consistency; natural bergamot oil can vary hugely in flavour depending on how it is grown and processed.

The production of Earl Grey tea also requires some degree of balance; while some seek an overwhelming bergamot hit, most agree that any good Earl Grey blend should be well balanced with the bergamot not overwhelming the tea and vice versa.

We have two Earl Grey tea blends available in our range; our sweeter, lighter, orange blossom-blended Premium Earl Grey, and our award-winning Extreme Earl, a straight Earl Grey blend that incorporates organic bergamot oil for a more punchy brew.

For guidelines on how best to brew our Earl Grey teas, check out the individual brewing instructions on each of our product pages.

Bergamot photo credit: Euro Plants Vivai

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