Earl Grey. Hot.

Teapot for Earl Grey TeaScotty, beam me up! I want to join Captain Jean-Luc Picard for a cup of Earl Grey at the replicator!

Have you ever wondered what IS Earl Grey? Did you know that it is not necessarily a BLACK TEA? Even though Earl Grey Tea traditionally consists of a blend of Ceylon and Indian black teas, there is actually an Earl Grey Green Tea, an Earl Grey Oolong Tea and an Earl Grey White Tea, as well. There is even an Earl Grey Rooibos Tea! So what makes Earl Grey tea, well, Earl Grey?

Earl Grey tea was named after Charles Grey, the second earl in his line. He was Prime Minister to King William IV in the early 19th century. According to the Grey family, the tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Lord Grey, using bergamot to offset the preponderance of lime in the local water at Howick Hall, the family seat in Northumberland.

Bergamot? Yes, the tea gets its unusual flavor and scent from oil of bergamot. Never heard of Bergamot? It is a small acidic orange. The latest research indicates that the Bergamot orange is a cross between the sweet or pear lemon (Citrus Limetta) and the Seville or sour orange (Citrus Aurantium). The sour orange is native to southern Vietnam, which explains the Chinese connection. It’s Latin name is Citrus bergamot “bergamia”. It has a yellow color similar to a lemon. However, the juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. Its scent has been described as fresh, sweet-tart, orange-fruit, with a slightly spicy balsamic undertone. Native to Italy, it grows on small trees which blossom during the winter.

Bergamot is used in many skin care creams and lotions for its cooling, refreshing nature. Bergamot is especially helpful for calming inflamed skin, and thus is included in many creams for skin conditions such as psoriasis. With its antiseptic properties, it helps prevent infection and aids in recovery.

Care needs to be taken when applying to skin areas which will be exposed to significant sunlight within 72 hours after application, as bergamot increases skin photosensitivity.

I can see why this Earl Grey Tea was one of the most popular teas in the world. After my herb shop had only been open for two months, Earl Grey was the first black tea I had to restock!

So I then decided to also stock the Earl Grey Green Tea. Oh, wow! I love it! Even though I closed the Tea Room in December 2012 and then the brick & mortar Herb Shop May 2014, I still drink a cup of Earl Grey Tea practically daily.

Author, Master Herbalist, Holistic Nutritionist, creator and owner of Thyme Wisper Herb Shop Inc and Thyme's Tinctures online store.

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