A Black Tea blend flavored with Bergamot Oil.
Earl Grey tea is a tea blend which has been flavored with the addition of oil of bergamot. Traditionally, “Earl Grey” was made from black teas, but tea companies have since begun to offer Earl Grey in other varieties as well, such as green or oolong.
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.” A ‘Grey’s Tea’ is known from the 1850s, but the first known published references to an ‘Earl Grey’ tea are advertisements by Charlton & Co. of Jermyn Street in London in the 1880s.
The Earl Grey blend, or “Earl Grey’s Mixture”, is assumed to be named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister in the 1830s and author of the Reform Bill of 1832. He reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite, of tea flavored with bergamot oil.
Earl Grey tea is a favorite of chefs who cook with teas, usually a flavoring for desserts, candies and sauces. Mixologists have long been using Earl Grey to make cocktails, one most noteworthy is adding gin to the tea, similar to the practice of adding Irish whisky to coffee.