Earl Grey is a tea blend that consists of black tea and originally consisted only Chinese teas. It is flavored with the subtle, fragrant oil of bergamot bitter fruit.
Earl Grey tea tea was named after Charles Grey. He canceled 1833 as British prime minister the price monopoly of the East India Company in the tea trade with China. However Earl Grey tea is not a invention of Charles Grey: Legend has it that during a storm on a voyage between England and China the transported cargo of the ship was very cluttered and it spilled bergamot oil on the carried tea. Lord Grey was shown the damage on ship's arrival in London and he decided to try first the contaminated tea and then decide whether the charge should be destroyed or not. However, the tea in question got that good feedback that the Earl decided to bring this tea in trade.
Earl Grey is no longer only a blend of Chinese teas but also from others like Ceylon and Assam. Also, the typical bergamot flavor comes today only in expensive tea blends of natural bergamot oil, mass produced teas use instead artificial flavors. A variant of Earl Grey with the addition of orange and lemon peel and lemon flavor is called Lady Grey.
In popular culture
- Earl Grey is the favorite tea of Jean-Luc Picard, a main character in the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and is often mentioned in this series.
- Earl Grey is the favorite tea of Hime, the main character of the anime series and the manga Princess Resurrection.
- Earl Grey is also the favorite tea of the main character Ciel Phantomhive, in the manga/anime Black Butler.
- In some interpretations of Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle is Earl Grey the preferred tea of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John H. Watson.
- In Mad Men season 6, episode 7 ("Man With a Plan"), Pete Campbell's brother, Bud, tells Pete that their senile mother hit Bud's wife, Judy, in the face with a dish towel when arguing about Earl Grey and Major Grey.