Today’s tea is Earl Grey with Bergamot, and it is a black tea from Peet’s Coffee & Tea.
This is the traditional Earl Grey. There are other versions, and Peet’s has one with Lavender that is very smoky. If you picked that one up by mistake (as a friend of mine did), wanting the traditional Earl Grey, you might be disappointed and give it away to a tea-loving friend. Worked out well for me!
So the burning questions of the day are: Who was Earl Grey? What is bergamot?
According to the New Tea Lover’s Treasury, Earl Grey was a Prime Minister in England in the 1830s. However, it is unknown how the tea came about, which is too bad, because I bet it would make a good story. A couple tea companies in England fought over who had the original recipe, and eventually one was bought out by the other, and Twinings maintains that it has the original recipe. It also sells 15 tons of Earl Grey per day. Now that’s a lot of tea! (Pratt, 170-171)
Bergamot is a pear-shaped, citrus fruit grown in the Mediterranean. The oil from the rind is used in perfumery and in Earl Grey Tea. Earl Grey is the first scented (or perhaps more correctly, flavored) black tea that we had here in the West. (Jasmine scented green tea came before, in China).
As soon as I pop open the tin, the famous aroma beckons. The bergamot is pungent, just the way I like it. The tea leaves are dark, with flecks of gold and green.
In the cup, the scent isn’t as strong. Some intensify the citrus flavor and add lemon and drink it black. I prefer it, as always, with milk. It is a medium-bodied tea with a citrus aftertaste. Earl Grey is one of my favorites. It is one that is in fairly regular rotation, and I often order it if I get a cup of tea out. Every company’s Earl Grey is different, so try a few and see which one you prefer. Peet’s makes a good one, but I almost feel like it could have more bergamot oil. I smell it in the leaves, but not as much in the cup, and I use a good amount of tea–two heaping teaspoons/standard size mug. So my verdict is just that: more bergamot, please.
If you like a nice, mellow cup of tea, try this one.
You can get it here: http://www.peets.com/shop/tea_detail.asp?id=101&cid=1000154