Earl Grey the is named after Charles Grey, 2. Earl Grey, (1764 – 1845), Prime Minister of England between 1830 – 1834. His Government was contributing to the abrogate slavery in the British Empire. Today, however, he is best known as the man behind Earl Grey tea/blend. It is said that Earl Grey was given the bergamot mixture by a grateful Chinese Mandarin whose son was saved from drowning by one of Lord Grey’s men. The narrative, however, seems to be a truth with modifications since Lord Grey never set a foot in China, and the use of bergamot oil was not known among the Chinese. “Grey’s Tea” has been known since the 1850s, and the first published Earl Grey ad originated from Charlton & Co. in Jermyn Street, London back in the 1880s.
Recipe and Trademark
Over the years several British companies have tried to claim the copyright to Earl Grey. According to the Grey family, the tea was specially blended by a Chinese Mandarin to Lord Grey. The mixture should fit the water at Howick Hall, where the family was based. It turned out that the bergamot oil was extremely suitable for the lime-containing water. Lady Grey, a political hostess, used Earl Grey at events in London, to which the tea quickly became popular. Subsequently, Twinnings Tea House in London (The Strand) branded Earl Grey as an independent brand, but the Jacksons at Piccadilly claimed that Lord Grey had given the recipe to Robert Jackson & Co. in 1830. According to Jacksons, the original recipe has been in constant production and has never left their hands. The tea is originally based on Chinese black tea, but now also available in green and white editions.
“Earl Grey” is not trademarked and numerous tea-companies produce in their own edition of Earl Grey based on different tea types and aroma combinations. “Lady Grey”, on the other hand, is a trademark of Twinnings. At Perch’s Teashop we also have our own interpretation of Earl Grey, although it is not as old as “the original”.
Earl Grey consists of bergamot (Citrus bergamia), a small citrus tree that flourishes during the winter, and commercially grown in Calabria, Italy. The plant is most likely a hybrid of Citrus limetta and Citrus aurantium.