Ah – National Tea Day. Could there be anything better than a cup of tea? We can’t think of any situation that a cuppa wouldn’t help, just a little bit.
The (oo)long and short of it (pardon the pun) is that tea – whatever the weather, with milk or without, hot or cold – is truly a beverage that keeps on giving.
In honour of a fabulous flash sale, we thought we’d do a little digging into a rather British brew, and researched the history and origins of Earl Grey tea.
If you’re not familiar with Earl Grey tea, it is a traditional black tea blended with citrussy, perfumed bergamot that is commonly taken black, with a slice of lemon, or (look away, purists) a dash of milk.
The Mysterious Origins of Earl Grey Tea
The Earl Grey in question was, in fact, a man named Charles Grey, born in 1764, he was the second Earl Grey, and his association with the tea seems to be shrouded in mystery.
Educated at Eton and Cambridge, Lord Grey, as he was then, became a Member of Parliament at the age of 22, and was notably involved in the Reform Act of 1832 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833, serving as Prime Minister from November 1830 to July 1834.
When it comes to the tea itself, some histories recount that one of the Earl’s men rescued the son of a Chinese Mandarin – a very high-ranking civil servant – and as a token of gratitude, the tea was offered as a gift.
Though this story is a lovely one, the Earl did not actually visit China, which somewhat undermines its credibility. Others speculate that the tea was given to Lord Grey as thanks for opening more tea trade routes, by abolishing the East India Company’s monopoly on imports.
Perhaps the most interesting record is that – according to Grey family lore – a Chinese Mandarin did blend the tea specifically for Lord Grey. The bergamot oil was thought to be added to counteract the taste of the lime in the water at his ancestral home of Howick Hall, Northumberland.
A Long Lasting Love Affair
Many also associate the tea’s popularity with Earl Grey’s wife, Lady Grey, who was thought to serve it at tea parties and to guests when socialising in London – sparking the start of a long-lasting British love affair with the brew.
Interestingly, the Earl Grey signature that appears on the Twining’s tea boxes is actually the signature of the sixth Earl, Richard Grey (1939-2013) – though there is hot debate between tea companies as to who has rights to the original recipes.
Despite having their monopoly on tea imports removed by Earl Grey, the East India Company also claims that this unique tea originates with them, though they use neroli and bitter orange in their blend, rather than the traditional bergamot.
A Joy for all the Senses
Bergamot itself – a gorgeous, uplifting fragrance – is found to have properties that revive the spirits and reduce stress, promoting wellbeing and positive feelings.
or even our lovingly handmade soaps, there are so many ways to enjoy this fragrance on National Tea Day that you’re no long restricted to just sipping Earl Grey tea.
Although, that being said – we’re off to put the kettle on. How do you take yours?