Earl Grey is one of the most common and most popular tea consumed in Britain.
It is typically a blend of black teas and bergamot oil, which provides its unique mix of citrus, bitter and floral flavours.
Earl Grey tea has a high concentration in water and is low in caffeine as well as having next to no calories.
iTHINK brings to you avid tea drinkers the history of Early Grey Tea.
History of Earl Grey Tea
Earl Grey tea is named after the second Earl Grey: Charles Grey; a British politician and eventually prime minister from 1830-1834. Despite being famous to most for the tea, Grey’s high point in his career was passing the Great Reforms act in 1833. This led to the abolition of slavery throughout Britain.
There are numerous stories surrounding how the Earl Grey tea recipe was discovered or passed onto Grey. A popular story suggests that Grey saved the son of a tea brewer from drowning.
As thanks, he received the recipe for the tea, which was later named after him by the west. There is also a slightly different version, where it was a British citizen who carried out the deed. As a result, he has gifted the recipe to honor the Prime Minister at that time.
However, there is no definitive proof to place Grey in China; considering information from blogs such as The Loose Tea Blog and Seven Cups we can be certain that Grey never did travel to China.
We can conclude that the former story is false, however, it is highly unlikely that the latter is the correct version. The Loose Tea Blog goes on to mention that “the Chinese did not drink adulterated (flavoured) tea”, so it is worth considering that the tea may not have originated from China at all.
During Grey’s time as a politician, numerous routes to trade between Britain and overseas countries were introduced. This led to a significant increase in imports from South East Asia.
We can’t make a distint connection between these events and Grey. Given that Grey was Prime Minister at the time, it is possible that Grey received the recipe or at the Bergamot plant, as a gift to signify the new relations between the two nations.
After much research, we have come to a decision on what is the most probable sequence of events.
Unfortunately, it is underwhelming. Some researchers believe the connection between Grey and the tea is a mere coincidence and there is no real story behind the name Earl Grey Tea.
We found a different type of coincident. Due to imports from South East Asia, Bergamot was more available and more commercially used in Britain. Thus, it is likely that in a bid to be remembered long term the Earl wanted to make his own blend of tea.
In other words, Grey stumbled across the recipe and added the Bergamot flower to make the tea aesthetically appealing; unaware of its contribution to the taste until later. As mentioned, underwhelming.
Moreover, some believe the tea was made to please his wife Lady Grey. This theory is plausible, considering he would need motivation for his in decoration as well as someone to dedicate the tea to.
As a result of this, there have been made variations of the Earl Grey recipe to make Lady Grey tea. This is trademarked by the popular brand Twinings, who were given the Earl Grey recipe by the 6th Earl Grey.
Did You Know….?
Interestingly, despite originating in South East Asia, there are numerous records of Bergamot Oranges being grown and used the Mediterranean since the 19th century for its medicinal qualities.
As of now, the majority of the world’s Bergamot plants are grown in southern Italy, which is where it grew massively in popularity and fame.
Also, the Bergamot is a Turkish name meaning ‘the prince’s pair’. So, despite its roots, bergamot can be mistaken to originate from several areas in Europe, the Mediterranean and the Middle East.
Health Benefits of Earl Grey
Earl Grey tea has numerous benefits to your body and general well-being. Here is a list of a few health benefits that are major advantages of Earl Grey tea.
In Chinese medicine, Bergamot is used in aromatherapy to reduce stress and induce a better mindset by inhaling the vapors of the oil. According to Doctors Health Press, Bergamot oil can stimulate the hormone serotonin.
This is the hormone responsible for inducing happiness and a healthy mindset; like the sensation felt when receiving good news, after exercise or when indulging in luxury.
Drinking Earl Grey tea or even inhaling its vapours, can give someone a calm and comforting feel. This carefree feeling helps to unload stress, especially after a hard day.
Cancer Preventing Properties
Scientist have researched the idea that herbal teas can help prevent the cause or even the growth of cancer. Bergamot oil is said to have cancer-fighting properties due to its higher number of antioxidants.
Cancer is caused by free radicals, which are highly active charged molecules that can ionise (by knocking off an electron) healthy cells in the body.
This can lead to the mutation of cells and an increase in free radicals in the body; or a growth in the cancerous cells. Antioxidants are chemicals that can neutralise the charge of free radicals. Thus, removing their ability to ionise healthy cells or to form more free radicals.
Though there isn’t enough to say that antioxidants can prevent or stop the growth of a tumour, in general, it is recommended to consume foods rich in antioxidants.
Here is an article by the National Cancer Institute which discusses the effect of antioxidants on cancer cells.
Bergamot oil helps to breakdown foods and speed up the digestive process, whilst relieving pain or discomfort felt during the process.
The oil betters the functioning of digestive organs which is beneficial to people with abdominal problems such as IBS and to those who experience general discomfort after eating.
Doctors Health Press mentions a study suggesting that bergamot has anti-bacterial properties, making it useful to fight food poisoning.
This could help prevent unwanted bacteria from building up in the body as well as help against abdominal infection.
Like most herbal teas, Earl Grey tea has a high concentration in water and is low in caffeine as well as having next to no calories. Of course, it would be ideal to replace all beverages with water, but as it is, humans need variation and flavour.
Hence, Earl Grey tea is a more tasteful alternative to quench thirst or just sit down to enjoy. It has a positive effect on the body and hydrates the organs due to its high water content; this also helps eliminate excess water and reduce bloatedness.
Due to its low caffeine content, the drink can supply you with enough stimulants to keep you active and functioning well.
Too much caffeine can make you dependent the substance and increase your blood pressure and heart rate; this is prevented by moderating the caffeine content in what you consume.
This is a clear advantage over tea or coffee, which the popular option for a pick-me-up.
Though we’re not claiming Earl Grey tea is a substitute for water, it is definitely a better alternative to the usual choice for beverages of tea and coffee.
Overall, Earl Grey is a great choice for tea. There is no compromise between the taste and the health benefits.
Looking at the world today; we are fast-paced with high energy looking for new flavours to excite us. Earl Grey tea is the perfect accompaniment to this lifestyle, especially with options such as energy drinks, high in caffeine tea or coffee and sugary drinks.
Tea brands are changing and developing herbal tea recipes to suit our taste.
So it is important to make the active decision to choose the healthier option, recognizing you get all the same benefits and more than your usual favourites.
Hello! I am a physics writer at iTHINK. I am currently a student at Warwick University studying Mathematics and Physics. I like to read into new developments in physics and space exploration. I am also a fan of the DC superhero universe. Don’t be surprised if I mix the two together!