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A short history of Earl Grey Tea

The earliest tea blend sold to the public was Earl Grey, named for British statesman Sir Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey.

English: Charles Grey, 1st Earl Grey (1729-1807)

Earl Grey;  Wikipedia picure

Around 1830, while prime minister (1830-1834), Earl Grey sent envoys to China to bid England’s business.  According to legend, one British envoy saved the life of a Chinese mandarin. Grateful for his life, the mandarin thanked the the prime minister with a gift of black tea scented with oil of bergamot.  Grey and his wife, who were famous for their tea parties, loved it and asked for the receipt (recipe).  Soon their friends could order Earl Grey blend from London tea merchants.

Earl Grey is plain black tea infused with the citrus flavour of bergamot (similar to orange blossoms or lemon zest). This gives a bright, tart and refreshing tea that is unlike other black teas.

The Captain and Earl Grey Tea

Captain Picard

Any Star Trek fan knows Captain Picard, of the Starship Enterprise, drinks Earl Grey tea (hot!) during his intergalactic travels.

Patrick Stewart, who is  British and has a theatre background at the Royal Shakespeare Company, drinks what every self-respecting English person drinks: Earl Grey tea.

Picard is frequently shown drinking Earl Grey tea and issuing an order by saying “Make it so.”

Well, lots of other people drink Earl Grey too. It’s one of the most popular and well-known kinds of tea in the Western world.

Although Earl Grey is immortalized by his namesake tea blend, he was responsible for  the legislative act to abolish slavery in the British Empire. Seems like quite an accomplishment, yet most people know him for his wonderful tea instead.