Friday, March 19, 2010


There are long running disputes as to the origin and naming of what we know today as Earl Grey. Supposedly it was named after an Englishman whose name was Charles and was the second to bear the ancient Anglo-Saxon title of earl. For a time he became Prime Minister under William IV (ruled 1830-1837). Great mystery surrounds the origin of his tea. The most far fetched story alleges he received the recipe from a mandarin while he served as a diplomat in China and that is not the only dispute. Twinings and Jacksons of Piccadilly argued for generations over which company had the rights to claim the original Earl Grey recipe. The Hon. Georgina Stonor, a member of the family that purchased Jacksons in 1931 from the descendants of the founder, has said: “This (secret recipe) was entrusted by Lord Grey to George Charlton in 1830 - who was a partner of Rob’t. Jackson & Co….Jacksons remain sole proprietors of this original formula which remains unaltered today…” The argument became irrelevant in 1990 when Jacksons was purchased by Twinings. Earl Grey has been a long-time Twinings best seller.

What is it about this tea anyway? It does not matter what type of tea is used, it is the oil of bergamot that is added. Bergamot is the Turkish name given to a pear-shaped fruit (Citrus bergamia) which is grown around the Mediterranean for the oil which can be pressed out of the rind and used in perfumery. The age-old question is how did it get in the Earl’s tea? An Australian, Ian Bersten, may have finally figured it out. During the time of the exile of Jews from Israel, bergamot was used as the fruit ritually used in the Jewish Succoth festival. The bergamot was obtained from Corfu which also served as the Mediterranean base for the British Royal Navy from the Napoleonic wars until 1848. The tea-addicted, British naval officers were stationed in the world’s main bergamot market throughout Earl Grey’s entire career in London, not even a month’s sail away. Apparently he liked the bergamot tea enough to be remembered for starting the craze.

The history of Earl Grey may be uncertain, but one thing for certain it is still an international best-seller!

Springtime in Paris is a black tea with the delightful aroma and taste of bergamot, grapefruit and mandarin. A delicious tea to be enjoyed anytime - but always better with a friend.

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