Simply Enigmatic — What Earl Grey tea, Keira Knightly and men’s cologne have in common…just wait, you’ll see!
The title lends itself to confusion…but take a deep breath and you’ll see how it all fits!
The other day when I was writing my last blog, I was thinking about Earl Grey and it led me to want to know more about how it got its name and unique flavoring. I vaguely knew that it was named after an Earl of Grey from “way back when”, but being a history major that information didn’t satisfy me.
Doing a little bit of research led me to a simple answer. History states that the 2nd Earl of Grey was given a gift of black tea flavored with bergamot oil. Ok great. Nice and easy answer….um, but who was the 2nd Earl Grey? and what the heck is bergamot!? Maybe tea fans should automatically know what bergamot is, and maybe I should not be admitting that I don’t know, but I don’t, and still the history major in me wanted to know more, so I delved deeper.
The 2nd Earl Grey was actually Charles Grey, second son of General Sir Charles Grey. A well educated man having attended Trinity College and an active part of the Whig party, Charles was elected to Parliament at the young age of 22. His liberal views of Parliamentary reform and other political campaigns put him in close proximity with the Duchess of Devonshire another political activist. Grey and the Duchess ended up having an affair which more recently has been portrayed in the 2008 movie “The Duchess” staring Kira Knightly (ta da!) and the Earl of Grey being played by Dominic Cooper. Eventually after some time in Parliament, Grey was elected Prime Minister and served from November of 1830- July of 1834. It was during this time that he was supposedly given the present of black tea with bergamot, forever idolizing his name to the drink, Earl Grey.
Ok, now onto what bergamot is. Bergamot oil actually comes from the rind of a fragrant citrus fruit a Bergamot orange. The Bergamot orange was historically found and grown in Southeast Asia, but has more recently been mass produced in the coastal region of Calabria, Italy. The bergamot oil is the prominent fragrance not only in Earl Grey, but is found in 75% of men’s cologne and in about 50% of women’s cologne. (ta da!)
Well I believe that should satisfy my appetite for knowledge, although my appetite for a cup of Earl Grey tea has yet to be filled. I am excited that I know how it is flavored, the history behind it and I even found out a few more fun facts from the search. Now if only those questions came up in a trivia game….
Anywho, have some Earl of Grey today and enjoy a cup with some history behind it!
For more information go to these links.