If there's one type of tea everyone recognizes at a glance, it's Earl Grey. Whether thanks to Captain Jean-Luc Picard on Star Trek or the ever-popular London Fogs at coffee shops around the world, Earl Grey is easily one of the most popular flavors of tea, but many people don't actually know what makes tea an Earl Grey.
The secret is bergamot oil, extract from the rind of the bergamot orange native to southern Italy. Long ago, in the early 1800's, the second Earl Grey of Howick Hall, Charles Grey supposedly worked with a Chinese apothecary to create a tea that would purify the horrible-tasting water surrounding their keep for important guests soon arriving to the hall. In their research, they found that the essence of bergamot purified the water and scented it pleasantly, making for a higher quality tea experience. The Earl's signature tea formula was licensed to a couple of tea companies and eventually released to the public so that shops like ours can make our own Earl Grey teas (all of the Earl Greys below that have the "Made in Montana" logo are blended right here on our premises).
If you'd like to know more about the history of Earl Grey, along with other tea stories, check out Myths and Legends of Tea, a compendium of short stories on the origins of teas.