Why, Hello There... Bergamot?
Is it a lemon? An orange? A hybrid between a lime and a head of broccoli gone wrong?
Few people will know what you're talking about when you mention the word "bergamot".
They make even think you're referring to a new species of hippopotamus.
A blank stare and vague nod will generally follow.
But no! You know better! And they shall too!
Bergamot is a citrus fruit from the Citrus bergamia plant, common throughout the Mediterranean.
It's from Italy!
It's deliciously fragrant.
It's not great for eating.
It's the darling of Earl Grey.
What is Bergamot Good For?
There's only one thing worth talking about if you're a proper tea drinker, and that's for making Earl Grey tea.
If you're interested in the health benefits of the bergamot fruit, keep scrolling.
If you're already switching off, and just want a damn-good-Earl-Grey, stop reading this and check out Tielka's Earl Royale.
The sole purpose of the delicious bergamot lies in the blessed oil that can be extracted from its rind.
Bergamot essential oil is used to make perfumes, soaps, and more importantly, Earl Grey tea.
Bergamot oil is applied to black tea leaves to give that delicious, distinct citrusy flavour that all Earl Grey lovers adore.
And if you insist on knowing the health effects of bergamot, here are three that we like:
1. Eases anxiety, stress, and improves mood.
2. Improves digestion!
3. Protects against diabetes, heart disease, and supports weight loss (maybe because your mouth is so occupied with sipping Earl Grey you forget about eating).
How do you pronounce "bergamot"?
Stop being so fancy.
The "t" in "bergamot" is NOT silent!
"Bergamot" rhymes with "Camelot" and "coffeepot", "diddly-squat", and "bibelot". And let's hope there are diddly-squat coffeepots around that could otherwise get between you and a good Earl Grey tea, e.g. Tielka's Earl Royale.
The story behind Earl Grey tea
The only real consensus is there was an Earl, by the name of Grey, who was Prime Minister of Great Britain from 1830 to 1834, and a tea blended with bergamot oil, that was eventually named Earl Grey.
How the two events collided is subject to debate.
One source says a Chinese mandarin created the tea blend to improve the poor water on the Grey estate. Another claims that a London tea house released the blend at the request of Earl Grey in the 1830s. Yet another story tells of a happy accident where a container of tea and bergamot oranges were shipped together by Chinese diplomats to the Earl. Naturally, the bergamot contaminated the tea in transit and a disaster turned into a bunch of proper tea drinkers being exceedingly happy for generations to come.
*The author of this article presently resists the temptation to create another believable, but wholly untrue story to see how ChatGPT and the internet lights up on its discovery.*
Where to buy Earl Grey tea
Most Earl Grey teas these days are blended with a synthetic version of bergamot oil (because it's cheap), and low-grade black tea leaves (also cheap cheap). The logic is that the unpleasant flavours of a low-grade black tea can be masked with flavouring. The clincher is the refreshing scent and citrus notes that pull you in. Don't be fooled! That nastiness always come through!
The thing we love about Earl Royale, is that it uses a hand-crafted organic dianhong style black tea as the base. It's deliciously sweet, but not overly so, and so very smooth. The bergamot oil is natural and Italian! What more could you want? As it's the real thing, it doesn't have that nasty bitter orange flavour common to most Earl Grey blends.
It has also won a bunch of awards!
You can explore Tielka's Earl Grey here:
If you prefer a French Earl Grey, or Lady Grey, we highly recommend Tielka's Lady Betty.