Sunday, March 01, 2009

I'ts March! That means Earl Grey month!

Oh sure you know the tea, but do you know the man?
Did you know that Earl Grey was a real person?
The Earl Grey blend is named for Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey, born March 13, 1764, the second but eldest son of General Sir Charles Grey and his wife, Elizabeth (1743/4–1822), daughter of George Grey of Southwick.

The Earl Grey blend is named after Charles Grey, 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister 1830-1834, and author of the Reform Bill of 1832. The Reform Bill reformed the House of Commons and sought to abolish slavery in the British Empire by 1833. He was well educated and said to be one of the most prominent orators of his time. So what the heck does this gent have to do with tea?

No one is 100% sure how the tea came to be named for him. However, I'm always happy to share a few stories. According to one legend, a grateful Chinese nobleman was rescued from drowning by Earl Grey or one of Earl Grey's men during a trip to China. When asked how this rescue could be repaid, he remarked that having the recipe for that fabulous tea would be thanks enough.

Another version holds that the son of an Indian raja was rescued from the jaws of a hunger tigher by Grey or on of Grey's men.
Both stories sure make Earl Grey sound heroic, however, Earl Grey never traveled to China, and the Indian version about the tiger is a rarely told tale. Jacksons of Piccadilly lay claim that it was their recipe as given by Earl Grey to Robert Jackson & Co. parnter George Charlton. They state that the tea has been in constant production since 1830, and the recipe has never left their hands. Their recipe is based on a Chinese black tea since the beginning, while other companies tend to more commonly use black Indian or Sri Lankan (Ceylon) teas.
So that's who Earl Grey was ... how about what Earl Grey is!

Many believe that if they are drinking Earl Grey that they are drinking a better grade of tea. Sorry to say this is not necessarily true. Earl Grey is simply black tea flavored with bergamot -- the essential oil of a citrus fruit native to the Calabria region of Italy.

And what is Lady Grey? Well, Earl Grey tea was reported to cause improper impules in women so it was formulated to be a bit more citrusy -- usually with the addition of lemon. Lady Grey is said to better suit the temperment of a women. Oh, please ....

Fictional characters who are said to enjoy Earl Grey tea include;
Bruce Wayne of Batman
Eric Cartman of South Park
Frasier Crane of Cheers and Frasier
Captain Jean-Luc Picard of Star Trek: The Next Generation
Dr. Donald Mallard (Ducky) of NCIS
Bobby Simone of NYPD Blue (I couldn't even watch the series after they killed him off)
Sir Leigh Teabing (The DaVinci Code)
and many others I'm sure.

A word of caution about Earl Grey, however. Bergamot, the primary flavor in Earl Grey, is said to create photsensitive reactions in many people, such as with tetracycline antibiotics and sulfonamides.

So what good does Earl Grey month do you? How about a 15% discount off all Earl Grey varieties from now until March 31! In shop, email and phone order customers need to remind me of the sale, as this sale is open only to blog readers. Online customers should enter the code blogearl in the special comments of the online order form.
Earl Grey Bravo
Earl Grey Creme
Earl Grey Organic
Earl Grey With Lavender
Darjeeling Earl Grey
Victorian Earl Grey
Earl Green
Earl Green with Lavender
Earl Grey Rooibos
Lady Myrtle Grey
Classic Iced Tea Blend

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