A staple to tea drinkers, brewing a pot of Earl Grey is a wonderfully familiar process. A rather simple tea, it is made most intriguing by the oft overlooked—Bergamot—an uplifting and bright citrus that mingles perfectly with the richness of the tea leaves.
Interestingly, the familiar flavor remains elusive on market shelves. Bergamot is not a fruit to nibble on for pleasure—it’s far too sour. However, its precious essential oils impart an aromatic signature to everything from Earl Grey to Shalimar. The entirety of the fruit is used, from skin to pith, and the resulting salubrious elixir is akin to liquid gold and nearly as efficacious for a sore mood as lithium.
“...Groves of citrus bloom forth with the
sun’s warm caress as clusters of fruit cling
to emerald-dappled branches, heavy
and pendulous under the wide Calabrian sky”
Cloaked in hues of green, orange, and citron, bergamot’s pear-shaped orbs exude a soft floral perfume, redolent with a sparkling florescence. A cross between a lemon and a sour orange, beneath the bright citrusy facade lies a musky and woodsy heart, lending depth and dimension. This unique combination makes bergamot a perfect companion to the bold character of our No. 35, The Earl Grey tea. The infusion of bergamot oil into the tea leaves not only imparts a citrusy aroma but also elevates the flavor profile, creating a harmonious blend of brisk black tea with bright, uplifting notes.
The majority of the world’s bergamot supply is cultivated in Italy, particularly in the sun-soaked groves of Calabria. It must be a ravishing sight to behold: groves of citrus bloom forth with the sun’s warm caress as clusters of fruit cling to emerald-dappled branches, heavy and pendulous under the wide Calabrian sky. These citrus orchards contribute to the global allure of Earl Grey tea, with their bounty of fragrant bergamot infusing each cup with the essence of Mediterranean sunshine. Until one can experience the beauty of these groves firsthand, capturing this ray of sunshine in our cups is a delightful way to connect with the essence of Italy and savor the aromatic magic of bergamot.
As a testament to its versatility, bergamot has found its way beyond tea cups. Its essential oils are integral to perfumes like Shalimar, contributing to the creation of captivating and timeless fragrances. The process of extracting the essence from the fruit involves meticulous care, ensuring that every drop encapsulates the essence of the Mediterranean terroir. This same care is reflected in the art of brewing Earl Grey, where the marriage of tea leaves and bergamot becomes an alchemical dance that enchants the senses.
In conclusion, the humble bergamot, often overlooked in the realm of citrus fruits, takes center stage in the world of tea as the key player in Earl Grey. Its vibrant and complex character, coupled with the careful cultivation in Italian groves, contributes to the tea’s timeless appeal. As tea enthusiasts partake in the familiar ritual of brewing Earl Grey, they not only enjoy a comforting cup but also embark on a sensory journey that transcends borders, connecting them to the sun-kissed orchards of Calabria and the aromatic allure of this captivating citrus.