Earl Grey tea is a tea blend which has been flavored with the addition of oil of bergamot. Bergamot is a variety of orange that is often grown in Italy and France. The rind's fragrant oil is added to black tea to give Earl Grey its unique taste. Traditionally, Earl Grey was made from black teas, but tea companies have since begun to offer Earl Grey in other varieties as well, such as green or oolong.
Earl Grey tea is used as a flavoring for many types of cakes and confectionery, such as chocolates, as well as savory sauces. For sauces, the flavor is normally created by adding tea bags to the basic stock, boiling for a few minutes and then discarding the bags. For sweet recipes, loose tea is often added to melted butter or hot cream and strained after the flavor is infused.
Black tea is a type of tea that is more oxidized than oolong, green, and white teas. Black tea is generally stronger in flavor than the less oxidized teas. All four types are made from leaves of the shrub (or small tree) Camellia sinensis. Two principal varieties of the species are used – the small-leaved Chinese variety plant (C. sinensis var. sinensis), used for most other types of teas, and the large-leaved Assamese plant (C. sinensis var. assamica), which was traditionally mainly used for black tea, although in recent years some green and white teas have been produced.
While green tea usually loses its flavor within a year, black tea retains its flavor for several years. For this reason, it has long been an article of trade, and compressed bricks of black tea even served as a form of de facto currency in Mongolia, Tibet, and Siberia into the 19th century. Although green tea has recently seen a revival due to its purported health benefits, black tea still accounts for over ninety percent of all tea sold in the West.
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