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Article: Camellia sinensis: January is hot tea month!: Earl Grey

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Forum: Article: Camellia sinensis: January is hot tea month!Replies: 18, Views: 54
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Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 13, 2012
5:34 PM

Post #8966661

Hi
Good article.
My daughter bought me all kinds of teas one year, and I tried them all. Earl Grey was the best. Then I found that Earl Grey was also in green tea too. Yes, I like that green tea best too, and have sipped it for the past month nursing a cold.

I just wondered what is Earl Grey?
Is it one of the teas that can be described as: bright," "earthy," "fruity" and "muscatel ?
If so which one would it be?

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 14, 2012
8:17 AM

Post #8967224

Ahhh. Hello there! I drank a lot of Earl Grey in my life, for sure. Earl Grey is regular black (or recently green) tea flavored with bergamot. Which I believe is derived from or related to the Monarda family, but that is only a dusty memory. There was a real Earl Grey who invented the idea (or his cook did, more likely).

As for describing its taste as an educated tea taster would, I'm not one, so I really couldn't. Tea tastes to me interesting or boring, bitter, weak, too sweet, too milky but none of those are the types of flavor components that professional tea tasters are looking for (or tasting for). I would say, also, that Earl Grey tea is a FLAVORED tea so it always tastes like Earl Grey tea. The "bright" etc. flavors I mentioned were on pure unblended, unflavored lots of tea, not finished products like Earl Grey.

Thanks for the interesting question...I may have to look up Sir Grey myself, now! But in Earl Grey tea the predominant flavor is the bergamot.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 14, 2012
12:02 PM

Post #8967443

Thank you for the answer. Bergamot !!!! SO what I am probably tasting and liking is --- orange --- right? Well, that is a surprise!
I think I will go have me some Green Earl Gray and see if I can taste that orange!

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 14, 2012
2:01 PM

Post #8967629

Errr...is bergamot the same as orange? You may be thinking of osage oranges? Try Constant Comment for an orange flavored caffeinated black tea.

Back from dictionary.com: Well, apparently you're right, it's harvested from the bark of a citrus tree, but oranges don't taste like grapefruits or lemons, right, yet all are citrus? To me the flavor of Earl Grey (and this may be all in my mind) is manlier than orange. I want to eat an orange, but I want to eat something with my Earl Grey tea. I think of EG tea when smelling monarda, but apparently (according to dictionary.com) that's just because the fragrance RESEMBLES bergamot; there is no actual bergamot in monarda.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 14, 2012
2:42 PM

Post #8967680

Oh goodness; You don't know how pleased I am to hear you say that. Now we are entering into something that I became very confused about for a long time.
I do grow bee balm. I have dried it before and have put it in drinks -- and enjoyed it too - this was -longer than a decade ago
My understanding was that bergamot is about the same flavor as monarda - I had a good herb book that said bee balm was monarda and it mention bergamot too, and all was right with the world and I thought I understood.

Then othere sources said this was not true?

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 14, 2012
3:18 PM

Post #8967730

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergamot_orange
Jennyfurcat
Galston
Australia

January 16, 2012
8:18 PM

Post #8970705

'Common' names can lead to much confusion.

'Bergamot Orange' - Citrus bergamia - a probable hybrid Citrus from Europe and Turkey, mainly used for oil for flavouring.

'Bergamot', 'Bee Balm' 'Oswego Tea' - Monarda didyma, M. fistulosa - flowering perennials in the Mint family from North America, leaves used for teas by early settlers and and native tribes.

Maybe the common names refers to similar perfumes in the oils of both plants?

Citrus bergamia is used to flavour Earl Grey Tea. Earl Grey's home and garden, 'Howick Hall', near Alnwick, Northern England, is open to the public.

On a Camellia sinensis note, I have 2 plants growing in my garden, and I enjoy the small white flowers. I sometimes pick a few fresh leaves, soften them by putting them in a pot in the microwave for about 30 seconds, then pour boiling water over for a cup of tea.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 17, 2012
5:30 AM

Post #8970991

I found this:
Our bergamot essential oil is extracted from the tree Citrus aurantium var. bergamia (also known as C. bergamia), of the Rutaceae family and is also known as Bergamot orange.

SOOOOO bergamot is bergamia, right?

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 17, 2012
7:11 AM

Post #8971129

Yup. Jenny's got it right, and she's right too, that botanical names are much more accurate. Thanks, Jenny!

Few of us (you'd have to be in AL or FL, I guess) can grow Camellia sinensis at home. Then there's curing, roasting, curing again (or maybe it's roasting, curing, and roasting again) which makes the difference between black and green and other kinds of tea. But what you're doing is the primary way it all started umpteen thousand years ago with the Chinese and/or Indians, and is a way most of us can never experience. Thanks for chiming in!
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 17, 2012
7:18 AM

Post #8971139

Beside roasting and curing there is fermenting too, at least I think so.
Jenny - how does that taste compared to the store bought tea bags? Is it weaker? Just curious.

Oswego is tea made from - bee balm -- I might have known more than a decade or so ago, but I didn't know it now - gee whiz.
Live and learn/ get old and forget it all.
Jennyfurcat
Galston
Australia

January 21, 2012
8:05 PM

Post #8977150

The tea made from my leaves is fairly weak, but as I drink tea (and coffee) without milk or sugar, weak tea is fine for me. More leaves and/or longer brewing would make the tea stronger.

Where I live is not hot and tropical, as we think of as the climate to have tea plantations. I am sure a tea plant or two could be grown in many gardens where other camellias grow, especially if planted in a pot. One of my plants is at the front of a bed of Camellia japonicas - the other is next to a deciduous azalea.

They start to flower early in the camellia season (March - the first month of Autumn here), and produce seeds. The seed pods are smaller than those of C. japonica, and usually have just one seed.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 22, 2012
6:12 AM

Post #8977403

Thanks for the additional information. I was about to say "I wish my camellias bloomed in March" but of course, it's too cold for camellias where I live--I was thinking of PEONIES, ha ha ha.

You're of course correct, that Camellia sinensis would be happy side by side with the other more ornamental camellias. To produce any substantial amount of tea, though, they would need to be picked fairly often. The amount of fresh tea leaves that make a cup or a pound or a teabag of processed tea is a statistic I ran across while researching this article but I didn't save it, DOH. But it was surprising to me, at least, how much light fluffy freshly picked tea is needed to make the dry compressed black tea we (most of us) drink. I read it and couldn't find it again, but it's a LOT of fresh goes into not very much concentrated dried.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 22, 2012
11:21 AM

Post #8977703

Drying does that. Very nice in storing all my zuchinni that other wise would take up all my room in the freezer.
I shipped across the country to several of my in-laws my dehydrated blackberries. I gave them each a quart but ---- it it was orignally about two gallons of blackberries.

Thanks Jenny fur cat for the information. It is hard for me to figure out the proportions of fresh herbs, dried herbs, and so forth -- I thought it might be just as strong as dehydrated.
But there is no way in my climate I can grow camellias period.
I have ordered in the past a coffee tree, and a tea plant to put in a pot and leave out in the summer and bring in the winter (neither made through the winter, even in the house). I have had a bay leaf tree though for the past 10 years --- I keep it in the bathroom and give it a shower every once in a while , but it is precaurious at best each year if it will make it or not.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 22, 2012
1:37 PM

Post #8977845

That's great, your bay tree! Did you see my article about those a year or two ago? I'd love one but I'm not sure I could keep it alive. Fresh bay is amazing.


http://davesgarden.com/guides/articles/view/2468/

This message was edited Jan 22, 2012 4:41 PM
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 23, 2012
8:15 AM

Post #8978865

Thank you for the article on bay trees and leaves. It was very nice.
Right now my bay tree has lost a lot of leaves. It is not that they drop off - they dried up on the trees itself!!! . I guess I will go break them off and use them in a wreath or something and then give plant itself a shower. It has done worse than it ever has this years --- I most probably should have repotted it last fall, but Mother ended up in the hosptial and lots did not get done.

But if you want one - I think giving it a montly shower is about what you have to do to keep it because little black scaly bugs love to get on the back of the leaves and suck sap out. It also seems to dry out easy.

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 23, 2012
11:31 AM

Post #8979158

You could stick all those dry leaves in a tupperware and make stew once a day until they're used up, or maybe better to freeze them. I mean most of us don't get fresh bay leaves too often! I bought some special for the article--yum yum yum!
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 23, 2012
2:57 PM

Post #8979522

Thanks,
I do occasionally use them for stew.
I wished that I could have read your article, years ago. I could have use the trick of saying whoever pulls out the bay leaf is going to have good luck! I should have made a game of it.

Instead; every time I make the stew, and lost the leaf, and some one found it they would ask (every blasted time) do we eat this? And then the ooooooouuuu, yuck, there is something we are not suppose to eat in here!

What is wrong with my bunch?
GRRRR.
I do know that I finally told one of them to go ahead - eat it!
I notice they put it aside --- - the little rascals. I suppose it was their game to see how many times I would tell them "No, honey, it just gives the soup a good flavor, but you are not to eat it." Before I Iapsed into my true sarcastic nature.

It is a rather large tree, and it really has lost a lot of leaves this year - I am on the verge of losing it --- if I really baby it for another couple of months, I will repot it this spring it might make it. Shall I ship you some leaves to Mass?



This message was edited Jan 23, 2012 5:59 PM

carrielamont

carrielamont
Milton, MA
(Zone 6a)

January 24, 2012
10:38 AM

Post #8980615

Oh, don't go to the trouble, but thank you for the sweet thought. My husband is the major cook these days and his idea of seasoning is Heinz 57.
Liquidambar2
Mount Vernon, KY

January 24, 2012
2:47 PM

Post #8980909

Heeee, Heee, Heeee; majoring seasoning. Thanks for the chuckle!

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