Earl Grey is a black tea that is flavoured with oil from the rind of bergamot orange, a fruit mostly grown in Italy. Variations on the traditional blend include Lady Grey (a blend of Earl Grey with blue cornflower blossoms), Russian Earl Grey (Earl Grey with pieces of citrus peel) and Red Earl Grey (rooibos and bergamot).Responsible for the name is Charles Grey (1764-1845). Charles was an English aristocrat who was educated in Eton and Cambridge and elected to Parliament at the age of 22. He married Mary Elizabeth Ponsonby (daughter of Baron Ponsonby of Imokilly, Co. Cork, Ireland) and had six daughters (1 stillborn) and ten sons. Before he was married, he had an illegitimate daughter with the Duchess of Devonshire, which is the subject of the 2008 movie, “The Duchess”. He was a member of the Whig party and became foreign secretary in 1806 but a dispute over the rights of Catholics ended that appointment. He inherited the title of Earl when his father passed away in 1807 and became a member of the House of Lords. Charles Grey, the second Earl Grey was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 22 November, 1830 to 9 July, 1834. He was noted for advocating parliamentary reform and Catholic emancipation. Two of his most notable reforms were the Reform Act of 1832 and the Slavery Abolition Act of 1833 but interestingly, the monopoly of the East India Company in Britain’s trade with China ended while he was prime minister. He is commemorated through a statue at the centre of Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Grey College in Durham.
Grey was respected but rarely loved. His achievements were few, but they were significant…. In character he was a man of contradictions, headstrong but easily discouraged by failure, imperious but indecisive, cautious and introspective.
E. A. Smith (2004), ‘Grey, Charles, second Earl Grey (1764–1845)’
- Correspondence of Princess Lieven and Earl Grey, (1890), London: R. Bentley
- Early Grey: The results of the OED appeal on Earl Grey tea, (2012), Oxford English Dictionary [http://public.oed.com/early-grey-the-results-of-the-oed-appeal-on-earl-grey-tea/, accessed 26 Oct 2013]
- Grey, Charles, second Earl Grey (1764–1845), (2004) E. A. Smith, Oxford: Oxford University Press
- Lord Grey of the Reform Bill, being the life of Charles, second Earl Grey, (1920), G. M. Trevelyan, London: Longmans, Green