Earl Grey: tea that is a tonic for body and soul

“Tea. Earl Grey. Scorching.” Captain Jean-Luc Picard, the educated and sophisticated Starfleet Captain, is aware of a thing or two about excellent inter-galactic refreshment. Not only does the hero of Star Trek: The Next Generation prefer to drink this most delicately flavoured thirst-quencher in any galaxy. But now it emerges – with apologies to Picard’s outdated close friends the Vulcans – that this bergamot infusion enables one to ”live prolonged [and prosper]’’.

The tea, served in Buckingham Palace, Downton Abbey, and even Nigella Lawson’s house (exactly where it pops up in tea cakes), could also lower cholesterol amounts and the risk of heart illness, says new Italian investigation. Findings from the University of Calabria indicate that nutrients named HMGF (hydroxy methyl glutaryl flavonoids) present in bergamot worked as nicely on the proteins that lead to heart illness and ”bad’’ cholesterol as statins.

But there are particular tea-lovers who – excuse me, whilst I recover from a swift shudder with a restorative sip of the scented nectar – feel Earl Grey is ”Not All That’’. In fact, some individuals make disparaging remarks about this straightforward black tea, brewed from traditional Camellia sinensis leaves laced with oil of bergamot oranges. Criticisms assortment from, ‘That muck?’ to the view that Earl Grey is a type of gateway drug to dreams of a much more exciting life. The naysayers declare it is the compound de choix when you are 18 wanting to be 28 or Hyacinth Bouquet, but dream of getting the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Or they snigger it is some thing favoured by the most effete of metrosexual guys or, confusingly, lesbian plumbers.

Pish posh, I say. Put the kettle on, and we can all be sensible in excess of its heavenly aroma – and for me – a dash of skimmed milk (extra soon after pouring) to leaven the tannins. For Earl Grey fans are not pretentious. We are delicate souls with the tastebuds of poets.

Just don’t confuse us with the wilting violets who favour Lady Grey (invented for Norwegians whose delicate noses identified the Earl’s blend as well pungent), which is unforgiveably spliced with lemon and orange peel, and even dangerously subverted with – ye gods – lavender.

So, tamper with our brew at your peril – as Twining’s found out in 2012 when it determined to tweak the flavour. For my dear Earl Grey – not only are you tasty, you are also efficacious. And I do not require a spoonful of sugar to assist this medicine go down.

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