The Earl Grey blend is named after the 2nd Earl Grey, British Prime Minister in the 1830s and author of the Reform Bill of 1832, who reputedly received a gift, probably a diplomatic perquisite, of tea flavored with bergamot oil. Bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) is a small citrus tree which blossoms during the winter and is grown commercially in Italy. It is likely a hybrid of Citrus limetta and Citrus aurantium.
Jacksons of Piccadilly claim they originated Earl Grey’s Tea, Lord Grey having given the recipe to Robert Jackson & Co. partner George Charlton in 1830. According to Jacksons, the original recipe has been in constant production and has never left their hands. Theirs has been based on China tea since the beginning.
According to the Grey family, the tea was specially blended by a Chinese mandarin for Lord Grey, to suit the water at Howick Hall, the family seat in Northumberland, using bergamot in particular to offset the preponderance of lime in the local water. Lady Grey used it to entertain in London as a political hostess.