Written by: Rosa Morgan
I, the second Earl Grey, sat by my hearth on an achingly cold winter day. Having spent the morning riding in inclement weather, I could not rid the chill from my bones. A timid knock at my door surprised me, for the servants knew my study was a sanctuary for solitary rumination. My children, all fifteen of them, were grown now, but I warranted the weak tapping was a child's rap. “I'm busy!” I bellowed with, what I thought was, sufficient ferocity. Surprisingly, the knock occurred again with even more force than before. Intrigued, I asked the mysterious visitor to enter.
It was my favorite granddaughter, a darling cherub with dimpled cheeks. “Grandpa Charlie, I've brought tea and biscuits," she chirped. Impossible to show displeasure at the sweet intrusion, I smiled, “Well then, you best come in." Eagerly accepting my offer, she made herself comfortable on my knee. "Who is that in the painting?" she asked, her chubby finger pointing above the mantle. "Don't you recognize your Grandmother Mary?"
She shook her curls, then, pointing at another painting, declared knowingly, "That's this house, Howick Hall!" "Our ancestral home," I nodded.
"Grandpa, please tell me the story about the tea, the one named after you." I sighed resignedly, "There's really not much to it." "But, didn't a Chinaman make the tea for you because one of your men saved his son from drowning?" "Only partially true. I, nor my men, have never set foot in China. However, the water here at Howick is heavy with lime, so a Mandarin blended a tea for me that was infused with bergamot oil to offset the taste."
She scrunched her nose, "Bergamot? Is that the smelly herb in the knot garden?" "No, darling child, that bergamot is Monarda didyma, completely unrelated. This is Citrus bergamia, a tree with yellow fruit, the size of an orange. Though it's native to Italy, I've successfully cultivated it in our greenhouse." Her eyes brightened, "May I taste it, Grandfather? "You'll find it bitter, my dear." "But it's so yummy in my tea," she said, sipping. "Yes, everyone is clamoring for Earl Grey Tea, after your grandmother served it at one of her gatherings."
I considered dejectedly my future legacy. I wondered how many people would remember my political achievements as Prime Minister. I'd helped abolish slavery in Great Britain, and authored the Reform Bill of 1832, leading to our parliamentary democracy. Would my name be only linked to a tea, which I'd not profited a farthing on? If only I'd thought of trademarking it before that damnable Twinings!
Earl Grey in the 24th century Captain Picard takes Tea: Earl Grey Hot