Earl Grey Tea

I was never a tea drinker until I came to Salem Chapel. Bored of refusing the obligatory cups of warm, brown liquid before a Bible study or after a service, I yielded and reluctantly began quaffing. Now I rather enjoy it, though after three or four cups in a given day I tire of its taste. A fully paid-up tea drinker am I; indeed, when a visitor first calls at my home, he will be greeted with:

“I’ve put the kettle on; you’ll have a cup of tea, I shouldn’t wonder?”

Refusal creates suspicions of foreign extraction or questionable morals. If he goes on to request coffee, I discreetly call the police in case I require assistance in procuring his immediate departure from the premises. A pastor might expect to offer hospitality to all sorts of dubious folk, but this one draws the line at consumers of the coffee bean.

My enjoyment of tea has been much enriched by a varying of the blends. My preference is for Earl Grey, especially that blended by the tea merchants R.Twining & Company of London, who bore the late Queen’s royal warrant. Its name comes from Charles Grey, our Prime Minister from 1830-34, who likely requested Twining’s make a new tea for his pleasure in 1803. The distinctive ingredient is bergamot, an essential oil cold-pressed from the rind of a bergamot orange fruit, which was first employed in the eighteenth-century perfumes of Giovanni Maria Farina. The Grey family used to claim that it was added to offset the lime in the water at the Northumberland family seat Howick Hall, and was suggested by a Chinese mandarin. Unlike some, I add milk to my Earl Grey which is a most civilising influence. Bergamot’s application to the skin can be harmful, and there are even questions asked about its safety in tea. One piece of scientific research cites ‘a 44-year-old man who experienced muscle cramps, fasciculations, paresthesias, and blurred vision’ after drinking Earl Grey tea, and that ‘all symptoms disappeared after switching to pure black tea’. However, it transpires he drank a gallon of it each day for an unspecified period of time! I do not think my four cups daily will have such an effect.

‘Moderation in all things’ is a rule of life for many, but it is sometimes proven to be a foolish maxim by which to live (could you apply it to torture or killing?). Yet even good things must surely be moderated and limited. Too much exercise, vegetable consumption or listening to music will have ill effects, as will the drinking of Earl Grey. All things must be restricted; only of Christ Himself can we never have our fill. 

Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Isaiah 55:1