A Greener Earl Grey

Discuss some of the favorite customer-created Signature Blends.

Aug 4th, '09, 01:21
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A Greener Earl Grey

by Intuit » Aug 4th, '09, 01:21

To build a better Earl Grey, axe the black. You want linalool and limonene, but it's gotta have the right twist, called chirality. It bends light. We'll chat about that later. First, some chemistry.

Earl grey needs bergamot oil - its the fundamental character of the tea. If you examine bergamot essential oils, you gots your limonene (a lot of it), but you also gots your linalool light oils, too:".

http://www.bojensen.net/EssentialOilsEn ... Oils04.htm

One of the worlds most desirable teas, Longjing, has a sweet, floral fragrance associated with linalool. Linalool is a volatile oil that concentrates when the tea is allowed to naturally 'ferment' in cool shady area.


Green teas from Japan also have a higher natural abundance of linalool esters. Green teas and Earl Grey have something in common - they both abate stress effects in humans when consumed as hot teas.

Linalool has been shown to modulate the stress response in humans: research indicates that inhalation attenuates stress-induced changes in important immune cells of blood, by changing gene expression.

Stress Repression in Restrained Rats by (R)-(−)-Linalool Inhalation and Gene Expression Profiling of Their Whole Blood Cells. J. Agric. Food Chem., 2009, 57 (12), pp 5480–5485.

That is "a very good thing", as Martha would say. Stress tends to hamper the immune system.

Now we go back the light bending bit I mentioned earlier. Linalool and its derivatives associated with bergamot flavor and its biological effect as a stress reducer, comes in two forms, called 'enantiomers'. Like your hands, they look alike, but can't be stacked one on another. One enantiomer bends light to the right, and the other bends it to the left.

http://www.leffingwell.com/chirality/ci ... oid%29.htm

The one we want, the right-bending molecule (ironically, the image is on the left side of the webpage), is associated with a sweet, creamy floral fragrance. The other one is earthy.

If you use a cheapo industrial version of bergamot oil, its a combination of the two. The lefty (earthy smelling) version effectively cancels binding of the righty tighty version. So you get a muddy flavor and very little beneficial stress-fighting effect.

You need natural oils (the righty is made preferentially) and you want to add to a good quality pan fired Chinese Green or to a steamed Japanese Green.

And you want to add *during tea leaf processing*, if possible. You don't need much, you want it to concentrate with the natural limonene and linalool content, just to boost it a bit, not overwhelm the natural nose of these teas. If you coat the outside of the tea too much, its overwhelming, and you can swamp the olfactory system, effectively shutting off the good part of smelling it.

That is how you make a better Earl Grey. If you add the scent to a cheap black tea, with a non floral 'nose', as a cheap industrial essential oil, it is (a) overwhelmingly too much scent (b) out of place because its not normally present in most black teas and (c) muddy due to mixed enantiomer forms being present.

An exception to the "just say no to black teas' might be a better Darjeeling as your base tea. Geraniol and linalool are key components of darjeelings.

http://chadao.blogspot.com/2007/03/role ... h-and.html


Sorry, I don't 'do' videos.

Aug 8th, '09, 02:46
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Re: A Greener Earl Grey

by Jonmad17 » Aug 8th, '09, 02:46

Hmm, interesting. Teavana sells a White Earl Grey that is absolutely incredible.

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Aug 8th, '09, 19:14
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Re: A Greener Earl Grey

by Cinnamon Kitty » Aug 8th, '09, 19:14

Now that was absolutely fascinating. Do you have any good green Earl Grey teas that you would suggest?

Aug 9th, '09, 19:20
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Re: A Greener Earl Grey

by Intuit » Aug 9th, '09, 19:20

Our host, Adagio Teas, has a green earl grey version that is recommended by 4 out of 5 reviewers.

Rather than reinvent the wheel, the company might try tweeking their popular tea. They should make sure their food-grade commercial flavor supplier is providing enantiomerically pure and solvent-free (that is natural sources produced by non-distillation methods, such as in cold-pressing or supercritical fluid extraction, SFE).


I think they should poll green tea enthusiasts here for input on compatible Chinese regional teas. The smokey flavor of some chinese spring green pan-fired teas probably originates from use of charcoal in the pan frying step. Preference should be sought for spring green teas that aren't smokey, because it can 'muddy' the clean, crisp and refreshing taste of bergamot.

Lastly, a dab hand is needed to apply bergamot oil. It needs to be mist-sprayed very lightly during tumbling because freshly dried tea leaves are highly absorbent. You don't want to taste it as much as gently fragrance delicate green tea to afford a delicate citrus nose, else you will overwhelm the underlying tea flavor.

The resulting tea is best stored in vacuum-sealed bags, under inert gas if possible, to keep both the tea and applied oil from oxidizing.

Aug 9th, '09, 19:55
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Re: A Greener Earl Grey

by Intuit » Aug 9th, '09, 19:55

Tao of Tea almost got it right with their certified USDA organic blend, except that their supplier uses bergamot oil extracted using steam distillation - a process that can be quite harsh to delicate aromatic oils because of the considerable heat involved.


Interestingly, bergamot originates from SE Asia, although it's mass produced in Italy.


Perhaps even more curious is the fact that a herb called 'bee balm', used for medicinal (antimicrobial) purposes by First Nations peoples of the North-Central US. It's flavor, akin to mint, with a touch of thyme, originates from thymol, a key ingredient of bee balm extract that also purportedly has a relaxing effect.


Oswego tea (and recipes)

Aug 9th, '09, 19:58
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Re: A Greener Earl Grey

by Intuit » Aug 9th, '09, 19:58

Should read: "Perhaps even more curious is the fact that a herb called 'bee balm', used for medicinal (antimicrobial) purposes by First Nations peoples of the North-Central US, is also called 'bergamot'.

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