Earl Grey tea is a black tea with a distinctive taste and aroma that I find very appealing. The flavor comes from oil of bergamot, which is extracted from the peel of bergamot oranges, or bergamots. These sour citrus fruits are grown in several countries, but are most abundant in the region of Calabria in southern Italy. Oil of bergamot is used to flavor desserts, confectionery and liqueurs as well as beverages. It also supplies a pleasant scent to perfumes and lotions and is used in aromatherapy.
The small quantities of bergamot oil used in drinks and foods are safe – and delicious – but the oil may not be safe when applied to the skin because it makes skin photosensitive. This means that ultraviolet radiation in sunlight is more likely to damage skin cells. Some people have developed rashes, blisters and increased pigmentation after exposure to concentrated bergamot oil and ultraviolet light, and the oil may increase the risk of skin cancer. One chemical in bergamot oil that induces photosensitivity is bergapten, but other chemicals may be involved as well.
The word “bergamot” is also used to refer to herbs in the mint family. They are very different plants from the bergamot orange, but their leaves do have a flavor that is reminiscent of oil of bergamot.Earl Grey tea is named after Earl Charles Grey, who was prime minister of Britain from 1830 to 1834. There are several stories that attempt to explain how the Earl was connected to the tea. One of the most fanciful is that the Earl played a role in saving a Chinese mandarin’s son from drowning, and the grateful father created the tea as a present for the Earl. Another story says that Earl Grey’s family asked a Chinese mandarin to create a tea that would neutralize the lime present in the water around their home. However, it’s most likely that applying the prime minister’s name to the tea was simply a way to honor him.
Lady Grey tea is named after Mary Elizabeth Grey, the wife of Charles Grey. This tea contains oil of bergamot, lemon peel and orange peel, as well as cornflower or lavender, which are both blue in color. The flowers are sometimes omitted from the tea. There are other non-traditional varieties of Earl Grey tea available in stores today. Sometimes oil of bergamot is added to green tea instead of black tea, and jasmine may be added as a flavor.The bergamot orange plant grows as a small to medium sized tree and produces its fruit in winter. The leaves are oval with pointed tips. The aromatic fruits are the size of edible oranges and have the yellow color of a lemon when they’re ripe. They also have a pale yellow flesh. Most are slightly pear-shaped due to a small “neck”.
The plant is thought to have developed as a hybrid between a sour orange and another citrus fruit, probably a lemon or a lime. The first description of bergamots comes from the early eighteenth century. There are two versions of the bergamot’s scientific name. Some researchers like to use the name Citrus bergamia, while others call the plant Citrus aurantium (the same scientific name as bitter orange) and put the plant in the subspecies bergamia. Bergamot oranges are used to produce oil of bergamot and a marmalade, but they’re not eaten as fruit or used to make fruit juice – they’re far too sour and bitter.
Calabria is the most popular area for bergamot oil production, since the bergamot trees there consistently produce fruits containing a high-quality oil. Calabria is the region that forms the “toe” of Italy. Bergamot trees grow mainly near the coastline. Catanzaro is the capital city of the region.Oil of bergamot adds a delicious flavor to foods and drinks and lovely scents to perfumes and cosmetics. However, it should probably be avoided in products designed to be left on areas of the skin that will be exposed to light because of its potential to cause skin damage. Bergamot oil has been used in sunscreens and tanning lotions in the past, which is definitely not a good idea now that we know more about the oil!
There have been claims that oil of bergamot has many health benefits, including helping to treat psoriasis and vitiligo, treating fungal disease on the skin, killing insect pests such as lice, killing bacteria, controlling anxiety and relieving depression when used in aromatherapy, aiding digestion and relieving fever and pain. There isn’t much – or sometimes any – scientifically acceptable evidence to support most of these claims. The oil does seem to be helpful for certain skin diseases, but even if it does cure a skin problem there’s always the danger that it will create a more serious problem than it solves.
Bergamot oil is made up of a complex mixture of chemicals. In addition to bergapten it contains a substance called bergamottin. This chemical is also found in grapefruit juice and is the reason why the juice has to be avoided by people taking certain medications. Bergamottin inhibits an enzyme that breaks down the medications in the body. This can cause a medicine to stay in the body for longer than normal and perhaps reach a dangerous level if more doses are taken.
Bergamot oil also contains chemicals which may help to lower the blood cholesterol level, but lots more research needs to be done to see if this effect is real.
Perhaps in the future we will discover some wonderful – and safe – medical uses for oil of bergamot. Until then, we can at least enjoy its lovely taste and aroma.Skin astringents have often been classed as the strongest form of toner for the skin, usually the face.
They are designed to remove the last traces of skin cleanser, to tone and to tighten the pores while removing excess sebum for oily or combination skin types.
This quick homemade astringent is far less abrasive than many commercial brands. Letâs look at the three ingredients used:When on medication, it is best to seek advice from your doctor as to whether or not it is okay for you to take grapefruit as the *naringin can prevent the liver from breaking down aspirin, calcium channel blockers, cholesterol lowering drugs and other forms of medications.Much more than a breakfast fruit, grapefruit makes a natural astringent for oily or combination skin.
A citric acid rich in vitamin c it has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antiseptic properties.
Top worldwide producers of grapefruit are United States, China and South Africa and there are three possible colors; red, pink or white with varying degrees of sweetness (red is generally the sweetest).
Invigorating and tightening, fresh grapefruit has a mild exfoliating action on the skin, helping to remove dead skin cells while toning the skin.
Grapefruit has been shown to interact with numerous drugs so caution is always needed with grapefruit flesh or juice when on medication.Steeped in Chinese history, green tea has been used in China for over 4,000 years for its therapeutic, medicinal and health benefits.
China is by far the largest exporter with their many varieties of green tea and account for two thirds of the market.
This is a real find for using on the skin for a bright, clear complexion and ideally suited to oilier or acne prone skins. Such is the popularity of this tea; it may be easily combined in an array of products made at home such as face exfoliatiors, facial peels, facial steams, cooling sprays and face masks.
The tea has been shown to help reduce the damage caused by UV rays to the skin by neutralizing the free radicals responsible.
Irritated skin or inflamed skin can be greatly reduced by using green tea on the skin so for conditions such as psoriasis, acne and rosacea, this is one powerful remedy.
The antioxidants present in green tea have an anti-ageing effect and improve fine lines and wrinkles. The more antioxidant rich ingredients we use the better our health and our appearance.Often used alone as a skin astringent, this recipe shows how to incorporate it successfully into a homemade toner.
Witch hazel extract is distilled from the bark and twigs of the American witch hazel tree (Hamamelis virginiana ) and usually contains alcohol, often ethyl alcohol (14%).
The Native Americans were credited for first turning to this plant for medicinal purposes and found it beneficial in treating inflammation, swelling and tumors.
Today it is widely used throughout the world and an ingredients used by many commercial brands of cosmetics including aftershaves. A very useful product in the home it is commonly used to help acne, eczema, to cool down skin, insect bites and dry up excessive sebum.2 green tea bags steeped in a cup of boiling water
Juice of 1/2 grapefruit (pink or red)
1/4 cup witch hazel
Recycled jar with lid
Spoon or spatula
Allow tea bags to cool completely.
When cooled, squeeze the grapefruit juice into the tea and stir.
Add the witch hazel and mix into the astringent.
Pour the astringent into the container and secure with lid.
Store in the refrigerator in- between use.
The astringent will last for up to a week.
AfterThe Guide to Brewing Tea
This is a must-see video for anyone interested in making the most flavoursome tea. For the most accurate tea brewing chart, click here: http://chinalifeweb.c…
The Guide to Brewing Tea
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