Bergamot, Chamomile and Lavender for Tea
Answered by: Conrad Richter
Question from: Thitima Chaima
Posted on: January 20, 2006

I’m mailing from Tan Co. Ltd. Our company is doing business in tea and agriculture and we are interested in Richters’ products. But we don’t have much knowledge about herbs. We would like to plant some herbs for developing our new kind of tea products. Could you please give us some suggestions of which types of bergamot, chamomile and lavender are good for making tea or can be mixed in our tea products and will give the best taste and fragrance?

With bergamot you must be sure of which type you are looking for. The word "bergamot" is used to refer to two very different plants, both used for flavouring and for herbal teas. The bergamot orange (Citrus bergamia) tree is the source of the bergamot oil used in Earl Grey tea. The bergamot orange grown principally in southern Europe. We do not have seeds or plants of this plant.

The bergamot we sell are varieties and species of Monarda. These are herbaceous perennials. Some varieties have an essential oil that loosely resembles the oil of bergamot from Citrus bergamia, but they are not used in the manufacture of flavoured tea products such as Earl Grey tea. Monarda bergamots can be used as tea themselves, as the leaves of the most aromatic varieties are excellent for tea. In fact, legend has it that when the Americans were cut off from English tea before the American War of Independence, they used Monarda tea as a substitute. The best varieties for tea are the red flowering varieties. You can read more about them at:

http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?page=SubIndexPages/Bergamot.html

For chamomile, the two main types are the german varieties (Matricaria recutita) and the roman varieties (Chamaemelum nobile). The latter produces a very fine quality tea but it is not nearly as productive as the german types. You would be best to consider the standard german variety or the Bodegold variety. For more information, please see:

http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?page=SubIndexPages/Chamomile.html

There are many varieties of lavender, but only a few are suitable for culinary herb production. You should only consider varieties from the english (Lavandula angustifolia) and lavandin (L. x intermedia) groups. Lavenders from other groups generally do not have an acceptable flavour or fragrance for commercial purposes. For more information, please see:

http://www.richters.com/Web_store/web_store.cgi?page=SubIndexPages/Lavender.html

You do not mention where your farm is located. The growing conditions can affect which of the varieties within the recommendations above do the best for you.

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