Product Description on Packaging.
Bergamot is a bitter, inedible citrus fruit – often called a bergamot orange – although confusingly, it is yellow coloured like a lemon.
It is from a spiny tree called the citrus bergamia, that originated in the tropical climes of South East Asia and is now grown commercially in the province of Calabria in Southern Italy. (80% of the world’s bergamot comes from Calabria!) You can also find it in the south of France and Africa’s Ivory Coast.
The tree blossoms in winter, and it is cultivated for the skin of the fruit, which is cold pressed for its oils, flavours and scents. What is lesser known about bergamot is that it is also grown in Antalya in southern Turkey where the skin is used to make Turkish marmalade.
The name Bergamot derives from the Turkish words “beg-armudi” which means “The Prince’s Pear” – a fittingly majestic title for what is considered the finest and most exotic of citrus notes, used in all sorts of ways from flavouring Earl Grey tea to scenting essential oils. Indeed, it first came into vogue at the court of King Louis XIV of France in the 16th Century where aristocrats would commonly wear bergamot (“prince’s pear”) scented perfumes.
The traditional Eau de Cologne is heavily scented with bergamot and is said to have found its origins in the French royal courts 500 years ago, which is pretty mind-boggling. Bergamot is pronounced “burger-mott” in English, Bergamotto in Italian and Bergamote in French.
Today, bergamot flavouring is used widely in food, drinks (like Earl Grey of course) and for scenting perfumes, cosmetics like skin creams, bubble bath, shower gels and essential oils for which it is used extensively in aromatherapy. It was even used in traditional medicines throughout Renaissance Europe, as it was believed to have curative properties to keep fever away. Wealthy members of society would often wear a pomander around their necks, heavily scented with notes of bergamot – in order to hide the stench of body odour.