Bergamot is a citrus fruit hailing from Calabria in Italy, where eighty percent of the world’s stock is still grown. The trees were originally brought over from Persia by traders in the 1700s and have been grown there ever since. The rind of the bergamot (in the form of an essential oil) is widely used in the production of perfume and also the aromatic Earl Grey tea.
The very bitter flavour of bergamot is caused by the natural compound citrus polyphenol, which has been shown to benefit the cardiovascular system when taken in high doses. Due to this bitterness, the fruit of the bergamot itself is not generally used directly in cooking, but rather the rind or the juice as flavouring.