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.