Hello, is it tea you’re looking for?
If so, you’re not alone. Tea is one of the most popular drinks in the world, and Earl Grey is no exception. It’s skillfully blended with oils from the rind of the bergamot orange, which imparts a uniquely fragrant and citrusy flavor.
Tea lovers swear by this quintessentially British drink and champion its many health benefits, like improved heart health, digestion, and stress relief. But does it really cut the mustard, or is it just a teas?
Let’s find out as we explore the science-backed benefits of Earl Grey tea.
The benefits of Earl Grey tea: In short
- may support heart health
- may lower cholesterol
- may boost digestive health
- may lower blood sugar
- may boost general health
Because Earl Grey tea combines black tea with bergamot oil, it has many reputed cardiovascular, digestive, cholesterol-lowering, and even potentially cancer-preventing benefits.
However, research in these areas is inconclusive, and high quality clinical trials evaluating the health benefits of Earl Grey tea are lacking.
Still, both tea and bergamot contain plenty of plant-based goodies that may have associated health benefits.
1. May support heart health
Research suggests that drinking black tea regularly may help reduce your chances of developing cardiovascular or heart problems.
A small 2012 study of 95 adults found that drinking 3 cups (750 milliliters) of black tea daily for 6 months significantly lowered blood pressure compared to the placebo.
Both black tea and bergamot contain antioxidant flavonoids, which support heart health. Adding a cup of Earl Grey tea to your morning routine is an easy way to boost your antioxidant intake.
2. May lower cholesterol
The bergamot in Earl Grey may lower your cholesterol, thanks to its content of compounds called flavonoids. Research has found that these metabolic regulators inhibit enzymes involved in cholesterol production.
In a small 2016 study with 80 participants, researchers found that a daily dose of bergamot flavonoid extract significantly decreased blood lipids and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol over a period of 6 months.
The authors suggested that because statins, the traditional cholesterol-lowering medication, often have undesirable side effects, dietary supplements like bergamot could offer an alternative approach.
Considering that high blood cholesterol increases your chances of coronary artery disease, stroke, and gallstones, drinking Earl Gray tea regularly may be beneficial. But we really need more research to find out for sure.
3. May boost digestive health
Bergamot is a rich source of natural plant compounds called polyphenols. These compounds may to help keep your gut healthy by encouraging the growth of good bacteria and preventing the development of baddies such as Salmonella.
Some research suggests that the balance of bacteria in your digestive system (aka your gut microbiome) is related to your risk of health conditions like heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.
So, anything you can do to support a healthy microbiome is a wise move, including drinking the odd cup of Earl Grey.
As a bonus, the flavonoids in Earl Grey may fight inflammation.
Researchers demonstrated this in a 2016 study on mice with a form of inflammatory bowel disease called colitis. They found that consuming bergamot juice eased the rodents’ squirty butts and suppressed inflammatory proteins.
But more research is needed because these effects have not yet been confirmed in humans.
4. May reduce blood sugar
Having sweet, delicious blood not only makes you prone to vampire attacks but also increases your risk of type 2 diabetes, obesity, heart disease, and kidney problems.
Your body needs a hormone called insulin to transport glucose into your cells. And guess what? Black tea may help insulin do its job.
In a 2002 test-tube study, black tea increased insulin activity by an impressive 15 times. The authors noted that a compound in the tea called epigallocatechin gallate won the prize for insulin-boosting activity.
Expanding on this work, a 2013 study in mice found that black and green tea extracts lowered blood sugar and improved sugar metabolism.
Of course, you are neither test tube nor mouse, and there’s no indication that these effects would translate to humans. But it’s a promising direction for future research.
5. May boost general health
Both black tea and bergamot are high in various antioxidants, such as polyphenols and catechins. These molecular good guys neutralize free radicals, unstable molecules that rampage around causing damage to cells and tissues and potentially leading to disease.
One theory suggests that free radical damage contributes to the signs of skin aging, and experts have long believed that free radicals contribute to health conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and autoimmune diseases. However, some of these connections are controversial.
It’s a double-edged sword, because high levels of antioxidants can increase your risk of some health conditions, such as prostate cancer, yet some amounts may help support health. The magic number for you depends on your lifestyle and various other factors.
Does decaf Earl Grey tea provide any extra benefits?
Decaffeinated Earl Grey tea doesn’t seem to have many unique benefits — unless, of course, you’re trying to avoid caffeine because of a sensitivity or because you don’t want to be up all night.
Excessive caffeine can interrupt your sleep cycle, cause side effects like nausea and digestive problems, and even trigger migraine episodes in some folks. So decaffeinated Earl Grey tea is a nice work-around.
It’s also worth considering that decaffeinated tea goes through a process that removes both caffeine and beneficial plant polyphenols and antioxidants. So, your cup of decaf may not be as potent as a regular cup.
Earl Grey isn’t just for sipping with your pinky stuck in the air. There’s a range of other ways to enjoy this fragrant tea:
- Eat it. Numerous recipes call for Earl Grey tea. We’re talking ice cream, creme brulee, smoked meats, and bread.
- Bathe in it. You can add a couple tablespoons of tea leaves to hot bathwater and allow it to stew before getting in. It’s like a tea bath bomb.
- Rinse your hair in it. Steep a tea bag overnight in boiling water, and then use it as a final rinse for your hair the next day. Bring on the shiny locks!
- Scrub with it. Combine tea leaves, coconut oil, and cane sugar to create an antioxidant exfoliant.
- Combat under-eye bags. After enjoying a cuppa, you can apply the warm, damp tea bags over your closed eyes to help reduce puffiness.
- Relieve insect stings. Wasp got you? Apply a wet Earl Gray tea bag to the sting for soothing relief.
Most peeps can safely drink Earl Grey tea, but, as with most things, there are potential risks of overdoing it.
According to a 2002 case study, a man who had been drinking up to 4 liters of tea per day experienced muscle cramps and blurred vision. Granted, that’s a lot of Earl Grey, so it’s unlikely that a typical intake of tea would trigger these effects.
Also, be mindful that tea contains plant compounds called tannins, which can affect how your body absorbs iron from food. Consider sipping your tea between meals rather than with a meal, so it doesn’t impact iron absorption — particularly if you typically have low iron.
Lastly, like many other teas, Earl Grey contains caffeine, so watch your intake if you get the jitters or other adverse effects. There’s always decaf.
If you love Earl Grey so much that you need other ways to use it, we’ve got you. This citrusy tea lends itself to pretty much any recipe that calls for lemon or orange flavors. The possibilities are endless.
Earl Grey cake
Who doesn’t love cake? Well, here’s one that harnesses the power of the tea, and it’ll go nicely with a cup of, well, Earl Grey.
- 6 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons of loose Earl Grey tea
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Grease a loaf pan with butter.
- Whisk eggs and flour together till thick and fluffy.
- Fold in Earl Grey.
- Sift sugar and baking powder into the mixture slowly, and don’t overmix.
- Bake for about 25 minutes, until golden brown.
- Let cool, slather with butter, and eat with tea.
Earl Grey meat rub
You can use this versatile tea-infused seasoning on pretty much any kind of meat. It imparts a warm citrusy flavor to grilled or roasted meat.
- 3 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon ground black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Thoroughly combine all ingredients.
- Spread mixture on whatever meat you like, or store in the refrigerator for later use.
How to make the perfect cuppa
You’ll need to grab some Earl Grey tea bags or loose tea to make the perfect cuppa. Then boil the kettle and steep your teabag or 1 tablespoon of loose tea in boiled water to taste. Weak tea takes around 3 minutes; for a stronger cuppa, wait 5 minutes before drinking.
Oh, and don’t forget to strain out the tea leaves if you’re going the loose tea route.
Earl Grey tea is black tea blended with oil from the rind of the bergamot orange. It has a unique citrusy flavor that lends itself not only to a delicious cuppa but to a plethora of other culinary uses.
Overall, the evidence for specific health benefits is lacking. But the tea is a rich source of antioxidants that may help boost your general well-being, and it could lower cholesterol and blood sugar and support heart and digestive health.
For most people, it presents no risks, so why not experience 50 shades of Earl Grey?