Health Benefits of Earl Grey

By | March 4, 2024

Medically reviewed by Elizabeth Barnes, RDN

Earl Gray is a type of tea traditionally made by flavoring black tea with the oil of bergamot, a type of citrus fruit native to Italy.

The health benefits associated with drinking Earl Gray tea are mainly related to the black tea leaves used Earl Greywhich are a powerful source of protective plant compounds.

Here’s everything you need to know about Earl Gray tea, including what it is, the potential health benefits, and the risks associated with drinking Earl Gray tea.

What is Earl Gray Tea?

Earl Gray is made with black tea, which is considered a real tea. All true teas are made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant.

Black tea has a much darker color and stronger flavor compared to green tea because the tea leaves undergo longer oxidation times, during which the tea leaves are exposed to air. The oxidation process causes the tea leaves to turn brown and the flavor of the tea becomes more intense.

There are many types of black tea, including Assam, Darjeeling and Ceylon tea, all of which have different flavors. Earl Gray tea is made with a blend of black tea and bergamot oil, which is extracted from bergamot orange, a citrus fruit native to Italy. However, some Earl Gray teas are made with a synthetic bergamot flavor, which is cheaper than bergamot oil.

Earl Gray can be made from different types of black tea, so the taste of Earl Gray can differ per product. However, Earl Gray usually has a mildly sweet taste with notes of citrus.

Contains a variety of antioxidants

Black tea, the base of Earl Gray tea, is an excellent source of plant compounds that have antioxidant effects in the body.

Antioxidants help protect against cellular damage by neutralizing highly reactive substances called free radicals. When levels of free radicals become too high, they overwhelm the body’s antioxidant defenses, leading to a condition called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress, which has been linked to tissue damage and chronic inflammation, is considered one of the leading causes of the onset and progression of several health problems, including certain cancers and heart disease.

Black tea contains a number of bioactive compounds that may help reduce markers of oxidative stress and inflammation. For example, black tea is high in polyphenols, such as epigallocatechin gallate, theaflavins and thearubigins, which may help protect overall health by reducing inflammation and oxidative damage. Black tea also contains tea polysaccharides (TPS), which are types of carbohydrates with strong antioxidant properties.

Studies show that drinking black tea can reduce oxidative stress in certain population groups. For example, an older 2010 study of 46 people with type 2 diabetes, a condition often associated with oxidative stress, found that drinking two to four cups of black tea made with black tea extract per day for four weeks led to a significant reduction in the risk of diabetes. inflammatory marker C-reactive protein and significant increase in the antioxidant enzyme glutathione. The treatment also reduced levels of the oxidative stress marker malondialdehyde.

It is thought that the high concentration of cellular protective substances in black tea is why people who regularly consume black tea have a reduced risk of several health problems, such as certain cancers and cognitive decline.

Bergamot oil also provides some antioxidants, such as terpenes such as limonene and linalool. However, because such a small amount of bergamot oil is ingested when drinking Earl Grey, it is likely that most of the health benefits attributed to the tea are due to the compounds found in black tea.

May reduce the risk of several chronic conditions

Research shows that people who regularly consume black tea are less likely to develop certain health problems than people who do not.

For example, regularly drinking black can protect against ovarian cancer, depression, heart disease and several other health problems.

A 2023 meta-analysis of 19 studies involving more than two million people found that women who consumed between 1.40 and 3.12 cups of black tea per day had a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Black tea drinkers may also have a reduced risk of developing oral cancer. Findings from a 2018 study suggested that each cup of tea consumed per day was associated with a 6.2% lower risk of oral cancer. Researchers attribute the cancer-fighting effects of black tea to its high levels of antioxidants, especially polyphenols. These compounds may inhibit the development of cancer by protecting against oxidative damage and increasing the body’s antioxidant defenses.

Additionally, drinking Earl Gray tea may help reduce risk factors for heart disease, such as high blood pressure. A 2020 review of five studies in people with high blood pressure showed that regular consumption of black tea can lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure by -3.53 and -0.99 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), respectively. The study found that people who drank tea for at least three months had the greatest reduction in blood pressure, suggesting that long-term tea intake may improve heart health.

In addition to lowering blood pressure, people who regularly enjoy black tea may have a lower risk of developing heart failure and stroke.

Additionally, some research suggests that those who drink more than one cup of black tea per day may have a lower risk of depression. Black tea contains certain compounds that may reduce the risk of depression, such as caffeine and the amino acid L-theanine, which may reduce the risk of depression by modulating the activity of neurotransmitters, such as dopamine.

Black tea intake has been linked to a number of other health benefits, but keep in mind that these benefits are related to drinking black tea in general, and not Earl Gray tea specifically.

May improve cognitive health and exercise performance

Although the caffeine content of black tea varies, research shows that it contains an average of about 47 mg per cup. That’s just over half the amount in a cup of brewed coffee.

Caffeine can positively impact health in several ways, including increasing energy levels and improving exercise performance.

For example, ingesting between 3 and 6 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per kilogram (kg) of body weight can improve certain aspects of athletic performance, such as endurance and strength. However, because black tea does not contain as much caffeine as coffee, a 68 kg person would need to drink about four cups of black tea before training to see a benefit.

Drinking caffeinated beverages like Earl Gray can also help you feel more energetic and protect cognitive health. A 2023 review of seven studies with data on 410,951 people found that green or black tea intake was associated with a significant reduction in dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease. The researchers attributed this association to compounds found in green and black tea, such as caffeine, which has neuroprotective effects.

Additionally, caffeinated beverages, such as black tea, can improve short-term cognitive function, such as improving processing speed and memory.

Risks of drinking Earl Gray tea

Drinking Earl Gray is safe for most people as long as it is not consumed in excessive amounts. Black tea contains caffeine, which can harm health if taken in large quantities. It is recommended to limit caffeine intake to 400 milligrams (mg) per day or less. Consuming more can lead to symptoms such as nervousness, increased heart rate and insomnia.

However, a cup of black tea typically contains about 47 mg of caffeine, so a person would have to consume nine cups to exceed this recommended limit.

Additionally, consuming excessive amounts of bergamot oil can cause muscle cramps, blurred vision and tingling in the extremities. One case study reported these symptoms in a man who consumed four liters of Earl Gray tea per day. Keep in mind that this isn’t a problem for people who drink normal amounts of Earl Grey, such as one to two cups per day.

Finally, black tea contains compounds that inhibit the absorption of iron in the digestive system, especially the iron found in plant foods, which can be a problem for people following a plant-based diet and those with low iron stores.

Tips for consuming Earl Gray tea

Earl Gray tea can be drunk in the same way as other black teas. It has a slightly sweet taste with notes of citrus. Some people prefer to drink Earl Gray neat without additives, while others add milk and sweeteners such as honey to their tea.

Although traditionally Earl Gray is made with black tea, there are some varieties of Earl Gray tea made with other types of tea, such as green tea and oolong tea, a tea with a taste and color that falls between green and black tea.

To make a cup of Earl Gray tea, it is recommended to use a teaspoon of Earl Gray leaves or an Earl Gray tea bag and steep the tea in water that has been boiled until just before boiling for three to five minutes. heated. Use a longer steeping time if you prefer stronger tea and add milk and sweetener to taste.

Although caffeine-free Earl Gray is available, most Earl Gray teas contain caffeine, so those who are sensitive to caffeine should avoid drinking caffeinated Earl Gray close to bedtime.

Tea, including Earl Gray tea, has a long shelf life. When stored in an airtight container at room temperature, loose-leaf Earl Gray tea and Earl Gray tea bags can last two and three years, respectively.

A quick review

Earl Gray is a type of tea traditionally made with black tea leaves and bergamot oil, a type of citrus fruit native to Italy.

Earl Gray tea is packed with protective plant compounds, such as polyphenols, that can benefit your health in several ways. For example, drinking black tea, such as Earl Gray, may protect against several health problems, such as some types of cancer, depression and high blood pressure. Additionally, the caffeine in Earl Gray may promote cognitive health and improve energy and exercise performance.

Earl Gray does contain some caffeine, so it is important to enjoy this tea in moderation and not drink it before bed if you are sensitive to the stimulating effects of caffeine.

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