Bergamot tea is made by combining black tea and bergamot orange extract.
Commonly known as Earl Grey tea, it has been enjoyed worldwide for hundreds of years.
Some of the claimed health benefits of bergamot tea include improved heart health and digestion, but research is limited.
This article tells you everything you need to know about bergamot tea, including its potential benefits and side effects, as well as how to make it.
What is bergamot tea?
Bergamot tea is typically made from black tea leaves and the fruit of the Citrus bergamia tree.
The tea leaves are either sprayed with bergamot extract or essential oil, or mixed with dried bergamot rinds, giving the tea a mild citrus-like taste.
Since it received its nickname from the British prime minister Earl Grey, bergamot tea is often considered English. However, it’s native to Southeast Asia and widely cultivated in Southern Italy today.
You can find bergamot tea in most grocery stores — with or without caffeine, additional ingredients, and other flavorings.
The plant compounds in bergamot may provide a variety of health benefits, but most studies have focused on bergamot essential oil, juice, or supplements instead of tea.
Some variations of the tea are made from the wild herb bee balm, which is known scientifically as Monarda didyma. This herb smells similar to bergamot and has been used medicinally by Native Americans for centuries.
However, wild bergamot tea is not the same as classic bergamot or Earl Grey tea.
Bergamot tea, also known as Earl Grey tea, is typically made from black tea leaves and dried bergamot extract.
Possible health benefits
Bergamot is rich in beneficial plant compounds known as polyphenols, including the flavonoids neoeriocitrin, neohesperidin, and naringin.
These polyphenols act as antioxidants, which fight reactive molecules called free radicals that can cause cell damage and disease.
Black tea is also rich in various other compounds with antioxidant properties, such as catechins.
Bergamot tea’s high concentration of many different types of antioxidants may make it especially beneficial to your health.
May boost heart health
Bergamot tea may improve certain risk factors for heart disease.
Bergamot products have been shown to lower cholesterol levels, while black tea has been linked to decreased blood pressure.
In particular, bergamot contains flavanones, which may inhibit enzymes that produce cholesterol in your body.
A study in 80 people with high cholesterol levels found that taking bergamot extract every day significantly decreased blood levels of triglycerides and total and LDL (bad) cholesterol after 6 months, compared with baseline values.
Other studies have observed similar results, with some research suggesting that bergamot may enhance the effects of traditional cholesterol-lowering medications.
Finally, a controlled study in 95 adults at risk of high blood pressure found that those who drank 3 cups (750 ml) of black tea per day for 6 months had significantly lower blood pressure compared with those who drank a placebo.
Based on these results, drinking bergamot tea may benefit your heart health. Still, more studies are needed.
May aid digestion
The flavonoids in bergamot tea may fight inflammation associated with digestive issues.
One study in mice with colitis, a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), found that bergamot juice inhibited the release of inflammatory proteins and reduced diarrhea episodes.
What’s more, other test-tube and animal studies suggest that bergamot juice may reduce intestinal inflammation and fight H. pylori bacteria, which are associated with stomach ulcers and pain.
Finally, animal studies on the effects of black tea show that compounds called theaflavins can help treat and prevent stomach ulcers and other digestive issues.
While these results indicate that the combined effects of black tea and bergamot could benefit digestion, no studies have examined the effects of bergamot tea in humans.
Research on bergamot juice and supplements, as well as on black tea, suggests that bergamot tea may improve heart health and digestion. Yet, no studies have analyzed the effects of bergamot tea in humans.
Side effects of drinking too much bergamot tea
While bergamot tea is generally considered safe for healthy people, there may be some risks associated with overconsumption.
One case study connected high intake of bergamot tea with muscle cramps and blurred vision — symptoms that may be related to a compound in bergamot tea that blocks potassium absorption.
However, the individual in this study was drinking over 16 cups (4 liters) of the tea per day, which is much more than most people typically drink.
Additionally, tea contains compounds called tannins, which can interfere with the absorption of iron in your body. If you regularly drink tea and are concerned about your iron status, consider drinking it in between meals to promote better iron absorption from food.
Lastly, since most bergamot teas contain caffeine, be careful about your intake if you experience jitters, anxiety, or other adverse effects. You can also switch to a decaf version.
While a moderate intake of bergamot tea is safe for most people, excessive intake may lead to muscle cramps, cause caffeine jitters, or reduce iron absorption.
How to make bergamot tea
Bergamot tea is widely available and typically sold under the name Earl Grey.
To enjoy it, simply steep a bergamot tea bag in boiled water for 3–5 minutes, or longer for a stronger flavor, before drinking.
You can also make bergamot tea with loose tea leaves. For every cup (250 ml) of hot water, use one tablespoon (14 grams) of tea. Let it steep for 5 minutes, and strain it before drinking.
You can make bergamot tea by steeping tea bags or loose tea in boiled water for 3–5 minutes. Strain before drinking.
The bottom line
Bergamot tea, or Earl Grey, is made from black tea and bergamot citrus extract.
Compounds in bergamot and black tea may act as antioxidants, promote healthy digestion, and lower your cholesterol and blood pressure levels. Still, no studies have assessed the effects of bergamot tea specifically.
If you want to reap the potential benefits of bergamot tea, steep a tea bag or loose tea leaves in hot water and strain before drinking.
Though Earl Grey is widely available in supermarkets and specialty tea stores, shopping online may offer a greater variety.