With all the fancy wellness beverages at your fingertips—from frothy matcha lattes to creamy, turmeric-packed golden milk—when’s the last time you had something as simple as a mug of brewed tea? At the grocery store, there’s a seemingly endless amount to choose from: the sleepy-times, the tummy-soothing gingers, and the mood-boosting peppermints. But an often-overlooked option might just provide some of the most impressive benefits of all.
Earl Grey has been around since the early 1800s and has quite a unique flavor. The black tea base has a hint of citrus thanks to the addition of bergamot oil, which comes from a funny-looking orange commonly found in the Mediterranean that more closely tastes like and resembles a lemon. Aside from the bright taste—which is ultra-energizing and refreshing—it also comes with plenty of health benefits. The next time you’re craving a cup of something cozy, you might want to reach for some of these OG tea bags.
The benefits of Earl Grey tea
1. It’s high in antioxidants
The base of black tea in Earl Grey brings on all the health benefits. According to Amy Gorin, RDN, and owner of Amy Gorin Nutrition in the New York City area, it instantly gives you a boost of antioxidants: something that helps out your overall well-being in many ways, including combating inflammation and fighting off free radicals.
2. It decreases your risk of disease
Because of all the antioxidants in Earl Grey, drinking the tea also helps decrease your risk of many different diseases—many of which are life-threatening. “Regularly consuming black tea may help decrease your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and Parkinson’s disease,” Gorin says.
3. It fights off cancer
Aside from keeping your heart healthy and glucose levels in check, Earl Grey has also been shown to help fight off something even more serious. “Past research has shown black tea may also help decrease your risk of certain types of cancer, including oral, ovarian, and bladder cancer,” Gorin says.
4. It can help combat stress
While something like coffee is a stimulant that tends to trigger your body’s fight-or-flight response, possibly making your stress and anxiety worse, there’s a key ingredient in Earl Grey that does the opposite. “Black tea provides L-theanine, which is an amino acid that may help you feel more relaxed and calm—and less tense,” Gorin says.
5. It can improve digestion
Having tummy troubles? Get some relief from the citrus in Earl Grey. “Bergamot can ease digestive discomfort. It’s known to have the power of soothing an upset stomach,” says holistic nutritionist Linnette Carrierre.
The side effects of Earl Grey tea
While there are clearly plenty of benefits to drinking Earl Grey tea, there are also some things to take note. Even though there are decaffeinated options available, most varieties contain it, possibly making you feel wonky if you ingest too much.
“Typically, a six-ounce cup of Earl Grey tea steeped for three to five minutes will have between 20 and 50 milligrams of caffeine. Because of that, it’s important to factor in the caffeine intake from the tea you consume into your overall caffeine intake,” Gorin says. “Aim to have no more than 400 milligrams caffeine daily, or 200 milligrams if you’re pregnant.”
Also, tannins—a compound in black tea—have been shown to decrease the body’s absorption of iron—primarily the kind found in plant foods, reports Berkeley Wellness. If you do brew a cup, just don’t drink it with any meals, as it could decrease the amount of iron you’re taking in by up to 50 percent. Or, add in a squirt of lemon juice, which counteracts the problem.
Like any wellness beverage, as long as you’re not drinking an outlandish amount every day, you’re unlikely to see any negative side effects. So what are you waiting for? Go throw on your favorite silky PJs and brew yourself a cup. There’s no better way to channel all those warm and cozy winter hygge vibes.