Citrus bergamot tea, also known as Earl Grey tea, is popular tea that’s loved for its distinctive flavor. Yet, it is also used to provide possible health benefits.
Bergamot tea is thought to have health benefits due to the presence of citrus bergamot essential oil in it, in addition to the standard health benefits of black tea.
In this article, we’ll go over how citrus bergamot tea is made, the possible health benefits, and side effects.
Table of Contents
- What is Citrus Bergamot Tea?
- How to Make Citrus Bergamot Tea:
- Potential Health Benefits of Citrus Bergamot Tea:
- Citrus Bergamot Tea vs. Citrus Bergamot Extracts:
- Safety & Side Effects:
What is Citrus Bergamot Tea?
Citrus bergamot tea, often referred to as Earl Grey tea, nearly always refers to a tea made from black tea leaves and the essential oil from the rind of the citrus bergamot fruit. Less commonly, one can use green tea or oolong tea leaves as the base.
Due to the use of black tea leaves, citrus bergamot tea has a higher concentration of caffeine compared to other teas, with about 50mg per cup.
Citrus Bergamot Overview:
As mentioned, citrus bergamot tea uses essential oil extracts from citrus bergamot rinds.
Citrus bergamot is a yellow-green citrus fruit thought to be a hybrid of the lemon and bitter orange. It was originally grown in Calabria, Italy, although it’s found in various other Mediterranean regions as well as parts of Asia and South America.
Citrus bergamot is concentrated in various health-boosting flavonoids, such as:
How to Make Citrus Bergamot Tea:
One can easily purchase citrus bergamot tea for use online, at the grocery store, or at a local health food store.
It is often availbale in pre-packaged tea bags or as a loose leaf tea. The most common preparation method is as follows:
Citrus Bergamot Tea Recipe:
- Boil water and let sit for a 5 minutes (ideal temperature is between 190-210 degrees)
- Grab one teabag of citrus bergamot tea, or use 1 teaspoon of loose leaf tea
- Pour 8 ounces of water over the tea
- Cover for three to five minutes
- Strain, drink, and enjoy!
As with any tea, it’s always best to start with fresh, cold water (filtered, if necessary) to ensure the best quality and taste.
Potential Health Benefits of Citrus Bergamot Tea:
There are several possible health benefits of citrus bergamot tea, most of which are attributed to the flavonoids found in the citrus bergamot fruit.
However, black tea also has health benefits too, likely due to its high concentration of catechins and other antioxidants.
Listed below are the possible health benefits of citrus bergamot tea.
1. May Improve Cholesterol Levels
Citrus bergamot and black tea leaves both have research behind them showing that they may improve cholesterol and lipid profiles, so this combination may be particularly beneficial.
For example, one clinical trial on individuals with metabolic syndrome (including high cholesterol levels) showed that citrus bergamot supplementation significantly reduced low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, and total cholesterol, while also improving high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels.
A clinical study on individuals with high cholesterol revealed that those who drank black tea had marked reductions in LDL and total cholesterol compared to the placebo.
2. May Reduce Blood Sugar
Citrus bergamot tea may also be able to reduce blood sugar levels due to actions of both citrus bergamot and black tea leaves.
In one clinical trial on older adults with high blood sugar, researchers discovered that citrus bergamot consumption led to a reduction in blood sugar levels.
Black tea also has similar benefits as one clinical study showed that consuming black tea led to a significantly lower blood sugar levels compared to the placebo.
3. May Aid Weight Loss
Earl Grey tea may also aid in weight loss. This may be attributed to the flavonoids in citrus bergamot as well as the antioxidants and caffeine in black tea.
One clinical trial on obese individuals showed that supplementing with citrus bergamot polyphenols led to a notable decrease in body weight and body mass index compared to the control group.
Black tea may also aid weight loss, although there haven’t been many clinical trials done. With that said, another form, green tea, is well-known to help with weight loss, and there’s evidence that the polyphenols in black tea are even more effective than green tea for improving metabolism and enhancing weight loss.
4. May Reduce Inflammation
Citrus bergamot and black tea are both rich in polyphenols and other antioxidant compounds, which have been shown to lower inflammation. For example, citrus bergamot is high in flavonoids and black tea is rich in catechins.
In a clinical trial it was found that citrus bergamot decreased several inflammatory markers, including C-reactive protein (CRP).
Another clinical study on patients with type 2 diabetes showed that black tea extract supplementation greatly enhanced glutathione (an antioxidant compound) and decreased inflammation markers.
5. May Enhance Autophagy
Citrus bergamot tea is thought to help with autophagy.
Recent research shows that citrus bergamot tea may improve autophagy. Autophagy is a regulatory mechanism in the body that helps to clean out damaged cells to make room for healthier, newer cells.
In one in vitro study, several different bergamot polyphenols showed autophagy-inducing effects. Moreover, the combination of several bergamot polyphenols combined had greater autophagic effects compared to any one polyphenol alone.
In a study on rats with diet-induced metabolic syndrome, citrus bergamot polyphenols stimulated autophagy and seemed to prevent fatty liver disease, mainly by upregulating autophagy in the liver.
This is coupled with the general evidence out there which shows that black tea is also effective for enhancing and regulating various autophagic processes. Thus, taking citrus bergamot for autophagy, alongside black tea, may be a good option.
Citrus Bergamot Tea vs. Citrus Bergamot Extracts:
Evidently, citrus bergamot tea can certainly have health benefits. However, it’s important to keep in mind that the research for citrus bergamot is nearly all done with specific concentrations of citrus bergamot polyphenols. For health benefits, a dosage of 500 to 1,000mg daily of citrus bergamot flavonoids seems most effective.
Therefore, the specific health benefits may not be as pronounced in citrus bergamot tea since the dosage of the essential oil extract is typically unclear, and likely lower than what’s found in supplements.
Safety & Side Effects:
In general, citrus bergamot tea is safe for most people to consume. However, there are a few possible side effects to be aware of.
Citrus bergamot is in the safest class of herbs (Class 1) and has a very low potential for herb-drug interactions (Class A), according to the Botanical Safety Handbook.
Since citrus bergamot tea contains caffeine from black tea leaves, individuals highly sensitive to caffeine may experience anxiety, jitters, or trouble sleeping (if taken too close to bedtime).
Possible side effects of citrus bergamot are nausea, dizziness, muscle cramps, heartburn, and rarely, liver dysfunction. Also, citrus bergamot essential oil may cause phototoxicity, but this is only when applied to the skin. As such, this isn’t a concern for people who drink citrus bergamot tea.
Citrus bergamot tea is a combination of black tea leaves and essential oil from the rinds of citrus bergamot. Both of these ingredients have antioxidants and other beneficial compounds, which is likely why citrus bergamot tea may provide health benefits.
In particular, consuming citrus bergamot tea may help to improve cholesterol and blood lipids, reduce blood sugar, aid weight loss, decrease inflammation, and enhance autophagy.
With that said, these effects may not be as pronounced when compared to standardized extracts due to the generally lower dosage of citrus bergamot used. Still, citrus bergamot tea is beneficial for overall health and wellness – and it tastes great.