When you need a calorie-free pick-me up in the early afternoon, we can’t think of a tastier solution than a steaming cup of aromatic, citrusy Earl Grey Tea.
Read on to find out more about the history of this uplifting beverage (like who was the Earl Grey?), and how your body can benefit if you take just a moment out of your day to prepare this awesome, aromatic tea.
What is Earl Grey Tea?
There are so many choices about which type of tea to drink – it can be difficult to choose your best tea. Even if you’ve narrowed your cups of tea down to a black tea, there are so many choices!
Like all black teas, earl grey starts from the leaves of the camellia sinensis tea plant. And that means yes – it does contain caffeine! So what makes this sophisticated tea stand out from other tea varieties ?
The special ingredient which turns tea leaves into an Earl Grey tea blend is the flavorsome addition of bergamot orange oil. Bergamot is a type of citrus fruit (similar to a grapefruit), originating from the Calabria region in Italy. Its rind provides a delicate, flowery aroma and flavoring, plus a very pleasing, refreshing taste on the palate.
Even if you’d normally add a splash of milk to your black tea, most drinkers find that they enjoy the flavor profile of Earl Grey on its own, without milk or sugar. It doesn’t have the bitterness of most black teas. Like most of the greatest things in life, it’s usually best kept simple.
Getting it Right
Whichever blend of Earl Grey Tea you go for, do make sure that the supplier used genuine bergamot oil rather than any kind of “bergamot flavor”. You’ll be able to tell from the taste, but it’s not a mistake you’ll make twice.
Also, for the best Earl Grey possible, you’ll want to stick to loose leaf tea or tea crystals, as opposed to tea bags. The quality difference is incomparable.
What is the Caffeine Content of Earl Grey Tea?
If you’re looking for your cup of tea to provide a clean, smooth energy boost, a cup of black tea is an excellent choice. Black teas typically contain a higher amount of caffeine than oolong tea, white tea and green tea (with the exception of matcha). But how does Earl Grey black compare to English Breakfast tea, or even a cup of coffee?
The answer depends on your chosen Earl Grey blend. Whether its black tea base is an assam or ceylon black tea will impact the caffeine content, as will the processing. In general, you can expect Earl Grey to contain approximately 30-40 mg of caffeine, which is slightly less caffeine than most english breakfast blends. And while your average cup of coffee comes in anywhere from 95-150 mg of caffeine, the energy boost you can expect from tea is completely different than that from coffee, as you can learn about more here.
History of Earl Grey Tea
Charles Grey was a 19th century United Kingdom aristocrat who went on to become Prime Minister. Nobody really knows how his name came to be associated with a particular brew of tea, but there are quite a few theories.
One story tells how a shipment of Chinese tea intended as a diplomatic gift for the English aristocrat became accidentally mixed with oranges. Aren’t we lucky they embraced the citrus flavor and didn’t just throw away the “contaminated” tea leaves?
Jacksons of Piccadilly in London claim that one of their founders was given the recipe by Earl Grey himself in the 1830s. According to a story passed down through the Grey family, bergamot oil was added to tea to counter the heavily calcified water on the family estate. It’s certainly possible that in its early days, bergamot oil was added to tea to mask the taste of an inferior blend. Nothing could be further from the truth today – some of the world’s finest teas are made even more delicious with that extra addition of bergamot!
What is Earl Grey Tea Good For?
4 Health Benefits of Earl Grey Tea
Once you’ve found your favorite Earl Grey blend, you’d want this to be a regular treat even if it was unhealthy. Well guess what?
The great news is that any good quality Earl Grey Tea can provide health benefits that make this tea more than just an indulgence! Let’s take a look.
1. Gut Health Support
Earl Grey is usually (but not exclusively) enjoyed as a black tea, which means that it’s oxidized, and helps play an important role in supporting the balance of healthy gut bacteria.
The molecules in black tea are larger and thus hang around in your gut longer than many prebiotics. Here’s a fun fact: the guts of black tea drinkers have been found to contain higher levels of the Pseudobutrivibrio bacteria which is thought to help support a healthy metabolism.
2. Antioxidant Power of Bergamot
Another great reason for drinking Earl Grey tea is that unlike most black teas, it has antioxidants from the addition of bergamot oil. Antioxidant content (catechins) is the main reason that green teas have received so much more positive press than black teas over the years.
Antioxidants help to scavenge free radicals in your body, which also helps to support your immune system . With Earl Grey you might just be getting the best of both- the antioxidants powers of bergamot and the prebiotic benefits of black tea. That’s a win-win combination!
3. Support Autophagy
Perhaps one of the cooler new discoveries about citrus bergamot is that it can support the autophagy process. Science is still learning exactly how autophagy works, but the current understanding is that it’s how your cells recycle and clean themselves in order to keep your body functioning optimally.
The natural citrus bergamot found in high-quality Earl Grey tea contains D-Limonene, a substance which has been linked to supporting autophagy. 
4. Tea as a Mood Booster
L-theanine is a unique amino acid found only in tea. This compound has been linked to supporting a calm and focused mind , making it the perfect antidote to that early afternoon dip in concentration. So you get the caffeine boost along with a calming effect – rather than the jitters or energy crash you might get from coffee. Sounds pretty good huh?
Preparing the Perfect Cup of Earl Grey Tea
- 1 teapot
- Boiled water cooled slightly (preferably filtered)
- Good quality loose leaf Earl Grey tea leaves
- Fine bone china or glass teacups
- Pour one cupful of freshly boiled , filtered water into the teapot
- Allow water in kettle to cool to 185ᵒF
- Empty teapot of water and add one generous tsp of black tea leaves per person
- Pour in water from kettle and leave to brew for 2-5 minutes
- Serve tea in fine china or heatproof glass cups.
Our recommendation for Earl Grey Tea:
Pique Earl Grey Black Tea
A swift, steady infusion of energy. Citrus bergamot to delight your senses and cells.
Do you put milk in Earl Grey tea?
Most tea purists take their Earl Grey Tea without milk, to fully enjoy the unique flavor and delicate taste of the fragrant bergamot. If you prefer to take the tea with milk, we recommend a creamy nut or plant milk. It’s best to first pour the milk into a warmed teacup before pouring in the tea. (You can do this while your earl grey tea leaves are steeping in hot water.) This way the milk can be warmed up! Because Earl Grey Tea contains caffeine it’s best enjoyed as a late morning or early afternoon ‘pick me up’ tea.