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 Earl Grey Tea. Flavored with delicate notes of bergamot oil, Earl Grey also makes the perfect base for some of our yummy iced teas and lattes. Read on to find out more about the history of this uplifting beverage and why your body will 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. Yet Earl Grey is possibly the most popular type of tea in the West. What makes this sophisticated tea stand out from the crowd? The special ingredient which turns your tea leaves into an Earl Grey blend is the flavoursome addition of bergamot orange oil, which gives a delicate, flowery aroma and very pleasing, refreshing taste on the palate. It’s traditionally made with milder blends of black tea leaves, although occasionally you might find a green or Rooibos tea flavoured with bergamot.
Even if you’d normally add a splash of milk to your black tea, most drinkers find that they enjoy the refreshing taste 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 flavorings”. You’ll be able to tell from the taste, but it’s not a mistake you’ll make twice.
History of Earl Grey Tea
Charles Grey was a 19th century British aristocrat who went on to become Prime Minister. Nobody really knows how his name got 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 that they 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, with some of the world’s finest teas are made even more delicious with that extra addition of bergamot!
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 provides health benefits you could only dream of! OK so how can something which tastes so good actually be so healthy? Let’s take a look.
Improved gut health
Earl Grey is usually (but not exclusively) enjoyed as a black tea, which means that it’s fermented, and could play an important role in improving the balance of healthy gut bacteria. The molecules in tea stay around in your gut longer than many prebiotics and 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 boost the metabolism. This might explain why some studies have found that black tea is just as effective as green tea for aiding weight loss . Nice!
Antioxidant Power of Bergamot
Another great reason for drinking Earl Grey tea is that unlike most black teas, it’s packed full of antioxidants which it gets from the bergamot oil. Antioxidant content is the main reason that green teas have received so much more positive press than black teas over the years. Antioxidants can protect against the damage that harmful free radicals might otherwise do to your body . 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!
Fire Up Autophagy to Support Longevity
Perhaps one of the cooler new discoveries about citrus bergamot is that it can stimulate the autophagy process. Autophagy is how your cells recycle and clean themselves in order to keep your body healthy and functioning optimally. The more you can stimulate autophagy to happen in your body, the healthier your cells will be.
The potent citrus bergamot found in high-quality Earl Grey tea contains D-Limonene, a substance which has been shown to fire up autophagy in your cells. If you’re looking for a delicious drink that will boost your cell health, add some cinnamon and coconut oil to your Earl Grey tea, because all these ingredients stimulate autophagy!
Tea as a Mood and Brain Booster
L-theanine is a unique amino acid found only in tea. This compound really may help calm and focus the mind , making it the perfect antidote to that early afternoon dip in concentration. So you get the caffeine boost without the jitters or energy crash you might get from coffee. What’s more, your daily cup of black tea brings you the additional benefit of methylxanthine, which it’s thought may help increase your body’s ability to release mood-boosting serotonin. 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.
Most tea purists take their Earl Grey Tea without milk, to fully enjoy the delicate taste of the fragrant bergamot. If you prefer to take the tea with milk and/or sugar, it is best to pour the milk first into a warmed teacup before pouring in the tea so that the milk can warm up and prevent any curdling. Because Earl Grey Tea contains caffeine it’s best enjoyed as a late morning or early afternoon ‘pick me up’ tea.