The Psychological Benefits of Drinking Earl Grey Tea

My warm beverage of choice is earl grey tea. But not just any will do. It has to be Twinings and I would prefer extra bold, but I take what I can get. No milk or cream, just a spoonful of orange blossom honey is heavenly. Over the years I have experimented with steeping times and so far, I like to steep my cup of tea for seven minutes. I have also discovered that if you squeeze the tea bag into the water, the flavor is altered. When you do so, you are extracting the tannins from the tea which causes it to be bitter, and the typical bright citrus flavor becomes overpowered by this bitterness. In a few words, tannins are a chemical compound found in all teas, and high levels of it are found in black tea. Tannins are responsible for the color of many foods and provide various health benefits. But, they also can cause your tea to become unpleasantly bitter. So, a word to the wise, don’t release the tannins unless you love bitter tea if so, have at it!

I, like most people, believe that a warm cup of tea after a draining day is quite therapeutic, but for me, there is something magical about earl grey tea. It instantly revitalizes me and puts me in a better mood. And recently I thought to myself, huh, I wonder if there’s a scientific reason for why I feel less anxious and more relaxed and happy when I drink earl grey tea? It turns out that science can help answer this question. 


There are many health benefits attributed to drinking tea, especially green tea, my second favorite. However, black teas, such as earl grey tea, have various physical and psychological health benefits as well. I would like to focus on the main psychological benefits of earl grey tea, stress reduction, mood and sleep improvement, which can all be attributed to the main essential oil found in earl grey tea, bergamot. Bergamot is a hybrid citrus fruit of lemon and bitter orange and can be found in the Meditteranean, especially in Italy (Navarra, et al). Bergamot oil is extracted from the fruit’s peel and its sharp fragrance and flavor is utilized in the production of cosmetics, food, and earl grey tea (Navarra, et al). It has been found that this oil provides health benefits and it is frequently used in aromatherapy. The use of bergamot oil in aromatherapy has been found to reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression. And the oil “has recently received renewed popularity in improving mood and mild symptoms of stress-induced disorders (Halcon, 2002) and facilitating sleep induction (Wiebe, 2000)” (Navarra, et al). And from personal experience, drinking earl grey tea, which is flavored with bergamot oil, helps to reduce my anxiety and boost my mood. So, my best advice for you if you are having a rough day, is to brew yourself a nice cup of earl grey tea and sip the golden nectar until your troubles are melted away by its warmth. Happy tea drinking!


Side note: If you would like to reduce your waste, I suggest, if possible, to buy loose tea rather than single-use tea bags. You will also need a stainless steel tea ball or a silicone tea infuser, there are some really cute ones on Amazon!


If you would like to learn more about tannins in tea, you can check out this article:  


Navarra, Michele et al. “Citrus bergamia essential oil: from basic research to clinical

application.” Frontiers in pharmacology vol. 6 36. 2 Mar. 2015,