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Earl Grey Tea: Caffeine, Ingredients & Origins

July 26, 2021

Earl Grey Tea: Caffeine, Ingredients & Origins

Earl Grey tea is a classic and much-loved tea blend consumed around the world. We even have our own special Earl Grey tea blend here at Zest Tea. But just because the flavors are delicate and light, doesn't mean the caffeine is!

In our guide to Earl Grey tea caffeine content, we're also exploring where this tea is from, its nutritional value, and how it stacks up to other tea types when we compare caffeine content.

If you're looking for a strong burst of caffeine energy, with light and delicious flavors, you've just hit the jackpot.

Blue cup filled with tea, a spoon, and a slice of lemon

What is Earl Grey Tea?

Earl Grey tea is a blended type of tea. It's a drink made from the tea leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant along with bergamot flavoring. Typically, black teas are used as the base for Earl Grey tea, but other types can be used instead. Rooibos, oolong, and even green tea are unusual yet still tasty alternatives.

Origins of Earl Grey

No one can say with certainty where in the world Earl Grey tea was first invented and brewed, but the most popular version of the origins tale ties it back to England. Charles Grey, the 2nd Earl Grey, was a rich aristocrat from England who lived from 1764 to 1845. He received a gift from China - a lightly citrus scented black tea. He loved it so much, he had the taste replicated and the bergamot/black tea Earl Grey blend was created.

There are some big flaws in this origins tale, like any myth. For example, records of "Earl Grey tea" only date back as far as the 1920s, when it was advertised by a tea brand. Records of bergamot extract being used to flavor low-quality black teas to improve the taste dates back to 1824, but with no links to Charles Grey.1

Whether it was originally created in China and substituted with bergamot in the UK or not, it's still a classic and delicious drink, hot or iced, and named after Earl Grey.

Glass of iced tea with a slide of lemon

Ingredients

Earl Grey teas all feature a gentle tea base with bergamot flavors. The tea leaves are usually black tea in a cup of Earl Grey and the citrus flavouring used is bergamot oil. Bergamot orange is a citrus fruit from the Mediterranean. It's not quite as sour and punchy as lemon, but not as sweet as orange either. The natural oils can have a delicious floral fragrance too.

Different brands may blend in other flavors into the drink. Lavender, orange blossom, lime, and cream are all popular flavor combinations to create a new take on Earl Grey.

Our Earl Grey tea contains black tea leaves, bergamot flavor, and additional tea extract for plant powered, high-caffeine energy. Why mess with a classic flavor combination that already tastes great?

Nutrition

Like most teas, Earl Grey is a low calorie and low carbohydrate drink. Even tea flavored with sweet ingredients like bergamot oils, tends to be low on sugar as well, unless a sweetener is added to the blend separately.

We looked at the nutritional content of numerous Earl Grey tea bags and tea sachets from brands listed on the USDA FoodData Central service. Nearly all listed have 0 calories and 0 grams of protein, fat, carbohydrates, sugars and salt.2

Earl Grey tea is rich in caffeine but doesn't have as much caffeine as other caffeinated drinks, like coffee or our energy teas. The black tea leaves used in Earl Grey are also a rich source of polyphenols and amino acids, which have numerous health benefits.

Health Benefits

There are several potential health benefits from consuming a tasty cup of tea regularly:

  • Black tea can reduce your blood pressure, particularly during high-stress situations (like trying to meet that tight project deadline),
  • Help your weight loss efforts, as black tea keeps your gut microbiome healthy,
  • The drink may also help you recover after a workout, not to mention the caffeinated energy it provides to help you perform at your best.

We've outlined these benefits and more in our Quick Guide to Black Tea.

Bergamot has some interesting health benefits too, but as there's so little bergamot oil used per cup of Earl Grey tea, take these with a pinch of salt.

  • Reduces total cholesterol levels, particularly LDL cholesterol,3
  • Bergamot essential oils attenuate anxiety behavior and have relaxant effects,4
  • A report on the efficacy of bergamot discovered potential for glucose control, increasing bone density, promoting hair growth, and improving skin collagen content.5

Tea being poured into a tea cup with a strainer to catch the loose leaf before entering the cup.

Earl Grey Caffeine Content

Bergamot oil doesn't contribute anything to the amount of caffeine in Earl Grey teas. The caffeine content comes purely from the tea base, which is usually black tea.

The caffeine content of black tea varies depending on the variety, e.g. Darjeeling, as well as how long you steep the tea leaves and how many grams of tea leaf you use per cup. Whether the tea is in tea bags or loose leaf, doesn't impact the caffeine levels.

On average, a standard black tea blend contains around 47mg of caffeine.6

Black Tea vs Other Tea Types

As mentioned, Earl Grey can contain any tea type as a base for the blend. Green tea will provide less caffeine, while rooibos, fruit and herbal teas won't contain any caffeine at all when brewed.

  • Green tea - 28mg
  • White tea - 40mg
  • Oolong tea - 37mg
  • Rooibos, fruit and herbal teas - 0mg

There are so many types and varieties of tea available, we wrote a guide to compare all the caffeinated drinks in one place. Check out What Type of Tea Has The Most Caffeine.

High Caffeine Earl Grey

There is one exception to the caffeine rule when it comes to Earl Grey - Zest Energy Tea. If you were looking for an Earl Grey for that soothing bergamot flavor, but with a bigger caffeine kick, then our high caffeine teas are ideal.

To make our fan-favorite Earl Grey blend, we use high quality ingredients: South Indian flowery orange pekoe black tea, bergamot flavor, and natural caffeine. You should always feel confident in the ingredients of any tea, which is why we only use natural, non-GMO ingredients.

Each cup of Zest Earl Grey tea contains 150mg of caffeine, rather than 47mg. We can achieve this by adding tea extract to our tea leaves. Our energy is completely natural and plant-powered, so it's suitable for vegans and keto diets as well.

The results:

  • That classic bergamot and black tea flavor you love,
  • Available as loose leaf or convenient pyramid teabags,
  • 150mg of energizing caffeine in your morning tea,
  • Naturally-occurring L-Theanine amino acids for calm and focus,
  • No calories or sugar!

Learn more about Zest Earl Grey Tea.

Cup of tea with tea bag still inside, and a Zest Tea Earl Grey opened wrapper displayed next to it.

How to Brew Zest Tea Earl Grey

The easiest way to brew our teas, even if you've never made tea before, is to pick the pyramid sachet tea bags.

  1. Add 1 tea bag per cup,
  2. Pour over boiling water,
  3. Wait 3 to 5 minutes,
  4. Remove the tea bag and enjoy.

To use our loose leaf teas, you'll need to use an infuser basket (or make do - a French Press could work). We have a helpful article to help you make tea like a pro too, with even more detailed instructions. You can't go wrong.

Earl Grey is easy to make and doesn't require a lower water temperature, like green teas do. Furthermore, Earl Grey goes nicely with a small splash of milk. You could use dairy milk, or any alternative like almond, soy or oat milk.

With Zest Tea, you don't need to add any extra sugar for energy - only to taste!

Some other ideas for your Earl Grey teas:

  • London Fog - an Earl Grey tea mixed with hot frothy milk, like a latte, and sweetened with vanilla syrup.
  • Sweet Iced Tea - brew your Earl Grey strongly, dissolve in a teaspoon of honey, then pour over ice to instantly chill it.
  • English Afternoon Tea - serve your Earl Grey in teacups, with a slice of lemon instead of milk and sugar for a refreshing flavored tea.

Share your Earl Grey creations with us using #ZestTea on Instagram, and don't forget to tag us @ZestTea.

Pouch of Zest Tea Earl Grey standing up on grass at a camp site, with some snow flakes in the air.

FAQs

Below are some of the most frequently asked Earl Grey related questions we hear at Zest Tea. Read the answers below and try our Earl Grey for yourself. Don't worry though, we have a 30 day no-questions-asked return policy in case it isn't your cup of tea!

Does Earl Grey tea have caffeine?

Traditional Earl Grey tea is made with caffeinated tea types, usually black tea. However there are some caffeine-free Earl Grey blends available, made with rooibos for example.

How much caffeine is in Earl Grey tea vs coffee?

A standard Earl Grey tea contains roughly 47mg of caffeine, while a cup of standard coffee (not espresso) contains 96mg.7

Which Earl Grey tea has the most caffeine?

Our high caffeine tea has up to 150mg of caffeine per cup, making our tea one of the most highly caffeinated Earl Grey blend.

Does Earl Grey have more caffeine than green tea?

On average, yes. Black tea types tend to contain more caffeine than green tea types - roughly 20mg more.

Is Earl Grey tea good for sleep?

The bergamot flavor in Earl Grey tea is good for relaxing and potentially reducing anxiety, however the amount of caffeine in the tea leaves used to make Earl Grey can keep you awake and energized instead.

What is Earl Grey tea good for?

Primarily, enjoying natural bergamot and black tea flavors! You'll also experience an energy boost from the caffeine and relaxing, focused vibes from the L-Theanine that tea contains.

Should you put milk in Earl Grey tea?

Earl Grey can be consumed with or without milk. You could also try it with a slice of lemon, to boost the citrus fruit taste.



SOURCES

1 https://public.oed.com/blog/early-grey-the-results-of-the-oed-appeal-on-earl-grey-tea/

2 https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-app.html#/?query=earl%20grey

3 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31057945/

4 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28398260/

5 https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30847114/

6 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372

7 https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/caffeine/art-20049372