Bergamot Tea Benefits and Side Effects

Citrus bergamia 'Femminello' (bergamot orange)
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Bergamot tea is usually a combination black tea and bergamot fruit extract. The tea is commonly referred to and sold as Earl Grey tea. Bergamot—also known as the bergamot orange—is a citrus fruit grown in the Mediterranean that has been rumored to have medicinal qualities.

Wild bergamot tea is usually prepared at home using an unrelated wild herb and may provide different health benefits, although studies are lacking.

What Is Bergamot Tea?

Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) is a pear-shaped citrus fruit grown primarily in Calabria, Italy, but also in Argentina, Brazil, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, and parts of Asia. The rind of the green or yellow fruit is pressed for oil that is used for medicinal or dietary purposes. Some believe that the bergamot is a hybrid of lemon and bitter orange. The word "bergamot" is derived from a Turkish word that means "prince's pear."

Bergamot tea is not made solely from the fruit. Usually, it is made from black tea and bergamot extract. Also called Earl Grey tea, bergamot tea can be purchased with caffeine or without caffeine. Earl Grey tea may also be produced using other tea leaves including green tea or rooibos tea. The amount of caffeine in the tea will depend on the leaves used to produce it.

Bergamot tea may also refer to a type of tea made with leaves from the wild bergamot plant, sometimes called bee balm.

Wild bergamot may grow in parts of the United States and also in Europe. Wild bergamot tea was reportedly used by Native Americans to treat cold symptoms and for other medicinal uses.

How to Make Bergamot Tea

Many familiar brands, like Twinings, Bigelow, and Stash make bergamot tea. So bergamot tea bags can be purchased online and in many health food stores or markets.

Tea bags should be steeped for 3-5 minutes in hot water or about 190-209 degrees Fahrenheit.

If you are interested in making wild bergamot tea, you may have a harder time finding the ingredients. According to sources, the tea can be made with fresh or dried bergamot leaves or even from the seeds. Many people grow wild bergamot at home.

If you are using fresh ingredients for to make wild bergamot tea, you'll need to use more of it (up to one-half cup of leaves). If you are using dried leaves or seeds, use about two tablespoons. Leaves should steep for about five minutes. Strain before drinking the tea.

Bergamot Tea Health Benefits

Bergamot ( Citrus bergamia) is often consumed for its health benefits. Some people drink the tea to boost mental alertness or prevent certain types of cancer. Bergamot oil may also be used topically (on the skin) to protect the body against lice, relieve psoriasis, and manage the appearance of vitiligo. According to Therapeutic Research Center Natural Medicine database, there is not enough scientific evidence to support these uses.

Some research studies have investigated the health benefits of bergamot. One study published by Phytotherapy Research was conducted by several employees of a company that makes the essential oil.

They found that inhaling the aromatic oil may help reduce anxiety before radiation treatments.

Another study investigated the use of bergamot juice to reduce cardio-metabolic risk factors. Researchers in that study concluded that bergamot juice extract supplementation reduced plasma lipid levels and improved lipoprotein profiles in study subjects.

Scientific studies regarding the health benefits or safety of wild bergamot are lacking.

Bergamot Tea Risks and Side Effects

According to Therapeutic Research Center, bergamot oil is likely safe for most people when consumed in the small amounts typically found in food.

It is possibly unsafe when used topically on the skin because it can make the skin sensitive to the sun and may make you more vulnerable to skin cancer

Sources:

Bergamot. Therapeutic Research Center. Natural Medicines Database. https://naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com/databases/food,-herbs-supplements/professional.aspx?productid=142

Cleveland Clinic. Heart and Vascular Team. Bergamot Extract May Lower Your Cholesterol.  May 6, 2015

Han, X., Gibson, J., Eggett, D. L., & Parker, T. L. (2017). Bergamot (Citrus bergamia) Essential Oil Inhalation Improves Positive Feelings in the Waiting Room of a Mental Health Treatment Center: A Pilot Study. Phytotherapy Research 

Toth, P. P., Patti, A. M., Nikolic, D., Giglio, R. V., Castellino, G., Biancucci, T., Rizzo, M. (2016). Bergamot Reduces Plasma Lipids, Atherogenic Small Dense LDL, and Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Subjects with Moderate Hypercholesterolemia: A 6 Months Prospective Study. Frontiers in Pharmacology