What is Earl Grey Tea Intoxication?

Interestingly, there is a condition known as ‘Earl grey tea intoxication’. In 2001 a man who excessively drank Earl grey tea complained of blurred vision, muscle cramps and pins and needles! As soon as he quit his tea habit, his severe symptoms vanished. This man’s condition was known as Earl grey intoxication.

After reading an interesting article about that man who suffered Earl grey tea intoxication I decided to write about all the things that may happen if you drink too much tea. Here are some of the commonly asked questions surrounding excessive tea drinking:

  • Is there such a thing as too much tea?

  • If so, how much tea is too much tea?

  • What are the side effects of drinking too much tea? and too much Earl grey?

  • What is so toxic about Earl grey tea?

  • And is drinking too much tea just as toxic as drinking too much Earl grey tea?

Earl Grey Tea Intoxication

Is there such a thing as drinking too much tea?

Common Earl Grey Tea Questions

Here are some commonly asked questions about this zesty type of blended black tea:

What is Earl Grey Tea?

Earl grey tea is a traditional British blended black tea with added bergamot oil. Bergamot oil is a wonderfully fragrant oil made from the rind of the Italian bergamot orange.

Legend has it that this unique tea was discovered by accident. Tales tell us that tea was stored next to bergamot. Tea is very porous and so therefore soaked up the wonderful bergamot aromas. And this is how the much loved Earl grey tea was initially discovered purely by accident. However, there are also other theories on how this tea was first discovered.

Was Earl Grey a Real Person?

Earl Grey was actually a real person! Earl Grey, also known as Charles Grey was the British Prime Minister between 1830 and 1834. There are a few theories on why Earl grey tea was named after Charles Grey, including the tea first being gifted by a Chinese mandarin as a thank you gift to the PM. Charles Grey enjoyed the tea so much that he requested it be recreated. It is believed that Twinings of London first recreated this tea in 1831.

It is also believed that perhaps Earl grey tea was first created for sale due to the fragrant bergamot oil being used to flavour poor quality black teas. However Earl grey tea was first created, it has certainly been a huge hit for almost two hundred years.

Read more: Do Brits really drink a lot of tea?

What Does Earl Grey Tea Taste Like?

Earl grey tea has a unique and distinct taste that is completely different to any other tea. The taste and aroma of Earl grey is bold, floral and citrusy. Not quite lemon or orange but so very zesty.

Earl Grey Intoxication

Indulging in anything to excess can have some serous side effects and Earl grey tea is no different. The bergamot oil found in Earl grey can have some not so nice effects such as muscle cramps and blurred vision. Back in 2001 a man, who drank an excess amount of Earl grey tea complained of blurred vision, muscle cramps and pins and needles. It was reported that this man drank around 16 cups of Earl grey tea per day! As soon as the man stopped drinking his favourite tea to excess, by reducing his habit to just 4 cups per day, his severe symptoms disappeared. Soon after, this mysterious condition was known as ‘Earl grey tea intoxication’.

Can you Have an Allergy to Earl Grey Tea?

Yes! You can absolutely have an allergy to any type of tea including Earl grey tea. Symptoms can include runny nose, itchy sore throat and digestive issues. It’s always best to consult your healthcare provider for concerns over allergies.

Read more: Is green tea good for allergies?

Can you Overdose on Tea?

We all know that drinking tea can be super healthy, but is there really such a thing as too much tea? And how much tea can be toxic?

Just like drinking Earl grey tea to excess, drinking other teas to excess can have some not so nice side effects. Drinking too much tea (over 4 cups of tea a day) can cause increased anxiety, poor sleep and headaches from the excess caffeine. Also, drinking tea on an empty stomach can cause nausea for some people. This is why taking English breakfast black tea with milk and sugar is a great morning tea of choice. However, the effects of caffeine in tea are a little different to the jittery effects if caffeine in coffee and it is all down to the chemistry of tea.

While drinking tea has many health benefits, it is suggested that we limit how much tea we drink. Studies suggest that some toxic heavy metals maybe found in certain tea plants and that it is best to indulge in no more than 5 litres of tea per week. These heavy metals include mercury and lead. By reducing the amount of daily tea taken, the risk of toxicity is greatly reduced.

So… who would have thought, there really is such a thing as too much tea! It’s best to enjoy everything, including tea, in moderation.

Is Earl Grey Tea Good for Weight Loss?

Studies suggest that Earl grey tea maybe good for weight loss. Tea itself is is high in beneficial antioxidants plus the extract in bergamot is known to be good for helping to shift excess pounds too. Bergamot oil is well known to aid in weight loss, fat loss and also in helping to lower cholesterol. Bergamot oil can be used to reduce emotional stress and therefore help ward off emotional cravings.

Tea, especially black tea can aid in digestion. When black tea is processed, the antioxidants are metabolized into flavonols. These flavonols hang around in the gut longer than those found in other types of tea. This can positively impact the types of bacteria found in the gut. Also, a recent study showed that tea catechins can slow the actions of digestive enzymes. This will mean that the body doesn’t absorb all of the calories taken which will result in maintaining a healthier weight. You may like to read more about teas to aid digestion.


How to Make the Perfect cup of Earl Grey Tea

To make a lovely cup of blended black tea, take 1 heaped teaspoon of loose leaf tea (or 1 tea bag) and steep in 1 cup (8fl oz) of freshly boiled water. Steep for 3-5 minutes before removing the tea and adding optional milk and sugar.

What is the Difference Between Earl Grey and Lady Grey Tea?

Earl grey tea and lady grey tea have very similar characteristics. Lady grey tea is a little more delicate than Earl grey tea. Earl grey being slightly bolder in taste and aroma. Earl grey tea is flavoured with bergamot oil and lady grey tea is flavoured with hints of citrus. Twinings have trademarked the name ‘lady grey’ whereas other brands can use the name ‘Earl grey"‘.

If you love lady grey tea, you may also like this fabulous lady grey tea & meyer lemon drizzle cake.

What is the Best Time to Drink Earl Grey Tea?

Earl grey tea is traditionally made with blended black tea. Black tea typically contains higher amounts of caffeine than other types of tea. Black tea contains around 40mg of caffeine per cup. Green tea typically contains around 25mg of caffeine per cup. As tea contains caffeine, it’s best to enjoy tea in the morning or earlier in the day. However, many other new Earl grey blends are made with oolong, green, white tea and even herbal blends such as rooibos. Drinking herbal alternatives are a great way to reduce caffeine, especially for those highly sensitive to the effects.

Read more: Caffeine in Tea

Should Earl Grey be Taken With Milk?

Originally, Earl grey tea was blended with lighter black teas and was not taken with any milk. Over time, the black tea blend has changed to darker black teas that can be enjoyed with milk. There are many brands of Earl grey tea that produce difference blends ranging from lighter to darker. It is all down to personal preference as to whether to add milk. Many people nowadays do add milk and sugar to their Earl grey tea to make a delicious milky milk tea.

There are also alternative Earl grey tea varieties that do not involve black tea, these varieties are made with green tea, oolong tea or even herbal tea blends.

If you love sweet milky Earl grey tea, you may also love this iced earl grey latte with lavender honey.

Here are some other tea latte recipes that you may love to try:

Read more: What is the Best Milk for Tea?

Read More of my Tea Articles

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This blog is for information purposes only. It is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose any medical conditions. Always seek advice from your health care provider.