What is Bergamot Tea?

J. Leach

Bergamot tea can cause confusion for some people because there are two different bergamot plants used in tea mixtures, and the citrus odor of the two plants is also very similar. It may refer to tea made from the bergamot orange plant, also known as Citrus bergamia or Oswego tea. Citrus bergamia originated in Italy, and it is usually the essential oil derived from the plant’s orange peels that is used in flavored teas. Conversely, the herb bergamot, or Monarda didyma, is a perennial found in North America and is member of the mint family.

A cup of bergamot tea.
A cup of bergamot tea.

Monarda didyma bergamot tea is also known as Oswego tea or bee balm tea. It is called Oswego tea after the Native American tribe that imbibed it. It was also used as a replacement for black tea during the Colonial era in the United States, when traditional British tea was being boycotted. This was done because the flavor of the tea is quite similar to that of Earl Grey tea.

A bergamot orange.
A bergamot orange.

Native groups often also used the herb variety for poultices due to its antiseptic properties. An herbal bergamot tea was often used to treat infections in the mouth and throat. It contains thymol, which is an aromatic and antiseptic oil that is also found in thyme plants.

The herbal tea version can also be used as a carminative. Carminatives help reduce the amount of gas in the gastrointestinal system. This not only reduces flatulence, but can also alleviate acid reflux and help prevent heart burn from occurring.

This type of tea is also used to help ameliorate cold and influenza symptoms. It has been found effective in reducing nausea, chills, and sinus congestion. Herbal bergamot tea should be avoided during pregnancy or during menstruation, because, in high doses, it can cause uterine contractions. This tea should not be consumed on a daily basis, but should be enjoyed in moderation for a maximum of ten consecutive days.

Bergamot orange peel oil is often added to traditional black tea as an essence. This is most often used in Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas. Earl Grey is a black tea mix that is enhanced with bergamot oil. Lady Grey also has black tea with bergamot oil, but often also includes Seville orange and lemon flavorings.

The oil from Citrus bergamia also has a wide range of uses. It is believed to have anti-depressant, digestive, antibiotic, and anti-spasmodic qualities. Patients suffering from nervous disorders like anxiety, fear, and night terrors may find that it can soothe these problems. Patients who have skin disorders may find it beneficial to apply the oil topically, to benefit from its antiseptic and antifungal properties.

Bergamot oil contains bergamottin, a chemical compound that is similar to those found in grapefruit juice, which can affect how certain drugs are metabolized. This alteration in drug metabolism caused by certain foods is often referred to as the grapefruit affect. A doctor or pharmacist should be consulted before consuming bergamot oil, if the patient is taking other medication.

Bergamot essential oil is a yellow-green color.
Bergamot essential oil is a yellow-green color.

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Discussion Comments


I use a facial cream with bergamot extract as an ingredient. The bergamot helps brighten and even out skin tone because of the vitamin C and other beneficial ingredients.

I've never tasted bergamot tea made just from the bergamot plant. But I've seen bergamot oranges, they were planted alongside streets at a Mediterranean town when I visited Turkey. They made the entire street smell like bergamot. The trees had fruit too but my friend said that they can't be eaten because they're bitter. I still can't forget that scent though.


@literally45-- I agree with you, I love bergamot black tea. In addition to the lovely scent, I also think that bergamot counters the effects of the caffeine in black tea. This is why I can have black tea even in the evening without experiencing tension or sleep problem.

Contrary to common belief though, good bergamot tea is not made with bergamot oil, but rather with bergamot flowers. Wile green tea oxidizes into black tea, it is mixed with the bergamot flowers and the tea absorbs the scent of the flowers. That's why some bergamot teas cost more, because they are made with real bergamot flowers and taste better.


I've been drinking Earl Grey tea for years. I thought that this is a specially grown tea. I learned just recently that it's just black tea flavored with the bergamot orange plant. Now I understand why Earl Grey tea smells and tastes so good. Regular black tea seems so bland next to it.

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