The Karamell-Grey at Leopold’s Kafe features dark chocolate cake layered with an Earl Grey caramel chocolate ganache. (Deb Lindsey /For The Washington Post)

Although a simple cup of Earl Grey is hard to beat, plenty of creative food types think this black tea flavored with bergamot oil can play a starring role in more than your teapot.

Pete Angevine, a co-founder of Philadelphia’s Little Baby’s Ice Cream, which pops up weekly at Washington’s Union Market, concocted an Earl Grey Sriracha ice cream during one middle-of-the-night testing session. Angevine says Earl Grey — whose legendary connection to an actual English earl is questionable — works well in ice cream because the punchy bergamot (an acidic fruit) can shine through the 16 percent butterfat of Little Baby’s base.

Kapnos bar manager Hung Nguyen agrees with that sentiment. “It has the body to stand up to a lot of different spirits,” he says. The flavors match particularly well with brown spirits, he finds, which is why Earl Grey is a key ingredient in the 14th Street restaurant’s Living the Dream cocktail with rye, cinnamon, grapefruit, lemon and honey. The drink, a play on a Brown Derby, is one of Kapnos’s most popular draft cocktails.

Other uses for Earl Grey vary around Washington. You’ll find it in the Tea Party chocolate bar from Harper Macaw, in a marmalade at Teaism and in its Lady Grey variation in a macaron from Olivia Macaron. Plenty of spots, including the Royal, Pleasant Pops and Petite Loulou, offer a variation of the London Fog drink, which combines the tea with steamed milk.

Nguyen pinpoints one reason for the surge: “Teas are so popular now.”

Luigi Herve, the pastry chef at Leopold’s Kafe in Georgetown, says his Karamell-Grey pastry is a hit with diners. The picture-perfect treat features chocolate cake layered with a chocolate ganache that’s made with a caramel based on Earl Grey-infused cream.

Why Earl Grey? Its floral notes work with chocolate, too. Even more important, he says: “It’s my personal taste.”

Little Baby’s Ice Cream

1309 Fifth St. NE (Sundays only).


2201 14th St. NW.


Leopold’s Kafe

3315 M St. NW.


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