Supermarket News recently listed Earl Grey among its top 10 Food Trends of 2018 as the tea is appearing on menus in everything from sweet and savory dishes to cocktails.
Mike Kostyo, senior publications manager at Datassential, a food industry market research firm said matcha’s growth in popularity has definitely inspired the incorporation of tea into a broader range of menu items. Matcha as a flavor in recipes has grown in popularity by more than 200 percent, Kostyo said.
“Generally we often see tea show up in menu items because, at its core, it’s a flavor, so you can use it in so many different ways—in sauces, chocolate, syrups, as a flavor in a cake, etc,” Kostyo said. “Earl Grey has a very unique, sophisticated, floral flavor that can really set a menu apart – it’s not a surprise that right now it’s mainly found on fine dining menus as a flavor in food.”
Earl Grey tea is usually a blend of black tea and bergamot, a type of orange grown in France and Italy.
Kostyo gave examples of restaurants that have Earl Grey-infused menu items, with it showing up most often in desserts. David Burke Kitchen in New York serves an Earl Grey Crème Brulee with an almond and blood orange crispy tuile. In San Francisco, One Market offers a Chocolate Cremeux Cake with Earl Grey whipped ganache, blood orange and chocolate sherbet. However, VOX Table in Austin, Texas, used to have a savory dish consisting of quinoa with popped grains, pickled pumpkin, chanterelle, mushrooms and Earl Grey whey.
Also increasingly common is the presence of Earl Grey in cocktails. Earl Grey is a staple ingredient in Washington, D.C.’s 14th Street restaurant’s Living the Dream cocktail, which has rye, cinnamon, grapefruit, lemon and honey, reports the Washington Post. In August 2017, Scottsdale, Arizona’s Kona Grill debuted its Earl Grey Old Fashioned as part of its “Twists on Classics” section of its menu. The tea cocktail features Bulleit Bourbon and Angostura Bitters.
Additionally, the Fifty Shades of Grey book series and movie franchise could have inspired certain demographics to give a fresh glance to this long-established tea named after the 1830s British Prime Minister Charles Grey.
“Earl grey overall has been growing steadily on menus—it’s now found on about 1 out of every 10 menus—and has seen some impressive menu penetration leaps in just the past few years, so I don’t think there’s any doubt we’ll see it continue to grow on menus,” said Kostyo, who thinks the tea will start to appear in dishes in casual restaurants and mainstream chains.