Earl Grey Tea Leaf Cake

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Earl Grey Tea Pound Cake

The headline news this morning was, “San Diego’s weather forecast for Friday: A month’s worth of rain, all in one day.”  Whaaaaaat?  That’s the kind of weather that makes you want to stay home and sip a hot cup of tea while watching TV with your cat.  Extra points if you have some cake to snack on with the tea.

My gloomy, rainy day inspired this Earl Grey Tea Cake.  Flavored with Earl Grey tea, this version of sour cream pound cake has a subtle and delicate bergamot flavor, punched up (slightly) with the addition of orange zest.  (Earl Grey tea is black tea, flavored with oil of bergamot – a citrus fruit related to the orange).  Since it is a pound cake – it does have a tight, dense crumb – but the addition of sour cream helps make it much moister than traditional pound cake.

I have many versions of Earl Grey tea in the pantry – my favorite is a Viennese Earl Grey sold by Harney & Sons.  Another Earl Grey tea (which is surprisingly good) – is the officially licensed Star Trek Earl Grey Tea, sold by ThinkGeek.com.  If you use loose Earl Grey tea leaves – these tend to be a little bit higher in quality than what you get in a tea bag, so the flavor will be just a bit better.  The only thing is that the tea leaves in loose tea are more likely to be whole, and in larger pieces – so you will need to break them down a bit in a blender or grinder.  If you don’t have a grinder (or don’t want to go through the trouble) – then break open a couple tea bags, and use the smaller bits inside  (tea bags usually contain fannings – the smaller pieces of tea leftover after the higher quality leaves are separated out).  For tea bags, I prefer Twinings Earl Grey tea (in the yellow box).

If you don’t like the flavor of Earl Grey tea, then you can substitute with green tea or lavender tea – those will both make an interesting flavor variation.  (I would omit the orange zest, though, if you are using green tea.  For lavender tea – I would probably go with lemon zest instead of orange zest).

Watch the loaf closely (through the oven window) for browning – especially around the 40 minute mark.  If the top of the loaf seems like it is getting a bit dark, then cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time to protect it from burning.  (And make sure you start with room temperature ingredients!)

Earl Grey Tea Cake:

Earl Grey Tea Cake?  Make it so!
  • 1 T. loose Earl Grey Tea leaves
  • zest of one orange
  • 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. sour cream
  • 1 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 c. bleached all-purpose flour

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare a 9″ X 5″ loaf pan by spraying with non-stick spray (or grease and flour).

2.  Measure 1 T. loose Earl Grey Tea leaves into a coffee grinder or blender.  (I’m using a small grinding attachment that came with my Cuisinart Hand Blender).

3.  Grind the loose tea leaves into small bits.  You don’t need to grind it down to a powder – but you definitely don’t want large chunks of tea leaves.  Aim to just break it down a bit.

4.  Zest one orange.

5.  Place the butter, sour cream, sugar, orange zest, Earl Grey tea leaves, and salt into a large mixing bowl.

6.  Cream all the ingredients together for about 3-4 minutes, until light and fluffy.

7.  Slowly add in the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition.

8.  Sprinkle the baking soda on top, and mix in.

9.  Last, add the flour and combine with the rest of the ingredients until smooth.

10.  Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.

11.  Sprinkle the top of the batter with large crystal decorating sugar, like Wilton Sprinkles (optional).

12.  Bake the loaf for about 50-60 minutes at 350 degrees.  Check on the loaf after about 40 minutes of baking.  If the top of the loaf starts browning too much, cover with foil for the remainder of the baking time.


13.  Remove from the oven, and allow to cool in the pan for 5-10 minutes.

14.  Remove the loaf from the pan, and allow to cool completely before slicing.


  1. T.R. says:

    Earl Grey is my FAVORITE tea of all time and basically all I drink. With cream and sugar. I haven’t found one yet that I really love here in the US. Most have a very weak flavor no matter how long your steep it. I just broke down and ordered my favorite from a tea shop (H.R. Higgins) in London I found YEARS ago. It’s the most expensive tea I ever bought but if its as good/great as I remember, it will be well worth it. :O) But I just ordered the Vienesse version you recommended so I can compare. :O) If I can find a good one state side I’ll be real happy. And I’ve got to try this cake…..:O)

    • Mika Mika says:

      Lol – Earl Grey is my favorite tea also! Harney & Sons also has an Earl Grey Supreme you might like:

      • T.R. says:

        I actually ended up buying both to try. I’ll let you know how I like them. That cake sounds so good and simple.

        • Mika Mika says:

          Hope you like them! :)

  2. Amy says:

    So, was it ” month worth of rain in one day” as they predicted in your area Not much rain here in Fountain Valley.. as we expect that is. We sure need the rain. I’m glad that it give you an inspiration to come up with this recipe and share it with us. Will give it a try as soon as I can get my hand on some Earl Grey tea

    • Mika Mika says:

      I’m not sure how much rain we got yesterday – it certainly felt like a month’s worth! We definitely needed the rain… just not all at once. :)

  3. Edye says:

    perfect, thanks a lot. this recipe is remarkable. I used three bags of twinings’s earl grey however instead of orange zest, lemon zest, some vanilla and few fresh orange juice, no sour cream in order to avoid animal fat. The cake seems to be made with pop seeds, as the traditional lemon cake. We ate it still hot and I am eager to taste it tomorrow morning to compare the flavours.

    • Mika Mika says:

      Your version sounds delicious! :)

      • Edye says:

        Hi Mika, unfortunately this morning the cake was not so good as last night, I think due the tea lost its flavour as happens to a stale tea. If you have a hint to tell me about how to preserve it naturally I will be very grateful. Moreover I would like to invite you to test your carrot cake with variations to make it like Brazilian style. You must cut off all spices from it. In doing so, you will have a very soft carrot flavour cake. The topping must be chocolate syrup. Here we use homemade syrup, but hersheys will be all right. This is for all tea times however to a special dinner, as a desert, after pouring the syrup you can cover it with a chocolate ganache decorated with almonds, nuts, mm, small marzipan carrots, whatever your imagination allows. Don’t forget to pierce all the cake surface with a fork in order to let the syryp penetrate it.

        • Mika Mika says:

          I’m sorry to hear your cake did not stay fresh. Perhaps it depends on the brand of tea leaves you used? I find that microwaving a slice for 15-20 seconds makes the cake taste like it just came out of the oven, and I also found the flavor on the 2nd day to be more developed and flavorful than the 1st day. In the end, the loaf only lasted 3 days for us… it was gone so fast. Your carrot cake idea sounds intriguing… I will have to try it sometime!

  4. Ness says:

    Hi there

    This is an amazing recipe! I tried it out yesterday and the cake turned out yummy beyond words. The only adjustments made were to the sugar – down to 250g and I sprinkled chopped almonds on top.

    I’ll definitely continue to follow your blog!

    Thanks for sharing,

    • Mika Mika says:

      Thanks! I’m so glad you liked it!