Baking with Tea
Most days, I regard tea as a soothing beverage on a cold winter’s night or refreshing drink on the hottest summer day. I have a large stash in my pantry – just can’t resist trying new blends or another brand of Earl Grey. Unfortunately, loose tea loses its flavor and fragrance over time. Rather than sending my aging purchases to the compost bin, I’ve begun using tea leaves in my every day cooking. To my delight, loose tea is an exciting baking and cooking ingredient, imparting unique flavors and aromas to both sweet and savory dishes.
Currently, I am experimenting with black tea in baked goods (see the recipes at the end of this post). Most black teas have a bold and brisk flavor that works well as a spice. I’m partial to Earl Grey tea – love its heavenly fragrance and citrusy notes. I usually grind the loose tea to a fine powder before adding it to the batter or dough. I also use the powdered tea to flavor marinades, sauces and vinaigrettes.
Each variety of black tea has a unique flavor profile. To help you select one that complements
the other ingredients in your recipe, here are flavor profiles for various black teas:
- Assam: bold, malty, brisk
- Darjeeling: delicate, fruity, floral, light
- Nigiri: fragrant, floral
- Ceylon: varies by origin; generally bold, strong and rich, may have
hints of chocolate or spice
- Keemun: wine-like, fruity, floral, piney, tobacco-like
- Yunnan: chocolaty, dark, malty, nuanced, may have hints of spice
- Kenyan: bold, astringent,
- All “true” teas like white, green, black or pu’erh tea come from the same plant, Camellia Sinensis, a subtropical evergreen bush native to Asia. How the leaves are processed determines their type (e.g., black, white or green) and flavor profile. Tisanes and herbal teas are tea-like beverages made by steeping herbs, spices, fruit, flowers and other plant materials in water.
- Earl Grey tea is a bold and brisk black tea that gets its distinctive citrusy flavor and fragrance from bergamot oil. Bergamot oil is an extract of the rind of bergamot oranges, an aromatic fruit from the Mediterranean region. Earl Grey tea is one of the world’s most popular flavored teas. You can use Earl Grey tea in our three featured recipes, below.
These sites provide in depth information about teas and their flavor profiles.
Teaosophy.com – learn to evaluate and describe how the tea tastes
Tea Profiles by Tea Type – provides the flavor profiles for different types of tea
Earl Grey Tea Cookie Recipe from CHEFS Mix
Adapted from Earl Grey Shortbread Cookie recipe by Claire Robinson
Note: For a sweeter cookie, increase the amount of sugar to 1 cup.
2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves (more or less to taste)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from one orange or lemon, grated
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sliced almonds or other chopped nuts (optional)
1. To food processor bowl, add flour, tea and salt. Pulse until tea is ground up and evenly dispersed throughout the mixture.
2. Add sugar, vanilla, zest, butter and nuts. Pulse in 1-second pulses just until dough comes together. Turn out on large piece of plastic wrap. Gather dough and form into a log, about 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Seal dough in plastic wrap and tightly twist the ends. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line baking sheets or cookie sheets with silicone liner or parchment paper.
4. Remove dough from plastic wrap. Slice log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Place disks on lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart.
5. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until edges begin to brown. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely. Dust with powdered sugar, if desired. Makes about 2 dozen cookies
Tea-Infused Butter Recipe from CHEFS Mix
Adapted from recipe from The Cupcake Project
Use this butter in place of regular butter in your baking recipe. Start with more butter than your recipe requires because you will lose some of the butter during the extraction process. For example, if your recipe calls for ¾ cup of butter, use 1 cup in this recipe. For best results, use a strong, aromatic tea and good quality unsalted butter. To help you measure the tea, here are some common conversions:
- 3 teaspoons = 1 tablespoon
- 4 tablespoons = 1/4 cup
- 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup
Tea leaves, 1-1/2 teaspoons per tablespoon of butter
1. In a small saucepan, melt the butter until just liquid.
2. Add tea leaves in this ratio: 1-1/2 teaspoons of tea per tablespoon of butter. For example, if you melted 1 cup or 16 tablespoons of butter, add 24 teaspoons of tea (equivalent to 8 tablespoons or 1/2 cup). Turn heat to low. Stir occasionally. Cook for 5 minutes.
3. Remove pan from heat and cool mixture for 5 minutes. Butter will turn the color of the tea leaves.
4. Strain the butter using a fine sieve. Press tea leaves against the mesh to extract as much butter as possible. Discard tea leaves.
5. Let infused butter sit and harden at room temperature. Use like regular butter in your recipe.
Tea-Infused Simple Syrup Recipe from CHEFS Mix
1. Bring water to steeping temperature for the tea you’ve chosen (for example, boiling for black tea; simmering for green tea). Steep for the usual amount of time (for example, about 5 minutes for Earl Gray; about 3 minutes for green tea).
2. Strain tea. Bring tea to a boil. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved.
3. Reduce heat and cook 10 to 12 minutes or until syrup reduces to half its original volume.
4. Remove pan from heat and cool syrup for 30 minutes. When cool, pour syrup into clean glass jar with tight fitting lid.
5. Store in refrigerator. Use within 4 to 6 months.
6. Serving suggestions: add a teaspoon or two to chilled drinks or hot beverages; drizzle over fresh fruit; use as syrup for pancakes and waffles; use to glaze fruit tarts