Elevate Your Baking with Tea

Tea is a versatile commodity with many uses. One of these uses, which we will explore today, is as an ingredient for baking. Baking with tea is a practice that stemmed from the idea of baking tea cakes, although these cakes did not originally have any tea in them - contrary to their name. Some were not ever cakes at all! The origin of tea cakes can be traced back to early Victorian Era Britain, specifically in the 1840s. During this time, afternoon tea was a prominent part of English culture, especially in high London society. Tea cakes, and other small pastries that fell under the name, were served alongside freshly brewed tea at these gatherings to hold attendee’s hunger over until dinner. These snacks grew in variety as they spread beyond England, like chocolate covered marshmallows in Scotland. When tea cakes made their way over to the United States they were in the form of actual cakes, but still just served alongside tea rather than having tea baked into them. We have said before that tea has fuelled revolutions throughout history, and if that is the case then tea cakes have fed these same revolutions. In 1774, Penelope Barker used tea cakes as part of her protest against the 1773 British Tea Act. Specifically, she served these tea cakes to petitioners in North Carolina.

Eventually, the practice of actually baking tea into tea cakes, and later other baked goods, developed. Baking with tea is a great way to add to or enhance the flavor of baked goods, and it can be done in a variety of ways. First, the most simple method is to brew a batch of tea and use the beverage in your recipe. Second, you could simmer tea with milk or other dairy products to create a rich and decadent flavor. Third, you could use the loose leaf tea as a dry ingredient. Regardless of how you choose to incorporate tea into your baking, we are confident it will add an element that is hard to achieve in any other way! To help you get started, we will be sharing two tea-rrific recipes with you today.

Lavender Earl Grey Tea Cake:

Ingredients -

  • 1 ½ tbsp Lavender Earl Grey tea
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 ⅓ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 cups flour
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 5 eggs

Instructions - 

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Whisk together eggs, vanilla, lemon zest, and Lavender Earl Grey tea. Set this egg mixture aside.
  • Bring butter to room temperature. In a separate bowl, beat butter until creamy. If you have a mixing stand or hand mixer, we recommend using this on medium!
  • Gradually add granulated sugar to butter and mix thoroughly.
  • Gradually add the egg mixture and mix thoroughly.
  • Gradually add flour, cornstarch, and salt. Mix thoroughly.
  • Pour batter into a 9x5 greased loaf pan. 
  • Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes. To make sure your cake is ready, stick a toothpick into the center of the cake and make sure it comes out clean. Let cool for at least 30 minutes.
  • While cake is baking and cooling, make icing. Whisk together powdered sugar, milk, and lemon juice. 
  • After cake has cooled, remove from pan and drizzle with icing.
  • Optional: garnish with more tea or lavender buds for a fun visual twist!


    Chai Cookies:

    Ingredients - 

    • 1 ½ tbsp Warm Vanilla Chai tea
    • 2 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1 tsp cinnamon
    • ½ tsp nutmeg
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 ¼  cups granulated sugar
    • 1 ½ cups powdered sugar
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 cup butter
    • 3 tbsp heavy cream
    • 2 eggs

    Instructions - 

    • Preheat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit.
    • Whisk together flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Set this dry mixture aside.
    • In a separate bowl, whisk together granulated sugar, Warm Vanilla Chai tea, half of the cinnamon, and half of the nutmeg. Keep the remaining cinnamon and nutmeg separate to use later in the icing. 
    • Bring butter to room temperature and beat into the sugar mixture until smooth and creamy. If you have a mixing stand or hand mixer, we recommend using this on high!
    • Continue to beat and add one full egg, one egg yolk, and vanilla.
    • Gradually add the dry mixture and mix thoroughly. 
    • Once the dough is fully mixed it should be thick. Roll the dough into 2 two inch balls and set them aside.
    • On a plate, pour some additional sugar and sprinkle it with additional cinnamon and nutmeg. Roll each ball in this mixture before placing them on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Place each ball 2-3 inches apart.
    • Bake for 12 minutes. After removing your cookies from the oven, let them cool for at least 10 minutes. 
    • While cookies are baking and cooling, make icing. Whisk together powdered sugar, heavy cream, and the remaining cinnamon and nutmeg. 
    • After cookies have cooled, use a spatula or spoon to ice cookies.

    We hope you enjoy these delicious recipes, perhaps even alongside a nice warm cup of tea! Please let us know if you try either of these recipes or if you have a baking with tea recipe of your own that you’d like to share. 


    Written by Kourtney Camm

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