It's about high time we have a talk about baking with tea.
Think tea is just for pairing with baked goods? Au contraire. Tea has a ton to offer as a key ingredient in cookies, cakes, pies, and more. Plus, “tea-infused” instantly makes any baked good sound a whole lot fancier. (Not that you’re showing off or anything.)
Wanna take tea out of the “accompaniment” friendzone and right into your favorite recipes? Start with this action-packed educational post all about all the ways you can bake with tea.
Why bake with tea?
There are so many reasons to bake with tea. But for us, it mainly boils down to the three F’s:
It’s a fact: tea-infused recipes are yummy. Tea adds a singular flavor to baked goods without a whole lot of added effort on your part. Plus, tea-infused baked goods taste great with tea.
It’s fun to play kitchen mixologist! Experimenting with all of the different ways to bake with tea is a fun way to mix up your kitchen adventures and might just make old recipes feel new again.
Which sounds fancier: shortbread cookies, or shortbread cookies infused with Edith Grey tea? Nuff said. Adding tea is an easy way to elevate baked goods to pinkies-out territory without going to pastry school. Why not wow your book club, friends, or family with your fancy-pants tea-infused baked goods?
What types of tea can you bake with?
Honestly, you can bake with just about any type of tea — leaves, powder, or tea in bags.
However, that doesn’t mean that every recipe will taste great when you use any type of tea. (Just think of a recipe for pizza — you wouldn’t top it with just any cheese.) The type of tea you use can make a difference — the flavor should be harmonious with the overall recipe. In short, consider the recipe in question when choosing what flavor and type of tea to use.
Some types of tea work well in a variety of baked goods — for instance, Chai is a workhorse that can add a certain je ne sais quoi to just about every type of recipe, from cupcakes to shortbread to pie filling. Other teas, such as green tea, might need to be more carefully considered.
Different Ways to Bake With Tea
There are oodles of different ways to bake with tea. But don’t let that intimidate you! Different methods will work better with some recipes than others, so you’re bound to find a way to make tea fit into your next baking sesh. Keep this list on file for future reference!
Use Brewed Tea
One of the easiest ways to add tea to a baked good is to swap out brewed tea for certain types of liquid in recipes — for instance, our Spicy Pumpkin Tea Bread recipe utilizes brewed tea in an easy-to-make quick bread recipe that would typically contain water.
Can you just swap out tea for any liquid in a recipe? Not quite — it depends on the liquid.
For example, it’s easy to swap out brewed tea for water or coffee in recipes (in fact, you are hereby urged to swap out BHT’s Fake Coffee in any recipe calling for brewed coffee). However, if the liquid in question provides another role in the baking other than moisture (such as a cola cake that gets an added lift from the bubbles in soda, or a milk bread that relies on milk’s fat for flavor and texture), you may want to skip this method, or consider the next one…
Tea-Infused Liquid Ingredients
If you’re making a recipe that contains liquid ingredients, you can infuse them with tea to give ‘em an extra flavor kick.
For example, say your cake recipe calls for 3/4 cup milk. You can gently heat the milk with a tea bag or two or even loose leaves of a flavor variety that will work well with the recipe. Strain if needed, let it cool to room temp, then go ahead and add it to the recipe as usual. Alternatively, you can simmer milk with tea and other flavorings, as in our Chai Saffron Cookies recipe.
You can also include tea in recipes that include spirits, such as rum cake or brandy snaps. Steep a small quantity of the spirit in question with a tea bag, or combine with crushed tea leaves, for a few hours before proceeding with the recipe for a subtle tea-flavored infusion. Or, make your own tea-infused flavoring extract by steeping a tea bag or tea leaves in vodka for a few hours (or even a few days for a more pronounced flavor). You can swap it out for vanilla extract in recipes.
Use Ground Tea Leaves
Wanna add texture, flavor, and visual appeal? Consider grinding up some tea leaves and putting ‘em in your next batch of cookies or cupcakes.
If you decide to go this route, do yourself a favor and grinde the tea very finely. A spice or coffee grinder or even a mortar and pestle will do the trick. Nobody likes crunching down on hard bits or getting tea leaf debris stuck in their teeth!
Oh, hello — did you know you can infuse your sugar with tea? It’s incredibly easy to do, but it does take a little time, so don’t expect to do it right now and be baking with it tonight.
To make tea-infused sugar, all you have to do is take either a heaping spoonful of your favorite loose tea, or your favorite Big Heart Tea bag, combine with a cup of sugar (can double or triple as desired), and put it in a container (with a lid, something you can shake). Give it a shake every day or so for at least a week (although up to a few weeks is fine). Sift before you use it — to remove flecks of tea, and/or to make sure no clumps have formed.
Tea Simple Syrup
Simple syrup is magical nectar that can be used in cocktails, baked goods, or can even be used as a glaze. And yep, you can make it with tea.
Simple syrup recipes abound on the internet, but they basically boil down to the same thing: combine equal parts sugar and water, boil and reduce, let cool, and store. To make tea simple syrup, simply swap out brewed tea for the water called-for in the recipe!
Here’s a mind-blowing little factoid: you can make chocolate ganache with just about any type of liquid. Water, coffee, soda … and yep, tea too. A tea ganache allows you to make your own tea-infused chocolate sauce that can be used as a glaze or filling for just about any type of baked good.
To make tea ganache, you’ll need equal quantities (by weight) of brewed tea and chopped chocolate. For the full methodology, follow this recipe for water ganache but swap out brewed tea for the water.
Glaze is one of the world’s easiest recipes to make. Put some confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, and add small amounts of liquid to it and stir until it’s, well, glaze-y in consistency. Often, the liquid called for in recipes is milk or water. But if you’re on the baking with tea train, you can just swap it out for tea, please!
Here are a few final words of advice before you get baking:
Consider the Recipe
Take the time to consider the best way to add tea to your recipe. For example, if you want to bake a cake recipe that only calls for two tablespoons of milk, tea-infused milk might not have a huge flavor impact. Making a tea glaze or adding ground tea to the batter might give the recipe a little more oomph.
Brew Extra-Strong Tea
Since the flavor of brewed tea can be diluted by all of the other flavors involved in baking, if you really want a prominent flavor, consider brewing your tea double-strong.
Save Some Tea for Drinking!
Duh, right? Don’t use all your dang tea for baking. Keep a few bags on hand so you can serve tea with the finished goodies!
Here are a few tasty tea recipes to get started with:
Now that you’re an expert on baking with tea, you’re officially invited to get busy in the kitchen. Have fun baking with tea and be sure to tag us on social media to share all of your delicious tea creations!
What’s your favorite way to bake with tea?