I have been making my own yogurt for over a year now, and tea infused yogurt would combine two of my favorite foods.. In trying to find yogurt that is not loaded with sugar or artificial sweetener, I did what many people do these days and googled how to make yogurt at home. I was pleased to discover how few ingredients it required and, since I already had a dehydrator big enough to hold 8 oz glass jars, I was pretty much ready to go if I could just find yogurt starter at a grocery store.
Yogurt starter is basically the bacteria necessary to make yogurt, in packets very similar to the yeast used to make bread. Some recipes suggested that you could use yogurt from the grocery store instead of the yogurt starter however, as I was trying not to eat the yogurt in the grocery store, I decided to pass on this option. Finding the yogurt starter was simple here in the suburbs of Washington, DC where I found yogurt starter in the baking aisle next to tapioca and various extracts.
So why tea flavored yogurt? Over the year as I have gotten more comfortable with scalding milk, getting it up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit without boiling, I have gotten braver in adding alternatives to the milk to try to flavor the yogurt. I decided while reading a recipe for tea flavored ice cream that I should be able to flavor yogurt with tea was amazed to find that it worked!
Now, before I show you the recipe I should say I do not add sugar to my yogurt. I rely on the lactose in the milk to sweeten the yogurt, which makes for a tarter yogurt than most Americans are used to. I really like it, but my son absolutely dislikes it and David doesn’t eat yogurt, so I’m subjected to my own creations. I have added a note at the end, if you want sweetener, on what and how much to add.
While I haven’t done this recipe with herbals or green teas, I imagine it could work with them also. Just be prepared for your yogurt to take on some unconventional colors – like green or pink. This recipe calls for your favorite black tea, which in my case is Earl Grey. Just be aware of how it tastes in the cup because that taste will amplify in the yogurt, especially if it is citrus in flavor.
Getting started, you need a few pieces of equipment, a good liquid thermometer, dehydrator and fine mesh sieve. You can usually find a thermometer in the kitchen equipment section of your grocery store next to the can openers. If you have butter fingers like I do, spend the extra money for the waterproof one so when you drop it in the milk it will survive (learned this one the hard way). As for the dehydrator, there are many options out there, so find one you like that can run at 115 degrees Fahrenheit and is deep enough to hold glass jars. Ball makes 4 and 8 oz jars, so measure before you buy. I use 8 oz since I already had them in the house from making jelly and my dehydrator was big enough to hold them if I removed the racks. As for the sieve, the finer the mesh you can find the better, as the dust from the tea leaves will get through if the holes are too big. You might like it or you might find it a bit gritty in your yogurt (it looks almost like vanilla bean seeds at the bottom of the yogurt cup when it is done cooking). I resorted to a kitchen supply store to find one that was fine enough and I still get some tea dust remaining in the yogurt.
- 4 cups Whole Milk*
- 2 tbs Favorite Black Tea (mine is Earl Grey)
- 1 packet Yogourmet yogurt starter
Put the 4 cups of milk in a sauce pan with the tea leaves, you will need to stir to get the leaves incorporated. Bring the milk up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit without letting it boil. Expect it to turn caramel color as the tea brews in the milk. As soon as it hits 180 degrees take the pan off the burner and allow the milk to cool back down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. If you are adventurous you could strain out the tea as soon as you pull the pan off the burner. I prefer to wait as I have no need to get burned by hot liquid if it happens to splash while pouring it through the strainer.
Pour the milk through the strainer into a vessel that makes it easy to pour the milk into the jars (I have a 4 cup Pyrex measuring cup with a spout that makes this super easy).
Put the yogurt starter into a small bowl that you can whisk in and ladle in a couple of scoops of the milk once it hits 115 degrees (I have found this happens almost immediately after pouring the milk through the sieve). Whisk until the starter has dissolved then add back into the rest of the mill and stir.
Distribute the milk between your glass jars and then put those jars for a minimum of 4 hours in your dehydrator at 115 degrees Fahrenheit. Check if thick enough by turning the jars upside down at the 4 hour mark. I have had it take as long as 6 hours in a few cases. Transfer the jars to the refrigerator and start to enjoy the yogurt the next morning. Be prepared for losing about ½ cup of the milk to being absorbed by the tea leaves.
Just a word of caution about Earl Grey and other citrus flavored teas – Citrus and milk creates buttermilk, which is very tangy. Even if the citrus is nothing more than an extract, my experience has been that the yogurt is rather tangy. So I will admit, sometimes sugar is necessary to help tone this down. I add mine after the fact by pouring a little agave nectar (no more than a teaspoon per serving) over the top before eating, but that is only after I have tasted the yogurt first.
For those who really need sugar in your yogurt – go with ¼ to 1/3 cup of a liquid form of sugar – like agave nectar, honey or maple syrup. While these 3 may turn your white milk slightly cream colored, you do not have to battle trying to dissolve granulated sugar in your milk while trying to make sure your milk does not boil.
*Forget 2% or skim milk as they make runny yogurt that requires corn starch to thicken – too much work in my book
I hope you enjoy this recipe. What do you like to cook with tea?