Earl Lavender Tea Muffins

Mug of tea and three muffins drizzled in earl lavender glaze.

Earl Lavender Muffins — fresh from the oven with tea.

Earl Lavender tea muffins are easy to make and a tasty breakfast treat. I have prepared these in miniature muffin tins but they can be done in a full sized one, just add about 7-10 minutes to the cooking time on these muffins. If you do not have Earl Grey with Lavender tea, don’t sweat it. It works just as well with your favorite black tea.

Earl Lavender Tea Muffins

Prepares 12 muffins in a regular sized pan & 24 in a miniature pan

1 1/2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons of Earl Grey with Lavender tea
16 ounces of water
1 stick of butter
1 2/3 cup of all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Optional:  1 teaspoon dried lavender flowers, chopped

Earl Grey with Lavender Glaze

1/2 cup of confectioners sugar
2 Tablespoons of brewed Earl Grey with Lavender (You may want additional if you want a thinner glaze on the muffins)

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Next, you will need to melt the butter with 2 tsp of the Earl Grey with Lavender tea in it. Start by putting the stick of butter in a pan with the tea.

Bring the 16 oz of water to a boil and put in the tablespoon and half of the Earl Grey with Lavender tea. Allow to steep for 5 minutes and strain off the tea. You will need to reserve 8 ounces for the recipe and possibly as much as 1/4 cup for the icing. So the remaining 3/4 cup is for you to enjoy while you cook.

In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, salt, and baking powder.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg and slowly add the sugar making sure to incorporate the sugar fully into the egg. Then mix in the vanilla extract. Pour the cooled butter through a strainer, to remove the tea leaves, into the bowl and stir until combined. Then pour in the cooled cup of Earl Grey with Lavender tea and stir. Next pour the wet ingredients into the bowl full of flour. Mix until fully combined.

Next pour the batter into the muffin tins just shy of the top of the tin.download Going in Style 2017 movie

When using a miniature muffin pan, cook for 20-25 minutes and test the center of the muffin with a tooth pick before removing. For a full size muffin tin, start with 30 minutes but you may need as long as 40 minutes to make sure they are done.

Plate of Earl Lavender Muffins

Fresh Glazed Earl Lavender Muffins

While the muffins are cooking, it is time to make your glaze. In a bowl, put the half cup of confectioners sugar and pour in the first tablespoon of tea and stir. Then pour in the second tablespoon of tea and stir completely to make sure there are no clumps of sugar. If you end up with clumps, use a fork to break them apart. If you would like a thinner batter, add additional tea 1 teaspoon at a time until you reach the consistency you want.

When the muffins are done, allow them to cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then remove. To glaze, put the muffins on top of a cooling rack on wax paper. Brush the glaze over the top of the muffins. The glaze will drip off, which is why you want the wax paper below the cooling rack. It will take a few minutes for the glaze to set. The muffins are then ready to serve. They can also be put in the refrigerator and will be good for about 4 days.

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Chai Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

Banana chocolate chip bread drizzled with chai tea icing.

Moist banana chocolate chip bread with chai tea icing.

Nothing like browning bananas to prompt the search for a banana bread recipe, like Chai Banana Chocolate Chip. This recipe can also be baked  as cakes or muffins, which I have included in the instructions below. This banana bread incorporates Chocolate Chai tea, giving the bread a nice spice. I have a tendency to treat banana bread as a dessert, so I have included a recipe for Chai icing as well. You can actually use any of your favorite chai teas in this recipe.

The great thing about this recipe is that it starts by making yourself a good cup of Chai, most of which you can enjoy while baking.

Chai Banana Chocolate Chip Bread

1 tsp Chocolate Chai Tea

8 oz of water

4 small to medium sized really ripe bananas (You are looking to get to about a cup when smashed)

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup of granulated sugar

1/3 cup canola oil (or other mild flavor oil)

1 tsp of vanilla extract

1 cup of semisweet chocolate chips (optional, can be replaced with walnuts)

Start by making yourself a cup of Chai tea. Bring the 8 oz of water up to a boil and then pour over your Chocolate Chai tea leaves and allow to steep for 5 minutes. While that is steeping preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and lightly grease your cake,bread or muffin pan. When your tea is done steeping, reserve a 1/4-1/3 cup of it to mash into the bananas and another 2 tablespoons for the icing recipe. Take the remaining tea and doctor how your chose,so you can enjoy it while you are cooking.

In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt together. In a larger bowl, mix together the sugar and oil, then add the bananas. Stir in 1/4 of the chai tea and the vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly. If batter appears dry, going a teaspoon at a time,stir in more of the chai tea. Next stir in the flour mixture and chocolate chips until just incorporated.

Fill your muffin, bread or cake pans about half way full. This batter rises a lot.

For muffins and small bundt cake pans – Bake for 20-30 minutes until golden brown and the a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

For bread pans – Bake for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean

For cake pans – Bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.

While it is baking, this is the perfect time to making icing. Follow our recipe for Chai icing to add a little more tea flavor to this treat.

 

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Enjoying the Moment – The Tea Ceremony

Tea readily lends itself to rituals and practices that us slow down. It allows us to take in not just our surroundings, but our state of mind and the characteristic of the beverage we are patiently awaiting. Not surprisingly, Chinese and Japanese developed formal rituals around tea that are worth exploring as they explain both the culture of tea of those countries and some of the historical manufacturing processes.

The simplicity of the Japanese Tea Ceremony has inspired other accessories.

Japanese Kyusu – Inspired by Japanese Tea Ceremony

Japanese Tea Ceremony

The Japanese tea ceremony originated with the Buddhist monks, who incorporated the preparation of powdered tea into their meditation rituals. The accessories and steps taken in the tea ceremony are focused on the comfort of the guests and the preparer. The ceremony appeared in Japan during the 15th century, being created and documented by Sen No Rikyu, a Japanese Buddhist tea master. In his book, the Way of Tea, Rikyu not only lays out the steps of Chanoyu, the Japanese Tea Ceremony, but discusses the philosophy of tea and how tea helps to reinforce the contemplative experience of life and man’s interaction with other men and material objects. Rikyu used the Way of Tea to invite all who believed in harmony, respect, purity and tranquility to become masters of tea, opening up the beverage and the tea ceremony to the masses, effectively taking it out of the temple and into the upper classes of Japanese society.

The ritualization and formalization of the tea ceremony is still seen today in the accessories associated not just with Matcha but with Japanese green teas. Kyusu’s, Japanese tea pots used to serve whole leaf green tea, are either a solid color or decorated with pictures of nature, which are always on the side of the pot that should face the guest when serving the tea. Rikyu is also given credit for having created the bamboo whisk and scoop used in the preparation of Matcha.

Chinese Tea Ceremony

Small Chinese Tea Ceremony Cups

Chinese Tea Cups for a Tea Ceremony

The Chinese also have a tea ceremony. It is lesser known than the Japanese one but it still has its own beauty. Done with whole leaves instead of powder, it is a simple presentation of a kettle, teapot and handle-less cups. The preparation is done simply with few gestures of significance and little concern to the type of pottery or other accessories. Unlike the Japanese ceremony, there is discussion with guests, usually around nature, the tea being drunk and other topics usually related to nature and man’s place in it. The leaves will be infused multiple times by the host as conversation continues.

This informal ceremony reflects the very informal view of tea in China. However, informality should not imply a lack of importance. Tea is considered one of the seven critical items for a healthy life and is consumed throughout the day, every day, by most Chinese.

Creating Your Own Tea Ceremony or Ritual

It is not hard to create your own ritual around your cup of tea. It could be something as simple as taking a few minutes to hold still and breathe while you allow your tea to steep. Alternatively, you may prefer to sit with a pot of tea and a book in your favorite chair. The Chinese and the Japanese both got it right in focusing on tea’s tie to nature and its ability to allow people to slow down and contemplate their place in it. My favorite ritual is enjoying a cup of tea at my kitchen table looking out the windows and watching the stars fade and the sky fill with early morning sunlight. What is your favorite tea ceremony?

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Tea Reading List – A Few of Our Favorite Books

We’ve been posting regularly for a couple years now and from time to time we pull quotes from some of our favorite tea books. However, it struck us recently that we haven’t pulled together a list of our favorites to share in one spot. So this post is just that, a short-list of some of our current favorite tea books. We know it will change over time but hopefully this list can be a starting point for anyone looking to increase their knowledge of tea.

A page of The Classic of Tea in Chinese. Its right up there with All the Tea in China.

One page from the original The Classic of Tea by Lu Yu

The Classic of Tea

The oldest book on our list, by far, The Classic of Tea was written by Lu Yu around 760 CE. Origininally from Hubei Province in China, Lu Yu’s book is considered the earliest book written on the subject of tea and was originally written in Chinese. Translations are around with our copy being produced in 1974 and having spent time in a public library in Illinois before being sold off and ultimately ending up in our hands. The easiest of all books on our list, The Classic of Tea has three major parts covering an introduction to tea and how its made, the equipment used to prepare tea, and a final section on brewing, drinking, and other odds and ends related to tea.

Tea Blending as a Fine Art

More of a how-to guide for the aspiring tea merchant of the 19th century, Tea Blending as a Fine Art was written in 1896 by Robert M. Walsh. As its written from the perspective of selling tea, this book covers some basics of tea before spending time on tea adulteration and what to watch out for, the importance of finding a blend that works well in the local market, and ideas for advertising in America during the 1890’s.  It also includes recipes for tea blends (no tisanes or non-tea ingredients here).

All the Tea in China

Written in 1990 by Kit Chow and Ione, All the Tea in China provides a little bit of everything though, as the name implies, much of the content of the book focuses on China. You will find a bit of history of tea in this book including its early origins, how colonial trade brought it to the west. The book even touches on tea’s role in the opium trade and tea in the US colonies. At less than 200 pages this is an easy read with a great overview of everything tea from the plant through an overview of production, and overviews of some famous Chinese teas.

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Notable People in the History of Tea

Statue of Lu Yu

Lu Yu – In Xi’an on the grounds of the Great Wild Goose Pagoda
Nat Krause
July 26, 2005, CC – 2.0

The history of tea is intertwined with religion, commerce, early notions of wellness and more. Understanding where tea has come from requires looking at the notable people who influenced the production and consumption this fine drink across the globe. Given that tea has been around for a few thousand years, there are many people to consider, from religious scholars, to corporate spies, and even accidental inventors. There are really too many, in fact, for one blog post so we’ve selected a few of our favorites to touch on briefly.

Lu Yu

As the man credited with documenting the production and consumption of tea in China, his work, The Classic of Tea, still has meaningful insights into ancient production of tea. Born in Hubei, in central China, Lu Yu lived between 733 and 804 C.E. This book gives a view into the Chinese practices around tea and its status as one of the seven necessities in life. The poems and quotes in the book are still relevant today, about 1200 years later!

Eisai

This buddist monk, also known as Eisai Zenji (or Zen Master Eisai) is credited with bringing tea seeds to Japan and planting them near Kyoto, creating the first tea farm in Japan. He is also credited with writing the first book about tea consumption in Japan during his lifetime from 1141 to 1215 C.E. His writings on tea are credited with spreading tea culture throughout Japan and setting the stage for the Japanese tea ceremony.

Robert Fortune played a critical role in the history of tea and its move to India.

Robert Fortune – An early example of corporate espionage.

Robert Fortune

As the botanist for the British East India Company, he is credited with stealing seeds and tea plants from China that where then taken to India to plant. While these initially failed, Fortune (1812 – 1880 C.E.) helped to identify the native camilia seninsis var. assamica, which is considered the backbone of Indian tea. He helped the British East India Company break the monopoly that China had on tea.

Arthur Campbell

Living from 1805 to 1874, Arthur Campbell planted camilia seninsis var. seninsis seeds in the Darjeeling region of India. Without him, the British East India Company would not have expanded tea production into Darjeeling and we would be missing a seriously good tea (see Darjeeling – The Champagne of Tea).

Thomas Sullivan

The story goes that in the early 1900’s Thomas Sullivan started sending tea samples to customers in small bags. Not knowing that this was simply meant as a convenient way to ship the tea, his customers dropped the entire bag in water, soon after complaining that the silk was too fine all the while demanding more tea bags from Mr. Sullivan. He was not the first to create it, but just make it a commercially viable design that was widely adopted. The first to patent the tea bag in the U.S where Roberta C. Watson and Mary Molaren. They were unable to turn their patent into a commercial business, but their design looks pretty similar to the modern day version minus the string to pull it out of the water.

There are so many people that have contributed to the history of tea through thousands of years and this is just a small sampling. Do you have a favorite?

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