Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce

Add some intrigue with an Earl Grey infused cranberry sauce this Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, so it is time to start planning what is considered one of most important meals in America. For tea lovers, it is a chance to use our favorite beverage in several dishes to highlight how it adds depth and flavor you will not find with other ingredients. For me, freshly made cranberry sauce is a requirement. It probably has more to do with the fact that it is the key ingredient in my favorite coffee cake from childhood than anything else, but it also brightens up the presentation of the other food, like turkey. So let’s jump right into making one of the easiest side dishes in the Thanksgiving meal.

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Ingredients

1 12oz package of fresh cranberries (look in the produce section)
1 cup of water
4 grams (Rounded Tablespoon) of Earl Grey Tea
1 cup of sugar
1 tsp of fresh orange zest (optional)

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Equipment

Glass measuring cup for at least 2 cups
Container to refrigerate the cranberry sauce in
1 quart pot and lid
Strainer for tea
Oven mitts
Long handled spoon for stirring
Micro-planer to zest the orange

Earl Grey Infused Cranberry Sauce: Steps

Cooking this recipe only takes about 15 minutes and requires you to be focused on the sauce in the pot, so you will notice a lot of these steps are focused on preparing to cook. Skip them at your own risk.

  1. Empty the package of cranberries into the colander and rinse under water. Now is your one chance to sort through them, remove any stems that may still be there, and remove any bad cranberries. Bad cranberries are cranberries that are soft and wrinkled or have soft spots on them. You do not want these in your sauce as they will ruin the flavor and can make you sick.
  2. Once you have sorted your cranberries, pour them in the pot and add sugar and put the pot on the stove. DO NOT turn on the burner yet.
  3. Start your kettle for the water for tea. While the kettle is heating up you can put your tea in the glass measuring cup and get out the container, long handled spoon, spatula, timer and oven mitts and put them by the stove where you can get to them quickly.
  4. Add the boiling water to the tea and steep for 5 minutes. Remember you only need 1 cup of water.
  5. When the 5 minutes are up, pour the water through the strainer straight into the pot with the cranberries and water. Turn on the burner now to high and use your long handled spoon to stir in any sugar that did not get into the tea.
  6. Set your timer to 10 minutes and put on your oven mitts to protect your arms from splash back from the popping cranberries. Once you hear your first cranberry pop, start the timer and start stirring. The goal is to allow the sauce to come up to a rolling boil while you are stirring. Once you have that boil, drop the heat down to medium and keep stirring. You are only stirring for 10 minutes and it does not need to be a vigorous stir. Just keep the cranberries and liquid moving. If you want more of jelly consistency to your sauce, squash the popped cranberries with back of your spoon against the side of the pan as you stir. If you like whole cranberry sauce, just stir.
  7. When the timer is up, turn off the burner and take the pan off the heat. This is when,if you want, you will add the orange zest by running the micro-planer lightly over the outside of the orange. The goal is to get as much of the orange skin without the white pith underneath. You are looking for a tsp, which is find is about 3-4 passes over the orange based on its size. I just zest over the sauce and stir.
  8. Pour the sauce into your storage container and leave the lid off to allow the sauce to come down to room temperature. Once at room temperature, put the lid on and put it into the refrigerator. If you do not have time for this, you can put on the lid and put it into the refrigerator, just realize that condensation will form on the inside of the container which may cause your sauce to be more runny than you want.

When the sauce cools down (it will take a few hours), have a taste. The bergamot oil will be present, but not overwhelming. It makes for a nice change to traditional dish.

Want to go all out this Thanksgiving with tea infusions? Check out Irish Soda Bread, Matcha Salad Dressing, and Matcha Green Tea Ice Cream for dessert!


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Chinese Almond Cookies

Almond cookies are a traditional Chinese treat with tea.

Plate of Chinese New Year inspired almond cookies.

The Chinese New Year gives us an excuse to try out more Chinese recipes that pair well with tea, including Chinese Almond Cookies. These cookies resemble American sugar cookies, only with less sugar, and make a great snack to go along with any pot of tea. Traditionally, these are a very popular Chinese sweet and are usually given as gifts to friends and family as part of holiday celebrations. The almond is considered to give good health and lucky to the recipient.

Chinese Almond Cookies (Makes 2 dozen)


  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp of almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup of Almond meal
  • 1 cup of flour (I used an unbleached pastry flour for the cookies in the picture)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 24 whole almonds
  • Egg wash (1 egg beat with a tablespoon of water)


  1. Almond cookie dough rolled into small balls before baking.

    Almond cookies ready to go in the oven.

    Beat in a mixer the butter and sugar.  This may require scraping down the sides of the bowl to ensure the sugar is fully incorporated into the butter.

  2. Mix in the salt, almond extract and egg.
  3. Mix in the almond meal, baking soda and flour.
  4. Scrap out the batter onto plastic wrap or wax paper and form into a ball.  Put into the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.  Prepare the egg wash by beating together 1 egg with a tablespoon of water (this is going to create a lot more than you need, but you can turn the leftover into a quick omelette or freeze the remaining for future use as an egg wash)
  6. When ready, pull the dough from the refrigerator and form into a long log.  Cut the log into 24 equal sized pieces and form those pieces into balls.
  7. These cookies will expand a little, so limit the number of cookies on a tray to 12.  Place the balls onto either parchment paper or a silmat on a cookie sheet and then flatten with the bottom of a cup.  Place a whole almond in the center and then brush with the egg wash.
  8. Put the cookies into the oven for 15 minutes or until a nice light brown color appears around the edge.  Pull out of the oven and put on a wire rack to cool before serving.

These sweet cookies make a great addition to an afternoon pot of tea or an after dinner cup of tea.

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Tea Eggs and the Chinese Spring Festival

The lunar new year is fast approaching and with it a chance to look into the Chinese culture and find new ways to use tea. The Spring Festival, which used to be the Chinese New Year, was renamed in 1913 when the Communist Party took over China and put the country on the Gregorian calendar (this is our modern calendar which was introduced in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII). The Spring Festival corresponds with the lunar new year, which starts this year on February 19th. In Chinese culture, It is considered a time for cleaning, gathering of families and celebrating a fresh start.

Like every family gathering, no matter which country you live in, there is plenty of food. A typical dish, which uses tea in a unique way, are Chinese tea eggs. These are basically spiced hard boiled eggs. The combination and concentration of spices are unique to every family. So while I use one combination below, feel free to modify for your taste.

Chinese Tea Eggs Spicing

Spicing for Chinese Tea Eggs

Chinese Tea Eggs

  • 6 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons of Soy Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Black or Puerh Tea (traditionally this is made with Puerh)
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • ½ tablespoon anise seeds (3 to 4 Star Anise if you happen to have a good spice shop nearby)
  • 1 tablespoon dried orange peel
  • ½ tablespoon peppercorns

You will need tongs, a bowl with ice and water to cool the eggs and a spoon to crack their shells.

Place the eggs in sauce pan or large pot. You will want the pot big enough to hold the eggs in a single layer and allow you to pour in enough water to cover the eggs entirely. Place the eggs in the pot and fill it with water. Bring the water to a boil and then lower to simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove the eggs from the water and put into the bowl with ice water. This will cool the eggs enough for you to handle them without burning yourself.

Chinese Tea Eggs

Completed Tea Eggs

Assuming none of the eggs broke during the initial cooking, just leave the water in the pot as you will be putting the eggs back in it. If one did, drain out the water, it will be foamy, wipe out the pot and fill with fresh water. Pull an egg out of the ice water and use a spoon to crack the egg shell. You are trying to make a lot of small cracks without removing the shell. Don’t worry if you lose part of the shell, just crack the entire shell then place the egg back in the pot. Do this to the remaining eggs.

Once all the eggs are back in the pot, add in the soy sauce, tea and spices. Add more water if necessary to get the liquids above the eggs. Turn the heat back on and bring the water up to a small simmer and allow to cook for at least 2 hours, if you want a darker web on your eggs you can simmer up to 3 hours.

This makes a salted and slightly spicy hard-boiled egg that is also colored by the tea and soy sauce.

Enjoy the lunar new year with a new way to use tea.

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Black Tea Risotto

As winter seems to keep coming earlier than I want, I went into the kitchen looking for something warm, soothing, and filling. Nothing fits that bill like risotto. Now, I will admit I am usually looking for ways to make the everyday recipes my own and that is why I thought to replace the traditional stock in this dish with tea.

In figuring out which tea to use, it is helpful to remember that risotto gets its creaminess from both the butter added at the end of cooking and the starch released from the rice during cooking. So whatever tea is chosen needs to hold up against dairy and nothing does that better than a good strong black tea. I am sure an Assam black tea or Yunnan would have done fine, but I opted for one of our favorites, Kosabei TGFOP, a black tea from Kenya with both a malty flavor and slightly floral notes.

Experiments with Risotto using Black Tea

Black Tea as Stock for Risotto

Black Tea Risotto

  • 4-6 tablespoons room temperature butter*
  • 6½ cups water
  • 1½ tsps of Kosabei TGFOP (Yunnan Sunrise, Classic Assam, or other bold black tea would work too)
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1½ cups Arborio rice or another short grained rice
  • 1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

*You can use oil, just use a lighter oil like corn or safflower, olive oil will overpower the tea flavor

First you will need to brew up your tea. Using a small stock pot or sauce pan, bring 6 ½ cups of water to a boil. Once it reaches a boil take the pot off the burner and then drop in all the tea. Allow the leaves to steep for 5 minutes and then pour everything through a strainer into a pitcher. Wipe any residual leaves out of the pot and then return the liquid to the pot. Put it over low heat so it stays warm while you are cooking the risotto. The best way to guarantee success with risotto is having warm liquid to pour over the rice.

Dice the onion into small pieces. Put a medium to large sauce pan (2 quarter sauce pan will give you more room to stir) on the stove at high heat. Put in 2 tablespoons of the butter and allow to melt. Add the onion to the butter and allow to cook for 3 to 5 minutes (the onions should look translucent). Stir periodically so your onions don’t brown. Then add the rice to the pan and cook for another 3-5 minutes. Stir occasionally to get the butter over all the rice and to evenly incorporate the onion. If using Arborio rice, when the kernels become clear around the edges it is the signal to start adding the tea.

Using a ladle, scope in one ladle of the tea and then stir until the liquid disappears. Then add the next ladle and repeat. Keeping going until you have roughly ½ cup left of the tea. Your rice should look plump and by in a slightly creamy sauce (it should not look soupy and the rice kernels should be apparent). Now add in the remaining butter 1 tablespoon at a time. If you cut the tablespoon into quarters it will melt faster. Also, this is where it is time to take a small taste of the risotto and see if you like the creaminess. It is not necessary to add all four tablespoons, it is more of a personal preference. Next, stir in the cup of cheese until it is fully incorporated.

Black tea risotto with some peas and garnish.

The Finished Black Tea Risotto Dish

Now is the time to judge if the remaining ½ cup of tea is necessary. If the risotto is looking dry, try adding a little at a time until it looks shiny. You can also skip the last half cup and save it for the morning if you like the taste of the risotto and how it looks. Salt and pepper to taste and if you want you can stir in ½ to ¾ cup of your favorite vegetable and a couple teaspoons of herbs (rosemary and green peas is one of my favorite combinations in this dish).

I was surprised at how the warm malty flavor of a good black tea adds unique note to this creamy dish. Not to mention, it turns it a warm wheat brown color almost like a loaf of bread. I hope this inspires you to try using tea in one of your favorite recipes.

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Matcha: Drink Your Tea and Eat it Too (Part II)

Photo of a single matcha green tea cookie.

Matcha Green Tea Cookie

I left off the last matcha blog with green tea ice cream.  However, there are many other ways to use matcha in cooking.

The first recipe is salad dressing.  Matcha adds a surprising kick to salad dressing, that even my five year old likes. Since you are making the salad dressing you can adjust the number of servings below to what suits your needs.  If you store this overnight in the fridge, it will separate, so store in a container where you can shake it back into its intended form before pouring over your next salad.

Matcha Salad Dressing

Serving Size 2

2 tsp. matcha

¼ cup olive or avocado oil (if you keep around other oils, walnut oil is surprising good as well)

2 tbsp. rice vinegar

½ tbsp. soy sauce

½ tbsp. lemon juice (lime juice also works here)

Start by whisking all the ingredients together except the matcha.  Then whisk in the matcha about a ½ tsp. at a time.  It may clump on you so whisk hard (or if you have one of those nifty salad dressing containers with a tight lid, shake hard).  Allow the dressing to sit for about 5-10 minutes before pouring, it allows the matcha to really incorporate its flavor.

This next recipe is for cookies.  This one took a while to get right.  I learned that matcha does not play well with most flours.  Its grassy flavor has a tendency to amplify the wheat like flavor of most pastry flours so you end up with very bland cookies that are also not that sweet.  So here I thought I would make a shortbread cookie and ended up with more of a snickerdoodle type cookie to get the tea flavor I wanted.  The recipe below includes an option for chocolate chips as my son, as one of taste testers, firmly believes it isn’t a real cookie without chocolate chips.

Matcha Cookies -With or Without Chocolate Chips

Photo of matcha green tea cookie dough in the blender.

Batter for Matcha Green Tea Cookies

2 tbsp. matcha

1 ½ cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks)

2 tsps. cream of tartar

2 eggs

1 tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. baking powder

¼ tsp. salt

2 ½ – 2 ¾ cup Brown Rice Flour

Turbinado sugar for topping (large granules, raw cane sugar)

Oven temperature:  375 degrees Fahrenheit

Bake time: 7-8 minutes per tray, makes around 3-4 dozen cookies

Photo of twelve freshly baked matcha green tea cookies.

Tray of Matcha Green Tea Cookies

Start by putting the matcha and sugar into your mixer or whisk together by hand.  This needs to be mixed until all the sugar is uniformly the same color green.  This will kick up a lot of dust, so put this on the lowest setting your mixer will go.  This step is critical to getting a uniform green cookie, otherwise you will end up cookies with green streaks in them, which is not very attractive. Next drop in the butter in half stick increments and beat until the butter is uniformly green.  You will need to stop mixing and scrap down the sides and the beater to make sure the sugar uniformly gets into all the butter.  Next put in the cream of tartar and the eggs.  Follow with the baking soda, baking powder, salt and then flour.  Incorporate the flour in ¼ – ½ cup increments.  Once you get to 2 cups in the mixer watch closely as you go to incorporate your last ½ – ¾ cup as you do not want the batter to get too dry.  The batter should remain shiny and sticky to both the beater and sides of the bowl.  Scrap down the sides one last time to ensure all flour is in and then pour out onto wax paper.  As this point, you can cover the mound of dough in wax paper and put in the fridge for 30 minutes to an hour to harden (less stickiness to work with).  If the sticky dough doesn’t bother you, pinch out about two tablespoons size amount and roll around in a ball and then lightly roll in a bowl with turbinado sugar.  Press the ball flat into about a ¼ – ½ inch thick cookie.  Leave a good inch to two inches in between cookies as these spread as they cook.  No more than 12 cookies per tray.  Place in the oven for about 7-8 minutes, you should see light brown around the bottom edges of most of the cookies on the tray.  When you pull the cookies out of the oven allow them to cool on the tray – about 10-15 minutes.  The dough stores well in the refrigerator or freezer, so you do not need to make all the cookies at once. Just keep wrapped in the wax paper and in a container so it doesn’t pick up odors from other items in the refrigerator.

Optional:  Chocolate chips – if you are going to put these in the full batter, use about ¾ to 1 cup of chips, and 1 tsp. of vanilla extract.  I split the batter and mix in the chips to half of the batter, so I use about ½ cup and ½ tsp. of vanilla extract.

I hope these recipes inspire you to also explore eating your tea too.

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