The Aromatic Tea You Should Be Adding To Homemade Cakes And Breads

Selecting which tea to steep is a highly anticipated part of many morning rituals. Maybe you even have a designated "tea cabinet" full of options — but tea isn't just for drinking. Cakes and breads infused with tea have been enjoyed by foodies worldwide. Bara brith is a traditional Welsh tea bread made with strong black tea. Irish barmbrack bread is soaked in hot tea. In Chinese confectionery styles, there are cakes infused with Hong Kong milk tea. So, what makes this unlikely ingredient a lovely addition to making cake and bread?

Tea makes bread and cake batters less sweet and also creates a sturdier crumb. The texture is still silky and not unpleasantly dense, yet it's still strong enough to handle a smear of butter. Plus, since tea is super aromatic, it'll make your kitchen smell amazing as it bakes. But which tea is the right one to get the job done? Indeed, as even novice tea drinkers know, the options are a world unto themselves. 

In "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" (via IMDb), when Ramona Flowers asks the title character what kind of tea he wants, he responds with, "There's more than one kind?" Wonder no longer. When it comes to baking, the aromatic tea you should be adding to homemade cakes and breads is Earl Grey. Here's why.

Give the Earl a whirl

Earl Grey is a mixture of bergamot and black tea, sometimes with orange peel. It's perhaps most famously correlated with England and the world of British teatime; after all, the tea is named after a 19th-century British Prime Minister, and it's the principal ingredient in London Fog lattes. However, Earl Grey's fanbase is worldwide. Artisanal ice cream giant Van Leeuwen makes an Earl Grey flavor, and even Gourmet chocolatier Dolfin makes a dark chocolate bar infused with the flavorful tea. 

The popularity is understandable: Earl Grey offers a unique, slightly sweet, super floral flavor — and your breads and cakes could benefit from it. Just keep in mind that a little goes a long way since Earl Grey is such a strong tea. The amount can be experimented with, depending on how strong of a flavor you want to impart to your baked goods.

Per the BBC, Mary Berry of "The Great British Bake Off" adds currants and sultanas to her tea bread. But, before incorporating them into the batter, she soaks her fruit in Earl Grey tea overnight for bursts of flavor. If you'd prefer to skip the fruit, breadmaking appliance purveyor, Zojirushi recommends simply swapping out water for brewed chilled tea in your recipe. 

For added floral flavor, you could even steep some dried lavender, as well. To serve, spread with thick European butter – it's worth it to splurge on the fancy stuff. If you want to sweeten things up, you could add some honey or lemon marmalade, too.