Baking with Spent Tea Leaves

Posted: 12/18/2023

Baking with spent tea leaves is a creative way to infuse your baked goods with a subtle, earthy flavor while also reducing food waste. Your home will be filled with the tangy aroma of black tea and the warming scents of a cake fresh from the oven when you follow these recipe tips. Read on to explore how to use spent tea leaves to make delicious and nutritious tea-infused cakes that stay fresh longer.

This 2023 study found that incorporating spent black tea leaves in sponge cake batter made the cakes more shelf stable. The tea-infused cakes in the study had far less microbial growth than the control group even after 2 weeks of storage. This means when you bake a cake with spent tea leaves, it can stay fresh for over a week. By incorporating this unexpected ingredient, you will not only extend the shelf life of your baking, but you will also decrease food waste and have a more sustainable kitchen.

Additionally, incorporating spent tea powder in sponge cake batter increased the bake’s nutritional value. The ACS Omega study found that tea-enriched cakes contained more antioxidants, fiber, potassium and calcium than the plain cake control group. Baking with spent tea leaves can make your cakes more nutritious in addition to more flavorful and sustainable.

How can you reuse tea leaves in your home baking? After steeping tea leaves, simply rinse them with cold water and lay the leaves flat to dry in an out-of-the-way spot in your kitchen. They will dry more quickly out on the counter than they will in a cabinet. Once the tea leaves are fully dry, you can pulverize them using a spice grinder, coffee grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind the tea leaves down to a rough powder for the best cake texture.

Now that you have your spent tea leaves in a dry powder form, you can easily add them to your baking. The culinary scientists recommend adding the tea leaf powder to your baking in an amount equal to three percent of the flour the recipe calls for. This is a great tip because you can use this guiding percentage to incorporate the spent tea leaves into any of your favorite
cake recipes.

For example, if your cake calls for 1 cup of flour, you would add roughly half a tablespoon of dried and pulverized black tea leaves to the recipe. You can scale the amount of spent tea up or down using this tea-to-flour ratio as a guide. The scientists from the study recommend mixing the spent tea leaves with your dry ingredients before adding them to the cake batter.

Baking with spent tea leaves is a fantastic way to add a unique flavor to your baked goods while also reducing food waste. Incorporating the black tea leaves you would usually throw away into cake batter makes the cakes more shelf-stable and less prone to microbial growth. It also increases the cake's nutritional value. What a win-win scenario for sustainable bakers everywhere. With endless possibilities, baking with tea is a fun way to mix up your kitchen adventures and make old recipes feel new again.

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