Last updated on May 2nd, 2016
Yesterday, if only for the sake of experiment, I ground up some citrus-y Earl Grey tea leaves in the food processor. Then I added the leaves and a splash of rose water to a standard butter-cookie dough. The result of this crazy adventure? Pure heaven!
A note about Earl Grey tea. This flavored black tea has been around since the 1820s. Its gorgeous citrus scent comes from the oil of the rind of the bergamot orange. The tea is available in most supermarkets. For the best taste and aroma, I always select the loose version, which comes in a can. Bagged teas, in my experience, are stale and weak.
In the bowl of a food processor, add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 honking tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves. Pulse the machine 10 times or so just to break up the leaves.
Next, drop 6 tablespoons unsalted, room-temperature butter into the work bowl of your standing mixer. Attach the paddle attachment.
No standing mixer for you?
Use a big bowl and a hand-held electric beater.
No hand-held electric beater for you?
Use a big bowl and a stout spoon, just as all bakers did prior to 1920.
Ah, the 1920s. The era of speakeasies. And prohibition.
It was a dreadful decade.
Fling 1/2 cup sugar on top of the butter…
And beat the two at medium speed until light and fluffy — about 4 minutes.
With the mixer running at low speed, add 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract…
And, if you have it, 1/2 teaspoon rose water. Culinary-grade rose water is available at gourmet food shops, Indian markets, and from online sources. You can use it to perfume your cakes and custards. You can even use it to perfume yourself. Just dab it on your wrists, like I never do.
And the flour-and-tea mixture. Beat just until the dough comes together.
Wrap the tea-speckled dough in plastic, and let it chill in the fridge for 1 hour.
Now lightly flour your work surface (a sheet of canvas for me), and roll the dough to a thickness of 1/8-inch.
Press out the cookies with a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter…
And place them 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Then pop the sheet into the fridge, and let the cookies chill for 10-15 minutes. Chilled biscuits won’t spread in the oven.
Meanwhile, place the oven rack at the lower-third position, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake until the edges of the cookies feel dry — 12-15 minutes. Let them cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a rack for further cooling.
And inhale deeply! The citrus-y scent will send you over the moon.
In summer, you might like to serve these biscuits along with lemonade, orange juice, or very expensive champagne. During cool weather, you will probably want to enjoy them as did…
Alongside a steaming hot pot of (Earl Grey) tea.
Folks, these cookies are heaven on earth. I hope you’ll try them some day.
As promised, here’s a printer-friendly copy-and-paste version of the above recipe. (Don’t know how to copy and paste? Watch this video.)
Fragrant Earl Grey Cookies
Kevin Lee Jacobs (www.kevinleejacobs.com)
Ingredients for about 2 dozen 2-inch-diameter biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon culinary-grade rose water (optional)
1 large egg
Special Equipment: A food processor; a standing mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment (or use hand-held electric beaters); a parchment-lined baking sheet; a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter
Put the flour, baking powder, salt and tea leaves in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10 times just to break up the leaves.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in any large bowl, if you are using hand-held electric beaters), add the butter and sugar. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy — about 4 minutes. With the machine running at low speed, beat in the vanilla and optional rose water, the egg, and the tea mixture. Increase speed to medium, and beat just until the dough comes together — 30 seconds to 1 minute. Enclose the dough in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.
On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the dough 1/8-inch thick. Use the biscuit cutter to press out cookies, placing them as you go on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
When you are ready to bake, set the oven rack at the lower-middle position; preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake until the edges of the cookies feel dry — 12-15 minutes. The cookies will color only slightly during their sojourn in the oven. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack for further cooling.
Serve with tea, lemonade, orange juice, or champagne.
Refrigerate or freeze leftover cookies.
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Other unusual cookies you might enjoy:
Autumn Spice Cookies
Earl Grey is my favorite tea. Can’t wait to try the cookies!
Brooklyn Bob says
The cookies look great! Off to buy the right tea!
Samantha M. says
When you posted a photo of the cookie dough on facebook, I thought it contained poppy seeds. Earl Grey tea sounds much more exciting, and I do love the scent. Will make this weekend.
You know, I find even if I am not planning on baking anything (or planting anything or decorating anything or inviting anyone over to tour my garden or partake in a dinner or party…), I go to your website just for the joy of seeing what you are doing and enjoying it all.
Thank you so much! (And I will likely bake these cookies in the next few weeks, despite what it sounded like above…)
Cindy L says
Thanks for posting this Kevin I have been looking for an easy Earl Grey cookie recipe. This fits the bill!
Brenda Johnson says
Buttery, crisp and so interesting with the citrus floral essense from the tea and the rose water (I really could taste the rose component!) The tea leaves add another bit of crisp texture as well- really unusual and VERY delicious! These are cookies that will WOW anyone you make them for! Thanks for sharing Kevin!!!
Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says
Like Samantha above, my first glance at your cookies appeared to be something else. They look like the Sage Shortbread Cookies I made awhile back.
I have never heard of placing tea leaves into dough, what a novelty. I did, however, recently view a video about making Rose Water which was REALLY fascinating. The video link for cut/copy/paste was helpful! You are always broadening our horizons, Kevin, and it is greatly appreciated.
These sound great, I bet they would be good with a thin icing with some orange zest in it.
Yum!! Many years ago, a girlfriend of mine made these and some with lavender in them.. They were out of this world.. Its not a cookie that you want to grab gobs of & shove them in your mouth.. but slowly and delicately nibble to enjoy each & every tiny bit..
I’ve got to give these a try soon.. maybe today.. Thanks!
Have always loved the scent of bergamot-never realized it was a citrus. I put drops of it and sweet orange or grapefruit essential oils on my pillow-smells wonderful!
Vickie P says
I can smell them through my computer! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to making.
Jo-Anne Collis says
Well, I sure learned a lot from that article…..I will buy my tea in containers from now on….and I will certainly try this fun recipe…love experiments……speaking of which, I will be making quince jelly for the first time today and will add some cayenne pepper to it!!…Fingers crossed!
Brooklyn Bob says
Kevin, I picked up some rose water from Williams-Sonoma on my way home from work on Friday, and then made the cookies. They are terrific. Not sweet, thank goodness. Just buttery. The perfume is perfect.
Karren Haller says
Oh these look really good, I like the last comment, “not to sweet”.
I have heard of using tea in baking and seen cookies in stores but you have introduced me to another aspect of cooking using rose water, I will look for that.
I still have your Autumn Spice Cookies on my schedule to bake so I behind but I will.
Have a great week!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Brooklyn Bob – So glad you tried — and liked — the cookies!
At Christmas I always add Earl Grey Tea to a batch of my Christmas shortbread which I press out of a cookie press in the shape of a raised star and add a small slice of red or green cherries to the top. So good.
Tracey San says
Mmmm…I made an earl grey buttercream (so so good) for cupcakes once but these cookies sound perfect! Not sweet…just perfect. I will be trying these soon! Earl grey…who knew!?!? Thanks, Kevin!
Thanks again, Kevin, this sounds like a delightful recipe, which I’m about to try. And the bonus was … a couple of useful cookie tips, which I didn’t know (they don’t spread if chilled and dry round the edges means done – I always tend to overbake cookies, now I know).
Looking at your pics has made me realise I desperately need a standing mixer (can’t have too many kitchen toys). I usually use the food processor for cookies, but the mixer looks so much better.
And finally you have a rolling pin just like mine – I was told it is French style. Do you know if that’s true? Regardless, they’re the best ever rolling pins.
Keep up the amazing work. Cheers
Oh I forgot to mention that I love rose water. One of my all time favourite cakes is almond and rose water Battenberg cake. I think in the US you call them checkerboard cakes.
Interesting recipe….I learned something new from you today…the sheet of canvas as your work surface!? Love it! Never occurred to me to use canvas to work dough on. Good to know. I am an artist painter and have plenty of canvas around, too, yay! Thanks for the tip, Kevin. <3 your blog.
Hello Kevin Lee, oh how I hope to make these E. Grey cookies before Thanksgiving meal. My most favorite tea and now to have this tea with a cookie on the saucer right there with their heads up with joy to be joined together. Hope they will be around by Thanksgivings-I believe that I can see a second batch in the works before The Meal.
You are appreciated by all of us for sharing the wonders of your head and hearth and talent.
Aunt Brenda Treants
Kevin, I made these this afternoon. Having no Rose Water on hand, I added a tiny bit of lavender extract instead – scrumptious! And not being able to find my 2″ round biscuit cutter (it is hiding here somewhere…..), I used the old trick my grandmother taught me decades ago – I used an upside-down brandy glass with a 2″ diameter…. Works like a charm!
Tks for sharing but how could I make it even more fragrant (not by using more earl grey), would adding more butter help? I don’t think eggs will do magic in turning them more fragrant right?
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Jay – The cookies will be extremely fragrant if you add rose water (as mentioned in the recipe above). Alternatively, you could add the zest of 1 lemon. Enjoy!
tks for the reply and I realised you can do gardening too!!! so multi-talented, kevin!
Melissa Horton says
Waiting to roll the dough now. Thought it may make a nice gift along with some EG Tea. Thank you for the idea!
Kevin Lee Jacobs says
Hi Melissa – Enjoy!