By: Katherine Helbig
For me, the thought of tea brings to mind an icy, sweating glass, or a steaming, aromatic mug of the ancient drink. These methods of tea enjoyment are both amazing in their own right, but what happens when the creativity bug bites and people start getting a little more imaginative with their use of tea? Well, here in Madison we have a few businesses that have done just that. You can find locally made preserves that use tea as a key flavor component, and also bakeries offering tea infused baked goods.
One of the businesses that is taking advantage of tea’s unique flavor in innovative ways is the local company Quince and Apple. Their fruit preserves, as well as other beautifully crafted foods, can be found at a number of retailers in and around Madison, as well as online. Their two tea preserves feature Door County cherries alongside white tea, and figs alongside black tea.
I was able to ask one of the owners, Matt Fehsenfeld, who runs Quince and Apple with his wife, Clare, about the fruit preserves. The technique used for infusing the tea’s flavor into the preserves is much like brewing a massive pot of tea, but using the fruits as a medium for the tea flavor rather than water. The preserves at Quince and Apple are able to compliment something sweet, like a donut or pastry.
Besides pastries, Quince and Apple is known for its specialty cheeses. Fehsenfeld suggested a goat cheese along with the Figs and Black Tea, but said the Tart Cherry White Tea is better enjoyed with something lighter like ricotta or mascarpone.
Besides buying the goodies from Quince and Apple, there are other ways to infuse the flavor of your favorite brew into your own baking. Meandering through local bakeries has brought me to chai cupcakes, Earl Gray cookies, ginger peach scones, and many other tea flavored pastries.
If you were to ask how these flavors are incorporated into the sweets, you may get a variety of answers. For example, steeping the tea in the butter or milk used in a recipe, or for chai, simply using the spices that are commonly associated with chai tea like cinnamon and cloves. If you want to try your hand at creating something that will intrigue the senses more than the average cookie, here’s how you can make your very own Earl Grey Oatmeal Cookies.
Chewy Earl Grey Oatmeal Cookies
- ½ cup Earl Grey infused butter, softened
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1 large egg
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ cups rolled oats
Preheat oven to 350°F
1. In a large bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, egg, and vanilla. In another bowl, mix flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Combine the dry ingredients with the butter mixture.
2. If the dough is difficult to shape, chill it for an hour or so. Once you are able to, shape the dough into small balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet. Lightly press to flatten them before baking.
3. Bake for 10-12 minutes until just golden at the edges.
Earl Grey/Citrus-Infused Butter
- 1 stick unsalted butter at room temperature zest of one orange (this compliments the bergamot in the earl grey)
- 3 bags of your favorite Earl Grey
1. Heat a small saucepan and melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once it begins to steam a little, place the tea bags and zest into the butter and allow steeping for 5-7 minutes. Be careful not to burn the butter. You should be able to smell the tea when it is ready.
2. Pour the butter into a small bowl, squeezing any excess from the bags. Allow the butter to cool completely before creaming it; this may take a few hours.