In the last few months, tea-flavored desserts have seemed to pop up everywhere I have gone. From vegan matcha-flavored mochis at Trader Joe’s (try them out- I think they’re pretty good!) to green-tea flavored ice cream at a local Thai restaurant, I have been seeing tea-flavored sweets everywhere. But what really shocked me a couple weeks ago was seeing green tea-flavored Kit-Kat bars at World Market. How did such a healthful plant make its way into a highly processed, sugary candy bar? Seeing these green Kit-Kats made it clear to me that tea-flavored sweets are all the rage, and with good reason- they’re delicious! So, if you’re like me and you not only demand healthful desserts, but you also love making them, this post will help you to incorporate tea flavors into your own desserts.
For starters, here are a few tips:
- Balance your flavor profile to harmonize with your tea.
We’ll talk about flavor pairings soon, but to start off, know that a well-balanced dish has five basic flavors: fat, acid, salt, sweet, and bitter. A dish that is completely lacking in any of these elements can taste flat. Consequently, a small amount of salt can lift a dessert, and a small amount of sweetness can make a savory dish “pop”.
When your flavors are balanced well, bitterness can add dimension to a dessert. For, in chocolate, bitter cocoa cuts the sweetness of chocolate and balances out the fatty flavor, allowing these three flavors harmonize well. Since most teas confer a slight bitterness to dishes (notably, rooibos does not), it is important to account for the bitterness of tea by balancing out the other flavors. If you feel that the flavor profile is off, try adjusting one of these elements.
- When you want a stronger tea flavor, use more leaves in less water- don’t over-steep your tea leaves!
An over-brewed green or black tea will become bitter and ruin the flavor of your dessert. Be sure to follow the instructions for brewing your tea properly!
- When you want green tea flavor but cannot use water in your recipe, matcha is a wonderful option.
Here’s an example: if you have ever tempered your own chocolate, you know that even a drop of water can cause your chocolate to “bloom”- that is, become white, waxy, and have an odd texture. Therefore, adding only dry ingredients to your chocolate mixture is crucial. You can make green tea-flavored chocolate by replacing cacao powder with matcha! I have tried this, and the result is wonderful.
Matcha is versatile because it is so finely milled, and it helps your mixtures and batters to maintain smooth, silky textures so you get that wonderful, melt-in-your-mouth finished product. Also, since you are using a pure tea rather than tea leaves steeped in water, you can achieve bolder flavors with matcha.
To use matcha, make sure you have a fine whisk that is suitable for mixing matcha. Pick up a bamboo whisk and matcha at Loose Leaf Tea Market!
Now, you’re probably wondering what flavors pair well with each type of tea, so below is a guide to get you started. Please keep in mind that these are general guidelines and are far from comprehensive. I think that experimentation is the best way to find amazing flavor combinations, so get creative and have fun!
Rooibos: This tea has a naturally sweet note and is very low in bitter tannins. Therefore, it stands well on its own and is incredibly versatile in desserts. Try pairing rooibos with tropical flavors like coconut, mango, pineapple, or lychee. Rooibos also blends well with drupes like cherries and plums, as well as berries like strawberries. And of course, you can always add rooibos to chocolate desserts.
Our pick: Hawaiian Colada Rooibos
White Tea: This tea has a very subtle flavor and is best paired with other subtle tastes. Try adding mild melon flavors, like watermelon and honeydew, to your white tea dessert creations. It also pairs well with other herbs, like mint and basil. For instance, blend frozen melons with iced white tea and mint in the summer for a delicious and refreshing slushy!
Our pick: White Peony
Green Tea: As you probably know, this tea is incredibly versatile. With its distinctive vegetal flavor, green tea helps to balance out the richness in high-fat desserts, like custards, icings, and chocolates. In addition, green tea incorporates well into fruity, floral, and mint desserts. Try adding green tea to your favorite vanilla dessert recipe, and experience how delicious it can be! Lastly, if you are feeling creative, try adding Genmaicha to your favorite coconut or rice custard recipe for a unique flavor experience!
Our pick: Uber Berry
Black Tea: This is my favorite type of tea to add to desserts. The earthiness of black tea contrasts well with citrus fruits like lemon, orange, or lime and dark berries, like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries (you can even try a combination of black tea, berries, and citrus together). It also adds complexity to vanilla desserts and high-fat desserts. Lastly, if you want to get creative, try adding Russian Caravan or Lapsang Souchang to your favorite smoked dessert recipe.
Our pick: Blue Velvet
Oolong: If you have ever had our Coconut Cocoa Oolong, you know just how well dark oolong works with chocolate. Oolongs are versatile, as their oxidation ranges between that of green and black tea. So, depending on the type of oolong you are using, you can use the recommendations for green or black tea to compliment your tea’s flavor profile.
Our pick: Ti Quan Yin
Puehr: This extraordinary tea is both health-promoting and delicious, and you can re-steep these leaves over and over again. Its flavor is rich and earthy, and compliments chocolate, truffle, and coconut desserts extremely well.
Our pick: Bulletproof Breakfast
We hope this post was inspiring and helpful! We love hearing from you, so let us know if you try any of these ideas. And if you post your creations on Facebook or Instagram, tag us @LooseLeafTeaMarket with the hashtag #looseleaflifestyle!