In case you were not aware, I have a bit of a thing for tea. I love tea, of all varieties. I do not discriminate – fruit tea to herbal to rooibos to a good old cup of breakfast tea – it’s all good. I even have a cupboard specifically for the tea, as there are so many of them.
One thing I am particular about is the quality of my tea. I want it to look like tea, as in the leaves of a tea plant. When it is brewing in the teapot I want the leaves to unfurl and expand and become lusciously plump, imparting their lovely flavour into the water along the way. What I absolutely don’t want is a limp tea bag full of bits that look like they have been swept off the floor of a hamster cage.
Loose leaf tea is often the answer, although be careful, not all loose teas are created equal – I received a new teapot for Christmas and in the box was a sample of a loose leaf tea (the teapot is specifically designed for loose leaf tea). What a disappointment when I opened the sachet to find what looked like mini wood chippings. It was not what I would call loose leaf tea.
Sometimes loose leaf tea isn’t practical and a tea bag is called for.
Again, not all are created equal. The silky pyramid tea bags from teapigs contain loose leaf tea that plump up and fill the bag just like it does in the pot. Needless to say I have been a fan of this brand for a while.
Contained in the box of goodies that the lovely people at teapigs sent me was a box of their Darjeeling tea and Darjeeling earl grey tea. Whilst I have tried many of the teapigs teas, these were two that I had yet to taste.
Having done so, there is no turning back. Darjeeling tea is now my favourite of all the teas. Described as the poshest of teas (to quote “pinkies out, bone china cups and saucers, silk neck scarf and snorty laugh at the ready”) it has a unique, clean and refreshing taste. It is recommended to drink it without milk and with a slice of lemon instead, but I like to throw caution to the wind and add a little splash of milk (no lemon, just in case you were wondering). For me, Darjeeling is what tea should taste like, without the harsh malty-ness of Assam found in many blended teas.
The Darjeeling earl grey was also a revelation. I have had earl grey tea in the past and the bergamot flavour has been quite strong and bitter, almost artificial and I have to add a little bit of honey to help even things out. Not so with this one. The bergamot flavour comes from Italy and they add little cornflower petals to add nothing more than pretty little flecks of blue in amongst the tea. It is a delicate flavour that is very enjoyable to drink.
It may seem sacrilegious to use these teas in a tea loaf, but tea loaf was one of my favourite treats in my gluten-glut days, so why not use my favourite tea in a tea-time favourite? Makes sense to me.
The dried fruit is soaked in the tea for at least an hour, so that they become plump and juicy and infused with tea flavour. Just leave the tea bag, fruit and water to do their thing for a while. Don’t mix, smash, mash, prod, jiggle or squish it in order to make it hurry up. Just let it do its thing (please also apply this way of thinking to your tea making – let the tea bag swim on its own for 3-5 minutes, don’t smash it with a teaspoon, it makes me cross).
Once you have your plump fruit, mix it into the batter, pour into a tin, bake, allow to cool, and voila! Tea loaf. Perfect for rainy days and sunny picnics.
PS – traditionally tea loaf is spread with butter, but this is a moist tea loaf so I find it doesn’t need it, however, you are you and if you want to put butter on it, then do so.
PPS – don’t forget you can get 10% off your teapig purchases with the code pinkrose until the end of August.
Darjeeling Tea Loaf
- 2/3 cup raisins
- 1/3 cup sultanas
- 1/3 cup dried unsweetened cherries, you can use glace cherries if you prefer.
- 1 teapigs Darjeeling tea bag or Darjeeling earl grey tea bag
- Boiling water
- 1/2 cup sweet rice flour
- 1/4 cup ground almonds
- 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
- 1/4 cup sorghum flour
- 1/4 cup millet flour
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar, or soft light brown sugar
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 large egg
- 1/4 cup oil
- 30ml unsweetened apple sauce
- 30ml honey
- 3/4 – 1 cup of the soaking liquid from the fruits and tea.
- Place the raisins, sultanas and dried cherries (if using glace cherries, don’t soak them) in a bowl with the tea bag. Pour over enough boiling water to just cover the fruit (gently submerge the tea bag if needed), cover the bowl with cling film and leave for at least an hour.
- Pre-heat the oven to 175 Celsius / 155 Fan / 350 Fahrenheit. Grease and line a 1 lb loaf tin with non stick baking parchment.
- Mix together the flours, ground almonds, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a bowl.
- In a separate bowl mix whisk together the egg, oil, apple sauce and honey.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix until combined.
- Drain the fruit, reserving a cup of the liquid. Add the fruit to the batter and stir to distribute (it may sink to the bottom a little).
- Gradually add the reserved soaking liquid, you may not need it all. The batter should be fairly loose but not runny or it will not bake properly.
- Pour into the prepared tin and bake in the centre of the oven for 45 – 55 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Store in an air-tight container.
© The Pink Rose Bakery 2014
Adapted from my Date & Raisin Breakfast Loaf