I usually sell out of my Zanitea Indian Rose tea blend when I sample these cookies at my market booths. I get asked for the recipe so often that I had it printed on recipe cards to give to anyone who purchases the tea.
The tea blend itself is a rich Assam tea combined with beautiful pink rose petals. The rose balances the black tea, so the brewed cup is smooth and bold with just a hint of floral. Both ingredients happen to come from India, hence the blend’s name.
This recipe is based on a super easy one I found on FoodNetwork.com as an Earl Grey tea shortbread cookie. I’ve found some great cooking with tea recipes on Food Network’s web site. Turns out, Emeril Lagasse, Bobby Flay and Tyler Florence all use tea as an ingredient in their kitchens, too.
After rounds of testing, I’ve discovered that the key ingredient to this recipe is not actually the tea. While the tea is unique and looks pretty speckled throughout the cookie, the flavor of the tea is actually coaxed out by the use of an extract or flower water. In this recipe I use rose water, which you can find in a spice shop, herbal store, Middle Eastern market or Whole Foods. My favorite place to buy extracts and flower waters is Savory Spice Shop.
An extract will be stronger in flavor than flower water, so I adjusted the measurements accordingly in the variations included at the end of the recipe, which I added to show how these cookies can be made with other teas, herbs and flavorings.
Sipping a cup of the brewed tea alongside the cookie also helps bring out the flavor of the tea ingredient. Be warned, though, it is impossible to eat just one.
Happy cooking and sipping!
Here’s a quick visual journey through the recipe preparation:
Indian Rose Shortbread Cookies
Adapted By Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie from Claire Robinson, Food Network
Makes about 30 cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Zanitea Indian Rose loose leaf tea (or other blend of black tea and rose petals)
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons rose water
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1. In a food processor, pulse together the flour, loose leaf tea, and salt, until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. Add the confectioners’ sugar, rose water, and butter. Pulse together just until a dough forms.
2. Place the dough on a large pastry mat or cutting board. With your hands, roll the dough into a log, about 1½ inches in diameter. Cut the log in half (so it’s easier to handle) and wrap each half in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Slice the chilled logs into disks, about 1/3-inch thick. Place disks on parchment lined baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Bake until the edges are just brown, about 15 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool completely. Serve with a cup of the black tea and rose blend.
- The dough tends to be quite soft, so the circular log gets a flat bottom as it sits in the fridge. Instead, I like to create edges to the log so that I end up with attractive square-shaped cookies.
- Make ahead: After step 2, you can leave the dough in the refrigerator overnight to bake the next day, or you can put it in an airtight bag and freeze for several months. You’ll need to defrost the dough log just enough for a sharp knife to slice the log into disks when you’re ready to bake.
This is a great base recipe to explore other cookie flavors. In place of the black tea with rose petals blend and rose water, try one of these variations:
- Earl Grey: Use Earl Grey tea leaves and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Or, try it with 1 teaspoon orange extract (or 2 teaspoons orange water) to further highlight the bergamot flavor in the Earl Grey tea. Serve with Earl Grey tea.
- Lavender: Use lavender flowers and either 1 teaspoon lavender extract or 2 teaspoons lavender water. Serve with Earl Grey tea or another floral-inspired tea blend.
- Cardamom: Use 1 tablespoon ground cardamom and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. This version is very cardamom-y, which I love, so feel free to adjust the cardamom amount down a bit if desired. Serve with a chai tea blend.