Mussels in Fennel Tea Broth

I use fennel seeds in several of my handmade herbal tea blends. One of my favorite blends has fennel seeds, cinnamon chips, orange peel, cardamom pods and licorice root for a dose of sweetness. Another one I love to sip combines fennel seeds, ginger root, and cinnamon with refreshing peppermint leaves. But I rarely—make that never—sip fennel alone.

mussels in fennel tea brothWhen Nutrition Centre sent me a sample of Pukka Three Fennel Tea, I was pleasantly surprised. As soon as you open the box of tea, fragrant fennel wafts over you. I wasn’t sure about just sipping fennel by itself, but when steeped it mellows out and becomes a smooth, sweet and soothing herbal tea. I didn’t even know there were three kinds of fennel. Pukka’s blend includes wild bitter fennel (which tastes slightly bitter and is similar in flavor to celery seeds), sweet fennel (the kind you’re most likely used to buying from a spice shop, with an anise flavor), and fennel leaf (the dried fronds from a fennel root stalk, with more of an herbal, fresh fennel flavor). The combination of three types of fennel is lovely and tastes much better than steeping just the sweet fennel seeds I have in my spice cabinet.

pukka three fennel herbal teaDon’t get me wrong, Pukka Three Fennel is lovely to sip as a tea, but as soon as I sipped it I couldn’t help imagine using the infusion as a flavorful broth. Mussels immediately came to mind. But I’ve never made mussels before, so it became a bit of a challenge to conquer. The challenge quickly faded when I learned how easy mussels are to make: get mussels from a seafood counter you trust; sauté a few aromatics in butter; add a dash of wine and broth (or in this case, fennel tea); throw in the mussels for a few minutes; and enjoy a gorgeous meal. It’s really that easy.

fennel tea brothHappy cooking and sipping!

P.S. Many thanks to Nutrition Centre for sending me several samples of Pukka’s herbal tea blends to play around with in my Tea Foodie kitchen!

Mussels in Fennel Tea Broth

By Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie

Makes 2 entrée portions or 4 appetizer portions


2 pounds mussels

6 Pukka Three Fennel Tea herbal tea bags

1¼ cups just boiled water

3 tablespoons butter, divided

1 large shallot, sliced

3 to 4 cloves garlic, minced

1 stalk celery, diced small

1 fully-cooked chicken sausage, diced small

½ cup white wine

salt and pepper to taste

¼ cup chopped parsley

1 baguette


  1. Soak the mussels in cold water for about 30 minutes to rinse out any sand and grit. Strain and scrub any dirt from the outside of the mussels. Throw out any mussels that have opened.
  2. While the mussels are soaking, steep the Pukka Three Fennel herbal tea bags in boiled water for at least 15 minutes. Six tea bags may sound like a lot, but you really want a concentrated fennel tea flavor here.
  3. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large, wide sauté pan over medium heat. Add shallots and cook for a few minutes until softened. Stir in the garlic, celery and sausage and continue cooking for another 5 minutes. Add the steeped fennel tea (discard the tea bags) and wine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a low simmer for about 10 to 15 minutes. This will reduce the liquid a bit and help the flavors meld together.
  4. Carefully add the mussels to the simmering broth, spreading them out if possible into one layer. Cover and cook for 5 to 8 minutes or until all of the mussels open up. Holding the lid down tight, gently swirl or shake the pan a few times to stir the mussels and distribute the liquid.
  5. When the mussels are done, remove pan from heat. Cut the last tablespoon of butter into a four pieces and drop each piece into the broth in different spots in the pan. Transfer mussels and broth to a large bowl and sprinkle with parsley. Serve with the baguette for sopping up the delicious broth.

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