Sugar cookie recipe highlights use of tea leaves

This innovative recipe uses tea leaves in sugar cookies instead of salt and pepper.


Dough should be rolled out to a thickness of 1/3 inch, cut into circular cookies and arranged 1/4 of an inch apart on the cookie sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for eight to 10 minutes.

Felicia Heykoop, Writer

I know I have been pressuring my readers to experiment with spices when following my recipes. But really, it is time to take my own advice –– or rather, the advice of one of my blog readers. A while back, I made a batch of salt and pepper sugar cookies that were to die for, and a reader who I did not know (and if you are a blogger, you know how monumental that moment was –– that is, to receive a comment from someone who isn’t your mom or your roommate) suggested I use tea leaves instead of salt and pepper. I wish I had the lack of integrity to take credit for this genius baking revelation but alas, I do not. This one is thanks to you, “Stevemarket.”

As a word of caution with sugar cookies, remember that patience is a virtue and ultimately the only way these cookies will be made. The dough needs to be refrigerated for an hour before baking. This step cannot be skipped, as it is the only way to get the dough to cooperate when rolling it out. You also need a rolling pin, or anything that resembles its shape, and a hard surface, such as a table or counter top. I thank my brother Micah for the wonderful Christmas gift of a marble pastry slab, purchased on sale at Sur La Table.

To make these cookies, you will need:

For cookies:
1 stick (8 oz.) unsalted butter at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
⅛ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder

For rolling mix:
2 or 3 bags (or 3 teaspoons of finely ground loose leaf) of Earl Grey or English Breakfast tea
pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons flour

  1. Make the dough by beating the butter, sugar and salt with an electric mixer at medium speed until fluffy, about two minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture in three stages, beating at low speed after each addition until combined. Divide dough in half and flatten each portion into a disc. Wrap each disc in plastic wrap and refrigerate one hour.
  2. Make the rolling mix: cut open the tea bags and dump the leaves into a bowl. Whisk in the remaining ingredients.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper if you have it, or grease with regular vegetable shortening though not butter flavored. Remove the dough from the refrigerator and unwrap. Sprinkle the rolling mix onto your rolling surface, your hands and rolling pin so that the surface is evenly coated. Do not use all the rolling mix at once. Flatten one of the discs between your palms, place on surface and sprinkle with more rolling mix before you roll out the dough. Aim for ⅓ inch thickness. If you have trouble with the dough getting too sticky, ball it up again and start over. Sometimes all it needs is a little heat to get going. Cut with a circular cookie or biscuit cutter. Re-roll the scraps until you have cut out all the cookies you can.
  4. Arrange the cookies at least ¼ of an inch apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake until edges are just golden brown, about eight to 10 minutes. Transfer sheet to cooling rack and let cool completely.

The best way to enjoy these cookies is with, you guessed it, tea. The sweetness is tempered by the earthiness of the tea and the salt.

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