These tea bag shaped chai sugar cookies have chai spices and tea granules baked in for an adorable tea time dessert or addition to your holiday cookie box.
Not Taylor's Version
Before the 1989 album release, Taylor Swift invited her most fervent fans over and served them chai sugar cookies. These are not those cookies, but is rather my response to not being invited to her house. Taylor, if you are reading this, I love you. These are the cookies I would make for you if I ever had the pleasure of having you over.
My chai sugar cookie (Shri's Version), is a very special recipe. The cookies are shaped like tea bags. This is of course totally optional but makes for the cutest cookies to serve at a chai party. It has a homemade chai masala spice blend that is baked into the cookie and added to the icing for layers of flavor.
Black tea adds extra depth
Another ingredient of this cookie that makes it extra special are the black tea granules that are baked right in. I tested this recipe with a batch with and without the black tea. The consensus was that I loved the batch with tea in it. It added a layer of depth, earthiness, and bitterness that really created a complex cookie.
Type of black tea to use
I specifically use CTC black tea. CTC stands for crush, tear, curl tea which are small granules. Black CTC tea is a stronger tea which will really infuse into the cookie. You can learn more here about brands of CTC I recommend and substitutes if you can't find this variety.
However if you are caffeine sensitive, you can substitute decaffeinated black tea into the recipe. Alternatively, you can leave the tea granules out completely. You won't get the same complexity but you will still get a cookie with all those warm spices from the chai masala.
Brown sugar and chai spiced icing
I hate it when the icing of a cookie is just a sugar bomb. So I crafted an icing recipe isn't just for decor. This icing is full of the same warm chai spices plus brown sugar. The brown sugar adds a caramel-y note to the icing. Plus it makes a dark brown icing which helps achieve that tea bag aesthetic.
The brown sugar is melted on the stovetop with just barely enough water to melt all the granules. The brown sugar syrup is then added to powdered sugar. This recipe calls for an almost 1:1 ratio of brown sugar to powdered sugar for the icing. The powered sugar is important as it helps the icing thicken and form a matte dry finish.
The icing consistency should look like a loose caramel. It shouldn't be super watery but rather it should slowly run from your spoon and easily spread onto the cookie. As time passes, the icing will thicken. If the icing is too thick, add water in one teaspoon increments to loosen the icing to your desired thickness. If the icing is too thin, add powdered sugar in one teaspoon increments until the icing is the desired thickness.
A great chai masala makes all the difference
This is a chai cookie so it makes sense that the chai spice that you use really matters. I use my homemade chai masala powder which toasts whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and black peppercorn and grinds them finely for fresh and potent cookie. Make sure that the chai masala you use is finely ground before adding it to the frosting or dough. This is to ensure that you don't bite into a big piece of spice in your cookie. For store bought brands, I personally love Diaspora Co's chai masala that uses ethically sourced spices that are super fresh.
Tea bag cookies are great for holiday boxes or tea parties
These cookies taste wonderful no matter what shape they are crafted into. But I do love spending the few extra dollars to purchase tea bag cookie cutter to make these cookies stand out in a holiday cookie box. These cookies are great for Christmas or Diwali boxes as they last a really long time and transport well. You can learn more about crafting your holiday box here. Tea parties or Indian chai parties are great occasions to serve these cookies as well. It is a great addition that fits aptly with the theme.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes. These cookie uses 2 tablespoons of black tea which means it has ~12g of caffeine for the entire batch of cookies.
You can make this chai sugar cookie caffeine free by buying decaffeinated black tea or alternatively leaving the tea granules out of the recipe.
Yes. When making cookies, it is important to have room temperature butter to help whip air into the butter to help make the cookie lighter in texture. If the butter is too cold, it will be too hard to whip air into and if the butter is melted it will not be in a state to trap air into it.
You can prep this cookie dough, tightly wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the freezer for up to 2 months or it will last in the fridge for 3-4 days.
This cookie will stay fresh at room temperature for up to three weeks or up to a 1-2 months if stored in the fridge. This makes it an ideal candidate for holiday cookie boxes.
You can substitute ¼ cup sweetened condensed milk for egg in this recipe.
Here is a link where you can purchase the tea bag cookie cutter. It can also serve as a gift tag cookie cutter which you can personalize with people's names.
When making the the icing, it is important for you to aim for an icing that looks like a loose caramel. It shouldn't be super watery but rather slowly run from your spoon and easily spread onto the cookie. As time passes, the icing will thicken.
If the icing is too thick, add water in one teaspoon increments to loosen the icing to your desired thickness.
If the icing is too thin, add powdered sugar in one teaspoon increments until the icing is the desired thickness.
When making chai, I recommended that you buy CTC black tea. CTC tea has small granules which when steeped leads to a strong tea that can stand up to the spices found in chai.