I'm a tea drinker, and have been for a very long time. I knew I was considered one of the grownups when I was allowed to stay up late enough to drink tea with everyone else before bedtime during family visits. More often than not, you can find me relaxing with a cup of tea late in the evening. Actually, I drink tea almost any time of day. I'll occasionally drink iced tea, but most of the time it's hot tea, even in the summer. I find the whole process of making tea to be a stress reliever. It takes time to heat the water and brew the tea. You might think I would just be impatient about that, but instead it forces me to slow down and relax. I like my tea really hot to start, so you can only sip it slowly at the beginning. That's one of the things I disliked about living in Boulder. At the higher altitude, water doesn't get as hot when it boils, so the tea starts off less hot. Drove me crazy. =)
So when I read that this week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was Coffee Break Muffins, I knew what changes I was going to make. The recipe was picked by Rhiani of Chocoholic Anonymous. While I'll occasionally use coffee or espresso powder in baked goods (usually chocolate ones), I'm not that fond of items where you can actually taste the coffee. But I figured why not just use tea? In particular, chai. I've been doing a lot of baking with spices during the past few weeks, trying to will fall to arrive, even though the temperature is still consistently in the 80s and 90s around here. Hasn't really worked yet, but I'm going to keep trying. =) As part of that, I've actually made these muffins twice so far.
I have occasionally tried making chai by adding a mix of whole spices to brewing tea. But most of the time, I just use one of Stash's chai teas. My favorite for drinking is the Holiday Chai; I enjoy it year-round. I didn't use it for the muffins, though. For the first batch of muffins, I used some Double Spice Chai, figuring the extra spices would stand out more. I left out the espresso powder and added some additional spices to the batter. I kept the cinnamon, and added 1/4 teaspoon each of ground ginger and ground cardamom, as well a pinch of ground cloves. I used 1/2 teaspoon of salt. I also used half white whole wheat flour for that batch. I wasn't sure how much the muffins would rise, so I was conservative in filling the muffin tin, and ended up with a dozen regular muffins and 8 minis.
I made those muffins back at the end of August. I did take pictures, but wasn't that happy with them. Since then, I got some new stuff for pictures, in lovely fall colors. (I couldn't resist some of these towels from SLT.) So I made the muffins again. I was partway through adding the dry ingredients to the bowl when I realized that I used all AP flour for this batch. I was out of the Double Spice Chai, so I used some Chai Spice Tea for this round. I decided to increase the spices a bit, using half a teaspoon each of cinnamon, ginger and cardamom, and a pinch of cloves. Since the first batch of muffins ended up a bit short, I filled the muffin tin more this time, and just made 12 regular muffins. I baked them for 18 minutes.
The verdict? We enjoyed these muffins a lot. Brianna and Gillian ate theirs with a variety of jams; I just put some salted butter on mine, which was quite tasty. It's nice to have another muffin recipe to add to the rotation. A lot of the ones the girls like are more involved, with add-ins or toppings; I needed another "plain" option. We'll definitely be making these again, maybe trying some different teas and different spices.
Want to try these (coffee or tea) for yourself? You can find the recipe on Rhiani's blog. For everyone else's take on this recipe, check out this week's links.