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Healthy Eats and Repeat

Highlighting Food, Recipes, and Ideas for a Healthy Lifestyle
chai muffins

Tea: Bake, Drink, Savor

Posted by Caitlin Mellendorf - tea

While my first taste of tea was so bitter, I enjoy that bitterness now. And now that the weather is warm, I am transitioning from my morning hot tea to refrigerating it for iced tea at night. There are many varieties of tea, and I will focus on dry tea leaves today, with a tasty muffin recipe.


Tea leaves soaked in hot water produce brewed tea. Without added flavors or sweeteners, brewed tea contains no calories, and thus no fat, protein, or carbohydrates. Brewed tea has very small amounts of some vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and potassium. Depending on your water source, the tea may contain small amounts of minerals found in the water, such as sodium. Teas contain non-nutrient compounds, including antioxidants, that much research suggests benefits health.

  • Buy: Dry tea can be purchased as loose-leave tea or in bags. Instant tea is also available. To use loose-leave tea, purchase a reusable tea infuser.

  • Price: Price will vary by brand, type of tea, and amount you buy. Look for tea with a flavor you like and that fits your budget.
  • Store: Store dry tea at room temperature in a dark, cool place. Seal the container of tea well to keep air out; this will maintain its flavor longer.
  • Prepare: While most teas will steep in hot water for a few minutes, follow the directions on the box or container of tea. Longer steeping can lead to more bitter compounds in the tea, and result in a less-desirable flavor.
  • Drink: Enjoy hot or cold tea, and even cook with tea, like the Black Tea Chai Muffins in this post!


Research suggests an upper limit of 400mg caffeine per day for healthy adults is safe. Lower amounts and even no caffeine at all are recommended for pregnant women, youth under age 18, and those with some health conditions.

For a comparison of caffeine in tea, and a few other common drinks, view this infographic. Information comes from the National Nutrient Database from the USDA. Removing caffeine from tea still leaves a very small amount of caffeine, thus why decaffeinated tea in the infographic shows some caffeine.

Decaffeination Process

There are several ways to remove caffeine from tea. Very simple descriptions are described here.

  • Tea leaves are combined with heated and pressurized carbon dioxide (CO2). Carbon dioxide bonds to caffeine. When CO2 is removed, it takes caffeine with it.
  • Water processing can also be used to remove caffeine in tea. Tea is soaked in hot water, and the brew is run through a carbon filter to remove caffeine.
  • Tea leaves can be soaked in methylene chloride, which bonds to caffeine. Some resources note safety concerns in using methylene chloride.
  • Ethyl acetate is used in the same process as methylene chloride to remove caffeine. The tea may have an undesirable taste in this method.

Types of Common Teas

Tea comes from leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant. Variations in tea come from processing. Very simple explanations are described here.

  • White tea comes from immature leaves that are heated and dried.
  • Green tea are mature leaves that are heated and dried.
  • Oolong (Wulong) teas are "bruised" to allow oxidation, which produces darker leaves. These leaves are then heated and dried.
  • Black tea is fully oxidized and dried tea.


Black Tea Chai Muffins (Makes 12 muffins)

Baking with tea often involves steeping the tea in a liquid, like milk in this recipe.

1 cup skim milk
3 bags of black tea (or 1 1/2 Tbsp loose-leaf black tea)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup plain, nonfat yogurt (or plain, nonfat Greek yogurt)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 large egg
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
3/4 cup + 1 Tbsp whole-wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease or line a 12-cup muffin tin.
2. Pour milk into a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Microwave milk for 1 minute on high. Add tea bags (or loose-leaf tea in an infuser) and steep for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, remove tea bags (or loose-leaf tea).
3. In a medium bowl, combine sugar, yogurt, oil, and egg until smooth.
4. In a large bowl, stir together the all-purpose flour, whole-wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, and spices until combined.
5. To flour mixture, add tea-infused milk and yogurt mixture. Stir just until combined. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tin.
6. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool muffins in pan for 10 minutes, and then remove to a cooling rack.

Nutrition Facts per 1 muffin: 170 calories, 5g fat, 50mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 4g protein

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