For tea purists, a cup of tea is just half the story. Serving something to bite on with a cup of tea is not only tradition; it’s the norm.
Although tea is enjoyed daily in a dozen countries worldwide, and it looks quite different everywhere, the idea of serving cookies or biscuits with it is an English custom.
Tea biscuits became popular in the 17th century in Yorkshire, particularly between the noble class. Also called Rich Tea biscuits for the better-known biscuit brand, these uncomplicated snacks are mildly flavorful, so they never steal the spotlight from your delicate herbal infusion.
Originally, tea biscuits are made with regular wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar and malt extract, but since malt extract is kind of an obscure ingredient, I use vanilla extract. If you find malt extract, though, use it. I also use butter instead of vegetable oil, for obvious reasons, but I understand why they would use oil in a factory. At home, butter is better.
Nib on them or dunk them in your tea; the snappy biscuits make the entire tea experience something else, more authentic in a way. The British and Irish eat 52 biscuits every second, and that’s a lot of biscuits!
Do you want to take your tea biscuits to the next level? Make yourself some biscuit sandwiches filled with pastry cream of your favorite custard. That’s a real treat to elevate your tea party to new pleasurable heights.
With only six ingredients, which you probably already have at home, you’ll end up with a nice batch of tea biscuits, so call your friends over for some tea!
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven at 350ºF.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour and the baking powder, combine them gently.
Cut the cold butter into small cubes and add them to the flour mixture. Use a food processor or a fork to combine. You want crumbs, not a paste.
Add the sugar to your butter crumbs and combine.
Add the mix slowly while stirring until a dough forms.
Flour a surface and knead the dough until elastic and not overly sticky.
Roll small dough balls and press them with the palm of your hand or with the bottom of a glass. For perfect circles, use a cookie cutter.
Poke the biscuits with a fork and place them on the baking sheet.
Bake until nice and golden; it should take fifteen minutes or so.
Let the cookies cook and enjoy with a cup of tea!