Your Tea Pot
Close Alternative Icon

Black Tea Cupcakes Recipe

Arrow Thin Right Icon
Black Tea Cupcakes Recipe

I love the delightful combination of sweet and caramel flavors that come through in these delicious, fluffy black tea cupcakes. The secret is steeping strong black tea in warm milk, a technique I discovered recently. This amazing recipe originally comes from Culinary Tea by Cynthia Gold & Lise Stern, one of my absolute favorite cookbooks. I put my own twist on it by swapping lemon buttercream for a simple lemon zest icing to create a brighter and lighter flavor profile. 

In this batch, I used our rich and tightly rolled Nilgiri Black Pearl for its strength and dark cherry notes, but any strong, malty black tea should work beautifully. Although the tea flavor may seem subtle after baking, it is responsible for the surprising caramel notes and the light texture that make these cupcakes so tasty.

This recipe is not dairy-free or gluten-free, but I am sure variations can be made with non-dairy or non-wheat flour substitutes by all of you creative bakers. 

Black Tea Cupcakes with Lemon Zest Icing Recipe

Makes 1 dozen regular-sized cupcakes 


  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 4 teaspoons Nilgiri Black Pearl tea (or any strong, malty black tea)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup powdered (confectioner’s) sugar
  • 1-2 Tablespoons lukewarm water
  • Zest of 1 lemon (save half for garnish)


To make the cupcakes:
  1. In a small saucepan over low heat, combine milk and tea leaves. Heat until small bubbles form around the edges, then remove from heat. Let the milk steep until it cools to room temperature and is the color of latte or milk chocolate, about 30 minutes. Strain the tea (press down on the leaves to extract all the liquid) and discard the leaves.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a 12-cup cupcake/muffin tin with liners.
  3. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  5. Add the egg to the butter/sugar mix, then add the egg whites and beat well. Beat in the vanilla extract.
  6. Add the flour mixture and tea-infused milk alternately, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, and beating on low until just combined after each addition. Mix on medium speed for about a minute until thoroughly combined.
  7. Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake cups, bake for about 20 minutes until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a rack for 30 minutes.

To make the icing:
  1. Set a sheet of parchment or wax paper on a flat surface.
  2. Combine powdered sugar and lukewarm water in a medium bowl. Add the lemon zest and mix until smooth.*
  3. Dip the top of the cupcakes into the icing mix to get a thin to medium glaze**, then set them back on the parchment/wax paper. The drizzle effect will happen as the cupcake rests and the icing dries.
  4. Top the icing with the rest of the lemon zest.
  5. Let the icing dry for at least 1 hour, or longer if you plan to transport them.

*Start with 1 tablespoon of water and adjust the consistency to a bit thinner than pancake batter, but thick enough to hold its shape and slowly run down the sides of the cupcakes. Add more sugar or water in small increments as needed.
**Work quickly, the icing hardens fast.

Let us know in the comments how you liked these cupcakes, and what variations and types of black tea you used!


Want to make more delicious things with all that tea in your cupboard?

You might also enjoy:

Leave a comment