Recipe: Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies

If you’ve been a One More Steep reader for a while, you’ll know that I tend to share a new cookie recipe every December. I work in acute medicine with a fantastic group of nurses and other healthcare professionals. One of our annual holiday activities includes a cookie exchange among staff and ever since I started working there, I’ve brought in a tea related cookie. This holiday season is my last with this amazing group of individuals, so I’ve pulled out all the stops with my contribution to this year’s cookie exchange: Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies.

My previous cookie recipes included: Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies, Matcha Sugar Cookies, and Matcha White Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies
Yields: 4 dozen.
Baking Time: 8 minutes.

Chai Spice Mix
2 tbs ground cardamom
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs ground nutmeg
1 tbs ground ginger
½ tbs ground black pepper

Cookie Dough
1½ cups powdered sugar
1 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tbs Chai Spice Mix¹

Vanilla Glaze
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1-2 tsp water

¹ This is a great spice blend if you want to create some chai latte magic at home! You’ll get bonus points if you make a chai spice blend from scratch with whole or freshly ground spices. If you buy ground spices, make sure they’re in a dry, air-tight container so they can keep longer!

My Chai Spice Mix is a very similar blend to the Pumpkin Spice Mix that I shared earlier this year in my Pumpkin Spice Chai Latte recipe, but the ratios are a bit different as it’s more cardamom heavy and it includes black pepper (which I do freshly grind because I’ve got a pepper grinder in my kitchen).

Prepare Chai Spice Mix
Mix all ingredients together.
Store in air-tight glass container.

Make Those Cookies
Beat powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract, and eggs together until well blended.
Mix in flour, baking soda, and Chai Spice Mix.
Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Roll out dough to approximately ¼” thick, cut into shapes with cookie cutters.
On cookie sheets, lay out cookies at least 1″ apart.
Bake 8 minutes or until edges are light brown.
Remove from cookie sheets to cooling racks after 2-3 minutes out of the oven.

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker The Big Book of Cookies, “Sugar Cookies”.

Vanilla Glaze / Decorate!
Mix powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and water together.
Add water slowly as you mix. You want it to be thin enough to drizzle, but not so thin that it’ll just run off. (I’m so technical, I know.)
Drizzle icing on the cookies – you can use a fork or toothpick (or scoop the glaze into a zip-top bag and snip the corner and get really fancy).
Allow glaze to dry and set before you stack or package the cookies.

If you make these delicious Chai Spiced Sugar Cookies, I’d love to see your photos! Be sure to tag me on Instagram (@onemoresteep #onemoresteep) or comment below with a link to the photo!

Tea Experience: Cakes n Sweets Bakery

Cakes n Sweets Bakery
Coquitlam, BC
High Tea – $24.95 each

I went to Cakes n Sweets Bakery last month as part of my birthday celebrations – after all, how else would I celebrate turning yet another year older than with tea? Cake n Sweets Bakery is located in a small strip mall in Coquitlam, BC. Cakes n Sweets Bakery is primarily a bakery, afternoon tea is served almost every day, but reservations are required and they offer a discount if you order an afternoon tea to-go.

Cakes n Sweets offers their regular high tea menu, along with a gluten-free ($28.95 each) and children’s menu ($14.95 each). Due to the nature of their recipes, they’re unable to accomodate dairy-free or vegan options. Just something to consider if you fall into either of those categories!

When you walk into Cakes n Sweets, you’re first greeted by a gorgeous display case with all the desserts you can purchase à la carte (which is really pretty, by the way). We were seated at a cute table that had the menus, teacups and saucer sets, and cutlery.

The tea menu isn’t pages long, but it has a good selection with options from black, green, rooibos, and even a kiddo friendly option called Bubblegum. I opted for my standard Earl Grey with added sugar cubes and cream for extra decadence. The tea itself didn’t overwhelm me, but it did pair really well with the savouries and sweets.

The food arrived on a two-tier cake stand – with the savouries and scones on the bottom with all the sweets on top. The sweets included a macaron each, which we got to pick the flavours.

On the bottom tier, there were buttermilk scones with Devonshire cream & raspberry jam, three cheese quiche, egg salad on croissant, and a cucumber with lemon aioli sandwich. We each got two scones, and then one of each of everything else on the savouries tier. I really enjoyed the buttermilk scone (especially with the Devonshire cream and raspberry preserves!), as well as the quiche as it was served warm, and the cucumber with lemon aioli sandwich.

For the desserts, I picked the cookies and cream macaron. The “assorted delectable desserts” included: apple pie cupcake, chocolate ganache in a chocolate shell, and a raspberry thumbprint cookie. Hands down, my favourite was the apple pie cupcake – so flavourful! And I really enjoyed my macaron flavour selection as well – it had a great cookie cream flavour to it and the bright blue reminded me of Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster.

I really enjoyed Cakes n Sweets. I found that the serving staff was attentive, and the tea and food was served at a decent time after placing our orders. I would definitely consider going back with some friends for a casual afternoon tea date – especially if those apple pie cupcakes on are the menu!

Reducing (Micro)Plastic In Your Tea Habits

Back in September 2019, research was published by McGill University about micro and nanoplastics in teabags – particularly the micro and nanoplastics that get released during the act of steeping your tea in a cup of hot water. While it’s a bit concerning that it happens – are we really that surprised? And should we be concerned?

The World Health Organization (WHO) certainly doesn’t seem to think so – although they issue a tidy little disclaimer that there isn’t enough research into microplastics yet, but they don’t think it’s enough to cause any harm. At least we’re not like whales in the ocean with a stomach full of plastic trash, right? (That’s a plastic rant for another day…)

There are a few takeaways from the study that McGill published.

First, that many of the ‘fancier’ teabags often do contain plastics. If you’re not sure, you should ask the tea company about their teabag materials. Secondly, some companies do use paper, with a tiny bit of plastic that helps to hold it all together. While others have shiny pyramid-shaped teabags that help provide the tea leaves more space to expand, but also contain a higher amount of plastic (and, to be fair, some of those pyramid-shaped teabags are made of biodegradable plant-based materials). That said, there are a lot of environmentally-friendly tea companies out there – you just need to know where to look!

Some companies use teabags made out of plant-based material (like corn!) and have biodegradable bags and packaging. A lot of companies are moving towards plastic-free packaging – which is always a good idea because a lot of municipalities still lack soft plastic recycling. It’s much easier to recycle a plastic milk carton than it is to recycle the cellophane material that comes on the outside of a box of tea.

How can you reduce the single-use plastic and live your best tea-drinker life?

Shop at tea stores that allow for looseleaf tea purchasing. Bonus points if they let you bring in your own containers or offer reusable (and recyclable) containers. A tea tin or glass mason jar would be a great option to offer that air-tight seal! If you choose clear glass jars as an option, make sure to tuck the tea into a cupboard to prevent damage from light.

Shop from tea companies that don’t individually package teabags or use plastic teabag material. This will lower the amount of single-use package that you’re responsible for, and decrease the amount of microplastics that you’ll end up ingesting. Just because WHO says it’s probably not going to hurt you doesn’t mean that you need to continually drink it on the regular!

Get yourself a reusable tea infuser! There are many stainless steel options available. They withstand boiling water, are easy to clean, and can be used literally thousands of times without breaking down or being damaged. Short of having it run over by a car, there’s not much that can hurt those infusers and there’s not a trace of plastic in them.

Compost those teabags that are biodegradable! Those tea leaves will help add nutrients to your compost and having a compost bin at home will let you really put those teabags (and companies!) to the test. Do they really break down? Think of it as an at-home experiment that you can easily try out!

McGill – Some plastic with your tea?
CNN Health – A single tea bag can leak billions of pieces of microplastics into your brew
BBC – Microplastics: Premium teabags leak billions of particles – study