These adaptable cookies use tea, mint, lemon, and a powdered sugar glaze recall lazy Southern summer afternoons.
The Runaway Spoon
The flavor of sweet tea is the flavor of the South. With the wafting aroma of mint and the tang of lemon, with that tooth-achingly sweet depth. I love to transform those flavors into many forms, from punches to sorbet to these cookies. They are redolent with those iconic flavors.
The texture of these cookies is really that of a classic Southern tea cake, but I just couldn’t bring myself to call them Sweet Tea Tea Cakes. I can imagine nibbling these with a glass of sweet tea punch in my best flowery dress on a country veranda, surrounded by azaleas and magnolias, though I’ll admit it has been awhile since I’ve done anything like that.
These cookies also share that amazing Southern trait of adaptability. These fit in anywhere. Serve these cookies on your best silver tray lined with a linen doily or pack them in a brown bag for a tailgate. Perfect for a ladies luncheon or a backyard barbecue. Just like that string of your grandmother’s pearls.
I am not generally a fan of the two-appliance recipe, but these are a very special cookie and worth the dirty dishes. After lots of experimenting, I have found that grinding the sugar with the mint in a food processor really does produce the best mint flavor and prevents the mint from turning a muddy brown.
Sweet Tea Cookies
Make about 3 dozen cookies
For the Cookies:
1/2 cup milk
1 black tea bag (such as orange pekoe or any blend for ice tea)
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves
1-3/4 cups granulated sugar
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
1 tablespoon lemon zest
3 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Heat the milk in the microwave for 45 seconds. Drop in the tea bag and leave to steep until completely cool. Remove the tea bag. The milk will turn a pale beige, not dark like regular tea.
Place the mint leaves in sugar in the bowl of a food processor (a small one works fine here). Process until the mint is finely chopped and combined with the sugar.