Warm up the season: Teas and tea cake

Warm up the season: Teas and tea cake

Ayla Coşkun

ISTANBUL: It’s the most wonderful time of the year, indeed! As the weather is getting colder with each passing day, here are some delicious teas to warm you up as well as a special cake

Before I discovered the wonderful world of coffee at the ripe age of 30, I was an avid supporter of tea. To be honest, I still love tea and have a wide collection of various varieties lining my kitchen shelf. I love how there are so many different flavors and how at least some of them offer other benefits through their special properTEAs, like calming the nerves or helping soothe a nasty cough.

Traditional Turkish tea. (Shutterstock Photo)
Traditional Turkish tea. (Shutterstock Photo)

How to brew black tea the Turkish way

The Turks love their black tea, and whatever I’m about to write here there will be a person vehemently saying it is wrong and their way is the right way of doing it. I can only share what I’ve been doing and I can only say one thing: The tea matters a lot. I have had brand names that tasted bitter and then I have had the best flavor with a cheap, no-name brand from a wholesaler. I’m no tea expert, so I can only recommend trying out different brands and finding the one you like the best.

The right equipment is important as well. The two-tiered teapot is what you want to have for the right taste and experience. The lower pot is the bigger one and holds the water that is used to dilute the very strong tea on the top tier. Depending on how strong and how much you want to drink, add 1 or 2 tablespoons of tea in the top tier and wait for the water in the lower tier to boil. Turn the heat down and let the water “calm down” a bit and pour it over the tea and refill the lower tier and bring it to a boil again. At this point you can turn the heat off or leave it on a low burn, depending on how hot you want to keep the tea. Give it about 10 minutes to steep and then pour yourself some of the black beauty.

A little thing I want to point out here is that some people like to wash their tea before pouring the hot water onto it, but to be honest for me personally, it doesn’t make a difference, or not noticeable at least.

Other teas to try out

Melissa herbal tea. (Shutterstock Photo)
Melissa herbal tea. (Shutterstock Photo)

Melissa or lemon balm: I’m no health specialist, doctor or alike, so I can only speak for myself when I say that this tea has helped me calm down a lot. Imagine it was a very stressful day, and you feel like you have the jitters. No amount of fresh air helps, and the prospect of going to bed in this state is not a pleasant thing at all. Usually, I resort to this tea to get calmer. The absolute plus with this is that it has a sweetish taste, and you simply don’t need to add any sugar at all. Or at least I don’t.

Valerian root tea. (Shutterstock Photo)
Valerian root tea. (Shutterstock Photo)

Valerian root: If I’m feeling sleep deprived or the overall quality of my rest has been particularly bad, I’d drink this one. The downside is that the tea in its dry form is … well, stinky is the right word. I keep mine in an airtight jar. But contrary to the smell, the tea itself tastes pretty good.

Hatmi çiçeği, or mallow blossom. (Shutterstock Photo)
Hatmi çiçeği, or mallow blossom. (Shutterstock Photo)

Hatmi çiçeği: Known as mallow blossom in English, as someone who has allergies and gets an itchy throat, this is my savior. The taste is earthy but not unpleasant. If you want to buy this at your local “aktar,” inspect the bag (or if you can fill the baggie yourself) to get the ones in full bloom. The blossoms are generally pinkish-violet; the buds are not as effective.

Rosehip and fruit teas: Now if I have a craving for something sweet but I want to keep it on the lean side I go for these. Especially apple tea along with rosehip is a favorite of mine, but berries are great as well. The best with this is that you can make these easily yourself. For example, don’t throw away your apple peels. Dry them and you’ve got yourself some apple tea ready. Why spent exorbitant amounts of money when you can do it yourself?

Chocolate pound cake. (Shutterstock Photo)
Chocolate pound cake. (Shutterstock Photo)

Black tea chocolate cake

But limiting ourselves only to drinking the tea is a shame. I mean, I used to live in a household where the classic Turkish, two-tiered teapot would be in use all day. For breakfast, for a quick pick me up around noon, “tea time” in the afternoon and some tea for my father when he got back from work. With so much tea used, there were bound to be leftovers so we discovered this wonderful chocolate cake that is absolutely amazing, especially if you let it rest overnight. The flavor of the tea is not directly noticeable, but the texture gives it a certain moistness that is distinctly different compared to using milk or other liquids in your cake.


  • 3 eggs
  • 250 grams sugar
  • vanilla sugar/extract
  • 200 milliliters oil
  • 200 milliliters black tea
  • about 350 grams flour
  • 10 grams baking powder
  • 30 grams cacao


Whisk the eggs and the sugar together until the mixture becomes light and fluffy. Ideally, you’ll continue mixing until the sugar has dissolved, but the fluffier the better. Some sugar just has a hard time dissolving in general. In a separate bowl, pour in the flour, cacao and baking powder, and run it through a sieve. This will make the cake even smoother. If you don’t have a sieve suitable for flour you can skip this step. Gradually add some of the flour and the vanilla followed up by the other liquids, namely the oil and the black tea. Once all has been incorporated, stop mixing and pour the batter into any cake tin you like. I usually have a square that is relatively wide making for thin slices. Alternatively, you can bake it as muffins. Just keep in mind that the cake will get moister once it has rested so the paper should be lined. Bake at 170 degrees Celsius (340 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least 20 minutes, depending on the thickness of the batter. Test if it has baked through with the help of a toothpick and then remove it from the oven. You can of course eat it right away but waiting for at least eight hours will improve the flavor.


You can lean into the chocolate aspect of this cake even further by adding some chocolate chips or by chopping the chocolate of your choice into the batter. If you want a different texture, the best thing to add is crushed walnuts or hazelnuts, depending on your preference. For a citrusy undertone, you can use Earl Grey tea.

Courtesy: Dailysabah

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