Brown Sugar and Black Tea Roll-out Cookies

I don’t usually make roll-out cookies because, well, they as just so plain.  But I’ve been seeing so many fun-shaped cookies around the blogs that I started itching to make a batch myself, especially when I was inspired by Smitten Kitchen‘s Nutmeg Maple Butter Cookies.  So I raided my cupboards to find the dregs of a bag of brown sugar and regular organic sugar.  I sat down to stare at them and brainstorm with my cup of tea in hand, when I had the idea.

With cookies like this you don’t need much: all that is really needed is butter, sugar, flour, and some type of liquid to bring it all together.  Some people use an egg or some milk to help fill out the liquid portion, but that’s where the black tea comes in.  When paired up with the brown sugar they add a very subtle but lovely touch to an otherwise boring butter cookie.

To decorate I tend to avoid sprinkles because most of them are made with a lot of very unnatural ingredients, if you don’t believe me just look up what confectioner’s glaze is.  So, instead I made some naturally colored sugars. The pink comes from a few pomegranate seeds and the green from a leaf of baby spinach.  When the cookies are brushed with a glaze to help the colored sugar stick, these simple little cookies become just a touch more special, and perfect for the holidays!


Brown Sugar and Black Tea Roll-out Cookies
1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup brewed black tea
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder

2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp water

Naturally Colored Sugar
a leaf of baby spinach
a few pomegranate seeds


Start by brewing the black tea.  I used 1 tea bag and brewed it in a small amount of water, only about half a cup.  This yielded a really subtle black tea flavor but you can brew it with 2-3 tea bags if you want a much stronger flavor.  Do this first so it has plenty of time to cool down and won’t melt the butter when added to the dough.

Mix together the brown sugar and butter.  This is easiest if the butter is soft.  Add the black tea in with the butter/sugar mixture and loosely mix it in, it won’t be smooth but that’s not a problem.

In a separate bowl mix together the flour and baking powder so they are evenly dispersed, then slowly add these dry ingredient into the wet mixture.  The mixture should be fairly solid, but not so stiff it can’t be rolled out.  Stick the dough in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to let it rest.

Preheat the oven to 375F.

Meanwhile set up a place to roll out the cookies, like a large cutting board or other flat surface.  Sprinkle a little flour and spread it out.  Cover a large cookie sheet with parchment paper or foil.

Start by rolling out half the dough to about 1/4th an inch and cut out the cookies.

Bake for 7-9 minutes or until they are toasty brown around the edges.  Repeat for the other half the dough, then for all of the trimmings of dough that weren’t used in the first 2 roll outs.  You can knead it back together, let it rest in the fridge and keep doing this until all the dough it gone.  The cookies towards the end will have slightly more flour incorporated but it doesn’t change the flavor too much.

When they come out of the oven let them rest for 1 minute on the pan, then at least 10 minutes on a cooling rack.

Once you’ve gotten in the groove of rolling, cutting, and baking the cookies you can make your colored sugars.

I did this on two separate plates with raised edges, adding about 1/4th cup of organic sugar to both.  Just work the pomegranate seeds into the sugar with your fingers one at a time, removing the hard inner seed with each one.  You could also do this with pomegranate juice by dropping in 1 drop at a time.  Add until it is your desired color but keep in mind it won’t get too red without the sugar getting too wet, so I settled for a more subtle pink color.

For the spinach I only used 1 leaf and it gave it a good color.  because I used baby spinach it all worked in when I rubbed it into the sugar and there was nothing left to remove.  You could also do this with spinach juice by adding one drop at time but not too much for sake of flavor.

To make the glaze you simply add the 2 tablespoons water and 2 tablespoons sugar and heat in a pan until bubbling.  Let bubble for about 30-60 seconds and then pull from the heat.  This will make a sticky sugar syrup that when brushed on the cooled cookies will help the colored sugar stick.  Just be sure to be gentle with these as the sugar is held on fairly delicately.  If you put it in ziplock and let them rustle around, you’ll find as I did that the sugar has fallen off.

To customize this recipe you can swap out regular or turbinado sugar for the brown sugar, you can replace half of the flour with whole wheat to make it a little more hardy, add in seasonings like cinnamon or nutmeg, or you can replace the black tea for any other liquid like milk or juice.  You could even replace the butter with non-dairy margarine to make them vegan if you’d like.

Enjoy and happy holidays!

Yields 3-4 dozen cookies


Would go great with:


6 Responses to “Brown Sugar and Black Tea Roll-out Cookies”
  1. Kirsten says:

    Baking powder or soda? It says powder in the ingredient list but soda in the instructions. I’m going to try it with the powder, and hope that’s right…

  2. Adam says:

    great didactic recipe here, I used a chinese red tea. these are much better when rolled flat, yours appear 1/8th of an inch unless that’s a huge cookie cutter – picking up the uncooked cookies of such a slender depth would require some skill – kudos. tried kale out for the green sugar sprinkle. and used brewed tea for the water part of the glaze mixture. very good. would like to try the whole wheat variant. i believe these are similar to the type of tea cookie commonly made in china. thanks for the recipe!


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