Chai Spice Tea Cake

Get it?  I think that tea cakes are usually sweet cakes baked as a loaf and meant to be served with tea, but this cake actually has tea in it.

So many times I’ve wanted to like drinking tea, especially after being lured in by the sweet and spicy aromas.  But then I take a sip, and nope, still don’t like it.  I do really like chai teas and lattes, black tea beverages made with milk and lots of warm, soothing spices like cardamom, cloves, cinnamon, and ginger.

This recipe from The Greyston Bakery Cookbook was written to use Earl Grey tea, and it’s probably good, but I wouldn’t know.  I’ve used chai each time I’ve made it, and I like it that way.   I consider it to be less like cake and more like sweet bread with a nice glaze on top.  I bake mine as individual-sized loaves, so they make nice little treats to share.

Makes one 9×5″ loaf

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/3 cups granulated sugar
2 tablespoons loose chai tea leaves (from about 5 tea bags)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
5 eggs, room temperature

3/4 cup water
4 chai tea bags
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line a 9×5″ loaf pan with parchment paper and spray with cooking spray.  Set aside.

Whisk the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat together the butter, sugar, tea leaves, and vanilla on medium speed until it becomes light and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

Add the flour mixture in three parts and mix on low speed after each addition.  Scrape down the sides as needed. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then remove cake and let it rest on the rack.

While the cake is baking, prepare the glaze.
Boil the 3/4 cup water (I just put the water in a bowl and microwave it until it starts bubbling) and then steep the tea bags in it for at least 15 minutes.   Discard the bags.  The liquid should be very dark.

Add the powdered sugar to a small bowl, and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the liquid.  Add more of the liquid one tablespoon at a time until it is the right consistency.  You want it thin enough to drizzle down the sides of the cake, but not run off completely.

When the cake is still warm, poke several holes into it with a tooth pick or skewer.  Brush some of the glaze over the top, allowing it to drizzle over the sides a little bit.  Repeat this a few times, letting the glaze dry a few minutes each time.

*  Source:  The Greyston Bakery Cookbook

*  If baking in individual sized pans, bake about 27-32 minutes.

*  Feel free to use herbal tea.  It’s the spices we’re after here.



  1. Oooh, cute tea cup! So I’m curious what kind of chai you buy. My favorite tea from the grocery store is the Bigelow Vanilla Chai, which is a black tea loaded with spices. It’s one of Mom’s favorites, too. I wonder if you would like drinking that? It sounds like it would probably work in this recipe. Do you just cut open the bags? That’s clever, especially since you can’t really buy loose tea without going to a specialty store. And I LOVE bread/cakes that include tea. Some day I’m going to splurge on some matcha and make a green tea cake.

    • Thank you! I haven’t ever tried drinking it, but Bigelow is what I’ve always used for this recipe. I’ve used the regular and vanilla, and I think it’s even better using the vanilla. This time I had a good coupon for Oregon Chai, and it’s more expensive but I couldn’t taste any difference baked in the cake. Yes, for the cake part, I just cut the bags open and poured into a little dish to measure it.

  2. Thank you for sharing this with me! If I had made this without tasting yours first, I probably would have skipped the glaze because I’m lazy like that. But it turns out the top of the cake is the best part.

    • You are very welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it. I wasn’t sure how the glaze would do out of the freezer, but I’m glad it worked out. I think using the glaze helps seal in the moisture when you know the bread will be around for a few days.

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