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As a lifelong coffee drinker, with an affinity for flavored brews, you can imagine how disappointed I was a few months ago when I suspected that I had developed an allergy to coffee. Who knew such a thing was possible? Even with this thought in my mind, I continued to drink it until it got to the point where I was so shaky, dizzy and nauseous after every cup that I just had to say enough was enough. My relationship with coffee was well and truly over.
Happily, I found out that my allergy was to coffee itself, rather than to caffeine. This meant that I could still rely on my other favorite beverage – tea. Hooray! After living in England for over a decade of my life, it was no hardship for me to switch to the drink I’d grown to know and love overseas. But of course there was one problem – the brands that I knew best were not available in America. I had to figure out which brews were best all over again!
Of course, after trying many different brands, I came to the realization that one stood out far beyond the others – Bigelow. Not only was their taste truer and stronger than the other brands I tried, but it had so many different flavor varieties that I was over the moon! All those flavored coffees I’d loved were now available in tea form right down at my local Walmart! My favorites quickly became Salted Caramel and Vanilla Chai. So delicious with an amazing aroma that made me feel SO happy. The green tea became my go-to for when I felt like I needed some detox, and I reach for the minty varieties when my tummy feels a little dodgy. It doesn’t make it better, but it sure does make me feel happy! Now tea is now taking over my pantry. My husband says I can’t buy any more until I use up what I already have.
January is Hot Tea Month, and I like to “Tea Proudly.” So I decided to make a fun treat I haven’t made in years – Tea Taffy! It is perfect for when I am out and about and can’t get myself a cup of tea. So I get the flavor in a nice portable form!
If you’ve ever made taffy before, you’ll know it’s a finicky thing to get right. Like any candy-making, it is imperative to get the temperature correct and not to overwork it before it’s ready. My taffy recipe is also a bit different to others. It’s incredibly simple, requiring very few ingredients, and it insists on the very best and strongest tea flavor to work.
This recipe can be adapted for any tea flavor, and I often make Green Tea or Vanilla Chai taffy. The important part of the recipe is having the tea infusion, and I love Bigelow because it really has the best and strongest flavors that translate well to the candy.
Here’s what you’ll need:
1/2 C light corn syrup
1 1/2 C granulated sugar
1/4 C tea infusion (any flavor)
1/2 C butter
food coloring (if desired)
The first step to making Tea Taffy is to ensure that you have the perfect tea infusion. You’re going to need 1/4 cup of liquid, so make sure you have at least double that of boiled water. You’ll want to grab 4 teabags for every 1/2 cup of water you use. Place the tea bags into a small dish and pour the boiling water over it. You need to leave the tea to infuse for about an hour to get maximum flavor. I usually allow the water to completely cool before moving on.
While you are waiting, you can get the prep work done for the rest of the process. Grab a small baking tray or shallow casserole dish and generously smear it with butter. Make sure you get it all over and around. Place the dish into the fridge so the butter gets as cold as possible.
Next, grab some wax paper and cut it into smallish squares. You want to make it easy to wrap up the candy individually. I suggest around 3 inches by 3 inches, but you can do bigger or smaller as you like.
Now that your tea has infused, it’s time to head to the stove. Be sure to have a candy thermometer, well calibrated, so that you know exactly when it’s done. Place your sugar, corn syrup, tea and butter into the pan and stir together.
Turn the heat on and continue stirring until you start to see bubbles form. Once the bubbles arrive, do not stir or touch the dish.
Allow the mixture to simmer (if it starts to boil too much, turn the heat down a bit until it is a nice simmer) until it hits 250 degrees Fahrenheit.
Immediately after it hits this temperature, remove it from the heat. If you want to add food coloring, do it now, allowing the bubbles to spread the color throughout the mixture. Otherwise, just set it aside. Watch the candy thermometer until it comes down to around 240 degrees. Then take the mix and pour it into your buttered casserole dish.
It will take a few minutes for the candy to cool enough for you to handle, but keep checking it, and don’t wait too long. Once you think you can safely touch the mixture, butter your hands really well (I use gloves for this part) and begin to pull the taffy.
You’ll want to grab the candy and stretch it as much as you can without breaking it. Then fold it back into itself. Twist and pull and fold and twist and pull again. Work the candy and get some air into it. It takes around 10 – 15 minutes before you’ll see that the color has lightened, and it’s ready to be wrapped up.
You can either form a long snake and cut it into pieces, or you can just grab bits and pull them off. I prefer to pull them off, as I like having every candy with a different shape and size. Place the pieces into your wax paper squares and twist the ends to secure.
Voila! You now have made your own Peppermint Tea Taffy, which is perfect for keeping on your desk and munching on throughout the work day. I always keep some around for when I need a little something sweet.
One piece of advice, though – if you accidentally overcook the sugar, you will find that the candy stops being soft and becomes more like hard candy. It still tastes great and is fine to eat, but it is no longer taffy. But if that should happen, just change the name to peppermint candy and you’re golden!
Did you know that tea is now considered trendy where 42 percent of Americans under age 30 prefer to drink tea, 27 percent drink tea exclusively? Tea is second only to water as the most widely consumed beverage in the world!
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What do you think? Is this a recipe you would try? Have you ever made your own taffy before? What do you do to #TeaProudly?