Oolong Cupcakes with Lavender Frosting

for the cupcake:
1 cup flour
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2/3 cup milk
1/4 cup canola oil
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 egg, at room temperature
2 bags Tazo Ti Kwan Yin (oolong) tea

for the frosting:
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 egg whites
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons culinary grade lavender
pinch salt
food dye (optional)

For the cupcakes:
Bring the milk and tea to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Discard the tea bags after thoroughly squeezing out all the milk back into the pan. Preheat oven to 350. Line or grease and flour 6 wells in a cupcake pan. Place all of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well combined. The batter will be rather thin, so don’t be alarmed. Fill each well 2/3 of the way full. Bake about 15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted the center of a cupcake comes out clean or with just one or two dry crumbs. Cool briefly in the pan, then remove cupcakes to wire racks to cool completely before icing.

For the frosting:
Beat the egg whites and salt to soft peaks using an electric mixer. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring sugar, lavender and water to a boil, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil until it reaches soft ball stage (when a drop of the syrup forms a soft ball when dropped in cool water) while continuing to stir occasionally. Whisk the mixture through a fine sieve into a heat safe measuring cup and discard the lavender. Keep the mixer running (to be safe use a stand mixer or a friend to complete this next step) and pour a continuous stream of molten syrup into the egg whites. Continue to beat for about 5 minutes or until the frosting is fluffy, glossy and cool. Frost cooled cupcakes.

My thoughts:

Recently I was approached by Tazo to develop some new recipes using their tea. It is actually quite fun, I got a big box of various teas to play around with and once a week for three weeks I will be sent a mystery ingredient to use in the recipe as well. I was excited for the challenge, after 6 plus years and nearly 1,100 original recipes, sometimes a culinary puzzle is welcome. This week it was culinary lavender. I haven’t made anything with lavender before so that was an interesting twist.

I had lots of ideas but I decided to go classic and make some cupcakes. Who doesn’t love cupcakes? No one I would like to know. These cupcakes are more for grown ups than the little ones I think, they are subtly flavored and not overly sweet. The cupcakes themselves taste like milky tea and are quite light textured. I love how the fluffy lavender frosting turned out, that is one of my favorite types of frosting to make and as I hoped, the lavender flavor was strong but not overpowering. I did add a little dye to the icing, something I don’t always do but I was worried the icing might look grey or a little “off” left unadulterated. I also made a bit too much frosting so if you double the cupcake recipe, I think you could use this same frosting recipe without alteration and have enough to frost all of the cupcakes, it is just a tricky recipe to scale down any further than I did.


  1. Nancy Grossi ~ Churned In Cali ~ The Wife of a Dairyman

    Love that you use milk in your recipe πŸ˜‰ Looks yummy!

  2. I love using tea as ingredients in dessert recipes! I think your idea for a cupcake is great; I would've probably infused the tea and lavender in cream and made something of it, possibly an ice cream or panna cotta.

  3. p.s. there is no such thing as "too much frosting."

  4. So neat to make a cupcake out of tea. I'm not usually a huge oolong fan, but I think I'd make these πŸ™‚

  5. This looks so unique and interesting, and I bet the flavour combination is delicious! Can't wait to try this one.

  6. These look divine and oh so pretty! Can't wait to try it.

  7. I have a container of lavender in the cabinet, so this might be a good reason to pull it out…

  8. Lavender makes me sneeze, but I've used tea as a brine or rub on meats but never thought to put it in cupcakes. This sounds interesting. Thanks, Rachel.

  9. So pretty! Could you pass me one please? Enjoy!

  10. Clever idea! I don't drink real tea, but I do love it as a flavoring in other things, especially things that on their own don't have much complexity. Here in the SF bay area we have Charles Chocolates which makes amazing tea-infused truffles. I'll be trying these interesting cupcakes next time I have grown-ups over.

    Rachel, a request: would you consider developing a recipe for a 24-cup pan of mini cupcakes? I find the mini cupcakes make a nice serving for both adults and children, but a pan of them uses just a fraction of the batter of a regular cupcake recipe.

  11. CJ-
    Good idea! I don't use my mini cupcake pan nearly enough (and I have a good one that makes 24 cupcakes at one time!) and I must have 500 mini cupcake liners in my cupcake drawer. I do have a few mini cupcake recipes on the blog, Nutella black bottoms, regular black bottoms and I think a chocolate recipe but not nearly enough. I will add this on my list of things to do!

  12. It saddens me that I don't like cupcakes any more as I usually think that they are too sweet. I'm excited to try these yummy looking grownup cakes!

  13. These sound delightful. I have a friend who loves oolong tea and her bday is coming so I think I will make these for her big day!! Thank you

  14. Wow, I am drooling over here! These sound amazing and I think I HAVE to make them!!!!!

  15. Sounds good! I like the idea of infusing tea flavor into food – both sweet and savory!

  16. Tea makes such a wonderful surprise ingredient in desserts. Tazo makes great teas.

  17. Love lavender and will definitely try them out!
    The lilac scares me a bit, though. Will try without it..or maybe add some beet powder for it instead.

  18. Unique Chocolate Gifts

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  19. Lovely recipe! I never would have thought to combine oolong and lavender but these look great. I'm looking forward to seeing what else you cook up!

  20. Cupcakes are so yummy! We had some good ones today, but no Lavender!

  21. Tea and lavender – – what an old-fashioned-sounding combination! The only problem is, what do I drink with my cupcake? πŸ™‚

  22. Kristi aka Fiber Fool

    What a great flavor combo! This will have to go into the "try soon" pile of recipes πŸ™‚

  23. I have the tea bags so now I just have to get the lavender. Can't wait to make these, they look great.

  24. The idea of oolong tea and lavender makes me giddy! One suggestion: going for a really pale lavendar might make the frosting more "grown-up" looking. You could change the garnish to a mint (or some kind of herb) leaf too!

  25. Susan
    True but light lavender doesn't photograph well, it just looked sort of grey.

  26. These look great!!!

  27. I am a tea-a-holic so this recipe is right up my alley! I love the Tazo brand and this will be a wonderful cupcake to share with my family and friends.

  28. I am a confirmed tea-a-holic and love the Tazo brand. These beautiful cupcakes will be a welcomed addition to family gatherings!

  29. Sarah @ The Pajama Chef

    these are so unique. i will definitely make them for my mom. she is a tea fanatic (i like tea, but not as much as her), so she will love them. thanks!

  30. My husband would love these! He's an oolong fan. And I agree with an earlier comment… you can never have too much frosting!

  31. I love tea flavoured desserts, and I love the vivid purple icing!

  32. Yum! I want to try these–I could almost taste them just by reading your description!

  33. What an interesting flavor combo-can't wait to try them!

  34. WOW! these sound so yummy!!

    I am making them FORSURE…
    Did you colour the icing, or is that the natural colour of the lavender coming out?

  35. I'm excited to try making this!

  36. This looks great. I do love cupcakes and I've always wanted to make something with Lavender. Will have to give this a try sometime.

  37. I haven't made anything with lavender before, but I love tea and I love cupcakes! I'll have to try this recipe some time – thanks so much for sharing the recipe!

  38. All these comments about how good these sound, but no one has actually made them yet!

    So I just did. Pretty good! The cake is not like a typical crumb cake; rather, it's dense and a little chewy. The flavor reminds me of those "milk teas" in Japan–delicious and not too sweet.

    I made this recipe because of the lavender frosting. My lavender is dying in the humidity of a wet Virginia summer, so to cheer myself up, I wanted to use what I had left. As I was making the frosting, I realized I was really making a lavender marshmallow whip! All in all, this is a pretty good recipe, would make again.

  39. ooh this recipe looks really good, I am having a high tea for my friend as a baby shower and these would slot in nicely, thanks!