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In the dark, cold, snowy days of February, a cup of hot tea is about the best pick-me-up I know. This is not news, of course . . . folks have been enjoying this warming beverage in various forms for a very long time. It’s just that any time I sit down to enjoy a cup, taking a few brief moments to pause, breathe, and look out the window, I am reminded how wonderful and restorative something as simple as a cup of tea can be.
I really enjoy herbal teas, especially right before bed, but when it comes to an afternoon pick-me-up, I’m all about strong, black tea. So, when Mary Lou at Pomona’s mentioned the idea of a tea jelly, that really got me thinking . . . since I love tea (and I’m guessing I’m not the only one), why not figure out more ways to enjoy it? So, here you have it – Black Tea Jelly.
When I was first working on this recipe, I thought that I might need to include some sort of fruit to make the jelly more interesting. But when I made a straight-ahead, plain black tea version, it quickly became clear that no fancy, extra ingredients were necessary. With nothing but tea, sugar, and lemon juice, this simple jelly is truly delicious.
Since there are few other ingredients to hide behind, the tea you use will make a difference. I used Irish Breakfast tea for this recipe, but most any variety of black tea is fine, as long as it’s fresh and of good quality. Also, use loose leaf tea, not tea bags. Often tea that is in a bag is granular or powdery, as is some loose tea. You’ll want to avoid any granular or powdery tea, and instead use loose leaf tea. The reason for this is simply that the strength of tea can vary quite a bit depending on how it was processed.
I created this recipe using loose leaf tea, and so to end up with a jelly of the right tea flavor and strength, you’ll want to use loose leaf tea as well. Also, even if you don’t typically use lemon in your tea, be sure to use it in your tea jelly as called for, as lemon juice is important in making this jelly safe to can.
I have a half-full jar of this jelly in my refrigerator at the moment, and I have to admit that I’ve been enjoying it by the spoonful. It’s delicious slathered on toast as well – for breakfast or an afternoon snack – alongside a cup of tea, of course.
Black Tea Jelly is a low-sugar cooked jelly made with Pomona’s Pectin. Pomona’s Pectin contains no sugar or preservatives and jells reliably with low amounts of any sweetener.
Yield: 4 to 5 cups
Before You Begin:
Prepare calcium water. To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well. Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
Black Tea Jelly Ingredients
6 Tablespoons loose black tea leaves
4¼ cups boiling water
¼ cup lemon juice
4½ teaspoons calcium water
1 cup sugar
4½ teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin powder
Black Tea Jelly Directions
1. Wash and rinse jars, lids, and screw bands. Set screw bands aside until ready to use. Place jars in boiling water bath canner with a rack, fill at least 2/3 of the way full with water, and bring to a boil. Boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize (add 1 additional minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level), then turn down heat and let jars stand in hot water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small pan, bring to a low simmer, and hold there until ready to use.
2. Place the tea leaves in a heat-proof bowl, then pour the boiling water into the bowl. Allow tea to steep for 10 minutes. Then, pour the tea through a fine-mesh strainer or cheesecloth into another container, reserving the tea liquid, and discarding the tea leaves.
3. Measure out 4 cups of the tea. (If you don’t have quite enough, just add a little bit more water.) Pour the measured amount of tea into a large sauce pan. Add the lemon juice and calcium water, then stir to combine.
4. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar and pectin powder. Mix well and set aside.
5. Bring the tea mixture up to a rolling boil over high heat. Add sugar-pectin mixture, then stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes, still over the highest heat, to dissolve pectin. Return jelly to a boil, then remove from heat.
6. Remove hot jars from canner and fill jars with jelly, leaving ¼ inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, and put on lids and screw bands, tightening bands only to “fingertip tight” (until resistance is met, and then just the tiniest bit more).
7. Place jars in the hot water, on the rack inside the canner. (Make sure jars are upright, not touching each other or the sides of the canner, and are covered with at least 1-2 inches of water). Place the lid on the canner, return the canner to a rolling boil, and boil for 10 minutes. (Add 1 minute additional processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.)
8. Turn off heat and allow canner and jars to sit for 5 minutes. Then remove jars from canner.
9. Allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12-24 hours. Then, confirm that jars have sealed. Remove screw bands from sealed jars, rinse off outside of jars if necessary, label jars, and store for later use.
Recipe and photo by Allison Carroll Duffy