No matter if you are preparing for a New Year's tea party or want to treat yourself to a unique tea treat, tea caviar will undoubtedly add a touch of luxury to your teatime. Even if real caviar is +something you are not fond of, tea caviar will win you over. Plus, it's suitable for vegetarians and vegans too. Learn how to make caviar with tea at home in 15 minutes – ready to serve and enjoy.
What is a tea caviar?
Tea caviar is a “caviar” made using infused tea and agar agar. With the right equipment and paying attention to ratios and temperatures, it's incredibly fun and easy to make. Caviar can be made with many juices, teas and liquors. The flavours must be strong though, so gentle teas are best left for drinking instead. You can use it as a decoration, incorporate into other desserts or simply eat with a spoon, and you can add it to tea cocktails too.
What is agar agar?
The best gelling agent for making tea caviar is agar agar. It's suitable for vegetarians and vegans and it's often used as an alternative for regular gelatine. Although you can make tea caviar with gelatine as well, the entire process is more complicated. Agar agar jellifies really fast, so you can have it ready in literally 15 minutes or even less once you try it out a few times.
Agar agar is a vegan-friendly product made from algae. It's used for thickening and jellying as a replacement for gelatine that's made from animal collagen. Agar agar powder is white in colour and flavourless. Once heated and cooled down, it turns into a transparent jelly. It sets quickly, which makes it a perfect choice for last-minute desserts.
How to choose the best ingredients?
To make the best tea caviar, choose your ingredients first. You can do a very simple caviar by using tea leaves only, or a mix of different ingredients and sweeteners.
Tea – This recipe is made with Mulled Wine tea blend from Whittards because it's both festive and full of flavour. Tea was lightly sweetened with white sugar too. Some other teas you can try are flavourful fruit tea blends, strong and smoky black teas or chocolate and fruit flavoured Camellia sinensis teas. If you want to make an herbal tea caviar, teas such as mint, hibiscus, and lavender will be amazing too.
Some teas you can try using:
- Lapsang souchong black tea
- Yunnan black tea
- Apple and cinnamon fruit blends
- Deep-steamed Japanese sencha green tea
- Hojicha green tea
- Chamomile honey herbal tea blends
- Pure peppermint tea
- Lavender floral tea
- Rose floral tea
Agar agar powder – agar agar is available from speciality shops and some supermarkets, depending on your location. You will need only a small amount, approximately 1 gram per 100 ml of tea. 100 ml of tea will give enough tea caviar to decorate desserts.
Oil – choose regular vegetable oil with a neutral flavour. Oil will need to be cold or at room temperature to allow drops to settle as fast as possible. Use at least 200-300 ml of oil, depending on the glass shape. Using more oil will give better results as you will have more surface for squzeeing out the liquid from syringe and allowing pearls to settle.
11 tips for making a perfect tea caviar
To make a perfect tea caviar, pay attention to:
- Start with less tea – 50 ml of infused tea and 0.5 grams of agar agar. Use a very small saucepan.
- Wait for a few minutes until tea cools down to a slightly lower temperature to prevent drops from melting into each other. After turning off the heat, wait 2-3 minutes. You don't want to use boiling liquid.
- You will need to work quickly because agar agar jellifies quick, not like a regular gelatine. Using a larger 25 ml syringe will help you make them faster. If you are making pearls with over 200 ml of liquid, it's likely that a part will jellify before you are done. If you need to make more pearls, it's better to make two batches instead.
- Choose tall rather than a very wide glass. This way pearls will have more time to cool as they are falling to the bottom of the glass. However, it should be wide enough to allow you enough surface to work with. Use at least 300 ml of oil, especially if you are making pearl for the first time.
- Make sure you are squeezing liquid around the entire surface, not only in one place.
- Do not touch the pearls or remove them from the glass before you are done.
- If the first few drops are melting into each other, wait another minute until the liquid cools down more.
- Do not add more agar agar than needed. You only need about a gram per 100 ml of liquid. This is less than 1 teaspoon.
- Once you strain your pearls, they will be coated in oil. You can give them a quick rinse with lukewarm water. Don't use boiling water and don't let them sit in the water as they will start melting.
- Don't add tea caviar to hot drinks or to hot creams or puddings – they will melt.
- If you want to use them later or day after, store them in the fridge in an airtight container.
Mulled Wine Tea Caviar
Now, when you know all the basics, try out the recipe below. These tea pearls are delicious on its own or you can add them to a New Year's champagne.
If you don't get a tea caviar from the first attempt, don't give up. It's likely to take a couple of attempts before making perfect pearls. However, the entire process is much easier than making a homemade caramel and you don't need a thermometer.
Mulled Wine Tea Caviar
- Syringe (25 ml)
- Kitchen strainer
- Tall glass
- Precise kitchen scale
- 110 ml of water (tea leaves will soak some of the water so you will end up with around 100 ml of tea)
- 1-1.1 gram of agar agar
- 1-2 teaspoons of sugar (optional)
- 3 teaspoons of Mulled Wine fruit tea blend
- 300 ml of oil
- Bring water to a boil.
- Steep tea in 110 ml of boiling water for about 5 minutes. Some tea leaves soak in more water. You will end up with 10-20 ml less after straining them.
- Strain the tea into a small saucepan and heat it until it almost starts boiling.
- Add agar powder and stir. Reduce the heat and let it simmer for a minute.
- Turn off the heat and let it cool for 2-3 minutes.
- In the meantime, pour oil into a tall glass.
- Fill the syringe with the tea liquid.
- With gentle and fast pressure, start squeezing the liquid into the oil in circular movements. Pearls will settle at the bottom. If they are melting into each other, let the tea cool for a few more seconds.
- Once you are done, strain the pearl and give them a quick rinse under lukewarm water.
- Transfer them into a clean container.