Front Burner

Tea is the key to astounding caramel sauce

Tea Caramel
Tea Caramel

Maybe you've heard of caramel tea -- black, herbal or rooibos tea infused with caramel flavoring.

But have you heard of tea caramel -- as in caramel made with brewed tea?

Tea caramel. It is a thing and it is beautiful.

I've made nontraditional caramels before -- apple cider, beer, honey, dry caramel, sweet potato -- but I'd never heard of tea caramel until I came across a recipe for Sweet Tea Caramel Sauce on Perre Coleman Magness' blog, The Runaway Spoon.

Magness paired the sauce with peach ice cream.

I was intrigued and since I had all of the necessary ingredients on hand -- tea bags, mint, sugar, lemon and heavy cream -- I gave the recipe a try.


The tea gave the rich caramel sauce a tannic edge that was delicious drizzled on pound cake, over ice cream and on fresh fruit, such as bananas, peaches and apples.

The caramel was so good, I decided to try it with other teas. So far I've made the sauce using regular black tea, jasmine Earl Grey and chamomile tea.

Each tea has produced caramel with different notes. In the jasmine Earl Grey, both the citrusy bergamot and floral jasmine flavors were present. But the chamomile, surprisingly, was my favorite. I say surprisingly because of the three teas, chamomile is my least favorite.

I think the sauce would be divine with chai or a smoked tea like lapsang souchong or Russian Caravan.

Magness' recipe calls for steeping the tea with a sprig of mint and stirring in a tablespoon of lemon juice with the sugar, which was delicious with regular black tea, but I skipped the mint and lemon for the Earl Grey and chamomile versions and didn't miss them.

Tea Caramel Sauce

2 cups boiling water

4 tea bags

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

In a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine 2 cups boiling water and the tea bags. Cover and let steep, off heat, for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags.

Over medium heat, bring tea to a boil. Boil until the mixture is reduced to 1 cup, then stir in the sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring often, until mixture has reduced by half and has thickened to the consistency of maple syrup. Then add the heavy cream and return to a full, rolling boil, stirring often. Boil until mixture is thick and syrupy. The longer you cook it, the thicker it will be, but avoid cooking it past 230 degrees if you want it pourable. I found 220 to 226 degrees to be ideal. Caramel will continue to thicken as it cools.

Cool to room temperature, transfer to a squeeze bottle or a glass jar and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sauce will keep, refrigerated, for about 2 weeks.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Recipe adapted from

Food on 08/08/2018

Upcoming Events