Black Sesame Earl Grey Shortbread Recipe

Black Sesame Earl Grey Shortbread Recipe

Looking for a fun twist on a classic tea treat? Black sesame earl grey shortbread cookies are a fresh take on an old favorite! By adding just two ingredients, you can transform your traditional shortbread into a bold new teatime flavor.

 Go Nuts for Seeds

One of our staffers originally from Hawaii suggested this concept for a recipe, and we’re so glad they did! Black sesame seeds add a unique nuttiness and subtle crunch that really set this shortbread apart. Earl Grey lends a sense of depth and a hint of bergamot any black tea lover will adore. The black sesame and loose-leaf tea both add interesting visual flair to a cookie with a traditionally modest presentation—a visual, textural, and flavorful treat!

 A couple fun facts about black sesame seeds:

  • Unlike the sesame seeds you may recognize from your hamburger buns, black sesame seeds generally still have their hull, or outer casing, which gives them an extra crispy bite.
  • The resulting flavor is slightly more earthy than the creamier white sesame seed. Though some call it mildly bitter, I find it provides a lovely contrast to the buttery sweetness of the shortbread while adding a toasty quality that is highly complementary. 
  • Like many other nuts and seeds, they are fairly nutrient-dense. A couple tablespoons of black sesame seeds contain a decent percentage of the daily recommended dose of copper, manganese, and iron. They also are a good source of healthy fats.

If you’re dubious about purchasing an ingredient to use in just one recipe, black sesame seeds are excellent sprinkled into stir-fry, onto salads, or over avocado or peanut butter toast! 

Since our shortbread recipe includes black sesame seeds and Earl Grey tea, if you’re interested in the potential health benefits of Earl Grey, check out this article here.

And for a breakdown of why it can be fun to incorporate tea leaves into your cooking in general, check out our article on eating tea leaves

Do keep in mind that I am not a doctor, and a doctor may not suggest you combine your seeds or tea with butter and sugar—but if you’re eating the butter and sugar anyway, you might as well throw in some nutrients, right?

(And speaking of butter, check out these amazing melt-in-your-mouth Earl Grey butter cookies!)


The Long and Short of Shortbread

Shortbread is a teatime staple for many reasons:

The subtleties of the flavor pair beautifully with almost any tea.

The straightforward ingredients and simple baking process make it an extremely approachable recipe that comes together in a snap!


The simplicity of the base is delicious on its own, and ideal for playing with variations. (Check out the Plum Deluxe blog for inspiration—lemon thyme…rosewater…chocolate orange…you name it. And for another delightful combination of shortbread and Earl Grey, try the Earl Grey pie recipe—a match made in heaven!)

Because shortbread is such a natural pairing with tea, it’s no surprise that incorporating tea leaves into your shortbread dough elevates it to a whole new level. This recipe calls for Earl Grey, but you could just as easily use any of your favorite blends

Consider House Blend with its creamy vanilla notes, Caramel Snickerdoodle herbal tea for a pop of sweetness, Oregon Breakfast tea to lean into the nuttiness, or Fireside Chat for a smoky twist. The possibilities are incredibly vast and vastly incredible!

Great Earl Greys

For our black sesame earl grey shortbread, any Plum Deluxe Earl Grey is going to be wonderful, both in the cookie, and served alongside it.

I went with a classic Mindful Morning Earl Grey, with its zesty orange peels, delicate bergamot oil, dusting of blue cornflowers, and wash of vanilla essence. The perfect salute to the Earl

Another delicious choice would be Crème Brulee Earl Grey—a creamy, dreamy blend that intermingles jasmine blossoms and bergamot oil with luscious vanilla and bold black tea. Evocative of burnt sugar, it would be an amazing addition to your shortbread and a perfect choice for your cuppa. Eat it, drink it, fall in love with it!

For a floral flourish, try Delightful Morning Blend. A sprinkling of lavender produces a tranquil blend that both pleases the palate and soothes the senses. The mellowness of the florals will lend a softness to the earthiness of the sesame seeds, creating a shortbread that is the best of both worlds!

No matter which blend you choose, your black sesame earl grey shortbread is sure to be a new teatime favorite.

Cheers, friend!


Black Sesame Earl Grey Shortbread


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 2 cups flour
  • ½ cup sugar*
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 Tbsp. Earl Grey loose leaf tea
  • 3 Tbsp. black sesame seeds


*For a crisper cookie, use granulated sugar. For a softer cookie, use powdered sugar.



  1. Grind loose leaf tea as finely as possible using a spice or coffee grinder, or a mortar and pestle. If you don’t have these things, chop the tea as finely as you can.*
  2. Combine all ingredients except sesame seeds in a food processor or large mixing bowl. Mix until a dough forms.
  3. Add sesame seeds and mix until just combined. (Check your dough at this stage—you can always add more tea leaves or sesame seeds to taste if desired!)
  4. Chill dough 15 to 30 minutes (or up to 3 days in the refrigerator**) so that it is easier to handle.
  5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  6. Turn the dough onto a floured surface. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough to preferred thickness.
  7. Use a cookie cutter to cut shortbread into desired shapes, or simply use a knife to cut the cookies into squares.
  8. Bake for 11 to 13 minutes, or until edges of your cookies begin to brown.
  9. Let cool a minute or two on the baking sheet, then remove to a cooling rack.
  10. Sprinkle with additional sesame seeds or drizzle with a glaze, if desired.
  11. Serve with your favorite tea, and enjoy!


*You are also welcome to leave the loose-leaf tea whole. It will simply add a different texture to your finished cookie.


**If your dough has refrigerated overnight, you may need to pull it out of the fridge up to an hour before you plan to form your cookies, to make the dough pliable and easy to work with.

Erica Jolly

Erica Jolly is a born and raised Pacific North Westerner. Rainwater flows through her veins. She is a tea drinker by day, wine drinker by night, and lover of food, yoga, and rambling conversations.
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