Tea Syllabub: A Sweet Treat With Delicious History

Tea Syllabub: A Sweet Treat With Delicious History

Innovative desserts are often delightful and intriguing, but sometimes it’s fun to look to the past for inspiration to satisfy a sweet tooth. Syllabubs were all the rage in the 17th and 18th centuries, considered an essential part of the dessert tray and usually served alongside jellies and ices.

Tea Syllabub: A Sweet Treat With Delicious History

A Historical Treat

In its simplest form, a syllabub is simply cream mixed with sweet wine and whipped until frothy. Traditional recipes usually added lemon juice, lemon zest, a sprig of rosemary, and a sweetener. The mixture was then whipped up with a whisk made of birch branches tied together. It was tedious work, and writings of the time tell of the aching arms and elbows of the poor kitchen maids relegated to syllabub duty.

Once the mixture was whipped thoroughly, the frothy cream was then spooned onto a fine sieve where it drained overnight. The resulting foam served as a topping for sweetened wine.

Special syllabub pots allowed the diner to sip the sweet wine from the bottom of the glass by using a spout (similar to a teapot spout), while spoons were used to scoop up the luscious cream on top. Later on, the spout was removed and syllabubs were served in glasses and eaten with a spoon.

In the latter part of the 18th century, syllabubs were no longer being drained overnight. Instead, the cream and wine confection was whipped together a short time before being served, ensuring that the wine and cream stayed together, resulting in a light and airy dessert that could be served immediately.

Whip One Up

While a traditional lemony syllabub is delicious on its own, the dessert practically begs for experimentation. The cream and wine base may remain the same, but mixing and matching additives leads to a whole range of flavor sensations.

You can fold in fresh fruit or sprinkle the cream with toasted seeds or nuts or even chocolate. Try different herbs such as rosemary, mint, basil, or thyme — but use them sparingly or they will overwhelm the dish. Play around with wines, spices, and sweeteners to personalize your syllabub concoctions.

One simple way to add a unique dimension is to infuse the syllabub with strong flavored teas paired with a wine that suits. Try a berry flavored tea mixed with homemade plum wine, or an exotically spiced tea and a golden tawny port wine. You could even experiment with sparkling wines to add a layer of texture to the creaminess.

No matter how you mix your syllabub, you can never go wrong as long as you use quality cream and flavorsome wine and keep everything cold.

Tea Syllabub: A Sweet Treat With Delicious History

Berry Tea Syllabub

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons loose leaf berry tea (such as Elderberry Apricot Tea)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup plum wine, cold
  • 2 teaspoons real maple syrup
  • fresh mint leaves

Preparation:

Place loose tea in an infuser in coffee mug and cover with boiling water. Let steep at least 10 minutes, or until water is room temperature. Squeeze tea to release all flavor into water, and remove. Stir in 1 teaspoon maple syrup until dissolved.

In a non-reactive bowl, combine whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of cooled strong tea, 2 tablespoons of chilled plum wine, and remaining teaspoon of maple syrup. Beat until soft peaks form.

Place two glasses on counter. Pour 2 tablespoons of tea and 2 tablespoons of plum wine into each glass. Spoon in whipped cream mixture and garnish with fresh mint leaf.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Tea Syllabub: A Sweet Treat With Delicious History

Spiced Tea Syllabub

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons loose leaf spiced tea (such as Portland Chai)
  • 1/4 cup boiling water
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream, cold
  • 1/4 cup tawny port wine, cold
  • 2 teaspoons real maple syrup
  • 1/4teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preparation:

Place loose tea in an infuser in coffee mug and cover with boiling water. Let steep at least 10 minutes, or until water is room temperature. Squeeze tea to release all flavor into water, and remove. Stir in 1 teaspoon maple syrup until dissolved.

In a non-reactive bowl, combine whipping cream, 2 tablespoons of cooled strong tea, 2 tablespoons of tawny port wine, and remaining teaspoon of maple syrup. Beat until soft peaks form.

Place two glasses on counter. Pour 2 tablespoons of tea and 2 tablespoons of port into each glass. Spoon in whipped cream mixture and garnish with ground cinnamon.

Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Photos are courtesy of the author.

Tea Syllabub: A Sweet Treat With Delicious History

Krista Bjorn

Canadian born Krista Bjorn has been traveling and exploring for over 20 years and loves every crazy, embarrassing, and wonderful moment. She's lived in Russia and Portugal and now makes her home in beautiful Queensland, Australia, saving her pennies for her next trip. Her food, photography and travel blog is Rambling Tart.

What Tea We're Sipping on Right Now

Peach Popsicle Herbal Tea (Peach/Almond)

A great summer iced tea - like a popsicle without the mess. $7/oz,$6 as we say goodbye to this tea at the end of the month.

Add to cart

Pineapple Oops Green Tea (Citrus/Pineapple)

A delicious pineapple blend, such a summer treat. $7/oz, $6 as we say goodbye to this tea at the end of the month.

Add to cart

Spiced Berry Refresher Black Tea (Blackberry / Pomegranate)

A bold, refreshing blend perfect for iced tea. $7/oz, $5 as we say goodbye to this tea at the end of the month.

Add to cart

Loose Tea Accessories + Teaware

Care Packages (Tea Gift Sets)

Subscriptions

Sweets & Treats

Popular Tea Themes Right Now:
Fruit Flavored Tea, Any Dessert Flavored Tea, Our Best Floral Teas