A post on the (now defunct) tea blog Steep, Sip, Smile, "’tis the season for holiday teas" got me thinking. This post was about holiday teas and holiday cookies. The post resonated me because of the way the author, Mary Beth, remarked that she is usually not a big fan of sweets and tends to like her tea unsweetened.
The thought of "holiday teas" and holiday cookies got me thinking about the cookies that I like most. One type of holiday cookie that I really love is gingerbread cookies, and I like gingerbread cookies that use a lot of very dark molasses. I like the cookies to come out very dark brown, almost black, and I like them to have a strong molasses flavor but without being very sweet. One way to achieve this is by using blackstrap molasses, a very dark type of molasses that is not particularly appealing looking:
This photo by Badagnani, courtesy of Wikimedia commons, licensed under CC BY 3.0.
Molasses, an interesting by-product:
One thing that I find interesting about molasses is that it is a by-product of the production of refined sugar. As sugar is refined, all the other things in the sugar cane become concentrated in the by-product. As a result, molasses is extremely high in iron and other mineral nutrients. According to the USDA Nutrient database, a tablespoon (20g) of typical molasses contains only 11 grams of sugar, yet has 5% of your iron and 4% of your calcium for the day. This may not exactly be the healthiest food, but it sure beats refined sugar.
This whole phenomenon is interesting to me because it reflects some of the things that are harmful about how our society treats food. We highly process and refine certain foods, and in doing so, the more "desirable" foods actually become less nutritive. The refining of sugar is in many respects analogous to the refining of grains to produce white flours. But this is just an aside...back to tea.
Molasses in tea:
Have you ever used molasses to sweeten tea? If you do, I would not recommend using blackstrap molasses like that pictured above. I actually don't have any molasses on hand so I can't even try this out, but I was thinking about the combination of tea and molasses and wanted to throw the idea out there.
My intuition is that I'd like to put molasses in a strong, malty black tea like an Assam, or perhaps a deep, fruity black tea like Keemun. I'd also imagine that it would be hard to get it to dissolve...molasses is extremely viscous and tends to be slower to dissolve than honey.
I really have no idea how it would taste though. If anyone has tried it, or tries it after reading this post, please let me know.