The key to any tea bread is thetea– the better the tea, the more interesting the tea, the better and more interesting the end result. I have now made it with breakfast tea,Assam tea,Christmas chai teaandRedbush Chai teaand they all come out with slightly different flavours, but they are all great. The tea should always be made with loose leaf tea as you lose that fustiness from the tea bag, plus why use good ingredients then spoil their subtleties with the imperfection of the flavour from a bag. The other addition that I have made is I have substitutedbuttermilkfor the butter, which adds a different richness to the cake that was not completely right beforehand, however you can either substitute this for a full fat milk or omit this ingredient but then add extra tea to compensate, otherwise the teabread loses some of its moistness, which is part of the joy and vital to the texture.
The other part that I have played with is to work on variations of the steeping of the fruits. Firstly, I think it is better to boil the fruit for 10 – 15 minutes, then to leave the fruit to cool and steep in the brewed tea ideally overnight, but certainly until the fruit has cooled to a warm to the touch temperature. The alternative of steeping in freshly brewed tea did not seem as successful, although fine; perhaps the initial boiling softens upand gets the fruit more receptive to taking up the flavours of the tea.
Finally, I have upped the quantities, the better to fit my loaf tin. The end result is moist, rich and moreish, tasting great with butter.