Best British tea-dipping biscuits
30 Nov 2020
Laurel and Hardy, Thelma and Louise, Biscuits and Tea-dunking. Classic duos that seem to be made for one another. Our luxury biscuits take this dynamic to the next level. Crisp biscuit bases topped with smooth chocolate are just waiting to meet tea’s warm embrace; the perfect combination of crunch and melt.
According to a BBC documentary, dunked biscuits really do taste better.
It’s all to do with the aroma, the documentary highlighted, following a comparison between dry biscuits and biscuits dipped in tea. Dunked biscuits produce twice as many aroma compounds as dry ones.
Dunking allows the aroma and taste compounds in biscuits to “diffuse out to the mouth and the nose much more efficiently,” said Dr Fisk, who carried out the comparison.
That being said, do all biscuits dunk equally? Which British biscuits are the best for tea-dipping?
Rich Tea Biscuits
As its name suggests, the Rich Tea biscuit is a classic tea companion and was hailed the number one dunking biscuit in 2019.
This crispy biscuit snaps, rather than crumbling and its consistency, along with its subtle malty flavour, makes it ideal for soaking up tea.
When dunked, it can hold its shape for nearly a minute (58 seconds) without breaking, according to an experiment carried out by Wren Kitchens. Though a Rich Tea will hold together, it tends to swell after 4 seconds, losing its distinctive texture.
These biccies are so much a part of UK culture that McVitie’s Rich Teas have been described as tasting ‘like Britain itself, just like the nation’s past and future.’
Digestive biscuits get their name because they contain sodium bicarbonate which can help relieve stomach upsets. Since first being developed in Scotland in 1892 by the McVities brothers, Digestives have become another British biscuit staple.
Their semi-sweet flavour makes them a great addition to a good cuppa.
One biscuit-dipping study looked at the number of dunks, rather than the length of tea submersion. The results showed that Digestives could only withstand only 8 dunks before crumbling. Their chocolate-coated counterparts, Chocolate Digestives, were far more tea-resistant, lasting 18 dunks. We’re all for lashings of chocolate, and it seems the extra layer helps biscuits keep their shape for longer as well as adding a delicious cocoa flavour.
Custard Creams are pretty sandwich biscuits with baroque-style markings. The custard-flavoured filling makes these biscuits one of the sturdiest for dunking, with a breaking point of 1 minute, 6 seconds. If you have a sweet-tooth, Custard Creams are the perfect nibble for your tea break.
Bourbons sandwich a butter-cream filling between two chocolate flavoured biscuits.
The Bourbon kept its shape the longest in Wren Kitchens’ Great Dunking Debate. It lasted 2 minutes, 39 seconds before breaking — a whole minute and 19 seconds longer than the runner up.
As well as pairing nicely with a classic builder’s brew, Bourbons’ chocolatey flavour is complemented by ginger tea. Ginger and chocolate are a match made in heaven. To really enhance this flavour pairing, why not try dipping a bourbon into a comforting mug of velvety Ginger Hot Chocolate?
Slightly less traditional than the Rich Tea or Digestive, cookies still make a tasty tea-time choice. These sweet, chunky biscuits come in all different varieties, from cinnamon snickerdoodles to sugar cookies. Find out more about cookies and how they compare to other types of biscuits.
Wren Kitchens looked at the classic chocolate chip cookie for their dunking experiment — specifically the Maryland Cookie, which only lasted 21 seconds before breaking.
Originating in Scotland, shortbread biscuits are sweet, dense, and crumbly. The thicker shape of a shortbread finger seems to help it hold together when dunked in tea. Wren Kitchens’ experiment put shortbread’s breaking point at 1 minute 20 seconds.
The recommended tea-dipping time is a little longer for these chunky snacks — 11 seconds to make sure it absorbs all that lovely tea. However, it’s worth the wait. The combination of warm tea and shortbread’s rich, buttery texture yields a satisfying melt.
Our Biscuits of the Gods Shortbreads are enveloped in rich, smooth chocolate to make your tea-time experience even more decadent.
If you’re looking for the best biscuits for dipping in tea, you might think these could be the winners. Ginger biscuits tend to be compact, making them the ideal size for a mug. However, despite their close, robust texture when dry, their performance was middle of the road when it came to tea-dipping. Ginger Nuts can withstand 32 seconds before breaking but tend to lose their pleasant texture and flavour early on.
As you can probably guess from the name, Malted Milks have a high milk content and a subtle malty flavour that really complements a classic breakfast tea or a dark hot chocolate.
However, although they may be compatible with tea flavour-wise, Malted Milks averaged 20 seconds of tea-submersion, or just 4 dunks, before breaking.
Named after the city in the South of France, these dainty biscuits have a delicate coconutty flavour. Though their texture when dry is crisp, they’re not the best biscuits for dipping in tea. It seems that Nice biscuits only last 3 dunks before falling apart.
A burst of colour amongst the beiges and browns of other biscuits, Pink Wafers are delicately layered pink biscuits with a sweet vanilla flavouring. But are they dunkable? The short answer is no. Their fine texture and cream filling tend to disintegrate into a mushy paste.
Hotel Chocolat Biscuits
Our Biscuits of the Gods are luxuriously coated in high-cacao chocolate to perfectly balance the sweetness of the melt-in-your-mouth biscuit bases. These irresistible treats are ideal as a standalone or accompanied by a hot cup of tea to warm the cockles of your heart.
Relax, and let the indulgence wash over you as you break apart one of our Chocolat Pillows to reveal an opulent crème filling. Choose from pure Milk Chocolate, Salted Caramel, Hazelnut, and Mint Chocolate, for a flavour that pairs exquisitely with a variety of teas.
Our Biscuits and Hot Chocolate Collection makes a beautiful gift, and all our biscuits are individually wrapped to keep them crisp and fresh, though we imagine they won’t stay in the tin for very long…
How to master biscuit tea-dipping
Around 165 million cups of tea are drunk daily in Britain, and the ‘perfect’ cuppa is very subjective. The same goes for biscuit tea-dipping. If you enjoy the crumbly paste left at the bottom of the mug after soaking a Digestive, by all means, fill your boots!
Various experiments suggest that the ideal length of time or number of dunks for perfect tea-dipping depends on the type of biscuit. However, the consensus seems to be between 4 and 9 seconds for most British biscuits. This is the optimum time to allow the biscuit to absorb enough of the tea to let those magical aromas diffuse, while still retaining its shape and flavour.
There are some exceptions, such as the 3-second flash dunk recommended for Ginger Biscuits, which tend to disintegrate quickly.
Recommended dunking times:
- Rich Tea: 4 seconds
- Digestive: 5 seconds
- Custard Cream: 8 seconds
- Bourbon: 7 seconds
- Cookie – 6 seconds
- Shortbread: 11 seconds
- Ginger Biscuit: 3 seconds
- Malted Milk: 6 seconds
- Nice: 4 seconds
- Pink Wafer: not recommended
Why not try dipping our Biscuits of the Gods in tea to see how they compare to other biscuit dunking times?