How to Make Rich Tea Biscuits

February 24, 2015

It's always more fun to DIY. Every week, we'll spare you a trip to the grocery store and show you how to make small batches of great foods at home.

Today: Regula Ysewijn of Miss Foodwise shares with us her recipe for the English classic: rich tea biscuits.

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Tea and biscuits are as essential to Britain's cultural history as the Queen, Turner's moody skies, and queuing. Among Brits, they always elicit the question: Are you a digestive biscuit or a rich tea biscuit kind of person? The primary point of difference is that the digestive crumbles while the rich tea snaps when split in half.

I'd argue that this snap, along with their subtle flavor, makes rich tea the ideal tea biscuit. Rich tea biscuits serve as a blank slate for absorbing the flavor of the tea, and scientists have proven that they are the superior dunkers because of their texture and lower fat and sugar content. While the digestive takes 5 seconds until it starts to fall apart, the rich tea can stay together for a whopping 20 seconds.

Rich tea biscuits have been served as an afternoon snack in Britain since the 17th century, but they earned a place in history more recently when Prince William requested a rich tea biscuit cake for his royal wedding to Kate Middleton. The cake, reported to be a tea-time favorite of the Queen herself, was made with 1,700 biscuits and 40 pounds of chocolate.

More: Want to try digestives for yourself? Read on.

From the Queen's mouth to my stomach: I decided I had to give homemade rich tea biscuits a try. This recipe yields biscuits that are coarser than the commercially produced biscuits, but they work just as well for dunking. My advice? Dunk long and enjoy the soaked biscuit to the fullest.

Rich Tea Biscuits

Makes 22 to 24 biscuits

280 grams all-purpose white flour
tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 heaping teaspoons cane sugar
4 1/12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
2/3 cup cold, full-fat milk

To prepare, place a rack in the center of your oven, preheat to 410º F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut the butter into small cubes, transfer it to the bowl, and start rubbing the butter into the flour until you get a mixture that resembles coarse breadcrumbs. Pour in the milk and use your fingers to mix it together until it becomes a dough. Press and knead briefly. 

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface, divide it in half to make it easier to work with, and roll out half of it as thinly as possible. (Keep in mind that the biscuits will rise and be twice the height!) Using a biscuit or cookie cutter, cut the dough into individual 2 1/3-inch-wide circles. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Prick the biscuits all over with a fork and transfer to your lined baking sheet. Bake the biscuits until lightly golden but not brown. This should take around 10 minutes. Remove them from the oven and let them cool on a baking rack.

Either pour yourself a cup of hot tea, dunk, and enjoy, or store your biscuits in an airtight container. They are best when enjoyed immediately, but will last around 3 to 4 days.

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here.

Photos by Regula Ysewijn

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Slyph63
  • Sarah
  • Che Ru
    Che Ru
  • Bronze
  • Elyse
Regula Ysewijn is a food & lifestyle photographer and divides her time between Belgium and England. She collects vintage English kitchenalia and old and tatty cookery books. Her first book about British food culture 'Pride and Pudding' is out in Dutch october 2015 and will be available in UK,NZ,AUS april 2016


Slyph63 February 10, 2023
Please could put all measurements in the same units instead of grams for one thing and cups for others.
Also what is 41/12 supposed to mean
Sarah February 9, 2018
UK - How much butter is that in grams? :)
Che R. December 28, 2015
I need Rich Tea Biscuits for a baking recipe I want to try today but they don't sell them here in Germany. So I thought I'd just try and bake them myself so I'm really glad I found your recipe. It worked really well and the Biscuits are just great. Thank you so much for uploading it! :)
Regula -. January 8, 2016
I'm so glad you are pleased with the recipe and the biscuits were a succes!!
Bronze October 19, 2015
You changed the ingredients, though. The store-bought ones have only flour, sugar, oil, and a rising agent. Why the change?
Regula -. November 8, 2015
If store bought biscuits have oil, this is mostly because it is cheaper to use than butter. So I use butter. As long as it tastes like a rich tea it is mission accomplished. And this is my recipe, not some kind of recipe from a pack, if the ingredients from a package were a recipe, that would be easy wouldn't it? :) Also take in account that I made these by hand, and the store bought are made by a machine. That's a change too. Other than changing oil for butter I added a little milk and a pinch of salt, it is very possible store bought place this under another term, or that another pack of store bought does contain it. It's all about experimenting to get the best result. :)
petalpusher July 28, 2016
you added love too! Butter is so much healthier than oil.
Elyse February 27, 2015
Can I add to the list please? Are you a rich tea, digestive or a hob nob kinda gal! Hob nobs all the way for me. They can withstand several dunks into the tea and they feel way healthier. Must be the oats!! So going to try making these, since moving to Canada anything to make from the UK seems even more special.
Regula -. March 1, 2015
Happy baking! Maybe a recipe for hob nobs might follow!! ;)
Bronze October 19, 2015
Yes, please make one for hob nobs!
cynbook February 26, 2015
I am thinking of adding a bit of cinnamon with the sugar. Any thoughts?
Regula -. February 27, 2015
I think that would taste really lovely, it will be a different kind of biscuit, but just as delicious. Perfect for dunking into an apple tea!!
Giulia S. February 25, 2015
20 seconds of dunking? wowo, I want to make these cookies soon to enjoy them with my favourite cup of tea!
I will bake them to fill up my jar, as a house has to have a jar of cookies and a pot on the stove to be called home!
Regula -. February 27, 2015
Yes you are so right Giulia!! And if you are a dunker, than this biscuit is perfect for you. What am I saying, you are Italian, of course you are a dunker!! :)
Melina H. February 25, 2015
lovely photographs each and every one! they make me want to pour over the recipe and get started making… ;)
Regula -. February 25, 2015
Thanks so much Melina! Hope you will give them a go! :)