Pumpkin Rooibos Muffins

After my Pumpkin Tea Set post last week, some readers asked me what would become of my pie pumpkins. Well here they are, transformed into homey, humble little muffins…Rooibos Pumpkin Muffins to be exact. Just when you thought those pumpkins had met their last tea pairing with chai, rooibos shows up in baked form!

Rooibos, also known as red bush tea or red tea, is a plant native to South Africa. You’ll find the short, slim stalks of this caffeine-free herb in many tisanes where it lends a mild, aromatic sweetness and gorgeous coppery orange color. I love that you can enjoy the soothing effects of this tea anytime of day.

Pumpkin and rooibos tea are natural partners—both ingredients evoke the warm, earthy flavors of fall. In this recipe, lightly toasting the rooibos before adding it into the batter helps it to release more of its lightly malty flavor. After toasting, I also give the rooibos a light steeping in hot water to help it soften and release even more of it’s rich aroma and essence.

Whether you are drinking or eating them together, rooibos and pumpkin make a delicious culinary match. I like to enjoy these muffins with a pure rooibos-only blend, as the simple taste of the tea will help the spicy cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove flavors to shine. Enjoy these muffins for breakfast, along with a light meal, or as a simple mid-day sweet treat.

Pumpkin Rooibos Muffins

Makes 10 muffins.


1 Tbsp rooibos, about 4-5 tea bags, lightly toasted for 1 minute in a dry pan

1/3 cup hot water

8 oz. pumpkin purée

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 cup brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla

1 egg

1 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp clove


standard muffin tin

10 cupcake liners

2 mixing bowls

cooling rack


1.)  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Rip the rooibos tea bags open, then brew them in 1/3 cup of hot water.

2.)  In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, vanilla and egg. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.

3.)  Gradually add the dry flour mixture into the pumpkin mixture until everything is just moistened. Mix in the rooibos tea (along with the leaves), until the batter is homogenous. Spoon 1/3 cup of the batter into each of the cupcake liners in the muffin pan.

4.)  Bake cupcakes for about 15 minutes, until a toothpick barely comes out clean. Place on a cooling rack to cool before serving.

Tea of the Week: Pukka’s Lemon, Ginger, and Manuka Honey

I’ll admit it, I’m not always the biggest fan of herbal teas. Sometimes, they can taste medicinal, bitter, or just plain strange. Just when I want to write them off, I’ll stumble upon a blend that changes my mind. It’s possible for caffeine-free blends to be every bit as delicious as tea-based ones…sometimes, it just takes a bit of trial and error. One of these pleasing herbal blends is Pukka’s Lemon, Ginger, and Manuka Honey Herbal Tea…enticing from first site to last sip!

If you aren’t familiar with the tea company Pukka, this colorful, vibrant brand is built on organic herbal teas for well-being. If you ever come across a set of Pukka’s teas, you won’t be able to take your eyes off of them. Each box looks like an artfully wrapped gift. The mere glimpse of their packaging makes me feel like some yoga and meditation time are in order.

I first discovered Pukka Teas at the Berkeley Bowlan artisan food store just outside of the U.C. Berkeley campus, which happens to be my hubby’s alma mater. It’s not surprising to find a brand like Pukka in place Berkeley, as the label prides itself on values like healthfulness, conservation, and the protection of nature. You can literally taste that vision in each sip of their teas…all of their brews are naturally organic and free of artificial flavoring.

If you like the spicy taste of ginger, then you will certainly enjoy this blend. At first, you’ll taste the sharp acidity and slight bitterness of the lemons. This gentle kick is followed by a tinge of heat from the ginger followed by a smooth, lingering touch of mild sweetness from manuka honey, a New Zealand sourced treasure that’s thought to have antioxidant properties.

As we head into flu season, Pukka’s Lemon, Ginger, and Manuka Honey Tea is the ideal brew to nourish yourself with. The blend is so deeply soothing that you can easily drink it before an afternoon snooze or even just before bedtime. Whether you are feeling sick or not it doesn’t matter, because this rejuvenating cup of pure comfort is bliss anytime you’re in need of some extra TLC.

Tasting Notes for Pukka’s Lemon, Ginger, & Manuka Honey Herbal Tea:

BREWING TIPS:  212 degrees F for at least 5 minutes. Just leave the tea bag in to steep for as long as you want!

THE BLEND:  Sun-ripened Sicilian lemons and ginger root, both slow-dried. The blend also has licorice root, elderflower, fennel seed, lemon verbena leaf, turmeric root, lemon essential oil, lemon myrtle leaf, and manuka honey flavor mixed in.

THE SCENT:  Smells of sunny citrus blossoms and fragrant ginger.

THE STEEP:  The tisane is floral, slightly sweet, and very smooth and soothing. Brews to a frosty yellow like fresh lemonade. Even though the blend has a good amount of lemon and ginger root, it isn’t harsh, acidic, or bitter. The fennel seeds help to round out the flavors without overwhelming the brew.

GET IT:  Find this blend online at the Pukka’s beautiful site and also on Amazon or some vitamin/health food stores. If you are ever around the Berkeley area in Northern California, definitely check out the Berkeley Bowl, where you’ll find a huge variety of Pukka’s teas to choose from and many other organic goodies as well!

FOOD PAIRING:  This blend will enhance any lightly sweet treat with ginger or lemon in it. Gingersnaps, a lemon poppy seed muffin, or a thick slice of Hachiya Persimmon Bread would all be perfect with this herbal brew.

Yanabah Navajo Tea

Yanabah Navajo Tea is an herbal tea made from the greenthread plant.  Greenthread is actually a member of the sunflower family, and grows wild on Navajo reservation lands where it is harvested during fall and winter months.  It is most plentiful in the Four Corners Region of the United States, including Arizona and New Mexico.

Grandmother Yanabah is the inspiration behind this brand of tea.  She shared the process of picking, drying, and brewing this mellow and comforting blend to future generations, hoping they would cherish and continue such traditions.  It is through her that Yanabah Navajo Tea was born.

I prefer to drink Navajo tea hot, as it’s gentle, earthy qualities are most obvious this way. The drink has an undeniably calming effect, wonderful for winding down after a long, hectic day.  Freshly made golden fry breads make an authentic snack to have with Greenthread tea.   With each sip and bite, you’ll be transported farther back into a simpler time and place of Native American tradition.

Tasting Notes:

BREWING TIPS:  3-4 minutes @ 212 degrees F.

THE LEAF:  Super-thin, almost fiber-like long leaves.

THE SCENT:   Grassy and herbal, much like chrysanthemum and other herbal flower teas.

THE STEEP:  A sunny yellow with a slight green hue.  Mild and mellow, with a gentle sweetness.  Serve hot or over ice.  Add honey or agave nectar if you’d like!

GET IT:  At the Yanabah Tea website or through Amazon.