DiversiTea signature shortbread: 
the perfect tea-dunking cookie

Tea EarlGray shortbread
Photo: Marisa Romano

by Marisa Romano

My Sunday morning ritual includes the compilation of a summary grocery list for the trip to the Ottawa Farmers’ Market at Lansdowne Park. “Summary” because, besides the trusted and true food items, I always leave room to bring home the unexpected surprise. This morning, as I stopped at the DiversiTea table, I discovered yet another tea blend. After opening and sniffing a few of the samples on display, I picked “cherry blossom” for my special Sunday afternoon brew and stayed for a chat with the business owners, Louise Allard and Susan Potter.

Allard and Potter started mixing tea leaves with dry fruits and herbs in 2012 and launched their business with a few tea blends when they set up their first table at the Metcalfe Farmers’ Market in the winter of 2013. Soon the business expanded to include the Ottawa Farmers’ Market –temporarily located at Brewer Park – and DiversiTea has been a noteworthy presence at Lansdowne ever since. Nowadays, you can also find DiversiTea blends in many specialty food shops in the Ottawa area. The website (www.diversitea.ca) lists Almonte, Merrickville, Cumberland and other towns and markets in between.

“What prompted you to start blending tea?” I asked. “Six years ago, while attending a Christmas market at Lansdowne, we noticed that no one was blending tea,” recalled Allard. ”Susan asked me if we should try to. After reading and searching online, we signed up for a workshop on types of tea, their taste and health properties, and learned how to use natural flavours. We left feeling excited and ready to begin.”

So far, they have come up with 64 recipes for teas and tisanes. “And that’s it! No more teas,” chuckled Allard. “We can barely keep up.” Some ideas for flavour combinations have come from their customers. “People drop by and ask if

Romano, Marisa
Louise Allard (holding the DiversiTea signature teapot) and Susan Potter at the DiversiTea market stall at the Ottawa Farmers’ Market. Photo: Marisa Romano

we have a tea with a certain ingredient,” explained Potter. “Maybe we don’t, but then that may be a good idea for a new tea blend.”

Allard and Potter purchase tea from estates in China, India, Africa, Egypt and Sri Lanka through two certified organic importers. Their special blends are made with organically produced ingredients, often locally grown, like fruits purchased at the farmers’ market that they dry, and leaves and flowers from their lush gardens.

A display of tea blends ready to tease your senses and the DiversiTea signature teapot greet clients at the market stall. The teapot is a creation of Allard’s daughter, a graphic designer who is also behind the label found on their tea packages and keepsake tins. “Mevy painted the teapot to resemble our label at the Mud Oven down the street and gave it to me for mother’s day the year we launched the business,” reveals Allard with a big smile. “Everybody wants to buy it, but it is not for sale.” Whoops! I was just about to ask the price.

When I asked if they could share a recipe that pairs well with tea, Allard sent me her signature “crisp and buttery shortbread cookies with a hint of Earl Grey.”

Shortbread cookies, a simple mix of sugar, flour and a generous amount of butter, have been paired with tea for years. I do not know exactly where this recipe would fit on the official tea-dunking test scale, but it surely has made it to the top of my list!

Marisa Romano is a foodie and scientist who appreciates interesting and nutritious foods that bring people together.


DiversiTea Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

(yield: two dozen cookies)


1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup icing sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

½ tsp salt

1 ½ tsp ground organic Earl Grey tea


Pre-heat the oven to 350° F.

Cream butter and icing sugar in a large bowl or stand mixer.

Blend all other dry ingredients together and add them in small batches to the butter and sugar mixture.

Mix until a soft dough forms. It will be dry and crumbly at first but will come together nicely.

Roll out the dough on a slightly floured surface until it is ¼ inch thick.

Cut out cookies using a 2-inch round cookie cutter.

Bake on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper for approximately 20 – 22 minutes, until the edges are golden brown.

Now enjoy!

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