Ok… this is hands-down my favorite recipe I have made for the blog so far. I’m not too surprised considering that Swedish Söderblandning tea is probably my favorite tea ever. It’s fruity and flowery, plus the loose leaf version is so pretty to look at…
I was first introduced to this type of tea by a classmate a few months after moving to Stockholm. Well, I should say re-introduced, because I found out later that this was the exact tea that my mormor (grandma) always drank and is a favorite in my family. Then for my birthday, one of my aunts then gave me a tin of Söderblandning from The Tea Centre Stockholm (seriously, the best tea and the cutest tins!) and I have been hooked ever since.
A little background on this type of tea… It is called Söderblandning because it was created on the island of Södermalm in Stockholm. If you didn’t know already, Stockholm city is actually made up of fourteen islands (with more surrounding it in the archipelago). Each area of Stockholm is unique and has its own character, so I thought it’d be fun to share this cookie recipe but also talk about the differences between each area we’ve lived so far and explain why we had to move so many times (3 times in one year is a lot!).
When we first arrived in Stockholm, exhausted, dragging our tubs filled with our belongings and a giant cat-carrier with two cats huddled in the corner, we went straight to our new home on Södermalm. For months before the move, we had been searching online for a place to call our home in Stockholm, using blocket, bostaddirekt, and asking friends/family. We knew it was hard to find a place in Stockholm….but did not anticipate just how hard.
To understand why it is so hard to find a place to live here, you have to know the system. There are two types of contracts that you can get for an apartment (well three, if you are willing to go “under the table” I suppose)… there is “first hand”, meaning you rent directly from the municipality at a very low cost and can basically live there as long as you want; and “second hand” where you rent from someone who owns the apartment or has a first hand contract, which means it’s WAY more expensive.
“If it’s so much more expensive, why would anyone go for a second-hand contract?” you might ask… well, it is SUPER hard to get a first-hand contract in Stockholm. In order to get one, you need to pay money to be on a waitlist which in Stockholm has an average wait-time of…
Not months… years. In fact, the most popular areas of Stockholm can be even longer, averaging around 13+ years. So basically if you want a first-hand contract you should have signed up like yesterday… or better yet, when you were born. According to this article, the waitlist in Stockholm is 7x longer than it was 15 years ago, and it is estimated it will take 50 years for everyone on the list right now to get an apartment, so…. yup, it’s second-hand contract for us!
So we were pretty happy to find a second-hand apartment on Södermalm. It was small (cozy?), but it was home….or at least it was home for 6 months while our landlord studied abroad in the US (funny, right?). This was an especially lucky find because Södermalm is one of the trendiest areas to live in Stockholm for young people…it has the best restaurants, tons of bars, and a unique vibe about it (think Capitol Hill if you’re from Seattle). It’s also not too far to walk to the Old Town / Gamla Stan, which is the cutest island and area of Stockholm (and we will never, ever, EVER be able to afford to live there or probably will never even know anyone who will ever live there). Although we loved having a plethora of restaurants to choose from on Södermalm, we lived on the busiest street on the island and by the time 6 months was up, we were ready for something quieter.
Which is why it was perfect when one of my aunts asked if we would want to rent her apartment while she was away in England for five months. She lives in Östermalm, a very nice, quiet and historical area of Stockholm. Now, we’ll probably never be able to afford to live in this part of Stockholm again, so we really tried to soak up our time there. It is close to the island of Djurgården, which has a giant park and all the best museums, so we definitely took advantage of that…and Östermalm itself is beautiful to walk through, as it’s filled with historic buildings and incredible doors, like this one…
The area also has restaurants (although most were too expensive for us) and a pretty popular club scene (not really my style anymore), but my favorite part of living there was that my aunt’s apartment was across the street from where my mom grew up. Literally… walking out of her door, you looked right at the door of my mom’s old apartment. It was so fun to walk around the area, past her old school and the park she played in, and feel a bit closer to her.
After my aunt returned, we began the apartment hunt once again. Of course, yet again, it was a difficult process… We almost got scammed once (Wait, you live in Poland and want me to send you a deposit before we meet? No thanks!) … emailed probably 40 different places in English and Swedish (you seriously get so desperate you start thinking about little things like, will they like us more if we’re American or Swedish?!) … and saw a few apartments where we were given 10 minute time slots between the dozens of other interested people (needless to say, we did not get any of those). Finally, we found a house… it was a bit outside the city, which made me skeptical at first… so I have to thank my husband for pushing me to still go see it because now that we live here, I am absolutely in love! And yes, it is a house, which is pretty rare for Stockholm. Technically we are in a suburb of Stockholm, but we are only a few subway stops away and don’t feel too disconnected. It is definitely a quieter life than the other two place we’ve lived, but the space (and the price) make it worth it.
Phew, I sure had a lot to say about living in Stockholm! Hopefully I didn’t scare too many people away from ever moving here…
Despite the difficulties, everyone I know (including us, of course) has eventually found a place to live. It may take more work than finding a home in another city, but it’s worth it when you live in the most beautiful city in the world (in my humbly, biased opinion).
And so, here are the most delicious cookies (seriously, I can’t tell you enough how much I love them) inspired by the tea that represents our first home in Stockholm. Hope you love them as much as I do!
Söderblandning Tea Butter Cookies
- 1 cup salted butter / 200g saltat smör
- 1 teaspoon söderblandning tea / söderblandning te
- ¾ cup sugar / 1.5 dl socker
- 1 + 1 eggs / ägg
- 2 cups flour / 5 dl vetemjöl
- Raw sugar / råsocker
- Grind the loose leaf tea using a spice grinder or food processor until it is in fine pieces
- Add ground tea to the butter in a pot over low heat, lightly stirring until the butter is partially melted (better if it’s less melted than more)
- Place the butter-tea mixture in the fridge for about 30 minutes, or until solid
- Beat the solid butter and sugar on medium speed for a few minutes, or until fluffy (if doing by hand, may need to add a few more minutes)
- Beat in one of the eggs to the mixture
- Slowly mix in flour (may need to add a touch more flour if the dough is too wet)
- Squeeze the dough together and roll out into two logs that are about 2 inches / 5 cm in diameter
- Place dough logs in the fridge for about 1 hour
- Just before taking the dough out, preheat the oven to 350° F / 175° C and make an egg wash (mix one egg with one teaspoon of water)
- Cut dough logs into slices that are about ½ inch / 1 cm thick
- Brush the tops of each cookie with egg wash, then sprinkle with raw sugar and place on a lined baking sheet
- Place the baking sheet with the cookies in the freezer for 10+ minutes
- Take cookies directly from the freezer to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through
- Store in an airtight container for up to 2-3 days