Partner Features

Teatime with Abi Balingit

We talked with Abi Balingit, the creator of The Dusty Kitchen and author Mayumu: FIlipino American Desserts Remixed. Here's the tea.
Teatime with Abi Balingit

This Teatime—a storytelling series sharing people's unique experiences with tea—we chatted with cookbook author and self-proclaimed sweet-tooth Abi Balingit to discuss the role tea plays in her life.

Abi got her start with her popular baking blog. From there, she published her first cookbook, Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed which landed her on the New York Time’s list of best “Best Cookbooks of 2023”.  Her bold flavor combinations and imaginative recipes are a delicious homage to her Filipino roots. 

Q: Can you share your journey to food and baking?

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and first started learning how to bake when I was 13 years old. Blogs and Food Network truly raised me! It wasn’t until 2020 that I created my baking blog The Dusky Kitchen and started selling my desserts to support mutual aid organizations. Fast forward three years, I published my cookbook Mayumu: Filipino American Desserts Remixed and it’s been a whirlwind ever since. I love food and it’s been a passion of mine that I’m glad I finally pursued as a writer and recipe developer. 

Q: What is your relationship to tea? 

I’m fond of drinking tea in the mornings to jumpstart my day. My boyfriend Jason and I live near a Variety Coffee, and that’s where I usually get a chai latte and a teddy bear financier to-go. As a child, I was really obsessed with the idea of having fancy tea parties where you gather all your friends together to dress up in cute dresses. I think that it’s fascinating to see how even setting aside a little time in the day to make a cup of tea for myself as an adult is now a luxury in itself. 

Q: What significance does tea have in your life? In your family? In your culture?

Being Filipino, my mom is a firm believer in salabat being a cure-all for every sickness. Salabat is a hot ginger tea that I like mixed with a lot of honey and calamansi (Philippine lime). My parents would always brew it using fresh ginger and whenever I’ve gotten a cold or cough, drinking it would feel so soothing. 

Q: Share a tea memory & its significance to your life/family/culture?

In 2016, I studied abroad with my best friend during the summer before my senior year of college. We went to the University of Sussex and spent a lot of time in Brighton where I think I drank the most tea I’ve ever had in my life. English breakfast black tea with scones, jam, clotted cream, and cucumber sandwiches really were hallmarks of every afternoon tea we shared. I think about that summer often, and just how much I loved sipping tea with someone I loved in a place so new to both of us.