Cover and allow mixture to cool to room temperature. You do NOT want it to be warm at all.
Strain well, (and of course, toss the teabags!)
Use the liquid with your recipe, substituting it for the regular milk. As long as you equal the original recipe in liquid and have at least one cup buttermilk, it should still rise. The buttermilk with the self-rising flour seems to be what starts the rise, but the original recipe amount on the buttermilk gives traditional-style soda bread its density. (and yes, the original recipe is dense!) Anyway, I'm nattering and you see why I can't handle the straight forward 1-2-3 recipe board LOL!
Add your drained fruits and nuts (the steeping will make the dried fruit "plump" up and there will be some sweetness already from the fruit in the milk) taste the dough before adding small pinches of honey or raw sugar or regular sugar or fructose to taste. Not too sweet though, or you'll mess up the density and the rise. Also, the fruit adds more moisture, so watch out for it falling apart and needing a pinch or two of extra flour.
(I know from experience!) Also too much sweetening messes with the rise, so be cautious at first. Continue from there as in original recipe.
Extra protein tweak: Start with up to two tablespoons of soy flour in your measuring cup, then add the self-rising flour to make up the original four cups. Soy flour tends to make the bread brown more, but also it needs the reduction on the temperature to go down another 10 to 15 degrees, and you need to extend the baking time by another 5-8 minutes, as soy flour doesn't bake as fast as the self-rising (or regular, for that matter!)
Mostly though....play with it and have fun. It's so easy, and everybody thinks you are an amazing cook when you have them over for soup and homemade bread, or tea and sweet fruit breads!
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