As one of the most popular beverages in the world, tea comes in a variety of flavors and origins – from soothing chamomile to the antioxidant power of green tea. What many people don’t know is that cooking with tea is not a new concept. In fact, the ancient Chinese stuffed fish with dried pungent oolong leaves before steaming, boiled eggs with tea leaf water, and added tea leaves to their fires when smoking duck. If you’re looking for creative ways to incorporate tea into the way you prepare food, consider the following suggestions:
As a Dessert
From shortbread cookies to tea biscuits, green tea has found a place in many recipes for desserts. For instance, green tea powder (called matcha) is an ingredient used in a range of Japanese-style sweets. Some bakers and chocolate makers will incorporate green tea into their recipes. One example is the Organic Chocolate Green Tea Bar – filled with a creamy green tea center and wrapped in a blanket of dark chocolate. Other ways to use tea as a dessert ingredient includes Earl Grey Muffins, Spiced Chai Cookies, and Green Tea Sorbet.
As a Marinade
Leftover tea makes a decent marinade for dishes with meat. Marinade your chicken breasts with tea possessing a distinct flavor, such as Earl Grey, to create an aromatic dish. Some vegetarians have even marinated their tofu in tea before serving. It’s also suggested to explore the aromatic distinction of East Indian teas, which offer hints of cardamom, cinnamon, black pepper, clove, nutmeg, and lemongrass.
As a Meat Tenderizer
Avoid tough cuts of meat by using tea as a tenderizer. Experiment with different flavors, such as rooibos tea – also known as ‘red’ tea.
As a Spicy Rub or Coating
If you grind tea leaves (such as oolong) in a pepper mill and combine with white pepper, you can create a savory rub for pork chops and steak – perfect for enhancing Asian-style dishes. Coat your meat, fish, or poultry with dried tea leaves to create a crunchy texture and appealing flavor. Poultry and seafood usually respond well to smoked teas.
As a Rice Enhancer
Don’t have aromatic rice to serve as a side dish? Create your own by adding a bit of tea (like Jasmine) to create varying levels of flavor and fragrances. Since tea is an edible leaf, you may also add to rice to produce interesting dishes. For example, some teas possess an earthy taste comparable to spinach.