Liquid is liquid, but tea with its historical, medicinal difference is a long-used Asian cooking tradition. Tea’s aromatic, subtle flavoring already makes its way in many cultures in savory dinners, dressings, herb blends, marinades, the barbecue, breads, cakes, chocolates and puddings. Chai is new on the chef’s scene and making interesting advances.
Tea drinking is estimated to have begun in China in the 16th century. It did not start until the 17th century in the UK. Adaptation of tea in India became a given.
The many varieties of tea, whether green, white or black, and flowery, earthy or spicy, contribute subtle aromas and delicate flavors to many wonderful but not necessarily complicated dishes. You can use brewed tea in place of water in many recipes and you can also use ground, dry tea leaves in your dishes.
Tips for tea to use in cooking:
- Like wine, always use a tea which has a flavor you enjoy.
- Green and white tea is considered mellow.
- Black tea is considered heavy and fuller-bodied.
- Other teas are flowery, spicy and fruity, know them all.
- Use tea leaves which have been stored in airtight containers.
- Always freshly brew tea for a recipe. Don’t overbrew.
- Tea can be steeped in fluids other than water such as broth or cream.
Opportunities for tea use.
- Add brewed tea to marinades, sauces and gravies.
- Add brewed tea to soups and stews.
- Add ground dry tea leaves to meat rubs.
- Add ground dry tea leaves to sweet baked goods and breads.
- Add ground tea leaves to dredging mixtures for meat and fish.
- Add ground tea leaves to salad dressings.
- Add tea instead of broth to stir-fries.
- Add to eggs or omelets.
- Combine tea leaves, rice, brown sugar, spices, zest in a foil packet, puncture and place in hot grill coals and shut lid.
- Cook rice, quinoa or other grains in brewed tea.
- Make green tea sherbert.
- Poach chicken or shrimp in green tea.
- Poach dried or fresh fruits in steeped tea.
- Poach salmon in White Tea.
- Sprinkle fresh whipped cream with ground tea leaves.
- Steam or blanch chard or spinach in brewed tea.
- Steep a teabag in warm chicken stock before using.
- Steep tea bag in melted butter, warm olive oil or ghee for delicious sautéing.
- Use tea leaves instead of wood chips in meat smoker.
Here are some foodsites with recipes using tea.