Cooking with Tea

by Stephanie Hanson

Whether you begin your day with a cup of Irish Breakfast or end it sipping a nice, mellow white tea, you’re here because you love to drink tea. And if you’re like me, in between those two cups of tea are three or four more. Maybe you even think about pairing tea with your meals. For example, Genmaicha is a traditional Japanese green tea frequently paired with sushi. But have you ever thought about putting the tea straight into your food? That is, cooking with tea? Our favorite beverage is really quite a versatile cooking ingredient.

Steaming Tea Leaves

Tea can be substituted for the liquid in many recipes. For example, try cooking your pasta in green tea instead of water for your next pasta salad. Then toss the cooked pasta with parmesan cheese, tomatoes, pesto, and olive oil. For your entrée, try poaching chicken or fish in tea as well. Use tea instead of water for cooking rice or couscous.

Chris Cason of The Tea Muse has the following suggestions: grinding oolong leaves and mixing with white pepper to make a rub for chicken or steak; using tea as a marinade; or even tossing some green tea leaves into the morning omelet instead of more traditional greens like spinach.

For dessert, try a tea-infused crème brulee (not as challenging as it seems!). Find a crème brulee recipe and steep the leaves in the cream as the first step. No blow torch required: just stick your concoction under your broiler for a minute or two, keeping an eye on it to make sure the sugar doesn’t burn.

If this hasn’t whetted your appetite for tea-infused cuisine, head on over to Tea Chef at Adagio. Every month, Adagio holds a contest for creative cooks to create a dish with a featured tea. The community votes and the winner receives a $50 gift certificate. Reading those recipes is enough to get you into the kitchen, and perhaps, whipping up your own creations.

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