As anyone who’s been reading my articles here at ETS knows all too well, I most emphatically do not drink flavoured tea – that is, any tea with added flavours in the form of syrups or flowers or herbs or dried fruits or whatever. I do, however, always have a few in the house for guests who like flavoured tea … and to use in cooking and baking. I look at flavoured teas as ingredients, not beverages, and enjoy adding them to savoury and sweet dishes and baked goods.
The decision of which flavoured tea to use depends on how the flavour itself best complements the dish at hand. Hot cocoa, for example, is enhanced by vanilla, chocolate, or chocolate mint flavourings; added “texture” and flavor derived from the tea is a delicious bonus.
One favourite use for tea, including flavoured varieties, is for making cranberry sauce. It’s pretty easy to do: Just steep up the tea you’ve chosen as usual – it needn’t be extra strong – then replace the water called for in the recipe with tea. For cooking fresh cranberries, that’s one eight-ounce cup of tea per twelve-ounce package.
Almost every year I make cranberry sauce with a different tea – sometimes to use up tea in the cabinet, other times because it sounds appealing. Here are a few suggestions of teas that complement cranberry sauce, most of which I’ve tried throughout the years:
- Cranberry Orange black tea. I like this one very much. While I’m not a fan of using plain black tea for cranberry sauce, the added flavourings greatly intensify and complement the fruit. Similarly, most berry-flavoured teas – blueberry, raspberry, whichever you like – work nicely with cranberries.
- Vanilla and what I refer to as “candy” flavoured black teas, such as coconut or ginger, depending on your taste. Or a combination of fruit and candy, like this mix of vanilla and pomegranate.
- Blueberry or strawberry green tea. I much prefer making cranberry sauce with green teas as they complement without becoming too “tea-y.”
- Lemon green tea. You can’t go wrong adding lemon – or green tea – to almost any fruit dish.
- If you prefer unflavoured teas, a simple sencha green tea is a good complement to cranberries, as is a green Darjeeling or a Formosa oolong. Any of these will impart a rich texture, intensify the fruit flavour, and add just enough of their own unique taste to the sauce.
- For those who need to watch their caffeine intake, try a decaffeinated tea: green tea, vanilla tea, or peach tea, for example.
I haven’t included any herbal tisanes in the list because this article is about cooking with tea. But if you need to go caffeine-free, do check out herbals that are similar to the flavoured teas described above.
Have a happy – and tea-licious – Thanksgiving!
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