As surprising as it may sound, the tradition of cooking with tea is almost as old as tea itself. A nice cup of tea is probably the first thing one needs to kick-start their day but people have been using tea as an ingredient in food for centuries. Cooking with tea exposes us to new flavours and aromas thereby creating a sensual and gastronomic experience.
Tea, when looked at as a spice, opens several doors of opportunities and can be used to create something spectacular. Whether savoury or sweet, each variant of tea provides a unique and exotic flavour profile, adding a delightful edge to your favourite dish.
It’s important to note, however, that brewing tea for food is different from regular brewing of tea. The Chinese used to brew tea for cooking by pouring pure spring water over the leaves and allowing it to brew at room temperature ensuring that the tea was neither too bitter nor too astringent. But here’s the easier, more accessible option: brew black tea at a low temperature, say 85 degrees centigrade for about 3-4 minutes to extract the right flavours. Green Tea requires lower temperatures and lesser time to brew and Herbal Teas, which are caffeine-free, can be brewed for roughly 4-5 minutes to enhance its flavour.
From soups and chicken to cakes and ice creams, here are a few techniques that will help you to eat more tea:
1. Infuse Tea with water:
Tea leaves can enhance the flavour greatly when added to boiling water for pasta, noodles, rice or quinoa. A simple way to do this would be cook rice with lemon tea, adding a much-needed edge to an otherwise boring dish.
2. Smoke your food with Tea:
Burning tea leaves is an age-old technique to smoke foods like chicken, salmon, and vegetables. Almost all kinds of tea can be used for the smoking process, though black, jasmine and green work best, adding deep, aromatic and smoky flavours to your meal.
3. Tea leaves with Soups:
Add a generous pinch of tea leaves to your soup stock ingredients. Black tea works best for this, adding rich, well-balanced flavours to your dish.
4. Tea in your marinade:
Tea is a great ingredient for that perfect marinade. Brew your favourite cup of tea and add oil, spices, and herbs to it to make a delicious marinade for meat. You can also use this marinade as a dressing by blending it with some yogurt or fresh fruits and generously apply some on the final dish.
5. Tea leaves for desserts:
Tea is a popular ingredient in desserts. For example, Matcha is a green tea variant that is being used across the world to whip up some amazing cakes, ice creams, and even chocolates. Similarly, Earl Grey Tea works wonders when added to chocolate or to make ice cream.
So there you have it, a few simple ways to include tea into some of your favourite home-cooked meals.