A cup of tea is the ultimate treat to help us relax and rejuvenate any time of the day, rain or shine. But did you know that besides brewing a lovely drink, your precious tea leaves can also be used in cooking?
Yes, the unique and complex flavor of teas and tisanes -be it sweetness, spiciness, grassiness or smokiness- can give your favorite dishes a new character that will amaze you! The options are truly endless as long as you use your imagination and creativity!
This post will help you discover a whole new world of flavors and aromas that will make your cooking an unforgettable experience. And don’t forget that tea will not only make your meals delightful, but healthier too due to its potent antioxidants!
How to cook with Tea
- Use as a seasoning
Grind your favorite type of tea (preferably oolong, green or earl grey) in a coffee grinder to make a great flavoring for your meats. You can also add your ground tea leaves in your sauces or on top of salads and other dishes as you would with any other kind of seasoning for extra flavor.
- Infuse water and cooking liquids
Instead of using plain water in any recipe that requires it, you can simply substitute it with some steeped tea (cooled). The same method can also apply when making broth or milk or cream instead of tea. This way you can cook your favorite pastas, rice, potatoes, oatmeal or other grains using steeped tea for a more aromatic dish!
- Infused butter
You use butter in most of your recipes and everyday snacking but did you know that instead of plain old butter you can infuse it with tea leaves for a more pronounced and aromatic taste before preparing baked goods, or spreading on breads and other foods? You can make your own tea butter by letting your butter to soften or melt, adding ground tea leaves and mixing up well. You can place your mixture in a container, keep refrigerated and use anytime desired. If you don’t like the tea leaf particles in your butter you can melt your butter in a saucepan, add leaves and let steep for a few minutes until the flavor is extracted and then strain.
- Infused Milk (dairy and non-dairy milk)
In recipes that call for milk such as desserts or soups you can try to steep tea in milk before using it. To do so you can heat your milk slowly just below its boiling point and steep your tea leaves or tea bags for a few minutes before removing. Let your milk cool down before using. This will add a savory and mysterious flavor to your desserts. The best teas to use for cream based dishes are chamomile and lavender blends as well as some green teas.
- Tea Cookies and cakes
Cookies, cakes and cupcakes with tea flavoring are quite common and have become increasingly popular in the past years especially due to matcha green tea. You can make pretty much any kind of dessert you desire using matcha powder or powdered tea leaves and tisanes to enhance its taste and flavor! You can also use flavored tea butter or milk and water in them as well, or sprinkle your cakes and cookies with some matcha or tea leaves.
- Marinade and tenderize meats
Tea can also be amazing for marinades! Marinating your meats in tea will make them more tender by breaking down muscle tissue, will add a herbaceous and vigorous flavor but may also help reduce potentially cancerous compounds in meat. You should use a strong brew if you really want the flavor of the tea to come through. Also keep in mind that all kinds of tea have different flavor profiles so they are all suitable for different kinds of meats. Green tea‘s grassy taste pairs well with chicken and turkey while the citrus flavor of Earl grey goes well with pork and lamb. Black tea and oolong teas would be a perfect candidates for seafood and fish and sweet teas are excellent for barbecues.
- Use in smoothies
A smoothie is a quick and easy way to ensure we meet our body’s daily nutritional needs and fuel ourselves for more energy. Boosting your smoothie with tea instead of milk, ice or juices can make it even more delicious and nutritional. Simply steep some of your favorite tea and add or use a teaspoon of matcha powder for a powerful energy booster. If you use ice in your smoothies, you can replace your water ice cubes with tea ice cubes for extra flavor.
- Make ice creams, water ice or popsicles
Some of the desserts few people would think of adding tea in, are ice creams or water ice. Making ice cream or water ice with tea infused milk or steeped tea is not uncommon though and can also result in a distinctive and very refreshing flavor! You can also make ice creams and water ice using matcha powder green tea.
- Poach fruits
You can poach dried fruits, pears or apples with tea and sugar to make a delicious and healthy dish for breakfast, afternoon snack or dessert along with some cream or ice cream.
How do you like to use tea in your cooking? Is there any particular dish you enjoy with added tea?