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Tea recipes: Cooking with tea

Diana De Cicco is a food editor and writer based in New York City. She has a master's degree from New York University in Food Studies. Her passions are eating, traveling, and eating while traveling.

Tea-riffic recipes

Tea has been known as a healthy beverage for thousands of years. With over 700 phytochemicals in each tealeaf, the health benefits of tea are far-reaching, and the uses for tea go way beyond drinking it. Cooking with tea can create delicious meals from start to finish and a multitude of sweet treats. Here are some tips for cooking with tea and a tasty trio of tea recipes.

Green Tea

Tips for cooking with tea

 

Tea tip #1: Use loose tea

The main difference between loose tea and tea bags is the size and quality of the tealeaves. Usually tea bags consist of broken up tealeaves and the leftover bits, which often lose their essential oils because they are so small. Loose tea, on the other hand, is usually made up of larger or whole tealeaves. When cooking with tea (and not steeping it in water) try to always use loose tea or a good brand of tea bag that you know has larger leaves in it because the tea flavor in your final dishes will be stronger.

Tea tip #2: Choose your type of tea

Black, green, oolong and white tea, the four most common types of tea, are the "real teas" while herbal teas usually refer to fruit or herbal infusions which often contain no tealeaves at all. If you are looking for the nutritional aspects of tea, then using real tea is your best bet, but herbal teas are perfectly fine for cooking and will impart their own delicious, distinctive flavor. Use whichever tea your taste buds enjoy best.

Tea tip #3: Steep tea or whole leaves

Steeping tea in water and using it in liquid form or using the actual tealeaves all depends on your dish. Whole tealeaves make a great crust on chicken or fish when combined with other ingredients such as honey and ginger. Leaves can also be added into a stock or sauce as a spice. Steeped tea can be used as a substitute for water or stock when preparing rice, pasta, grains, soups or homemade cranberry sauce but use half of the regular water or stock and half steeped tea.

Tea tip #4: Experiment

Try cooking with all flavors of teas and mix and match with different proteins, veggies, fruits and grains. Cooking with tea is also a great way to use leftover tea that hasn't been consumed. Tea can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days and different teas can be mixed together to create your own flavorful blend with which to cook.

Tea recipes

Greens with Tea Dressing

Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
1/4 cup loose tea or tea from about 11 tea bags
1 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
Olive oil
1-1/2 pounds any kind of greens, tough stems or ribs removed
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
5 ounces soft goat cheese, cubed or sliced into circles
2 ripe nectarines, plums or apricots, pitted, sliced into wedgesDirections:
1. Toast tea leaves in a skillet for 2 minutes, shaking to avoid burning. Take skillet off of heat and pour in the boiling water. Let steep for 1 minute then strain, saving the liquid and discarding the leaves.2. Saute ginger in a few teaspoons of oil for 1 to 2 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. Add tea liquid to skillet and add greens, stirring to combine. Cook until just wilted and season with salt and pepper.3. Place cooked greens in a serving bowl and drizzle with some of the remaining tea liquid. Top with goat cheese and fruit pieces and drizzle with extra olive oil.

Tea-Smoked Chicken

Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
1 tablespoon peppercorns
2-1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
1 (3- to 3 1/2-pound) whole chicken
1/4 cup loose tea or tea from about 11 tea bags
2 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
Asian sesame oilDirections:
1. Toast peppercorns in a small skillet for 5 minutes, shaking pan to avoid burning. When peppercorns cool, crush them with a mortar and pestle or spice grinder and then grind in the salt.2. Rub peppercorn mixture on the inside and outside of the chicken and place chicken, breast side up in a large steamer set over boiling water. Cook 25 minutes or until chicken is just cooked.3. Meanwhile, cover the inside of wok and the lid with aluminum foil. Add tea and brown sugar to wok and combine. Place a rack in the wok and place chicken on it, breast side up.4. Place covered wok over high heat and cook chicken about 6 minutes, you will see smoke beginning to come out of the wok. Flip chicken and smoke another 6 minutes. Remove chicken from heat and let sit, covered, for 15 minutes. When ready to serve, brush chicken lightly with oil then slice and serve.

Green Tea Ice Cream

Makes 4 servingsIngredients:
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup loose green tea or tea from about 11 green tea bags
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy creamDirections:
1. Heat milk and tea in a pot until simmering. Let rest for 5 minutes then strain, saving the liquid and discarding the leaves.2. Whisk egg yolks and sugar until combined and pale in color. Whisk in the green tea milk and set bowl over a double boiler. Stir the mixture until thick. Take bowl off of heat and stir in the cream.3. Pour the mixture into a metal container, bowl or tray and freeze for 4 hours. Spoon mixture into a bowl and beat until creamy. Place ice cream back into freezing container and freeze for 4 more hours, repeating beating and freezing two more times. Spoon ice cream into a container, cover, and freeze until ready to serve.

Keep reading for more tea-riffic tips and recipes

High antioxidant teas
Types and health benefits of tea
Honey Peanut Steamed Tea Bread

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