Tea is usually saved for drinking, but recently chefs have been using tea as an ingredient in savory and sweet recipes. Everything from chicken to fish to cupcakes can benefit from adding tea, so experiment with all different kinds of tea and enjoy a uniquely flavored dish. Here are some ideas for cooking with tea to help you get started.
Cooking with Liquid tea
One way to use tea in savory dishes is to use it in liquid form. You can brew your favorite tea and then use it as a marinade. For example, chicken and salmon are terrific marinated in tea. Tea will give your meat delicious and complex flavor and also help make it moist and juicy.
You can pretty much use any kind of tea, however, some will work better than others. Green tea, Assam, Earl Grey, and basic black tea add great flavor.
Try to stay away from flavored teas such as vanilla because they will impart that flavor onto the protein (lemon tea or some fruity teas may work, however). You can even use brewed tea to cook rice or pasta (cook just as you would rice or pasta with water).
Cooking with Loose tea
Another way to use tea is as a spice. For example, combine your favorite loose tea with salt or chili powder, or any of your favorite spices. Use it as a rub on pork or steak, too. Chai tea works great, and so does Earl Grey.
Simply grind up loose tea leaves using a mortar and pestle, if you have one, otherwise use a clean coffee grinder and grind in peppercorns, chili powder, or any other dried herbs or spices. Cardamom, tarragon, or basil are great options. Rub the spice mix on steak or pork and then grill or cook as you desire.
Cooking with Tea in sweets
To use tea in sweet desserts, like cakes or cupcakes, you can either simply mix loose tea into the recipe or you can make a tea-infused butter or sugar.
To make tea-infused butter, just melt butter and add the tea to it; let it infuse for a few minutes, then pour the mixture through cheesecloth to separate the tea from the butter. Let the butter cool until it hardens and use it in your recipe.
You can also do the same with sugar. Heat equal parts sugar and water over low heat until all the sugar has dissolved; add loose tea leaves and let infuse for a few minutes; strain through cheesecloth and pour into a clean container; leave at room temperature and use in place of sugar in recipes.