We all love to drink tea, but many of us are interested in exploring its flavors and nuances in other forms. We are drawn to using tea to supplement our spice cabinets, making our traditional recipes a little less ordinary. In Asia, tea has been used in cooking, especially in smoking poultry, for hundreds of years. Tea can be used in marinades, brines, infusions, rubs, and in poaching or pickling liquids among other options. The possibilities are endless. Learn about Cooking Methods >
Tea can add complexity to an otherwise simple dish. It can complement existing flavors or add a striking contrast. It can be used to balance flavor, acidity, sweetness, and richness or it can be used to intensify all of those things.
There are some important rules for cooking with tea:
- Only cook with a tea that you would drink. Using a low quality tea will result in a poor quality dish.
- If you need to prepare a tea "concentrate," increase the amount of tea leaf you are using. If you try to increase the steep time or the water temperature you will end up with a very bitter concentrate.
- If you are going to add tea to baked goods or use it in a rub, you will want to grind the leaves finely with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder. Make sure everything is clean and dry before you start.