In case it wasn’t already clear from my ode to the wonderful world of teapots, I’m a big fan of tea. There are few things I enjoy more at the end of the day than a warm cuppa and biscuit, or cookie if you prefer. While my evening rituals may sound pretty boring to some, they are complimented by my experimental approach to cooking. I’m always on the lookout for new spins on old recipes.
You can probably see where this is heading, but it turns out that there are a number of unusual ways to incorporate tea leaves into recipes. Here are three uses for tea that you’ve probably never tried.
Chicken noodle soup
Both chicken noodle soup and a warm cup of tea can do wonders for a head-cold so why not combine the two? While this combination may seem odd to us in the west, in China green tea is a fairly common ingredient in savory foods. Adding a small amount of green tea leaves adds a a fairly pleasant grassy taste to the soup.
Next time you’re making a batch of soup try adding about two pinches of green tea leaves to the stock as it’s simmering. You can also try including it in any ramen noodle dishes to add a little creamy complexity.
Now we aren’t talking about ribs and brisket here, although if you want to try and smoke those with some tea be my guest! Once again, China has a strong tradition for smoking meats using green tea leaves. Sichuan smoked duck for example is prepared by dry smoking green tea leaves. Unlike the muscular flavours inherent in American barbecued foods, tea-smoked meat is sweeter and less intense.
You can use green tea to smoke chicken, duck, turkey, and pork. Simply line the bottom of a wok with some tin foil and add 1/4 cup of green tea leaves and 1/4 of white rice. Heating this mixture on a medium heat will result in a healthy amount of smoke.
Tea and cookies are a match made in heaven, so why not just cut out the middleman and combine the two? Next time you’re whipping up a batch of cookies mix in tablespoon of finely ground black tea. The tea will add a spicy, bittersweet taste to the cookies.