Our day starts with a cup of hot tea. Be it tisane, matcha or oolong, the strong flavour and character of a tea is very pleasing to our senses. But do you know that tea leaves can be used for cooking as well? Its antioxidant properties provide a healthy approach when cooking. If you’re creative with tea, then you can add a variety of flavours to many recipes.
Here are 4 unexpected ways to cook with tea.
1) Add Flavours to Pasta
Tea and pasta? The combination sounds unusual, but they work well together. Tea can be used with pasta at two stages. Firstly, if you’re making homemade pasta, then you can add green tea powder to the dough to give it an herbaceous flavour. Secondly, instead of boiling pasta with just water, use a tea that complements the dish. You can use this technique to cook other grains as well that are traditionally cooked in water. For example, if you’re cooking rice for Turkish tagine dish, then use lemon tea for cooking.
2) Add Depth to Smoothies
Ever wondered about adding tea to a smoothie recipe? Try it out. Brew your favourite tea and build a strong flavour. Let it cool and then freeze it in ice cube trays. Instead of using water while preparing a smoothie, use those frozen tea cubes to introduce a sweet and natural flavour to the preparation. Use green tea while making vegetable-based smoothies, whereas use black tea for fruity smoothies.
3) Flavour the Cookie Dough
Think out-of-the-box and flavour your cookies with tea instead of vanilla or chocolate. Grind tea leaves (matcha, black or roasted oolong) into a fine powder and add it to the cookie dough. Don’t overdo it though as it will destroy the flavours and dry out the cookies. Add one or two tablespoons of tea powder and knead the dough. This will give a sweet touch as well as hold the butter and sugar in the cookie.
4) Tea-Smoked Meat
Smoke foods such as chicken, fish, and lamb, with burning tea leaves and surprise your taste buds. Line the wok or deep pan from inside with layers of aluminum foil (also cover the inside lid with foil). Put tea leaves, and uncooked rice in the wok. Drizzle some water over the mixture to prevent burning. You can add other spices such as cinnamon sticks and nutmeg into the mixture for a spicy flavour. Cook it for 5 minutes over medium heat until the smoke comes out. Set a wired rack over the smoking mixture (about 3-inches above the mixture) and place the meat in the centre of the rack. Don’t cover the wok and cook it over high heat. When the mixture begins to smoke, reduce the heat to medium and smoke the meat for about 25 minutes.
Explore the potential of tea by using it to cook different recipes. The sweet and grassy flavours of tea leaves are sure to enhance the taste of many food items. Be creative and cook differently with tea.