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What Types of Teas Can You Cook With?
You can cook with any type of tea, either loose or pre-bagged. Green teas, black teas, oolong, and herbal teas (tisanes) are commonly used to add subtle notes of flavor to savory dishes. Swap the water for steeped white tea in recipes that call for poaching or steaming to impart a new dimension into the dish.
6 Ways to Cook With Tea
There are a number of ways to use tea to impart flavor in your cooking. Research the tasting notes of your tea selection to understand how to build complementary flavors around it.
- Infusions: Use tea to infuse the richer component of a dish. Steeping tea leaves or tea bags directly into dairy products like milk or heavy cream is an easy way to add flavor to desserts like ice cream or panna cotta, or a savory cream-based sauce like béchamel. Try infusing floral-herbal tisanes like chamomile, lemon verbena, or lavender, or go nutty and savory with teas like hojicha or oolong.
- Marinades and rubs: The dark smokiness of lapsang souchong echoes throughout marinated meats and vegetables with far more subtlety than a dose of liquid smoke. Use a spice grinder to give loose-leaf tea a fine texture worthy of a dry rub.
- Broths and poaching liquids: Dishes like Chinese dumpling soup or tortellini en brodo are perfect opportunities to experiment with concentrated combinations of tea and other flavorings like soy sauce or dried mushrooms. Swap steeped tea for stock in vegetable soups, poach fish in gentle, aromatic jasmine tea or white tea, consider grassy, vegetal sencha for a springtime spread, or darker black teas for more complexity.
- Stir-fry: Genmaicha, a brown rice tea, doubles down on its high notes when heated in a wok—the bits of green tea leaves become crispy, and the puffed rice gets deeply toasty. Serve it as a crunchy garnish atop stir-fried greens, veggies, or meat.
- Smoothies: Toss a ½ teaspoon of finely ground tea leaves or matcha powder into your next smoothie to boost the antioxidant content and contrast the dominant fruit notes with an herbal counterpoint.
- Baked goods: Matcha cookies and baked goods are a popular dessert pairing, but it’s not the only tea well-suited to baked goods. Floral Earl Grey tea or warm chai spices are right at home in a pound cake or shortbread. For example, herbal peppermint tea introduces new complexity to brownies.
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