As a self-proclaimed chef and aficionado of all things culinary, I am always looking for new recipes, different flavors and fresh ideas. One night a few years ago, while pondering the nightly question, “what’s for dinner?” over a cup of tea, I was struck with inspiration. Looking into my steaming brew, I had a revolutionary idea: tea… in food. The more I contemplated, the more I began to wonder why this idea was such a long time coming. I love cooking and (obviously) I love tea… The marriage of the two seemed inevitable.
My eyes were open. The more I thought about it, the more I realized just how versatile Camellia Sinensis (the tea plant) could be. Here are just a few examples…
Tea as a spice:
Simply grind tea leaves in a pepper mill (I personally recommend a good Formosa Oolong) and combine with white pepper. This makes an unbelievably delicious rub, perfect for a steak or a pork chop. The tea adds a wonderfully fresh Asian-cuisine nuance to this otherwise ordinary meal.
Tea as a marinade:
Wondering what to do with that extra Earl Grey tea left in the teapot at the end of teatime? Don’t dump it…. Use it! Try adding it to your favorite marinade for chicken breasts for an out-of-this-world addition that will be sure to have your guests wondering the source of the mysterious (yet familiar) flavor. As a vegetarian digression, tea marinated tofu is a wonderful substitution in this dish.
Tea as a tenderizer:
Among tea’s many benefits and effects, it is an efficient tenderizer. Want to get that falls-off-the-bone, melts-in-your-mouth effect for that dish that is great, but could be even better? Try adding some tea! Not to be camellia-exclusive, Rooibos “Red” tea has been shown to have similar results and may add yet another unique nuance for your culinary delights.
to be continued tomorrow…