Beyond the Cup: Tea-Infused Cooking

Beyond-the-cupinfused-cooking-blog-cover

The Leafsters at Happy Lucky’s Teahouse are always trying to find more ways to ingest tea. They slurp, brew and inhale the stuff, and now have taken their tea love a step further – they eat it. Eat tea, you say? Who wants to chew on tiny dried leaves? It tastes great when brewed and poured into a cup, and the health benefits are numerous, but why fix something that’s not broken?  However, it is amazing to discover how much more you can get out of tea beyond a cup of steamy goodness. Tea infused cooking and baking is a whole new culinary frontier: imagine taking a sweet, smooth bite into a delicately flavored matcha infused donut. Or, if savory is your thing, try a warming bowl of butternut squash soup infused with the smoky earth flavors of Lapsang Souchong.  If your mouth is watering and you want to learn how to infuse tea flavors into your next meal, here are a few ideas.

How to incorporate tea into cooking:

Cooking with tea is a creative and fun process, but it does not have to be complicated. You can enhance decadent desserts or savory suppers with tea, so the possibilities for experimentation are endless. Here are some methods you can try:

Dry rubs:

When cooking with tea, think of it as a spice. It’s really just a concentrated flavor encased in a dried leaf. For a rich, earthy flavor, grind up Velour Pu-er and use it as a rub for steak.

Marinades:

The subtle flavor of tea can add a complex dimension to any marinade. Try a Sweet Tea Chicken marinade, or a Black Tea Soaked Tofu to produce complex flavors working together in all the right ways.

Grind it:

Sprinkling ground tea leaves into meals is a quick way to get the best of both worlds. Our Hojicha ground and sprinkled over vanilla ice cream is a particularly nice combination. You could also create a savory dusting of ground Lapsang Souchong with a dash of garlic for your favorite vegetable dishes.

Blend it:

Matcha is a great addition to almost any smoothie. Put some in a blender with a banana and some milk. Your taste buds will thank you immediately.

Infuse it:

In an article called, “A Bit of Tea Alchemy,” Robert Wemischner, pastry chef, and culinary educator said: “Whether butter, cream, or oil, food chemistry tells us that fat is a carrier of flavor to the palate”. The best way to carry tea flavors into baking is to whip up some tea infused butter. The trick is to melt unsalted butter in a saucepan and add tea leaves. Let it sit for about 5 minutes on low heat. Then, remove and let it cool down for another 5 minutes. Pour your tea butter through a fine sieve, making sure to press on the leaves to squeeze any last flavor into your infusion. Let the butter cool to room temperature and use as you would in your baked goods.

 

scone
Scones at Happy Lucky’s made at the Linden Street Cafe

 

At Happy Lucky’s Teahouse, we have collaborated with Linden Street Cafe to create tea infused scones. The flavors rotate based on what the baker and Leafsters are excited about each week. Some past and present infusions have been:

  • Madame Grey Scones 
  • Matcha Scones with Lemon Glaze
  • Honey Jasmine Scones
  • Chamomile Lavender Scones (sometimes with blueberries!)
  • Egyptian Dreams Scones with Pears/Apples
  • Shakti Chai Scones with Apples
  • Matcha Scones with Lemon Glaze
  • White Acai Scones with Blueberries or Lemon Glaze
  • Blackberry Sage Cheesecake 
  • Mahatma Masala Chai Cheesecake

If you’re looking for some recipes to try yourself, create a Shakti Chai infused butter for the most exciting oatmeal raisin cookies you’ll ever have, or use Madame Grey in a custard by infusing the tea into the cream.

Eat it as is:

Give your next meal a nutritional boost and a little extra fiber by adding spent green tea leaves. After you enjoy a nice cup of Sencha, Gyokuro, or Genmaicha tea, toss the leaves into some rice and veggies and enjoy. You could also toss your tea leaves in Tamari or Shoyu for a tasty tea salad.

Tea it:

How do you make tea? Boiling water and leaves. If you ever have a recipe that calls for water, just substitute it for actual tea. Use smoky teas like Lapsang Souchong for a soup stock or stew recipe. When making rice, you can discover a delightful new flavor by adding Jasmine Tea to the boiling water.

Tea Seed oil:  

This nutritious oil can be used like any other cooking oil. Its slightly nutty aroma can bring out the best in a savory dish like roasted veggies.  Since 3rd century B.C., Tea Seed Oil has been consumed for its amazing nutritional benefits. It resembles olive oil and grapeseed oil in its excellent storage qualities and low content of saturated fat. Recent laboratory studies performed by the University of Nebraska have shown that this unique oil is one of the most highly nutritious edible oils. Tea Seed Oil may help boost the immune system, maintain healthy cholesterol levels and promote cardiovascular health. Salad dressing, stir fry, dipping, sauteeing, marinades… the possibilities are endless.

If you aren’t quite ready to take it on in your own kitchen, you can still experience the delight of tea infused foods right here in Fort Collins. We’ve collaborated with several businesses in the community to bring tea to the next level. Starting May 22nd, we will take you on a Tea About Town Tour. Join our live stream on Facebook to learn more about the tea and food scene in Downtown Fort Collins. Some stops on our tour will be:

Hope to see you there!

What recipes do you want to try? Let us know. Share your favorite recipes with us on Facebook, where we’ve posted some of ours.

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