Discover Teas

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Previously, I've gone over some of the great reasons why you should cook with tea, as well as some ideas for how to cook with tea. By popular request from those who are hungry for recipes to start your culinary tea journey, I'll be periodically sharing some of my favorite tea recipes to show you just how easy and delicious cooking with tea can be!

I wanted to start things off with this tas-tea twist on baked Brie (or "Brie en croute," if you want to get fancy), a popular favorite for fall and winter entertaining. Our caffeine-free Cranberry Apple fruit blend takes this appetizer from standard to outstanding with a tart, lightly sweet kick that cuts through the richness of the cheese. With just five steps and easy-to-find ingredients, anyone can add this beauty to their table!

Cran-Brie en Croute

1.5 tbsp. Cranberry Apple fruit blend
8oz. hot water
1 8-14 oz. wheel of Brie or Camembert, rind removed if desired
1 sheet of puff pastry dough or 4-6 sheets of phyllo dough; thawed if frozen
(optional) 1/2-1 tsp. raw sugar or honey
(if using phyllo) 2 tbsp. melted butter

1) Preheat oven to 400°F. Meanwhile, steep the Cranberry Apple in the hot water for 15 minutes, then strain. We'll be using the steeped fruit blend for the recipe; the tea itself can be enjoyed as usual, iced, or mixed into a lemonade, punch, or cider.
2) Lay out dough on foiled or floured baking sheet. If using phyllo dough, lay out one sheet at a time, crossing over each other, brushing with melted butter in between.
3) Place Brie round in center of dough and top with raw sugar/honey (if using) and steeped fruit blend.
4) Fold pastry up to wrap around cheese and fruit mixture, covering as completely as possible.
5) Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking occasionally to make sure pastry does not overbrown.

For larger gatherings, or in case your guests find this as addictive as we do, this recipe can be easily scaled up for a bigger wheel of cheese. Enjoy!

Variations: If you are looking for a sweeter fruit flavor, Lady Hannah's Whole Fruit is a great substitution for the Cranberry Apple, with real fruit pieces and a less tart flavor profile. For a more tropical twist, try our Piña Colada fruit blend. Bella Coola will add bright zesty notes to the dish.

Instead of macerating the tea and using it directly, you can also steep any tea of your choice in 2 tbsp. of hot water, then mix with ¼ cup of your favorite preserves or jam. Try Peaceful Pathways with pineapple preserves, Williamsburg Port with plum jam, Black and Blue Monk with grape or mixed berry compote, Strawberry Green with pepper jelly, Mulling Spice with orange marmalade…the possibili-teas are endless!

Sunday, 01 November 2015 12:38

The Secret Ingre-Tea-ent - Part II

Customers often ask me, when I cook with tea, do I use the leaves or the actual tea infusion? There are actually several ways you can use both. For example, when making a dry rub for ribs, I mix fire-smoked Lapsang Souchong leaves with garlic powder, dry mustard, paprika, and salt. On the other hand, when making pan-fried pork chops, I often steep a teaspoon of Lapsang Souchong in 1/4 cup of water and add that to the pork chops with a pat of butter and a pinch of sage at the very end of cooking to make a quick and easy finishing sauce. It's gotten to the point where only half of my Lapsang Souchong is in the tea cabinet. The other half, I grind into an easy-to-sprinkle powder with my mortar and pestle and keep it in a spice jar right in the front of my spice cabinet. I enjoy adding it, as well as other teas, to soups, stocks, and even the occasional chili. It's a star feature in my roast chicken recipe, and even shows up in vinaigrettes and chicken salad. I even mix it with kosher salt and sugar to home-cure my own smoked salmon―the possibili-teas are endless!

What about the sweet side of life? Well, for starters, did you know tea can be an ingredient in making chocolates? European-trained master chocolatier Kristin Joslin of Cocoa Nouveau uses several of our teas in her delectable confections, such as our Earl Grey in her truffles. But even if you're not a chocolatier, you can still incorporate tea into your sweets. Try adding Earl Grey leaves into your next simple syrup for a bright citrus zing. You can even cold-infuse tea in cream and whip the result for a one-of-a-kind dessert topping! Tea is great in cookies, cakes, tarts, frosting, pie filling...the list goes on!

Considering the small amount of tea called for by most recipes, you don't need to worry about staying up all night if you cook with tea unless you're extremely sensitive to caffeine. However, even if you are, or if you have a family member who can’t have Camellia sinensis, you can still enjoy using fruit and/or herbal tea blends to spice up your meals. Try macerating a fruit blend such as our Cranberry Apple or Lady Hannah's Whole Fruit. You can then use the result in any number of ways, such as using it to top a wheel of Brie before baking it in the oven for a decadent appetizer or dessert, or adding to the filling of a cobbler or pie. A touch of our fruit blends is also excellent in savory applications such as braises and stews. Throwing the fruit blends into oatmeal or even stuffings as they cook adds flavor and texture, as well as vitamin content.

As you can see, there's a lot you can do with tea, and we've only just scratched the surface! We're always coming up with new ideas to try and share. Let your tea do double duty in the kitchen, and soon you'll have friends, family, and other party guests asking you for your secrets!

(Click Here to read the first installment of this blog entry.)

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