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.)