Tea gets a lot of press for being a healthy antioxidant-rich beverage. But did you know you don’t just have to drink your tea to reap the benefits? Now you can have your tea and eat it too. Once you start exploring the idea, you’ll find dozens of ways to use a wide variety of teas in cooking and baking.
Traditionally the terms “teacakes” and “tea cookies” were used to describe certain baked goods that were tasty accompaniments to serve alongside a steaming cup of tea. But tea can also be an ingredient in baked goods. Green tea chip cookies for example, substitute drops of white chocolate mixed with green tea powder for the traditional semi-sweet chocolate chips. Tea leaves are an ingredient in Earl Grey cookies, a buttery treat that goes down well with a cup of tea too. Irish tea cake, also called Brack Irish tea bread, is a fruitcake type dessert with tea leaves in it. And chai tea can be used to give cheesecakes a nice spicy flavor.
As for cooking, just about anywhere you’d traditionally use water or broth, you can substitute brewed tea. Making rice? Use tea instead of water. Brazing meat? Do it in tea, just choose a tea that would pair well with the final product. For example, beef and pork do well with black teas. Marinating seafood in tea can take away “fishy” odors.
The tea egg is a traditional Chinese snack. It’s a hard-cooked egg steeped with tea leaves and spices. Cracking the shell during the cooking transfers a beautiful design onto the egg, and allows the tea and spices to seep into the egg white.
For those who enjoy frozen treats, green tea ice cream and smoothies are available commercially or you can experiment and make your own. Tea that’s brewed double strength and sweetened can be frozen to make a refreshing grown-up ice pop.
Do you cook or bake with tea? Let us know how you use tea as an ingredient.
Earl Grey Cookies
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
Preheat oven to 375°F. Place all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse until the tea becomes a fine powder. Add vanilla, water, and butter, and blend until the mixture becomes doughy. Place the dough on a piece of wax paper or parchment and roll it into a log until smooth. Chill for 30 minutes, then cut the log into 1/3 inch slices. Place the slices on baking sheets and bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks.
6 chai spice flavored tea bags
16 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1 9-inch graham cracker piecrust
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place the six chai spice flavored tea bags in a cup with 1/2 cup boiling water and allow them to steep for 5 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the concentrated tea, cream cheese, and sugar. Blend well with an electric mixer. Add eggs and mix again until blended smooth. Pour the mixture into the piecrust and bake for 40 minutes. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours before serving.