Cooking with tea

Aloha e komo mai!

It is now the middle of July and with summer in full swing I began to think about how to best fit tea into the season other than being brewed and served over ice. We all understand that tea is healthy and beneficial, but did you know you can use tea as an ingredient in cooking?!?

The Chinese have long used teas in their daily cooking by adding pouches of fragrant teas, herbs and spices to cooking pot. They would stuff tea and spices into fresh fish to steam and add tea leaves to cooking fires to add a deep smoky flavor to meats and vegetables. Hard boiled eggs were also included when using tea such as green or oolong. The Chinese would brew tea in the same boiling pots with the eggs. A few minutes before finishing the eggs, the shells would be cracked to create a delicate network of marbling to the whites.

Teas can be used as a crunchy flavor coating in rubs for meats, fish, chicken and pork. A small amount can be added to rice or pasta while cooking. I usually add a couple of teaspoons of brewed green or herbal tea to my rice mix along with spices to enhance white or black rice. When trying, remember to pre-steep the tea with water less than 185° and do not steep more than a few minutes. Another method of brewing is to put about 1-2 teaspoons in water (room temperature) and let stand for 20–30 minutes to prevent the acidic bitter flavor that can result from steeping too long.

Brewed teas have also been utilized in braises and marinades for meats, poultry, fish and pork. Add a teaspoon or two of a mixture of tea leaves and herbs to cream sauces to add a more complex flavor. Want an herbed butter? Mix fresh tea leaves and herbs to butter and melt. Mix well and allow to meld together for at least 20 minutes. Sieve out the leaves and refrigerate for later use.

So tea has more uses other than just brewing. Be adventurous! Try experimenting with different types of tea and cooking recipes. Below is a great cool dessert recipe from Sunset just for those hot summer days. More recipes using teas can be found at:

Blackberry–Black Tea Sorbet


1-1/2 pounds rinsed blackberries (fresh or frozen)

2 cups brewed black Darjeeling or Assam tea

1-1/4 cups sugar


In a blender, whirl blackberries until puréed. Pour through a fine strainer into a bowl, pressing pulp with a spatula to extract as much juice as possible; you should have 2 cups purée. Discard solids. Whisk tea and sugar into purée. Cover and chill until cold, at least 3 hours or up to 1 day.

Freeze in an ice cream maker (at least 1 1/2-qt. capacity) according to manufacturer's instructions until machine stops or dasher is hard to turn. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and freeze until firm, about 3 hours.

Give these other sites a try when cooking with tea:

Mahalo and much Aloha to all!

Michiko Burns

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