Cooking with Tea: Everything You Need to Know

Tea has, for centuries, been known as a beverage that can be drunk on any occasion. Dilmah’s “Tea Inspired” recipes examine how tea can be versatile and ways in which tea can be incorporated into your meals!

Tea gastronomy is a term coined to describe the art of cooking with tea, by infusing tea flavours into your favourite foods. Tea can be integrated into all aspects of a meal, from the appetisers, to soups, to the main courses and desserts. Here are the basic things to know and consider when you embark on a gastronomical adventure with tea:

Type of Teas

There are two types of tea. One that’s derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant which includes black, green, white and oolong tea. The other, also known as tisanes/herbal teas are infusions of herbs, roots and leaves which includes chamomile and rooibos. Both types of tea can be used in cooking to infuse flavour and aroma, thereby giving a unique and delectable taste to your favourite dishes.

Different Ways to Use Tea in Cooking
  • Swap water with tea
  • This is a simple method to infuse foods like pasta, spaghetti and even rice with the flavours of the tea. The tea is brewed and added on in place of the water. Ensure to use teas that match your dish.

  • Steep tea to add into liquids
  • This will infuse your liquids such as broths, soups and stews with the tea flavours of your choice. Both green and black tea are good choices for soups. This is not only a tasty option but a healthy one, as infusing tea into your dishes ensures the health benefits are also infused into your meals.

  • Used as a powder
  • Grind the tea leaves into fine pieces and directly add to your recipes, like you would do the spices.

  • Include in a spice mix and use
  • Mix finely ground tea with your spice mixes and use in recipes. You can use these to marinate your meats, or as a garnish for other dishes.

General Tips for Tea
  • Always ensure to buy high-quality teas as they contain more flavour and aroma.

  • You can use cut tea bags in place of loose-leaf tea if it is unavailable. Ensure that the tea leaves are also of high quality or else you will be using tea dust which doesn’t have as much flavour or aroma.

  • Correct tea storage is a must to ensure the retention of flavour and aroma. Always store tea in air-tight containers and place them in dark and cool places and remember not to store tea for long periods of time.

  • If your teas are derived from the Camellia Sinensis plant, they should be brewed with boiling water. If they are herbal teas, simmering in water is recommended.

  • Tea should be brewed the same way for cooking as it is for drinking. The general time being 3-5 minutes.

  • Never brew your tea, keep it for a while and then use it in cooking. Tea that is brewed and kept for a long period of time will turn bitter, therefore ensure to use the tea as soon as it is brewed.

Cook with Dilmah Tea

Dilmah has been constantly pushing boundaries in the culinary world by infusing the beverage into a myriad of dishes, whether using it as a garnish, key ingredient or even to season the dish. A classic Chinese technique involves burning tea leaves to smoke food like fish, meat or poultry which gives a smoky flavour. Dilmah Green Tea makes a delectable addition to a spinach pasta dish, while also pairing quite well with seafood dishes. For example, prawn lovers can infuse Dilmah Fragrant Jasmine Green Tea into a hot saucepan of prawns and let it cook for 5 minutes. Additionally, the below recipe can also be used to cook your prawns.

Flamed Prawns with Chamomile Beurre Blanc & Lemon Risotto
Ingredients for Flamed Prawns
  • 2 bags Dilmah Pure Chamomile Flowers
  • 12 Large prawns
  • 200ml White wine
  • 75g soft butter
  • Fish stock
  • 50ml Fresh Cream
  • ½ cup chopped Parsley
  • Salt and ground pepper to taste
Ingredients for Lemon Risotto
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Butter
  • Risotto Rice
  • White wine
  • Lemon juice
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Chicken stock
  • Fresh Cream
Method for Preparation of Flamed Prawns
  • Shell and de-vein the prawns and season with salt and pepper.
  • Heat half the butter in a pan and sauté the prawns till tender.
  • Remove the prawns from the pan and pour in the white wine and reduce the heat.
  • Add the Chamomile bags and fish stock and infuse for 4 minutes. Discard the bags and whisk-in the fresh cream and the remaining butter.
  • Keep whisking till it forms a fine thick sauce. Strain and add the chopped parsley before serving.
Method for Preparation of Lemon Risotto
  • Sauté the onion and garlic in butter.
  • Add the rice, white wine and stock and leave the rice to cook.
  • Add the cheese, cream and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.

By infusing green tea or black tea into your dishes, you can take advantage of its myriad of health benefits derived from the presence of antioxidants that help reduce the development of heart diseases and cancerous cells.