by Angie Brown
Photo Courtesy of Running Press
Not just a drink, tea is also a flavorful infusion for cooking—add it to spices, sauces, salads, and soups. From savory to sweet dishes, tea leaves, whether dried or fresh, can be an innovative ingredient. Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier at The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, and Lisë Stern, tea aficionada and author, team up to present a wide-ranging collection of recipes that feature tea, as well as information about pairing tea with food and techniques on how to cook with tea. Culinary Tea: More Than 150 Recipes Steeped in Tradition from Around the World (Running Press, 2010) is a must-have book for those looking for ways to enjoy their favorite beverage beyond the afternoon tea party.
According to the authors, there is never only one correct pairing when serving tea alongside a dish; food and drink should enhance each other. Gold and Stern urge readers to take into consideration the season, the style of food, the occasion, and of course personal preferences when deciding which tea to serve. They note the different flavor profiles of each type of tea, from white to oolong, and discuss culinary dishes that might complement them. An Earl Grey, for instance, pairs well with baked goods, dairy, eggs, spices, bourbon, and chocolate.
Tea can also be incorporated into food. The authors suggest using it to deglaze a pan, to thin soup, or to cook couscous. Tea can be added to a cure or brine mix, with green and oolong teas infusing sweetness and black teas adding richness. Or fresh tea leaves can be lightly cooked or served raw in salads or as a garnish, for example, their Fresh Tea Leaf Salad with Green Tea–Roasted Peaches and Blue Cheese or their Vegetable Tart with Fresh Tea Leaves. For a twist on seafood, try Seared Tuna with Tea Spice Crust or Green Tea–Lacquered Salmon. Other savory entrees round out the suggestions, such as Tea-Rubbed Short Ribs with Smoky Barbecue Sauce, Pork Chops with Cabbage and Darjeeling, and Black Tea–Smoked Chicken with Tea-Blanched Shrimp and Udon Noodles, among many other tasty recipes.
Tantalizing desserts, such as an Apple Ceylon Tea Cake, Chai Ice Cream with Hibiscus Almond Brittle, and Mango-Peach Oolong Granita, whet the reader’s appetite not only to taste these treats, but also to learn how to utilize the flavors of tea in sweets. The last section of recipes highlights tea beverages and fun tea-influenced concoctions. Darjeeling and Pear Sangria or Apricot-Oolong Champagne Cocktails might be perfect for your next dinner party. A glossary of tea terms, in addition to a handy list of sources, is found at the back of the book.
The authors present dishes created by others as well, from noteworthy sommeliers to executive chefs around the globe. With the history of the leaf detailed also, this collection of tea-influenced recipes is both educational and inspirational. Any tea enthusiast will enjoy implementing these delicious and inventive ideas in their next meal.
To learn more about the authors, go to culinaryteabook.com.