You know that organic tea that’s been collecting dust at the back of your cupboard? The one or two boxes that you bought at a farmer’s market one weekend, but forgot all about?
Believe it or not, tea is actually a versatile ingredient to cook with. It’s not just something you take out when friends or your mother-in-law drop by.
Instead of letting that delicious tea go to waste, grope in your darkened cupboard, bring it out, and begin making culinary magic with these six recipe ideas for your family.
1. Flavor Meats or Create Marinades
The beautiful aspect about meats is they absorb flavors so well. So why not add tea leaves to your spice choices? Simply grind tea in a coffee grinder or a pepper mill, and rub it on chicken, pork, or beef before grilling or roasting.
Tea also makes great marinades for tempeh, tofu, or meats you’d use for a stir fry. Add a pinch to your salad dressings as well, to give freshly cut vegetables a tangy, nutty flavor. Toss well together and serve with hot bread.
2. Use it in Desserts or Baked Goods
Tea is a sweet addition to baked treats, like cookies or cakes. Again, only use ground tea to add to a dessert recipe. Matcha is a green tea powder that blends well and can be partially substituted for flour. For every one teaspoon of flour, add matcha powder to your recipe. Try this Matcha Almond Cookie recipe, or if you want a classic, a family favorite is Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies.
3. Add It to Drinks or Smoothies
One might assume that ground tea might overwhelm a smoothie, but absolutely not! These nutrient rich drinks are recommended by health experts, which means it only makes sense to include calming, herbal, and organic teas into this popular morning beverage. Choose some fruit based teas to blend into a smoothie concoction, or if you want energy for the day, make a green tea smoothie that includes kiwis and bananas. To keep everything healthy, use organic tea like those from Buddha Teas.
But don’t stop there. Tea, to the core, is really an herb like cilantro, sage, or rosemary. It’s a nice accompaniment in cocktails. A tasty combination is oolong leaves steeped in gin for a couple of weeks. Gin makes an equal companion to many teas, because of it’s vegetal bite. Another liquor that goes well with tea leaves is whiskey.
4. Use Tea Instead of Water
An obvious way to use tea is in place of water. Soup is a food that is so diverse, that combinations are endless. Who doesn’t love warm soup on a cold day? With that diversity in mind, consider using brewed tea to in place of water or meat broth.
Cook whole grains such as rice, quinoa, or millet with tea. Add the tea to stews — it goes very well with Asian inspired noodle soups and stews.
To save money, forget buying specialty noodles such as Soba and cook pasta in brewed green tea instead. Anytime you rehydrate dried foods like mushrooms, pour some tea in the bowl to add zip and vigor to the mushroom flavors.
5. Start Your Day With Tea
While drinking your tea, add some to porridge or oatmeal, and then top off with nuts and fruits, to create a nutritious, well rounded breakfast.
Are you an avid bread maker? Substitute some ground tea in a bread recipe to produce some richly flavored breads that you can spread homemade jam on in the early morning hours. Breakfast will never be the same.
Tea is usually consumed hot, but turn different tea combinations into a refreshing summer drink. In steeped tea, mix in fresh fruits or mint leaves, and leave in the fridge for several hours. Once ready, add ice, and serve.
6. Make Ice Cream or Sorbet
Ice cream is notoriously popular with children, but sometimes not the healthiest. By combining fresh ingredients and a bit of ground tea in your ice cream maker, you can spike up the nutritional value immensely.
To get the most out of making homemade ice cream, steep tea leaves in milk and then strain. After straining, let the tea dry out for a day or two, grind it, and then add it to your sorbet or ice cream recipe.
The sweet and nutty flavors of tea infused ice cream will make your house the most popular on the block.
The best way to budget in any household is to be creative. Cooking with tea not only elevates your culinary prowess, but smartly repurposes a food product that otherwise sits in your pantry unused.