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The Arbor Teas Blog

The Cook's Tea Cabinet

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It’s time to take tea beyond the teapot. Our beloved beverage we know and love to sip is extremely versatile in the kitchen - and can be wonderfully surprising to experiment with. Our friend, blogger and home chef extraordinaire, Olivia May tells us she frequently uses tea in recipes in place of water. If you’re not quite as experimental, you can follow some of Olivia’s recipes here.

Tea can be used in recipes much like spices and other herbs. The most common way to use tea in cooking is by using the infused tea liquid, but it’s also possible to grind it in a spice grinder. The use and preparation depends on the texture and flavor you’re looking for. Any tea can be used for cooking, the following are the classics, the teas chefs often come back to again and again.

Lapsang Souchong Black Tea
A legendary Chinese tea, Lapsang Souchong is smoked over a pine fire during manufacture, absorbing the deep smoky flavor into the leaves. Chefs use Lapsang Souchong to add a natural smoky flavor to both sweet and savory dishes. Consider these smoked caramels or these smoky lentil burgers. You can even use Lapsang Souchong in recipes that call for liquid smoke.

Cooking Grade Matcha
Matcha, the stone ground Japanese tea is bright green and extremely high in chlorophyll. In cooking, it works as a natural food coloring and is particularly wonderful to bake with, as sugar and fat can counter matcha’s natural bitterness.
Depending on the amount of matcha you use, you won’t necessarily taste the tea. Olivia tells us she used matcha in this matcha ravioli recipe, specially for its color, not its flavor. You can, however, taste the matcha in this warming matcha smoothie, which Olivia says she drinks every morning.
“I don’t necessarily like to drink matcha,” Olivia says, “But I love to cook with it.”
We recommend using cooking grade matcha for baking, and ceremonial grade matcha for drinking. Each style can be sifted prior to use to get the lumps out.

Dragonwell Green Tea
Dragonwell Green Tea has a mellow, nutty flavor that adds complexity to soups stocks, and is wonderful in this Burmese tea leaf salad. You can even experiment with this mellow tea by adding a bit of the infused tea to a stir-fry or to cooked rice.

Earl Grey Black Tea
Earl Grey, the traditional black tea that is scented with bergamot oil, is a natural match for chocolate and shortbread cookies alike. Basically anything you’d serve alongside a classic cup of Earl Grey can be enhanced with this distinctive tea. Consider this Earl Grey chocolate torte, or these sweet little shortbread cookies, which are dotted with flecks of tea.

Masala Chai Black Tea
Before there was pumpkin spice, there was Masala Chai – the traditional Indian tea made with cardamom, ginger and cloves. Chefs use masala chai blends to add warming spices to desserts and fall favorites like pumpkin and apples. We’re in love with these Masala Chai spiced donuts, these masala chai pumpkin muffins, and this pumpkin pie.

Chamomile Tisane
While not a true “tea,” Chamomile is a tisane that has earned its way onto this list for the sweet flavors and the buttery mouthfeel it helps impart. And, because chamomile is an anti-inflammatory and naturally calming, you might find it becomes your new favorite herb. Use it in place of water in hummus, in this corn chowder recipe in this and this Chamomile vinaigrette.

Happy cooking!