Tea has been enjoyed as a beverage for thousands of years. But more recently, tea has worked its way into the kitchen as a favorite ingredient of chefs, bakers and even mixologists. Sweet and grassy, light and fruity, smoky and complex — teas have a wide variety of flavor notes that complement many foods and give them a unique twist.
In these recipes, Lauren Keating, the blogger behind www.Healthy-Delicious.com, has spiced up salmon by smoking it with Chai and Wild Sweet Orange teas, and pairing it with an aromatic vegetable gratin dish made with Earl Grey. And master mixologist Lucy Brennan, author of “Hip Sips: Modern Cocktails to Raise Your Spirits” and owner of Portland, Ore., based restaurant and lounge, mint/820, shows how Tazo Passion tea is the perfect ingredient to round out this Passionate Sunset cocktail.
The wide selection of blends available from tea brands such as Tazo Tea, which sources tea and botanicals from more than 29 countries around the world, makes it easy to add new flavor twists to food and drink recipes.
Here are some tips for enjoying tea as a drink and a recipe ingredient:
—To brew the perfect cup of tea, pour 8 fluid ounces of fresh water, just off of a boil, over 1 filterbag. For green and white teas, steep for 3 minutes. For black teas and herbal infusions, steep for 5 minutes.
—To add a touch of exotic flavor without adding oil or sodium, try substituting freshly brewed tea for water in your favorite recipes.
—Use dry or brewed tea as a rub or marinade for meats, fish or poultry. Before cooking, try rubbing salmon with fruity herbal infusions and top with fresh lemon slices; or marinate chicken in orange tea and fresh cranberry sauce.
Setting the table with tea
—Awaken your palate with tea: Mix a bit of a brewed herbal infusion into your favorite granita, offering a delightful mix of refreshing fruit and flavorful tea.
—Warm up from the inside out: Mint tea with 1 teaspoon of honey and a drop of lemon can soothe a sore throat or stuffy nose, while warming chilled hands.
—Spice up a classic: Take one part vanilla liqueur and one part chai tea. Shake over ice and strain to indulge in a Chai Mar“tea”ni.
Zucchini and Summer Squash Gratin
2 bags Earl Grey tea
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 summer squash, cut into 1/4-inch rounds
2 Roma (plum) tomatoes, sliced
1 tablespoon herbs de Provence
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bring 1/2 cup water to a boil. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep for 5 minutes. Squeeze bags to release any liquid that has accumulated inside of them, then discard.
While tea is steeping, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until golden brown and very soft. Add tea to onions and bring to a simmer. Cook until liquid has evaporated — about 5 minutes. Stir in thyme. Spread onions in bottom of a medium casserole dish.
Begin to layer squash and tomato in the pan, letting them overlap slightly (one row zucchini, one row summer squash, and one row tomato). Sprinkle with a little bit of the herbs de Provence and about 1/3 of the cheese.
Make a second layer of vegetables, using the same technique as the first layer but mixing up the order of the rows so that you don’t have two layers of the same vegetable stacked right on top of each other. Add more herbs and cheese. Make one final vegetable layer.
Top with the rest of the herbs de Provence and cheese. Sprinkle a thin layer of panko bread crumbs over top and drizzle with remaining 1/2 tablespoon olive oil.
Bake for 60 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.
Tea-Smoked Salmon with Honey and Lavender Glaze
2 bags Tazo Chai tea
1 bag Tazo Wild Sweet Orange tea
2 tablespoons dry rice
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon dried culinary lavender
8 ounces sockeye salmon
1 teaspoon olive oil
Heat grill to medium-high.
While grill heats, prepare smoking packet by placing contents of tea bags, rice and brown sugar onto a sheet of aluminum foil. Sprinkle tea with a few drops of water (less than 1/4 teaspoon — just enough so that it’s barely damp). Loosely fold foil around ingredients to form a flat packet. Place packet directly on coals/burner of heated grill (under the grate). Close the lid and wait 10 minutes for packet to begin to create smoke.
Pat salmon dry and brush with olive oil. Add to grill, skin-side up, away from direct heat — if grill has an upper rack, that’s the perfect place for it. Close lid and let cook for 5 minutes. Flip and let cook for another 3 to 5 minutes, or until it’s cooked to your liking.
Meanwhile, add honey and lavender to small saucepan set over low heat. Heat through until honey melts and becomes very thin. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Brush glaze over salmon just prior to serving.
Recipe courtesy of Lauren Keating, www.Healthy-Delicious.com
The Passionate Sunset
2 bags Tazo Passion tea
2 ounces silver tequila
1/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup
1/2 ounce mandarin puree
1/2 ounce passion fruit puree
Make a pot of Passion tea; let it sit for 3 minutes. Strain tea into a pint glass full of ice. Let chill and strain tea into an empty pint glass, set aside.
Fill a pint glass full of ice; add all of the remaining ingredients. Shake the pint glass. Pour, with ice, into a 10-ounce wine glass.
Garnish with an orange slice.
For an alcohol-free version, omit tequila and substitute club soda after shaking.