Tea is for drinking to be sure, but what about tea for eating? Many of us know the marbleized tea eggs and tea-smoked duck of Chinese kitchens or the green tea ice cream found in many Asian restaurants, but how often have we encountered oolong-brined turkey, salmon lacquered in green tea or "smoky" black lentils cooked in lapsang souchong tea?
These are a few of the 150 recipes “steeped in tradition from around the world” to be found in a new book, “Culinary Tea,” (Running Press, $22.95). The authors are Cynthia Gold, tea sommelier at The Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers, one of the first chefs to explore the uses of “culinary” tea, and Lise Stern, a writer and author based in Cambridge, Mass.
Smoky Black Lentils
Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 35 minutes Rest: 10 minutes
Makes: 8 servings
4 cups boiling water
4-1/2 teaspoons loose-leaf lapsang souchong tea leaves
2 cups black lentils, picked over, rinsed
1 can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, preferably fire roasted
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro or parsley, plus sprigs for garnish
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Pour boiling water over tea leaves in a medium bowl. Steep, covered, 4 minutes; strain into a large saucepan, discarding tea leaves. Add the lentils and tomatoes; heat to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat; simmer, uncovered, until most of the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are firm but tender, 30-40 minutes. Let rest, covered, until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cilantro, pepper and salt. Garnish with cilantro sprigs. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Source: Cynthia Gold’s and Lise Stern’s “Culinary Tea” calls for smoky lapsang souchong tea.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 184 calories, 3 percent of calories from fat, 0.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 33 g carbohydrates, 13 g protein, 297 mg sodium, 12 g fiber.
Matcha Tea Leaf Cookies
Prep: 30 minutes
Chill: 20 minutes
Cook: 15 minutes per batch
Makes: About 3 dozen cookies
2 sticks (8 ounces each) unsalted butter, chilled
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon orange brandy
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons matcha green tea powder
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Cream together butter and sugar until smooth using a mixer on medium speed. Blend in the liqueur; add the flour, matcha, 5-spice powder and salt. Mix until the dough just comes together.
Flatten dough into a disk; place between two sheets of parchment or waxed paper. Roll out to 1/8-inch thick; chill in the refrigerator on a baking sheet until firm enough to lift it cleanly without stretching, at least 20 minutes.
Heat oven to 300 degrees. With a knife, cut dough into leaf shapes about 1 by 2 inches, or use a leaf-shaped cookie cutter. Transfer to baking sheets lined with parchment paper, or sprayed with cooking spray, leaving 1/2 inch between them. Very lightly score a center vein into each tea leaf, if desired. Work quickly; if the dough becomes too soft, return to the refrigerator to chill.
Bake until the cookies take on a dry powdery look and are firm, about 15 minutes per batch. Cool on the baking sheets, 2 minutes; transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or freeze.
Nutrition information: Per serving: 81 calories, 57 percent of calories from fat, 5 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 13 mg cholesterol, 8 g carbohydrates, 1 g protein, 17 mg sodium, 0 g fiber
Source: “Culinary Tea,” by Cynthia Gold and Lise Stern.