Monday, April 28, 2008

Cooking with Tea

Tea. We drink it hot. We drink it iced. We drink it black, with lemon, or with milk and sugar. However we like our tea...we rarely think beyond the mug. I was no different, until last fall, when I received an interesting phonecall from the Bigelow Tea company.

"We are looking for someone to develop recipes using tea as an ingredient," they said. "Are you interested?" Up for a new challenge, I readily agreed. Before I even hung up the phone already had a half dozen ideas scratched out on a pad of paper. This would be fun! Now I had to see if these ideas would translate into dishes that people would actually want to eat. I was a little skeptical, but with several dozen boxes of tea at my disposal and a grocery list in hand, I forged ahead into the culinary wild.

My first idea was to create a soup. Everyone loves chicken noodle soup, so I started there. Ginger was a flavor already used with both chicken and noodles, so why not in soup? I began by making a broth which was 2/3 chicken stock and 1/3 strong ginger tea. I experimented with a variety of other soup ingredients, and settled on a simple combination of garlic, carrots, noodles, and parsley (and of course, chicken). I realized during my first taste (which resulted in a ho-hum initial impression), that salt was a very necessary component of this soup, as it is in most soups. Just a teaspoon of salt completely brought forth the wonderful ginger flavor, which was otherwise masked by the other ingredients.

Since developing this soup recipe, I've gone on to create many check them out and consider using tea to flavor your next dish!

(more spring/summer recipes to come soon at !!)

Photos courtesy of Bigelow Tea Company.

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