I like trying unusual ingredients, so when I found online recipes utilizing tea, I knew I would have to try some eventually. A local spice shop makes a chai spice blend that contains sugar and vanilla, and I’ve used that in baked goods in the past. But until recently, I had never used straight tea, either brewed or loose leaf.
The first recipe I tried was a simple rub for pork tenderloin that consisted of garlic, The contents of a couple of chai tea bags, and salt and pepper. I was able to detect a faint hint of chai throughout the meat, but I would’ve preferred something stronger. I have found recipes that involve using tea as part of a brine mixture, and I think I may try that next.
I’ve mentioned previously that I love jam. The second recipe I’ve made that includes tea is one I found in the America’s Test Kitchen cookbook Foolproof Preserving: Blueberry Earl Grey Jam. In this case, I added five Earl Grey teabags—ATK recommends Twinings—to the blueberries, lemon juice/zest, and pectin. One reason why I like Foolproof Preserving so much is because most if not all of the recipes are for small batches of refrigerator jams and relishes—I can go from “I bought too many blueberries again” to a couple of jars all set and ready to chill within an hour. The subtle hint of tea and the lower than usual amount of sugar allows the flavor of the blueberries to come through, and I cook them gently so that some remain whole. It’s one of my favorite jams.
If you have a favorite recipe containing tea, I’d love to hear about it.