10 Surprising Ways to Cook with Tea

Jasmine, darjeeling, oolong: they're great for sipping, sure--but put tea in recipes, and you have a whole different way to enjoy its fragrance and flavor.

Smoked Tea DuckSmoked Tea Duck
Smoked Tea Duck

There's nothing like authentic tea-smoked duck, but the smoking process can overwhelm many home kitchens. Enter "smoked tea duck"--using lapsang souchong tea and uncooked rice to make a smoky, crispy crust for duck breast, which is then pan-fried in its own fat.

2 duck breasts, skin on (about 2 lbs. total)
1 tablespoon plus 1 tsp. lapsang souchong tea
1 tablespoon white rice
About 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 tablespoon sel gris or other coarse sea salt

1. Dry duck breasts thoroughly with paper towels. Using a very sharp knife, score fat side of duck in a diamond pattern, making slashes about 3/4 in. apart, to allow fat to render easily.
2. Put 1 tbsp. tea, rice, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and peppercorns in a spice grinder and pulverize into powder. Sprinkle powder on fat side of duck and pat in powder so that it sticks. Dredge underside of duck with any spilled powder.
3. Preheat over to 450º. Heat a cast-iron pan (or other heavy, ovenproof pan) over high heat, 1 to 2 minutes, until it's nice and hot but not smoking. Gently place duck, skin side down, in pan. Reduce heat to low and cook 15 to 20 minutes, or until most of fat has rendered and has formed a crisp, deeply browned crust (it will look brown rather quickly due to the spices, but keep going until it's crisp).
4. Season meat side of duck with a little kosher salt and, using tongs, gently turn over. Slide pan into oven and roast 4 to 5 minutes for medium-rare, or a few minutes more for medium or well done (cut to check). Avoid overcooking; meat will be tough.
5. Remove duck from oven and transfer to a cutting board to let rest 5 minutes. Meanwhile, pulverize remaining 1 tsp. tea in a spice grinder, then add sel gris and give it a few pulses to combine.
6. Slice duck thinly, transfer to warmed plates, and sprinkle with tea salt to taste.

Rooibos Butternut Rooibos Butternut
Rooibos Butternut "Pizzettas"
Think of these roasted squash rounds as tiny pizzas: You bake them and add any topping you like. They tend to go fast at parties.
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Crisp Genmaicha Tofu with Shiitakes and Savoy CabbageCrisp Genmaicha Tofu with Shiitakes and Savoy Cabbage
Crisp Genmaicha Tofu with Shiitakes and Savoy Cabbage

The cabbage and the mushrooms simmer in brewed genmaicha until tender, absorbing the delicate, toasty tea. The tea leaf-crusted tofu depends on those flavors.
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Jasmine Chicken Soup with Green Tea SobaJasmine Chicken Soup with Green Tea Soba
Jasmine Chicken Soup with Green Tea Soba
Feel free to use other vegetables. And if you have extra broth, simmer more vegetables in it the next day for a nearly instant soup.
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Darjeeling DashiDarjeeling Dashi
Darjeeling Dashi

Use this quick version of Japanese dashi (soup stock) to deglaze pans, for soup, and to make rice (use half-water, half dashi)
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Matcha Whoopie PiesMatcha Whoopie Pies
Matcha Whoopie Pies

"I grew up inhaling whoopie pies, bless my mother's soul," says Bay Area cookbook author Eric Gower, the creator of these fantastic, tender little cakes. "While I would like to offer her recipe, I'm afraid that just reading the quantities of trans fats (Crisco) called for might incite immediate cardiac arrest! This relatively healthier version tastes even better."
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Chai-Spiced Shortbread CookiesChai-Spiced Shortbread Cookies
Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cookies

These cookies may look humble, but they have a wonderfully complex flavor, thanks to the chai (Indian spiced tea) seasonings: cinnamon, ginger, fennel, and cardamom. The shortbread dough gives them a crisp, buttery texture.
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Cran-Berry Green-Tea SmoothieCran-Berry Green-Tea Smoothie
Cran-Berry Green-Tea Smoothie

This is one of our favorite New Year's resolution recipes: it's loaded with antioxidants, is easy to make, and it tastes delicious, too. Slurp down one of these and you'll have the energy you need for a nice long hike or bike ride.
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Blackberry-Black Tea SorbetBlackberry-Black Tea Sorbet
Blackberry-Black Tea Sorbet

For a refreshing dessert after a rich winter dinner, try this gorgeous sorbet (use thawed frozen blackberries). It's wonderful in summer, too, during blackberry season.
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Chai-Cherry WalnutsChai-Cherry Walnuts
Chai-Cherry Walnuts

Cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, and ginger-typical spices for chai (Indian-style black tea)--are mixed with walnuts and tart dried cherries to make a sensational topper for oatmeal.
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Related: Cooking with coffee