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There’s nothing quite as comforting on a brisk fall day as curling up on the couch and sipping on a mug of spiced chai tea, or enjoying a cup of green tea with a touch of honey in the morning before you jump into your busy day.
But tea can be enjoyed outside the cup, too, in ways that extend far beyond the occasional scoop of Matcha green tea ice cream. Tea, in its many varieties (earthy, sweet, floral, astringent), can be used to balance, enhance, or add depth to foods both savory and sweet.
When you shift your thinking from “tea is a beverage” to “tea is a spice,” a world of possibilities opens up. The delicate aromas and flavors of tea can add so much to a dish, without much fuss or complication. And because the flavor that comes through during the cooking or baking process is so subtle, it’s hard to go wrong while cooking with tea. When you’re experimenting on your own with cooking with tea, just follow one simple rule—make sure you like the smell and taste of the tea before you toss it into the mix.
These five recipes can help you venture out beyond the mug. Try your hand at adding tea to breakfasts, desserts, veggies, and more!
Earl Grey Dark Chocolate Mousse (Vegan)
This mousse is rich, decadent, and velvety smooth, with just a hint of Earl Grey, almost as an aftertaste. It’s the perfect way to satisfy a vegan chocolate craving and best of all, you can make it in a blender.
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 Earl Grey tea bag
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar
- 1 cup dark chocolate chunks
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup coconut cream
- Pinch of sea salt
- Toppings (optional): coconut whipped cream, fresh berries, sliced almonds
Bring water to a boil. Add tea bag and coconut sugar, stir, cover, and steep for five minutes. Remove tea bag.
Toss chocolate chunks and vanilla extract into a blender. Pour hot tea over the chocolate chips and let sit for one minute to allow the chocolate to melt. Blend until creamy.
Add coconut cream and sea salt to blender and blend until smooth.
Pour mixture into small serving bowls and refrigerate for three hours.
Serve as is or top with coconut whipped cream, fresh berries, or sliced almonds.
Chai Shortbread Cookies
These cookies have a classic shortbread crunch with a hint of warm, spiced chai. They’re a great alternative to the plain shortbread cookies you’d normally find on the cookie table at a holiday gathering, and they pair quite well with…you guessed it – a mug of chai tea!
- 2 tablespoons loose chai tea
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon water
In a food processor, pulse tea, flour, and salt until tea is chopped into small pieces.
Add powdered sugar, vanilla, butter, and water and pulse until well-combined and dough has formed.
Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap and roll into a log, about 2 inches in diameter.
Refrigerate dough for 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice dough into 1/3-inch thick pieces and place on a cookie sheet (or roll the dough and use your favorite cookie cutter)
Bake for about 12 minutes, or until edges are slightly brown.
Makes 3 dozen
Chamomile and Strawberry Overnight Oats
If you’re looking to add a unique flavor to your overnight oats, try infusing them with the delicate flavor of chamomile tea. You’ll notice a subtle floral essence that complements the sweet, nutty flavor of oats.
- 2/3 cup water
- 1 chamomile tea bag
- 2/3 cup rolled oats
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 cup milk of choice (or yogurt)
- Pinch of sea salt
- Handful of strawberries, chopped
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts or almonds
Bring water to a boil. Add chamomile tea bag, cover, and steep for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, remove tea bag, and allow to cool.
In a bowl, combine oats, chia seeds, milk/yogurt, salt, and tea. Stir well.
Add strawberries and honey and mix together.
Cover the bowl and refrigerate overnight.
Before eating, stir in nuts and top off with fresh berries or an extra drizzle of honey.
Rooibos Sweet Potatoes
If you’re one of those people who thinks a little bit of sweet potato goes a long way (because they pack in a lot of sweetness and their flavor can be a bit one-note), try adding rooibos. The addition of tea can add a layer of flavor and provide balance to an otherwise monotonous (but healthy and versatile!) vegetable.
- 3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons rooibos tea (ground, from a tea bag)
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Sea salt and black pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place sweet potatoes in a bowl, and toss with olive oil, tea, garlic, and salt and pepper.
Place sweet potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake for about 40 minutes or until crispy and golden brown, tossing every 10 minutes.
Green Tea Spice Rub for Chicken and/or Vegetables
The addition of green tea to a classic spice rub can really spice it up. The green tea adds just the right amount of earthiness to this mix, and tastes amazing on everything from tofu to chicken to roasted veggies.
- 2 tablespoons loose leaf green tea
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until well-combined.
Store in a glass jar and add to savory chicken or vegetable dishes as you would any other spice mix.
*Editor’s Note: The information in this article is intended for your educational use only; does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Chopra Center's Mind-Body Medical Group; and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health providers with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition and before undertaking any diet, supplement, fitness, or other health program.