On a recent visit to Taiwan, Danielle Beaudette feasted on an 18-course meal, each dish infused with tea, and while she will demonstrate how to prepare only five courses as part of her Cooking with Tea class, she will share tips on using tea to infuse even more meals with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.
Tea has been used in meals in tea-producing countries in Asia for hundreds of years, but that’s a new practice in America, said Beaudette, owner of the Cozy Tea Cart in Brookline. In China, some will soak their sushi in Oolong tea because they believe it will remove impurities from the fish; Dragon Well tea is often used in soups in lieu of broth. Matcha, a traditional Japanese tea, can be ground with a spice grinder and sprinkled over food just as any herb can.
Tea boasts significant amounts of vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, potassium and natural fluoride, Beaudette said.
“You can get all of those health benefits in your food,” she said, later adding that cooking with tea has increased in popularity and, a few years ago, tea was named one of the top 10 super foods for cooking.
Tea seed oil is another popular ingredient and is made from cold-pressed tea plants, and the benefits are the same.
“Whatever you’re cooking with, it really enhances the flavor of the food,” Beaudette said. “It’s really light and you don’t even taste the oil … it doesn’t mask the flavor of your food.” The oil, Beaudette said, has a higher smoke point than any other on the market and thus can be used in very high heat. “Depending on the recipe, [the] oil can really be used for everything — any recipe that calls for oil, you can replace your oils with a tea seed oil,” she said.
She will demonstrate how to make a tea seed oil-based salad dressing, using a recipe she was given by a friend who works as a tea sommelier in Boston.
Beaudette will also prepare a spring menu of chicken (likely marinated in tea or made with a tea-based rub), jasmine rice (steamed with tea instead of broth) or pasta with organic lemon ginger tea, and a vegetable dish for the class. The teas used in each dish will be sampled, and all students will be provided with recipes of the dishes prepared during the class, as well as additional information related to cooking with tea.
Beaudette will blend Matcha with cream to create a tea parfait during the class.
“Teas that are fruity tend to work better with desserts,” she said. Beaudette said she may also infuse the whipped cream topping of the parfait with a milk oolong tea that boasts a creamy taste. For desserts like chocolate ganache, she recommends using a tea that is bold enough to stand up to dark chocolate, such as Ceylon breakfast tea. Beaudette carries tea-infused chocolates and caramels at her shop, made by the Chocolate Fanatic in Milford.