Each month FBC member and certified nutritionist, Sondi Bruner, helps us navigate the ins and outs of eating a healthy but delicious diet, whether it’s adapting to an allergen-friendly diet or figuring out natural sweeteners (and everything in between). This month Sondi guides us through the many ways to use tea apart from in your tea cup, and shares recipes from other Canadian food bloggers.
When I was growing up, we had only one type of tea in our house: orange pekoe. I didn't like it all. In my last year of undergraduate studies, I decided it was time to be a "grown-up" and forced myself to start drinking it. Little did I know how delicious and comforting a hot cup of tea can be when you explore different varieties! Now I have a cupboard full of teas and they're not just for drinking — you can use tea in a wide variety of culinary recipes.
Tea is an incredibly popular drink around the world, second only to water. Here in Canada, we drink billions of cups a year: about a pound per person. Consumption is expected to increase 40% by 2020, which may not come as a surprise to those of us in cities where elegant tea bars and quirky tea shops are cropping up every year.
Both herbal and non-herbal teas offer us health benefits too, particularly antioxidants. Research indicates that tea can benefit a range of conditions including cancer, diabetes and heart disease, as well as support bone health. Of course you can drink tea "straight up," but it's a handy culinary ingredient you can incorporate into your recipes.
Here are some of the many ways you can explore the flavour and health benefits of tea in recipes!
Brew a pot of your favourite tea, chill it and use it as the base in your smoothies. You can also freeze the chilled tea in ice cube trays and toss a handful into the blender.
Recipe to Try: Pumpkin Chai Smoothie
2. Dairy-Free Elixirs (or Lattes)
These are some of my favourite drinks to make and tea is the perfect companion in blended hot drinks. The Peppermint Hot Chocolate recipe I make often is quite simple.
- 1½ cups peppermint tea
- 1 Tbsp cacao powder or cocoa powder
- 1 Tbsp honey (or maple syrup)
- 1 Tbsp hemp seeds or nut butter
- 1 Tbsp coconut oil
- Put all ingredients into a blender and process until smooth.
You can change up the flavour profile by using mint, ginger, fruity teas, or whatever other flavours you fancy.
3. Iced Tea + Iced Lattes
This is an obvious one, but a delicious idea to mention nonetheless. I personally like using chamomile for my iced tea with some fresh lemon juice. There are so many different varieties of tea you can choose — you'll never get bored!
Recipe to Try: Iced Coconut Ginger Matcha Latte
4. Plant-Based Milks
Blend brewed tea instead of water with nuts and seeds to make your own flavoured plant-based milks.
5. Poaching Liquid
Tea is great for poaching fish, poultry and meat, tofu or tempeh, as well as fruit. When poaching for savoury dishes, I like to use green tea. For sweet items, using a rooibos, ginger or cinnamon tea is lovely.
Recipe to Try: Oven Stewed Pears
6. To Cook Grains
You can either use brewed tea to cook grains, or throw a teabag into the pot to save yourself the extra step. I also like using green tea for this.
Recipe to Try: Rooibos Stir-Fried Rice
7. Breakfast Porridge
Enhance your morning by using brewed tea to make oatmeal (you can also use other gluten-free grains in breakfast porridge, like buckwheat, millet or quinoa). It's like having a cup of tea and breakfast all in one! This will also work for overnight oats, chia pudding and muesli.
Recipe to Try: Strawberry Bircher (sub in gluten-free oats)
8. Baked Goods and Desserts
The wide breadth of tea flavours means endless possibilities for baked goods! Depending on what you're making, you can use the tea leaves or brewed tea. If there isn't a lot of liquid in a recipe, you can opt for the dried leaves to enhance the tea flavour. It's also helpful to grind the tea in a spice grinder if it's large-flaked or "chunkier." Some bakers like to use tea-infused butter in baking; for the dairy-free folks, you could try subbing coconut oil instead.
Some of the desserts you can try with tea include:
- Dairy-Free Ice Cream
- Chocolate Cups
Recipe to Try: Earl Grey Dairy-Free Ice Cream, plus check out many more dessert ideas at the bottom of this post!
9. Spice Rubs + Marinades
Like blending your own spices? Try adding some tea into the mix! Tea-infused spice mixes are great for meat, fish, tofu, tempeh, or roasted nuts and seeds. They can even make a flavourful vegan coconut bacon.
Recipe to Try: Smoky Tea Marinated Chicken Drumsticks
10. Soup Stock
The next time you cook a pot of soup, use tea instead of water, broth or dairy-free milk. Or, when you make bone or vegetable stock, add some tea leaves while the broth is simmering. You can also use a savoury tea itself as your broth.
Recipe to Try: Ochazuke (this is a hot broth of green tea)
11. Dressings and Sauces
Brewed tea makes a lovely addition to salad dressings and sauces. For salad dressings, a fruity tea is great when blended with fresh fruit, olive oil and lemon juice. Green tea is a nice addition to some pasta sauces and can be mixed with gluten-free soy sauce or tamari for a simple dipping sauce.
Recipe to Try: Soba with Genmaicha Dipping Sauce
The type of tea you choose to cook with in your recipes is a personal preference. Experiment and see what you enjoy!
Gluten-Free + Dairy-Free Tea Recipe Inspiration
- Baked Rhubarb and Apples with Earl Grey Tea
- Raw Chocolate Matcha Macaroons
- Chana Chole
- Blackberry Lemon Tea Pops
- Spiked Hibiscus Iced Tea
- Chewy Coconut Chai Pumpkin Bars (sub gluten-free oats)
- Turmeric Tea
More Tea-Inspired Recipes (Note: not gluten-free/dairy-free)
- Taiwanese Tea Eggs
- Matcha Tarts with Passionfruit Curd
- Rooibos Pancakes with Dark Chocolate Syrup
- Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
- Green Tea Chocolate Drizzled Popcorn
- Matcha Tea Cakes
- Earl Grey Vanilla Bean Cookies
- Matcha Sesame Cheesecake
- Orange Spiced Tea Poppy Seed Loaf
- Earl Grey Chiffon Mini Cakes
- Matcha Brownies
What's your favourite way to use tea in recipes? Let us know in a comment below!
Check out more of Sondi’s Allergen-Friendly Guides and Recipe Remixes for great ideas on revamping your favourite recipes to make them allergen friendly!
- How To Make Anything Vegan - The FBC Guide
- An Allergen-Friendly Guide to Dried Fruit
- Allergen-Friendly Remix: A Guide to Natural Sweeteners
Sondi Bruner is a holistic nutritionist, freelance writer, food blogger and author of the Anti-Inflammatory Diet in 21, The Candida Free Cookbook and Action Plan, co-author of The Anti-Inflammatory Diet and Action Plans as well as multiple e-books on healthy eating. She educates people who follow allergen-friendly diets about how to eat simply, deliciously and safely, allowing them to rediscover the pleasure of food. When she’s wearing her writer’s hat, she works with natural health brands to create content that will help their customers live fulfilling, healthful lives. Find out more at www.sondibruner.com. Or you can follow Sondi on Facebook or Twitter.